I was just listening to Sun Kil Moon, as I tend to do weekly and thought I'd post this old interview with Mark Kozelek who I truly adore.
Mark Kozelek may be better known for his time with Red House Painters, but subsequent incarnations have offered music of a far higher calibre. He returns to Europe following a tour with Sun Kil Moon he didn’t particularly enjoy, taking some time out for a rare interview with Una Mullally.
A few weeks ago, the father of one of Mark Kozelek’s friends died. At the funeral, all the people he had known came together. Some got up to speak and Kozelek himself played the funereal music. In an odd way, it was very beautiful. It is indicative of Kozelek’s spirit that this anecdote is the reply to a question on what memory of the recent past does he most treasure. It’s not a matter of beauty in the mundane, but a moment of quiet splendour in an outline otherwise filled with sadness. As with Kozelek’s songs, here lies a constant battle over what will overshadow what, the vaguely beautiful or the utterly sad.
Nowhere is this seen more than in Sun Kil Moon’s last record, “Ghosts Of The Great Highway”, a regretful and helpless ode to all the things that have been done. “I worked really hard on that record,” sighs Kozelek in his distinctively unusual manner of speaking, a mixture of drawl and grind. “It took a year and a half. It was a cathartic experience and it’s going to be a while before I have that amount of songs again.” There is always a weariness in Kozelek. Some say he is awkward, abrupt, but on this second occasion of us talking, his grace and gentility are once again marked.
This voyage to Europe comes after a less than successful run with Sun Kil Moon, about which Kozelek makes a point of honesty, “I was disappointed. The tour wasn’t promoted well. We had just toured the US and had a lot of success. It didn’t translate well to a lot of the other countries.” This time around, the financial strain of a full band is ridded, “with my own name, I do OK. Financially, it works out pretty good.” As he has voiced on a previous occasion, Kozelek dislikes the hassle of touring; the practicalities of travelling and the contradicting effect on his psyche, “it’s really hard,” you can sense him physically shifting, “it’s an odd experience. It’s a really extreme dynamic between playing a show and for those few hours you’re an important person in your own little universe and then the weird extreme of the next day when you’re getting a cab and queuing at the airport. It’s a pain in the ass to do that every day. And then you just have to go back to be a regular person when you’re done.”
It seems many things in Kozelek’s life hold this contradicting exertion. His songs are laden with striking riffs and mourning melodies and lyrics telling of nothing but life. To speak to, he seems on the brink of vulnerability, perhaps a man just short of satisfaction. Fittingly, his New Year resolution was to find happiness and “nothing specific.” He and his songs are not complaining, but lethargically honest, and in an odd way, very beautiful.
listening to: Brand New - 'Me V Madonna V Elvis'