(Marc With A C, in concert)
On December 31, 2005, Donny O'Bryan of the Shock Treatment Network had an exciting New Year's Eve thanks to a phone interview with singer Marc With A C (yes, the name really relates to his birthname: Marc Sirdoreus, born January 17, 1978, in San Diego, CA) about his recording experience of his Shock Treatment EP. The taped conversation lasted about 45 minutes. Below is an edited transcript of the interview.
Shock Treatment Network: Hey Marc, this is Donny..
Marc With A C: Hi, Donny. How's it goin'?
STN: Good. Thanks. I knew you had a show last night. How'd it go?
MWAC: Oh, it was a very good show. It was actually very, very hot in the club we were playin' in here in Orlando, Florida.
STN: Oh, is that where you're from?
MWAC: Not originally. I was from San Diego. Now I'm in Florida.
STN: How long have you been recording?
MWAC: Originally? Since 1995. As Marc with a C since 1999.
STN: Did you do any covers in last night's show?
MWAC: Last night was pretty much an "all request" show. We had a ballot on my website where people could vote for the songs they wanted to hear. And the highest charting song from Shock Treatment was "In My Own Way." But I could only perform the top 15 requests, and it wasn't there.
STN: I love that song. That's one of my favorites.
MWAC: That song is a lot of people's favorites.
STN: I imagine you've gathered a new fan base compiled of Shock Treatment fans since you made the EP. Have you ever done any Rocky Horror songs?
MWAC: I used to do Touch Me, a long time ago.
STN: So you are a fan of Rocky Horror?
MWAC: I saw Rocky Horror years ago on home video. I was really drawn to how something so terrible could live on through the ages. It was probably the first B-movie I really fell in love with. And I heard over time "oh, there's this sequel called Shock Treatment." I finally tracked one down --I was maybe 15; I'm 27 now-- So I watched it. I had no idea what to make of it. I thought it was one of the worst movies I had ever seen. Over time, I found a used copy of it and bought it for like a dollar. It didn't even have the cover art with it. Then I watched it really late one night. I had talked to anybody in like 3 days, and I was really stressed. And the movie absolutely destroyed me. There were so many underlying things going on with the plot. And I fell in love with it. It was very bright while being very depressing at the same time.
STN: So it seemed natural that you should record some Shock Treatment songs...
MWAC: I'd done "Bitchin' In The Kitchen" a few times at shows and I always joked "One day I'll cover the soundtrack." That started around 1999 or 2000. Then I said that to a club owner here in 2003, and he said, "You know what, man? You've been sayin' that for 4 years. Either do it or don't do it. I'm sick and tired you going on about it." So I said alright, fine. I did it just to shut up the club owner.
STN: Tell me about your studio.
MWAC: Almost all of my recordings are usually made at home, predominantly recorded on a 4-track. But Shock Treatment was originally recorded in my old bedroom. And the newer Shock Treatment songs, like "Thank God I'm A Man" have been recorded in a little office I got set up in my new home.
STN: What instruments do you play?
MWAC: I play a lot of instruments. I play guitar well. But I also play drums. I play every instrument you hear on the Shock Treatment EP.
STN: Which Shock Treatment song did you record first?
MWAC: I could be wrong, but I believe the first four songs on the soundtrack were done in one shot. I just pressed record, started with Denton USA, went right into bitchin' in the kitchen, then right into in my own way, and so forth. I then played the tape back, and if I thought of a harmony to add, then I just layered it on top of my original. I do all the backing vocals.
STN: Except for "Thank God I'm A Man", I'm sure, 'cuz I think I heard some female backing vocals in the "audience" section of the song.
MWAC: Um, no, that's actually me doing all those people. Layering my voice over and over till it sounds right.
STN: There are some great harmonys in that part of the song. But I'm getting ahead of myself. I wanna talk about each song. Starting with Denton USA. I really, really enjoy the accoustic guitar format for the song. It's a nice change. As a matter of fact, I was telling someone recently that you should eventually do your own accoustic guitar version of "Overture."
MWAC: It's not something I'm closed off to, it's just something I'm not convinced I could do well.
STN: Really? I think you're underestimating your talent. Your guitar playing is amazing.
MWAC: Well, thank you. As far as Denton USA goes, it can be looked at as a celebration of their town, but it can also be looked at, in the end, that the town as gone to hell. So I chose to do it as an ode to my hometown that has now gone to pieces. That's how I tried to approach that song.
STN: I noticed that you changed one of the lines. I don't know if it was intentional or you didn't have the lyrics with you.
MWAC: You're referring to the word "thankfullness". When I recorded the song, I tried not to play it a lot. I like to do it the way I hear it in my head usually. So I'll end up making my own arrangement too much overexposure to the original song. Because of that, I flubbed some lines. Also because of the one-take nature of the original recording. I wouldn't be able to go back and fix one part, I'd have to re-record the entire thing.
STN: I believe the next song is Bitchin' In The Kitchen.
MWAC: Well, that always seemed like a divorce song. I mean, it's obviously a marriage on the rocks.
STN: I noticed you removed the reference to the depilitator.
MWAC: I really didn't know what a depilatator was. And since I couldn't relate to it, I changed it in the recording. ...and it's very hard to remember the order of the appliances.
STN: I'm surprised you didn't have a printed lyric in front of you.
MWAC: You know, I should have. But I went on a quick goose chase online trying to find chords--which I found on a website, but the chords were really off. Really incorrect.
STN: I have a few midi sheet musics on my site if you want. Like, Looking for Trade.
MWAC: Eventually, I'm going to record Looking For Trade. It will be in a different key, and have an entirely different mood. The original sounds very dated and like a period piece. My version will be more of a celebration mood.
