Course of Nature
'The Current Force of Music'
It would be easy to hate COURSE OF NATURE’s Mark Wilkerson, in theory. He is married to a TV star (Melissa Joan Hart), likely hob-nobs with celebrities in Los Angeles and has a new album coming out that is backed by major music executive / visionaries. The path he and COURSE OF NATURE took to get there, however, is a perfect study in the inability to judge a book by its cover.
The tumult of record label changes and management disharmony over the last three years took its toll on Wilkerson and his previous band members. They found themselves entangled in a record label situation that was coming apart at the seams. Their management didn’t see eye to eye with them on the direction to take after the split happened.
How it eventually evolved for Wilkinson and his newfound bandmates was their signing with Jeff Hanson’s (Creed, Alterbridge, Paramore) new label venture, Silent Majority Records / Warner ILG. Hanson and his partner Rick Schmidt’s vision for the band was one Wilkerson and his new management shared – unlimited creativity and control thereof. As a result, COURSE OF NATURE has definitely found its groove once again and further refined its sound with the direction of producer David Bendeth (Red Jumpsuit Apparatus).
Not only was Wilkerson busy writing his own tunes in COURSE OF NATURE’s “down time”, he was writing for others. One track that he wrote for an ‘upstart’ named Chris Daughtry (American Idol’s newest hitmaker) became a smash hit single across the board – “It’s Not Over.” The rest of the fruits of his songwriting labors went toward making DAMAGED, a collection of odes to adapting to the constant, often unpleasant challenges presented by everyday life.
Taking it from the top and it seems that you've been through a very unfair amount of record label changes and management disharmony. So much so that your prior band members split! What were those days like and did you ever consider trying a new occupation? Mark Wilkinson "It wasn't that they split, there were a lot of problems within that resulted in one way or another in their departure. The only other occupation I have ever had is in construction and I still do it to this day; I just do it on my own time. I still consider this just a hobby because even though they call this the music business, nobody really knows anything about music which in turn makes it a really shitty business."
Having moved from your home town of Enterprise, Alabama to the heady L.A. market all those 6 years ago, are you still kinda adjusting to the lifestyle this city provides? Is there an element of L.A. re: the business you are in, that you still just don't get? "I don't think I am adjusting my lifestyle. I still live my life the way I always have I just have to deal with different people and different surroundings. Granted, most of them are people and places of which I would rather not deal. I think LA simply magnifies who you are as a person; if you were an asshole before you move there, you are an even bigger asshole now."
How did you initially get involved with Jeff Hanson and his new label Silent Majority? "After showcasing for all the major labels and getting the run-around from all of them, our manager thought that he would approach Jeff with the music. Jeff has an incredible ear and when we heard he was interested in the band, it was pretty much a no brainer."
Was Jeff instrumental in providing your current band members: Sean, Jackson and Shane? "The current band was formed before we signed with Silent Majority. Shane Lenzen has been playing drums with me for about three years. Jackson Eppley has been living in Nashville playing with different groups but has been with us for a while, and Sean Kipe has been in many projects prior to this but we found him through auditions in LA."
For the Average Joe who may not have heard of you and was thinking of buying your upcoming new CD, how would you yourself describe your sound? "I think we sound like Rock!!! No funny business. Music is about emotion. There are way too many people out there putting on makeup and trying to act depressed because they got grounded in high school. I hope people are starting to pick up on that. We are just normal guys telling stories about our lives so that other people can relate."
Does this new album have a title yet ... and if so, is it one that originates from a more personal standpoint for you, perhaps? "The title of the new record is 'Damaged.' It was derived from the path that we (I) have taken over the past few years. There are very few genuine people in this business so you have to be strong and know exactly what you want and have many different plans on how to get there. Damaged but never broken."
Is it true that you wrote 'It's Not Over' for Chris Daughtry? Man, you must have wished you'd kept it now for yourself?! "No. I didn't write "It's Not Over" for Chris Daughtry; I wrote it for myself. I turned a demo of the song into my former label Lava records and they passed on it stating "it's not a hit." I bet they wish they'd have kept it!"
And for those readers that don't know, please reveal to us today where the name of the band first originated ... and what else it could so easily have been at the time of creation?! "Course of Nature came from a song that was going on our first record "Superkala" but didn't make the cut. We had a day to figure out a new name for the band and that was where we landed. No real thought put in to it because it's just a name. There were no "serious" other candidates except for one; "Pull." The only reason behind it was for the free advertisement on windows in stores. We finally came to the conclusion that that was stupid."
How easy (or hard) is it to constantly create new music that both builds on and surpasses all the lyrical accomplishments that preceded it? "I feel that as a musician I am constantly learning and trying new things. You have to separate each project and define them individually. Otherwise you just write a continuation of the last. However, you are constantly plagued with the thought; "you are only as good as your last hit." So in that regard, it's pretty damn tough!"
OK, I've stayed away from this question long enough ... how long have you and the lovely Melissa Joan Hart been married and how does a relationship between a musican and an actor actually work in todays day and age? "Melissa and I have been married for 4 1/2 years. Our relationship works pretty much like any other "normal" marriage. Our family is #1 on every level and we do what is best for each other and whatever is best for our son Mason. We get at each other a lot because we spend the majority of our time together."
"As far as work goes, we have to be there for each other. Whoever has the more important job, works. As long as one of us can be with Mason, we are fine."
What '80s (and possibly cheesy!) pop/rock song would you love to cover today if asked ... and why?! "I love 80's rock so this would be tough. I would have to go with "Don't Forget Me When I'm Gone' by Glass Tiger."
Lastly, we here at Exclusive Magzine love Penguins ... do you and Melissa?! "I got no beef with Penguins. They are cute, but I've never come face to face with one. They might be vicious! Mason loves the Penguin waiters in 'Mary Poppins'!"
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