Mark Webb’s music career can be traced back a decade. Playing the coffeehouses that are scattered throughout the Upstate, he crafted his folky Americana sound just as an artist should — through hard work. I mean the guy got his start playing open mics at this well-known downtown Greenville coffee shop. And now he’s playing places like Zen in downtown Greenville. You’re getting pretty fancy Mark.
He’s released three albums since 2007 that have taken him from an independent artist to a Gold Ship label mate, and from a lone troubadour to a band. I guess you could say Webb’s career has been defined by change. In 2012, Webb released his album “Something More”, which marked the first time he recorded with other musicians. He had recruited Russ Chapman and Josh Lane. The three recorded six songs in a matter of weeks and achieved astonishing results. Just listen to “Can We Make It Right” and “Bringing Me Back.” If you tell me you’re not impressed then you have no taste. The songs linger with an Americana sound that rings with reverb tinged guitar progressions.
Webb has made sure to distinguish his past from his present with his current catalogue of songs. While he hasn’t exactly thrown his acoustic guitar out of the window, he has explored new terrain. Webb is currently in the Gold Ship studios recording his next album. So what can we expect from him this time around? I’m not exactly sure, but whatever it is I’m sure it will be great.
Get to know the Greenville troubadour, Mark Webb.
Mark Webb talks about his latest album, upcoming shows, new music and more. Oh, and find out which music celebrity Mark is good friends with.
Andrew: You’ve been on the road some lately. How has that been?
Mark: Not too bad. I haven’t been on the road a ton, but this year I’ve been able to do a little out of town gigs and they’ve all been good.
Andrew: Can you tell the readers a little more about yourself?
Mark: I started out playing solo acoustic. I was playing a lot of shows with friends that were in all sorts of bands that ranged from heavy rock to other acoustic acts. I put out a couple of acoustic EPs and then in 2012 I put out my first official full band release. And it was an EP called “Something More”, which is available on iTunes, Spotify, and all of those other places. But the sound is Americana, but there are elements of folk, and rock — it’s just very rootsy. We’re currently in the studio recording for a new EP and I’m not sure when that will be released. Earlier this year, I signed to Gold Ship Records out of Bristol, Tennessee. So the new EP is being released through them. Right now, we’re trying to make a plan for touring.
Andrew: What influenced you to transition into a band and to venture away from the more acoustic material?
Mark: I love playing solo, and I feel like I need to do both. And as a songwriter, it’s a lot easier to do both. It makes you view your music in different ways. When your unknown like me and you walk into a place to play people just respond better to a full band than a solo. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be captivating by yourself. But it does help. I also think it shows growth or maturity because when your writing a song you have a certain idea of how it sounds in the different stages. And as a songwriter I got to the point of just hearing it acoustic and then I was able to hear the other parts. But at the same time you realize your songs can stand by themselves as well.
Andrew: What was the studio experience like for this album? And are you still the sole owner of the songs or the do the other guys get a little creative freedom?
Mark: I’ve tried to approach things by letting the band choose their own parts. If I hear something on drums and bass then I suggest that they try it. And we’re all friends from a long time back, so there are no hurt feelings. We’re all eager to approach things as if the song is most important. We all want the song to be better and we all believe less is more. So recording with those guys was easy. We all went in and did bass and drums in one day. If I’m being honest that EP was supposed to be demos for a friend who was interning at a studio in Atlanta. He said we could come down and track for free. But as we started getting more and more involved we figured that if it sounds good then we should just release it. We did all the basic tracks in one day. We were told that we had the full day and we showed up at 10 a.m. to track until about 7 that evening. And just as we were about to record, the owner of the studio calls my friend and tells him that we need to be out by 1 because Busta Rhymes wanted to come in and track that day. So we tracked everything as quick as we could and headed back to Greenville. My friend actually let me know that Busta Rhymes didn’t show up until 8 that night. So I went back and did all the guitars later.
Andrew: Having released the previous albums independently, what made you decide to sign to Gold Ship?
Mark: I think that I had gotten to a point where I just realized that I needed more help than what I’m able to do. And sometimes it’s good to have someone speak on your behalf. I’ve actually lucked out with Gold Ship because they believe in what I’m trying to do. And they also give me a lot of freedom as an artist to kind of do what I want to. So it’s a very mutual understanding. They give me advice and they are willing to listen to my opinion. So that helps me sound the best. And there have been moments where I’ve had to bend to do something that I initially felt uneasy about. But once they explained, it was the best for me.
Andrew: You’re currently in the studio working on a new album. Are the songs being built from the ground up or have they been in the rotation for a while?
Mark: A couple of the songs are songs that we’ve been playing for a while. But there are two we’ve never played live. As a matter of fact, we’ve never rehearsed them either. So that was interesting to go into the studio to build a song. I did pre-production with a producer, but the first day of tracking was the first time the band played the songs. I had sent them demos, but they weren’t too familiar with them.
Andrew: Are we going to hear any new songs at your show Tuesday?
Mark: Yeah, you’ll hear at least one of those songs. And I’m not sure if I’m playing solo or with the band, but there may be anything from solo to duo to full band. But you’re likely to hear more crazy off the wall songs if it’s just me by myself.
Andrew: You were recently named as one of the many performances for this years “Fall For Greenville”. You’ve played the festival twice before. What keeps you coming back?
Mark: I really love Greenville, and I think it is a very cool city. And they are doing a lot to redo the downtown. So I believe it is really special. I know there are tons of festivals across the nations, but “Fall For Greenville” is so unique. And its unique because they allow local guys like myself to play. Every year there are local bands among the national and regional acts. And that’s something that I really admire about the city — that they’re willing to invest in such local and regional acts for such a big festival. They don’t have to, but they do. It doesn’t matter what stage you’re on, there are always people watching you.
Lightning Round: Mark answers five quick questions off the top of his head.
Andrew: What artists are you streaming right now?
Mark: A friend of mine has a band called “Twin Forks”. They are kind of folky, Americana band. Chris and I have become friends and I’m currently obsessed with everything they are doing right now. I think his songwriting with Twin Forks is so good. So I’ve really I’ve been into them lately. I’ve also been into Corey Branan.
Andrew: Most nerve-racking performance you’ve ever done?
Mark: I don’t want to name any names of the venues, but playing in a restaurant and having people talk extremely loud the entire time … almost to the point that I can’t hear myself playing.
Andrew: Favorite coffee shop in Greenville?
Mark: I’ve always enjoyed Coffee Underground. That’s where I really had my start by playing the open mics there.
Andrew: Favorite music festival?
Mark: This is going to sound cheesy, but I would say “Fall For Greenville”.
Andrew: Favorite album?
Mark: It would probably be “The Brown Album” by The Band.
Where is Mark playing next? Well, I’m glad you asked.
When: Tuesday, September 1.
Time: Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Show begins at 8.
Where: Zen in downtown Greenville (924 South Main St. Greenville, SC 29601
Who: Mark Webb & The Long Canes