Interview with Trixter Drummer Mark Gus Scott

By Mick Michaels

COSMICK VIEW: Hello, Mark! Welcome to The Cosmick View. Thank you for taking some time out of your day to chat with me, it is greatly appreciated.

CV: Long before Trixter became a national and international sensation with the release of their debut album in 1990, the band had already begun making its mark years before as a regional and East Coast juggernaut...playing sold out shows and touring with other East Coast rockers KIX and Skid Row.  In 1988, Trixter recorded the album "Just Having Fun." However, the album was never released even though at the time the band was being pursued by several labels.  Why do you feel that album never saw its release as intended? Or was its sole purpose to shop labels exclusively?
Mark Gus Scott: It really was a glorified demo tape. We put the title “Just Having Fun” on it because we wanted to make it like an album. We didn't want it to just be a demo tape. Not to mention, back in 1986 we actually created our first demo tape. It didn't have a title but we packaged it like a real album. We created the cassette inserts and labels in graphics class, got cassette holders and made it look like a real packaged album. This gave us the opportunity to sell it as a product…which proved to be quite lucrative for a bunch of kids in high school! Not to mention, being enterprising at an early age like that brought us a great deal of notoriety being that it was a popular selling demo tape at the time.

CV: A year later and the band is now signed with an MCA Records affiliate and work started on what would become Trixter's self titled debut album. Only two songs from "Just Having Fun" ended up on this album. Did the band find it had moved into a different direction musically since "Just Having Fun" was recorded?
MGS: “Just Having Fun” didn't see the light of day because we actually made a new demo tape with our new management, Shark Entertainment, that we used to shop for a real record deal. Newer songs with better production. But that's not to say that those older songs weren’t great. Come to think of it, I can't remember all the songs that were on there to tell you the truth…

I think a lot of things happen over time. New songs were created and old songs became new songs. I'm trying to remember exactly what songs were on “Just Having Fun”. I cannot remember all of them. It really wasn’t an album – It was just a demo that we created a marketable product out of.  Nevertheless, one thing is for sure, in this band, the best songs get used! Even on our latest release “Human Era” we actually used one of the songs from the old days called “Rockin to the Edge of the Night.” It turned out to be the perfect song at the perfect time. I always loved that song and it came out great on the new CD.

CV: Mark, any chance fans could still get a "Just Having Fun" release?
MGS: I hate to say it, I don't have a copy. I wish I did because it would be great to listen back to the old days. I'm not sure who has one. I bet Steve has one somewhere, probably PJ too. I will ask Pete. My mother threw away all my stuff. Can you believe that? I would love to have the fans enjoy it because Lord knows we did back in the day.

CV: Trixter's debut record released in May 1990 and by February '91, the album was certified gold. How did that achievement translate within the band's ranks? Was it overwhelming or was the already whirling dervish of incoming success the band was experiencing at the time just par for the course?
MGS: It's funny, we knew the album went Gold because our manager told us, but we did not get our Gold Records until a few weeks later because we wanted to get them at our hometown show at The Meadowlands in New Jersey. So, we knew it was coming. I don't mean to sound pompous about it, but we were informed and yes, things were going very well on many fronts. A great deal of notoriety was gained due to MTV exposure our 2 #1 MTV Videos (at the time) as well as big tours with Poison and The Scorpions. It certainly was a dream-come true!

CV: Music television today is definitely a thing of the past.  The internet has replaced the need to gather around a television to try and catch a glimpse of our favorite artists and their latest singles…definitely more of a foreign concept to today's younger generation. But looking back now, how instrumental with a band's success was MTV at the time when Trixter's first album released?
MGS: At the time, MTV was certainly a huge launching pad for new artists as well as for well-established artist releasing new material. Culturally speaking, at the time, it was THE place to turn and see what your new artist looked like and to get a glimpse of what their new music was going to sound like. It truly dictated what was going to happen within the musical landscape of the country. Not to mention the rest of the world as well.  As far as Trixter is concerned, MTV truly helped break us. That means initially, when we first got started, they were a huge part of the reason why we were successful because they offered great exposure to people who did not know who we were. They were very instrumental in creating great awareness on a large scale where people had the opportunity to request our video and then play it on the Top 10 Countdown. We were fortunate enough to have three #1 Videos on MTV (15 Weeks @ #1).

CV: By 1993, fans began to move towards the Seattle sound and away from Metal…the music world drastically changed.  From your perspective, how different was it at that point in the music business compared to what it was like just 10 years prior when Trixter started out?
MGS: Please bear in mind, it did not happen overnight exactly. It all started back in 1991. We had three number one videos on MTV. Our third video, “Surrender”, was #1 on MTV for two weeks when MTV made a conscious choice to abolish dial MTV and the Top 10 Countdown. We were the last number one video ever to be played on MTV. As a matter fact, we were never played on MTV again. We went from 15 weeks at number one on MTV to no MTV airplay at all. What was even stranger to us was that we were on the road with the “Blood, Sweat and Beers Tour” (Warrant, Trixter and Firehouse), playing in places like the World Amphitheater in Chicago and selling it out to 33,000 people, but yet we were cut from MTV. It did not make any sense to us whatsoever. But apparently, MTV had a bigger plan in mind. They were going to take what was alternative and make it mainstream and take the mainstream and make it alternative. By 1994, Grunge was in full swing and commanded the airwaves and bands like Bon Jovi, Def Leppard and yes, Trixter, somewhat fell by the wayside. Subsequently, we lost our record deal, lost our agent, had no management and it was difficult for us to develop a plan to sustain. I quit the band in January 1995. The guys disbanded later that year. I would venture to speculate that there were similar instances in other bands as well. Things are hard enough to succeed when times are good. When times are bad, you better get on the ball.

