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"Mark Mulcahy is crouching at the rear of the stage, tuning up, taking the occasional sip of water .. He slouches up to the microphone wearing Tom Waits's 1974 haircut and holds his mouth open for six seconds. It looks, for a moment, like he's going to greet us with a standard "How's everyone doing?" banality, but then something extraordinary happens: he sings. The former Miracle Legion frontman has the kind of male voice you just don't hear anymore: breathy, acrobatic, sensual, utterly, rapturously in-touch"
Tom Cox - The Guardian
Yes, this man is good, but what has happened to him? You can say things about him, but what does he do to deserve your attention? Where is the music? Where is anything? It's been 3 years at least since the lovely but underloved 'SmileSunset' came out, some live shows, mostly in Europe, but nothing new, nothing. He's been asked to make a new record, been invited to perform and he does nothing. Now he shows up with this 'In Pursuit of Your Happiness' album. What's that supposed to mean? Has he been on some journey and this is godawful musical telling of his enlightenment? 'In Pursuit of Your Happiness'? It took this long and we're still in pursuit? Where have you been Mr. Mulcahy? Who are these pigs? We'd like some answers.
Where he has been is at the opera. That's right, no talking. In the last 3 years, Mark has written and starred in two operas. In a partnership with cartoonist Ben Katchor, the two wrote 'The Slugbearers of Kayrol Island' and 'The Rosenbach Co'. The shows had runs in New York and Philadelhia, got incredible reviews, caused a sensation in the idiom and opened the pandoras box of theater. It also led to this pursuit. The pursuit of your happiness.
Mr. Mulcahys first record, 'Fathering' was an exclusive affair. He wrote, played and sang everything. The singular purpose had a wonderful result. The record was critcally acclaimed, the album's stand-out track 'Hey Self Defeater' was included alongside Springsteen's Thunder Road and Van Morrison's Caravan in Nick Hornby's collection of essays '31 Songs' as one of his all time favourites. There was even some talk of an Allison Moyet version (if she could change the words).The next,"SmileSunset' was friendlier, more inclusive, but only a small handful of support and a very long year in the making. Opera is different. Collaborating is different. More musicians, more singers, more lights, more bowing. Bowing and holding hands in a row. It was eye opening to a man anxiously contemplating how to make a new record.
Since it had been so long,this new record could not get bogged down in studio forever.The last one took a year. This one, two weeks. Well, maybe not exactly two weeks, but sooner. Yes as soon as possible. Around then, Mark bumped into his pal Myles Mangino at the JabbleFest. He too had wondered where was something."I don't know."said Mark. Myles suggested his studio, AND suggested they produce it together."When?" Myles had done a lot of work for Mark's old band Miracle Legion. He was getting ready to go on the road with the Pixies, but there were a few weeks.......We could make the record in few weeks. Do you have the songs? "Huh?". Sleep on it dude. Get it together. Well, the next morning it seemed like a good idea. Mark did have the songs (mostly) and Myles was a grueling taskmaster would stay on schedule, sloth be damned. The question was how and who?
We've got Mark for the vocals. Good. Call Pasquale. Drums, yes. Scott Helland will you leave the hot tub and play bass? Yes. Ok, bass, drums, guitar( Mark). Let's do it like that, plain and simple, fat and slanky, nice n'easy. After a week it was awesome, but we needed more. More guitar. Mark had recently started an Allman Brothers cover band with J. Mascis (Dinosaur Jr). J, will you? "I'm around." Perfect. Who else? Extra bass, Jeff Ladd (Tirebiter), guitar, Matthew Zapruder the poet, more bass, Mr Anderson, more guitar, Alex Johnson (Stuntmen) will take the bus in, more guitar, Myles sent a track to LA to Joey Santiago (Pixies), and get that school teacher to play some french horn. Finally, Ken Mauiri. He led the band in the opera and plays everything else. More vocals? Yes please. Mark?
On time and almost on schedule it was finished. Almost. One little piece of music that Ken had played on the farfisa electric accordian was just sitting there. Just sitting, no name, no words. Forget it? Myles was leaving soon, maybe we should just forget it. Hmmmm. On just about the last day Mark came in with the lyrics. One hour later it was done. The new national anthem. In Pursuit of Your Happiness. It is finished.
The pigs are friends of Mark's. They met in the spring and hung out all summer. "They're easy to be with. None games you can get in this business. 100% real." One day, Mark was talking about making a video for 'In Pursuit' and the pigs had the idea for them to antagonise, they make the rules. Positively Orwellian, and so true in this complicated futuristic present. Zeke Fiddler came out and after a bag of appples and two pair of shoes, 'Pigs in Pursuit' was added to the album, just after song 13. The cover is made from video stills. The flip side of the insert is the brand new game 'In Pursuit of Your Happiness', the at home version. Players(2) roll dice and move pigs chasing the dream of serenity, while discovering inner truths and the dark longings of their opponent. Dangerous? Yes it is. You'll know more than ever and that might be saying something.
So that explains it all. The music, the players, the video, the game, the opera, the absentia. Mr Mulcahy has had gone missing, but he was not sleeping. This 'In Pursuit of Your Happiness' is a full days work. Perhaps good things DO take time. I wonder, Lois............