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Mark Engles: Dredg

24 Apr Interviews | Comments
Mark Engles: Dredg

When I first heard Dredg in the fall of 2002, I immediately fell in love. El Cielo didn’t leave my car stereo for a solid month. The progressive alternative nature was right up my alley, and their sense of space and atmosphere was exactly what I wanted to hear from a ROCK band. I loved hearing the layers of textures, being it vocal, percussive, or from the highly effected guitar courtesy of Mark Engles. Great riffage combined with intriguing effect usage have become the staple sound over their last few records, Catch Without Arms, The Pariah, The Parrot, The Delusion, and most recently, Chucks and Mr. Squeezy.

Is guitar your primary instrument?

Yes, though my first instrument was drums, and I think my feel for rhythm is owed to that.

How long have you been playing guitar?

I started around 9-10 when my older brother’s friends would leave their guitars laying around. Always feel fortunate to have an older sibling that influence me.

Did you take any lessons growing up? (guitar or other)

I did take some lessons, but they were after I had already established a feel and style. I also took some classical guitar classes in college, which I loved. It was a very nice challenge for me since I have a rock background.

What impact did that have on you as a musician?

The earlier lessons I took didn’t have a huge impact on me, but I did learn warm up exercises and tablature reading. Those are still important to me now.
The classical lessons were very valuable due to the obvious difference with rock. My finger picking and left hand stretching took a big step after that.

What other instruments do you play?

I play bass here and there and can clumsily get around on piano and drums. I’ve been learning ukulele and mandolin lately for fun.

Do you have an understanding of scales and music theory?
— How does that impact your songwriting?

I really don’t. Just an ignorant rock musician I guess.

Do you still practice instruments, beyond when you’re writing/rehearsing for Dredg?

Sure. There’s always days when I just do exercises or learn cover songs for fun. I think just keeping the chops up is always important.

Do you still attempt to push forward by learning new instruments or applications?

I do, but not as much as I would like. I think money and time is a bad excuse, but sometimes it feels like I need more of both to find new territory. Playing with new people as well always feels rewarding to me. Whether it’s in a studio setting or sitting in at a gig. Keeps you on your toes.

Do you have have a method for songwriting? How does it usually happen?
– Prefer bringing a skeleton to practice, or build as a collaboration?

I think every song or idea can be different in that way. Sometimes ideas come from a jamming situation or sometimes a piece from a home recording. Changing the perspective of writing will ensure that the material stays diverse, which is important to me.

You have a lot of parts to songs that use delay pedals creatively.
How does gear impact your songwriting / performing?

I think gear can spark ideas for writing parts of songs, which can in-turn lead to an entire song, but I think the dynamics are more influenced. A song should sound great no matter how stripped down or over produced, but it helps me to put a different sound on something if I’m feeling the bland alarm going off.

What is your rig these days (if you’re cool with letting out the details)?

For playing live, I really haven’t changed much in the last 7-8 years. I’ve become comfortable with my 2 Marshalls running in stereo and the versatility of that has been great for me.
In the studio, however, I’m quite the opposite. I love trying new/different guitars, amps, effects, recording techniques, etc. whenever possible. The studio is a place where I don’t want to just settle for a sound, where as, live is a spontaneous moment.

You’ve spent years as a touring musician at this point.
Any advice for life on the road?

Don’t let the small things get to you and try to have a great time. If you let frustration get the best of you, or arguing/fighting become out of hand…you’re screwed.

Any advice for students who are trying to find success in the music industry?

Uniqueness, humility, style…

What are your thoughts on the state of the music industry, and what the future holds?

I feel like it’s an amazing time for music in general. The question about the industry is always a tough one because it’s a bit dichotomous. There are more artists than ever, and they are more easily discovered than ever. That is a truly great thing about music now, but it’s going to take more innovation and creativity for artists to be able to pay the bills.

What have you been listening to lately?

Band of Skulls
St. Vincent
Strange Vine
Middle Class Rut

To name a few…


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