I had the opportunity to see Charlie Mars play live at Threadgill’s a few months ago. I went to the show not knowing much about him but quickly became a fan. Today I was lucky enough to meet him for an interview. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous; it didn’t help to be listening to him perform live on KGSR with Andy Langer as I was driving to the interview. With his tousled hair, mischievous grin and piercing blue eyes, Charlie gives off a vibe almost like a living embodiment of his music: sexy, laid back and cool. He also told us that LiveMom is set as his homepage, which gave us a good chuckle and set the mood for the rest of the interview!
Charlie has been in the music-making business for 15 years. He started out making records while earning his Bachelor’s Degree in English at SMU. The Charlie Mars Band made three albums together before life in the fast lane sent him to rehab. After rehab, he escaped to Sweden for what was meant to be a short visit and ended up lasting six months. He said, “It was a transition time to for me, a healthier life”. Upon returning home, he made a new record and began touring under the V2 Record label (White Stripes, Moby). But, V2 folded and left Charlie without a label. He wound up here in Austin, where he created his latest album, Like a Bird, Like a Plane, under his own label, Rockingham Records. The sound was different from his previous records, although Charlie told me that the sound on his new album can be found woven into his older albums. When I asked him if the style of music from Like a Bird, Like a Plane will carry into the next album, he said: “I feel like all the studio time before this was working toward the music I am making now”.
Charlie Mars is indeed a busy man. He has spent the past three years touring while handling the ins and outs of the business end of it as well. Having his own record label seems to have given him the ultimate freedom to create music that is true to himself. With both successes and failures under his wings, he appears to be at a point in his career where he is truly comfortable in his own skin and now just does what he loves.
With only five remaining tour dates listed on his website, I asked him what is up next for him. He said he intends to spend the rest of the year relaxing, reading and writing songs for the new album. He intends to travel to London and Ireland and spend time between his two homes in New York City and Oxford, Mississippi. He will be back in the studio in March to work on a new record, which should be challenging because he really loves the last record and feels that it will be hard to produce something as good.
He is excited to be playing two shows at ACL: Friday at 12:20 on the Austin Ventures Stage and the other is at 3:15 on the Austin Kiddie Limits stage. Wondering what “kid music” he is going to be playing on the Kiddie Limits Stage? Not really having any kid songs in his repertoire, he is planning on playing some of the songs from his album, but, if we are lucky, he also might whip out a song on the fly about those lovable characters, Max and Ruby. For those of you can’t catch him at Austin City Limits, he will be at Threadgill’s Saturday night at 10:00pm. I highly recommend his live show! He draws in a good, laid back crowd.
And yes, if you are wondering if the bulk of his fans are women, it is true that he has more female fans than male fans. He laughingly said, “if there were more guys than girls, I’d quit.”
Written by: Katie Mastovich