CV: Old School Rock and Metal has seen a massive resurgence over the last 10 years. Fans are flocking to festivals and cruises to catch their favorite retro artists. Many bands have been given a second wind with a new audience. Was Trixter's reuniting in 2008 fueled by this revival of fan nostalgia and calling?
MGS: It was certainly a substantial contributing factor.  I remember flying home after leaving the band. I remember thinking to myself, “This is a great start for the big come back!” I think we all knew that one day we were going to put it back together and have a triumphant return. And that's just what we did. Our first show back was at Rocklahoma and we literally brought the house down. A major storm struck the festival at the end of our set and literally brought the two side stages collapsing down to the ground. Thank God no one was killed. Sure did generate a lot of buzz though. After a 13-year vacation, we all got back together to rock once again and enjoy what we love to do best…Play Live and Kick Ass!  And Yes – We owe it all to the fans!  They are the ones that still posses the desire to come out and see us play.  We got back together and played some big shows in 2008.  We did a few outdoor festivals like ROCKLAHOMA, we opened for Poison, the band Boston, Cinderella, Scorpions, Ted Nugent, Dokken and Warrant – Awesome bands – Awesome times!  To do it all over again is such a rare privilege.  We continued to play numerous festivals, selling out big shows and playing hard! Selling out a big hometown show in celebration of our triumphant return was most gratifying. Lots of press…Lots of attention. It was nothing short of awesome. We were back with a vengeance! Putting out our first studio album since our return, “New Audio Machine”, debuted at #56 on iTunes. Trixter was back and we were coming to kick your ass! The idea that we got an opportunity so long ago to do so much was truly a gift from God. To do it all over again, there are no words... and we owe it all to the fans!

CV: Mark, the term "Hair Metal" has become a synonymous phrase for Metal music of the late 80's early 90's, linking a number of bands under one umbrella category. Some have embraced the term while others have worked to shed the moniker. Do you take any offense by such a term and at the time…did you consider Trixter to be a hair band?
MGS: I really don't care one way or the other. I think from an objective point of view, it actually works quite well. The majority of the bands from that era did have long hair…make up the genre and embody the classification of “Hair Band”.  As long as consumers and fans can identify with it, then I think it can be good. I certainly do not take offense to it. We had long hair and I believe the classification is accurate. I've heard other names for the class too. We used to call it “Arena Rock”. I have no preference one way or another as long as people know what kind of music they're getting.

CV: Let's talk about your move from drummer to singing solo artist. Though you are credited with "occasional" background vocals with Trixter, and a multi-instrument artist, was becoming a lead singer something you had considered doing for some time? MGS: I guess I always wanted to sing. I really enjoy the way I feel when I sing. But to tell you the truth, I never really thought I was very good at it. I guess there was a time that my voice did not sound good. More recently however, I must say, I'm very happy with the way recordings have gone. To tell you the truth, when I started recording this solo song, I had other vocalist standing by to sing the song. I was not sure how my voice was going to sound. But after the first day of recording, it was very clear to see, something clicked. I was so knocked out I couldn't believe it. I was so happy.

I truly surprised myself and I am very proud of my first vocal performance. I’m very anxious for everyone to hear it as well. I think a lot of people are not going to be ready for it...

CV: "With You..." is an 80's styled ballad. What moved you to do an adult contemporary release?  Is it a definitive way for you to distinguish yourself from your Rocker roots with Trixter?
MGS: I have to tell you, I did not come up with a whole marketing plan and a lot of research to launch this whole venture. I wrote this song purely to tell one person how I felt. I was so happy with the way it came out and making a big release out of it seemed the right thing to do. With all the attention that has been getting lately, I must say that I'm very happy I went this direction. I don't feel it is necessarily a requirement to distinguish myself from my rocker roots with Trixter. If I have a great rock song, I just may do it. Right now, this is what's in my heart and I love making this music. I also feel as I get older, there's more I want to do than just slam a drum. Although I must admit, I love beating the ever-loving s*** out of drums! 

CV: What do you hope fans will come away with after hearing the new CD? Do you believe fans will gain a deeper understanding of who you are as an artist and as a person?
MGS: I certainly believe that people will see a different side of me they have never seen before. Yes, I believe they will get a deeper understanding of who I am, as a person and an artist. But I don’t believe it is really about me, it’s about the music.  I’m just the messenger. One thing I have to tell you, I will not do a song that is only okay. It has to kick ass! And when I say that, I don't mean it has to be a rock and roll song. It has to evoke emotion. It has to be true. It has to be something special. It has to touch me. Only then will I believe it just might touch someone else in a profound manner. I've already started to record a follow-up track. I am very, very excited about that one. But, in time...

