By Conor Barrett
If you have not purchased a brand new Mercedes Benz in the past few years or you have not yet been introduced to the dream pop music of the band, Titanics (link), have I got a savory nugget of satisfying sounds for you to enjoy. The Albany based duo consisting of Mark Lombardo and Derek Rogers have brought their take on new wave sound to the web and to the stage and have been picking up momentum ever since. With a welcome sound that can warm your toes during the coldest northeastern winters, Titanics will surely be making their way onto your morning playlist as a subtle pick-me-up to accompany your cup of coffee or onto your wind down track list to put on at the end of a hectic and stressful day. Their music takes you to a place often sought after when your current surroundings are less than pleasing. I’ve had the pleasure of digitally conversing with the band’s creator, Mark, to hear his input on where the band has come from and where he sees them going.
You’ve been playing together as longtime friends for over a decade but only somewhat recently made your way onto the stage. What finally pushed you to play your music in front of crowds under the name of Titanics?
I make the best music when I’m alone inside a room and inside my head. Derek has always been there along for the ride, as we have played in many bands together in the past. I have many different projects but most are not intended for live performance. Once I got the original demos recorded for Titanics and they started to grow online I decided to recruit Derek to play guitar live. Playing live has always been a second thought to be honest, I write what I want to hear and we figure out how to play it live after.
Your earlier works seem to have more of an ambient flow to them and now your most recent release, ‘Deeper’, while still having a dreamlike sound shows a “poppier” side of your music. Was this done intentionally? Or is that sound just hidden a bit deeper in your creativity?
Everything is subconscious and grows into intention. Overwhelming influence from the Internet surrounds our generation of music listeners and songwriters. Our tastes are very expansive and slightly disorganized – for Deeper I was inspired by pop bands and pop songwriting as a whole so that’s the way my music came out sounding like it does. I wrote ‘Soft Treasure’ for the most part at 3AM outside in the woods in a shed during the summer of 2011, hence the ambient and relaxed sound. I refuse to write the same album twice and it’s an impossible task anyway. Doing ‘Deeper’ as a pop album is just a part of my personality and of my mind and inspiration at the time. The next album will follow the flow again and I can guarantee that it will be different, as I am ever changing and seeking inspiration.
Your music undeniably brings out a sense of peace and calm within the listener; can the same thing be said for the creator of the music? I just find it hard to imagine this music being made in an extremely stressful situation. I guess what I’m asking is do you need to find that peaceful place to make the music or does it come from making your music?
Whenever I sit down and write music it comes out typically major, lush, and expansive. It’s just the natural state of my subconscious, I suppose. I don’t really think about it too much. I like music that makes think about my life like an old movie or dream. I try to see my life from the perspective an old man having one day to relive the memory.
Mark, you put down the bass a while ago and now focus on the synth with the vocals, any plans on going back to a stringed instrument or trying out any other new sounds with Derek?
I still see myself as a bass player. I’m writing bass lines constantly for the Titanics songs and usually the song doesn’t solidify until I put the bass line on it whether it’s a real bass or synth. I think like a bass player whether I’m actually playing bass or not. Rhythm section is 80% of the feel of the song.
The synth and guitar flow together so smoothly to find that dreamlike sound, is it a frustrating process to figure out what types of guitar sounds work with the keyboard? And is this a difficult thing to duplicate in live venues?
We have two different bands: studio Titanics and live Titanics. I like it that way. Guitar is a better live instrument as it has the drive and energy of a real human being that is necessary for the live performance. Usually in the studio when we are doing melodies we think in terms of synth because it is more relaxed and warm. It’s always been a trial and error process hearing the different sounds and discovering what it can do to a song. We like the big 80’s dreamy guitar solos but we don’t like the gritty rock guitar sound. We’re nothing like a rock band, really.
You seem to be making quite a buzz, or perhaps more appropriately a peaceful hum of appreciation, in Albany. I see you have an upcoming show in Boston, have you any plans on spreading your goodness throughout the U.S.?
When inspiration strikes to tour we tour. When it strikes to record a lot we record a lot. Right now it looks like we are certainly going to hit the road in 2015.
Mercedes Benz picked up your song, ‘Low Frames’ for a sampler type of CD and it also caught a lot of attention online with high praise. Now it seems your newest single ‘Stepping Out’ may be following in its big brother’s footsteps, any chance of hearing it on a car commercial anytime soon?
I can see it now- A brightly-lit street in Los Angeles and a Mercedes Benz comes zipping down Hollywood Boulevard. The car comes to a screeching stop and the driver; a James Bond style character puts hit lone gas foot on the pavement as if to leave the vehicle. The people outside the nightclub turn their heads and look over at the classy driver. Voice Over “Mercedes Benz, Stepping Out”. Who knows man?
Listen for the smooth sounds of Titanics visiting a town near you or playing on a classy car commercial in the near future.