Growing up during the 90s with all its boybands, I tend to have a soft spot for those who I had on repeat while singing along into a hairbrush. From Backstreet Boys to A1, I was a huge fan of 90s pop and Mark Read happens to fall into that scene. Probably most well known as the keyboardist from A1, Mark Read has experience reaching back two decades. Now, however, he is working on his solo project and giving the world something beyond the boyband. We speak to Read about his debut single ‘Stop The Show’, musical achievements and favourite meals.
OSR: What drew you to music?
Read: I have a very musical family, my mum is a very accomplished musician and was still playing drums whilst she was pregnant with me, and my dad was in a rock and roll revival band called The Wild Angels, so music was all around me. As soon as I was big enough to climb up on the piano stool I started playing at around age 3. I think it was the music my dad listened to that really drew me to music and my brother, who’s a DJ; helped broaden my tastes beyond just pop, to hip hop, funk and soul.
OSR: What can you tell us about your single ‘Stop The Show’?
Read: I started writing ‘Stop The Show’ before the pandemic hit, but once I saw what was happening with the theatres and music venues struggling and closing their doors it felt like the right time to release it. It’s an anthem for everyone who’s desperate to get back on stage, and it’s a metaphor for life that no matter what’s going on, you can’t stop the show.
OSR: You are a seasoned performer but artists find some parts of their songs challenging. So, which is more difficult for you – melody or lyrics?
Read: I love writing melodies and catchy hooks and instrumentals, I could do that all day every day. With lyrics, it’s a lot easier when you have something to say or a specific theme you’re writing about, it’s great therapy for when you’re going through a difficult time.
OSR: What do you hope people take from ‘Stop The Show’?
Read: I hope people feel uplifted when they hear ‘Stop The Show’ and, going by the response so far, it’s been a really positive reaction. I get a lot of comments saying how it cheered them up and made them want to dance around the house – best compliment you can get.
OSR: You performed as part of a boyband for several years, can you tell us how being in a band compares to a solo career?
Read: I love being part of a team. Growing up I was always drawn to band music, like Beatles, Beach Boys, ELO, because you can do some great things on your own but if you find the right team to work with you can really create some magic. The two things are very different but it’s always more fun on the road when you’re with a band.
OSR: A1 is about to go on tour again, how do you feel about that? Excited, perhaps nervous?
Read: Yes, we’re about to start preparing for our next tour after rescheduling and cancelling so many dates. We’re not being thrown totally in the deep end because we have a few one-offs before the tour and some European dates, and fortunately, I’ve never been nervous about performing, I’m more nervous about everyday life. Being on stage, doing what you love is the most natural thing I do.
OSR: What is your greatest musical achievement to date?
Read: Hard to pick one thing but having a song recorded and sung by one of the Bee Gees and Michael Bolton, among others, was a pretty amazing achievement. The song was raising money for Help for Heroes, which made it even more special.
OSR: What is your favourite meal?
Read: Easy spag bol, but veggie style.
OSR: If you were an animal what would you be and why?
Read: A stoat…because you can’t stop the stoat (had to get that in there).
OSR: Do you have any advice for emerging artists?
Read: Yes, lots, always listen to what people around you have to say, be open to learn and try new things, take advice on board but at the same time stay true to yourself and trust your instincts when it comes to the songs you’re writing. If it’s real and comes from you, you’ll be able to perform those songs with the passion and conviction you need to be able to connect with an audience, and write for yourself, make the music you like to hear as well rather than trying to please other people. Take risks!!
OSR: Do you have a message for our readers?
Read: Keep reading!! And hope things are getting back to normal for everyone, and we’ll soon be able to get back out on the road again. There’s a lot of catching up to do, so I think there’ll be gigs every night for the next couple of years!