My new song “With You…” touched me in a very profound manner. I truly hope when somebody listens to it they will feel what I feel. They will be able to look at the one they love and share that feeling together. The idea that I just might be able to provide the musical soundtrack for someone's love would be a great gift for me as well as the people sharing something very special together.

CV: Mark, with the release of "With You...," where do you see the music taking you? Any plans to release a full length album of similar material?
MGS: I think that question is hard to answer at this time. Quite frankly, a year ago, I wasn't planning on doing this. One thing I can tell you about me, if I come across an idea that I truly feel for, I will drive it and I will drive it very fast. A full-length album? I don't know. Quite frankly these days, releasing a single can get the same attention. But who knows what the future may bring. I will certainly take it step by step... But most probably faster than most.

CV: More and more artists are opting to release EPs or singles. Are full length albums a thing of the past these days in your opinion?
MGS: It's funny how things change over time. My actions have fortified your statement. By the same token, I do not think that full-length albums are a thing of the past. I actually put out a Christmas EP (Christmas Miracle – Global Star Productions) and a Movie Soundtrack EP (Classical 1- “Themes of the Monkey King” – Global Star Productions).  But one thing is for sure, I know a lot of people who put out albums and there's only one or two good songs on the whole damn thing. So what's the point? One thing I will promise you, I will not put out an album of a bunch of crap and only one or two good songs. I cannot do that. If I put out a full-length album, I will only put out quality. Music I believe in. I really don't see me doing it unless I have the right material to do it properly. Even then, maybe I'll just release it one single at a time.  I guess only time will tell...

CV: Your success has prompted you to become a motivational speaker, sharing your story and teaching others how to follow their dreams. What do you see as the biggest obstacle people face when looking to pursue their heart's desire?
MGS: Themselves.  I have been speaking to groups for a long time now. I started doing it on The Scorpions tour 1991. I was invited to colleges and groups to lecture. I really enjoy it. And I think I offer some insight from a very interesting position that most people do not get the opportunity to see.

There is certainly one thing more than anything that I see in the prevention of people obtaining their dreams. It is the doubt within themselves. It is their own actions and beliefs that prevent them from achieving success in any area. If you believe that something is unattainable, then the likelihood of you obtaining it is very remote. By the same token, if you believe something is obtainable, the likelihood of you obtaining it is a far greater. Exponentially! Anything is possible. More often than not, somebody has done it. If it were impossible, how would they do it? A good plan and strong belief! Pure determination and persistence. That's the formula. People that don't believe and nay-sayers should just get the hell out of the way. With me, you can either Lead, Follow or be prepared to be run over by a steamroller. Nothing else will be tolerated.

CV: To date, what do you see as your greatest accomplishment? MGS: I don't know if I really like to answer this question. I believe my greatest accomplishment has yet to come. Not to mention, I don't know if musical ventures or accomplishments within the arena of music will list as my greatest accomplishment. I really don't know. It's not about what your greatest accomplishment is. It's a matter of the goals you set for yourself and obtaining those goals. It's the relentless pursuit of accomplishment that I believe achieves greatness. Not just doing one thing. And I don't believe that achieving something for yourself necessarily benefits the greater good. In music, perhaps it can be. When people share your music or helps them to live, share love, etc., that can be something very, very amazing and can even make the world a better place. I am very proud of the work I do with the charity Hope 4 Kids International, but I believe my job here is not done yet...

CV: What's next for you?
MGS: “What's next?” The immortal words of President Bartlet from the famous TV series “The West Wing”. In asking that question, it pushes you. It drives you in a direction to do more. I think as long as we keep asking that question that's what keeps us going. That's what points us in a direction to do more and possibly achieve greatness. There's always more to be done. I meet lots of famous people, successful people. And you know what I keep seeing, they keep doing stuff. They have a half a billion dollars in the bank, but yet they're still involved with projects and doing things. Why? They should be on the beach in Hawaii doing absolutely nothing. I'm sure they take breaks. But that's not what they live for. That's not what keeps them going. If there's something in life you love to do, then you just f****** do it! No matter how much money or how much success or how much greatness you obtain. As long as I feel there's something more to be done, I will be doing it. So what's next for me? All I can tell you is, if you really want to know, just keep watching...

And keep an eye on my website:

(Ha!!!  You gotta love the shameless plug!)

CV: Thank you again Mark for spending some time talking and sharing with our readers. I wish you all the best and continued success.

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My name is Mick Michaels...I'm an artist, music fan, songwriter, producer, dreamer and guitarist for the traditional Heavy Metal band Corners of Sanctuary. Writing has always been a creative outlet for me; what I couldn't say in speech, I was able to do with the written word.  Writing has given me a voice and a way for me to create on a multitude of platforms including music and song, articles, independent screenplays, books and now, artist interviews. The Cosmick View is an opportunity to raise the bar and showcase artists in a positive and inspirational light. For me, it's another out-of-this-world adventure.

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