As both a solo artist and the frontman for enduring cult favorites American
Music Club , Mark Eitzel established himself among the truly powerful forces
in contemporary music; a hauntingly evocative singer, he earned even greater
notoriety for his brilliance as a composer, combining the energy of punk,
the pastoral beauty of folk, and the melodrama of lounge music to build one
of the most impressive and darkly poetic bodies of songs in the modern pop
canon. Born January 30, 1959 in Walnut Creek, CA, Eitzel's military
upbringing led him everywhere from Great Britain to Columbus, OH; as a teen,
he became a born-again Christian, but at the age of 16, he rejected religion
in favor of alcohol, his love/hate relationship with the bottle going on to
fuel much of his subsequent work as a performer. Inspired by punk, he
eventually formed his own group, the Naked Skinnies, and with them relocated
to San Francisco in 1980; there the band quickly dissolved, and three years
later he formed American Music Club .
AMC's 12-year existence was tumultuous, to say the least; Eitzel, prone to
facing his demons while onstage, earned a reputation as a loose cannon, and
despite the lavish critical praise heaped on albums like 1991's Everclear
and 1993's Mercury , the group never rose beyond a fierce cult following.
Eitzel quit the band on numerous occasions, once joining another Bay Area
group, the Toiling Midgets ; in 1991, while still fronting American Music
Club, he issued his solo debut, Songs of Love, a live acoustic set recorded
in London (British audiences being much more receptive to his music than
their American counterparts). A subsequent solo single on Matador, the
lovely "Take Courage," increased rumors of the band's impending breakup, but
they did not truly implode until after the release of 1994's San Francisco .
At that point, Eitzel began pursuing his solo career in earnest, debuting in
1996 with the jazzy 60 Watt Silver Lining . Eitzel's subsequent solo career
soon found him following a wildly eclectic path. In 1997, Eitzel teamed up
with R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck , and in a matter of days they wrote and
recorded West , which matched Eitzel's verse with Buck 's intelligent and
engaging pop melodies. His next album, 1998's Caught In A Trap And I Can't
Back Out 'Cause I Love You Too Much, Baby , was an unusually stark and
downbeat affair, recorded in part with the assistance of Steve Shelley of
Sonic Youth and James McNew from Yo La Tengo . Eitzel next embraced both pop
and electronics with 2001's The Invisible Man, and in 2002 he recorded two
albums of covers - a tribute to the work of other songwriters on Music for
Courage and Confidence, and a look back at his own songs for American Music
Club as performed with a group of Greek folk musicians on The Ugly American.
In 2004 Eitzel got back together with his AMC band mates to record what
would be their best album yet, Love Songs For Patriots (Merge Records). The
album received rave reviews and the band toured worldwide for the first time
in 10 years.
Mark likes to stay busy... he recently released a new solo album called
Candy Ass and is currently working on songs for the next AMC album to be
released in 2008.