STN: In My Own Way is the next song on your list that you recorded. I gotta tell ya. The first time I heard the opening guitar chords, it just blew me away. It had such a haunting feeling of sadness. Just beautiful. And then you even topped that about 3/4th of the way through the song when you remove an entire line, leaving a sad silence in the vocal slot.
MWAC: Yes, that was completely intentional. I thought, leaving out a line like "I hope that you know just what to say" when instead, you don't know what to say.
STN: Lullaby is next. I noticed you messed up a line or two from Janet's verse.
MWAC: Ya know, I had no idea what she was saying. I always thought if there were an audience participation line for that part of the film, it would be "What are you saying? What are you talking about?" And whenever I sang it in a show, I garbled that line as well. So it was intentional.
STN: I love your version of the song Shock Treatment. I love the instrumental break at the end. What a great way to end the song. It reminds me in a way of Richard O'Brien's solo version.
MWAC: After recording the original first four songs, I eventually started up again. And for whatever reason, I only had a 12-string guitar available, which I normally don't play. So that song was recorded entirely on a 12-string. And when I do it now, in shows, it sounds completely different 'cause I don't have a 12-string. The song Shock Treatment, for me, was like the great hit of the '80s that never was. In it's original version, there's no reason why Richard O'Brien's solo couldn't have been as big as "Physical". It's a great song for the time.
STN: I have to tell you, and I'm sorry to digress here, that I really appreciate the fan who emailed me and directed me to your songs. I was very happy, and I thank him so much!
MWAC: I'm so glad. I thought nobody was going to be attracted to it.
STN: Do you get a lot of positive emails from fans who enjoy it?
MWAC: No, I hear more positive things from people who have posted on the web. Like, "Oh, you've got to go check out this guy named Marc with a C, who did some Shock Treatment songs." My webmaster had received some emails about it, and so has my record label. But very few people actually take the time to email me directly. I get a lot of the information 2nd and 3rd hand, but I'm very happy with the responses.
STN: Yes, I've not heard anything bad about your recordings. But I could mention that I didn't care much for the interpretation of Carte Blanche, which is the next song. It sounds like an mp3 glitch or like a live concert recording done on someone's portable recorder. It's faint and hard to hear. Any chance you'll re-record it? (NOTE: This is something Marc and I have previously discussed, so Marc was quite comfortable with this question).
MWAC: In the film, you don't really hear the song. It's faint in the background, playing on a radio. I was left with the impression that you weren't supposed to hear it. So I recorded it originally in the same style and sound of the other tracks. And then I masked the entire song by literally using every effect I had in the computer. To cover it up and mangle it. Also, I was trying to do it in the original key. I just can't sing that high and I really blew all the takes! Looking back, it probably wasn't the best idea I had. I have considered re-recording it, but I don't know how to do it in a way I'm confortable with. Perhaps one day...
STN: Look What I Did To My Id. What a great version you did. Is that a drum machine you've got going there?
MWAC: It's actually an old casio keyboard. That was all recorded with one microphone, believe it or not. It played a drum machine while I play the accoustic guitar portion, basically. Eventually I overdubbed the keyboard part that sounds like a french horn.
STN: I enjoy how the drums keep going after you're done with the song. That's a cool way to end it.
MWAC: That was because I couldn't get to the drums quick enough to turn it off. That wasn't intentional, actually. It just worked out well. I also thought that I was singing as one voice. Ya know, the movie version expresses the lyrics from many voices, but I tried to combine them all, sort of like, the voice of Denton.
STN: Yes, you did a great job there. Now, your version of Breaking Out is a favorite of Gary Shail, who did the original vocals.
MWAC: I think that is the highest compliment. I appreciate it.
STN: I was curious, however, why you chose to fade in the song instead of starting it cold?
MWAC: Um, I believe there was some technical reason, but it doesn't stick out why I would have faded it in. I may have messed up the intro or something. That may have been the reason.
STN: What about the ending? Breaking out seems to have some psychodelic backward track or something tagged on. I thought it may have been an mp3 error.
MWAC: No, that was completely intentional. I wanted to convey the sort of nightmarish feeling of the song.
STN: I really enjoy how you left out the backing vocals of "ba-duh, duh-ba-ba-duh."
MWAC: I actually tried putting it in the song but with version I was doing, it didn't fit in.
STN: The next song is Duel Duet. It was the first song of yours that I was directed to. They said to me it was a sad interpretation, instead of the upbeat version used on the film's soundtrack. I thought, "okay..." and gave it a listen. I have to agree with them. It is very very sad, the mood. That was important to me when I made the video version to match your song (available for download on this website).
MWAC: Yes, the video is great. I liked how you made it stop near the end.
STN: Thank you.
MWAC: I had a hard time remembering whose vocals were for which lines when I recorded it. This helped me a lot, actually, so I wasn't trying to mimic a particular character. I more or less meant it to be that you were sort of singing it to yourself. One vocal, one person. I hope that came across. If I get any responses to a Shock Treatment song, it's that one. And because of that, I get several requests to play it live. I've never played Duel Duet live because I never knew how to approach it in a live setting and then how to bring the mood back up. I mean, I certainly don't wanna leave them down there on that note.
STN: Thank God I'm A Man. I can't tell you how floored I was when you sent out the newest track. 'Cuz I remember you mentioning to me before that it would probably never get recorded --as you didn't know how to approach it. So when I heard it, I was amazed. Your voice sounds like it's on a radio. And the audience portion of the songs is filled with wonderful harmonies. Harmonies I can't hear in the original version.
MWAC: Yeah, I really love the harmonies. And I did all the vocals. One layer after another. Even the female parts. There was no girl singing with me--just me.
STN: Hey, you could get your girlfriend Nicole to sing with ya.
MWAC: It's very hard to get her to sing. She's actually singing a couple of vocals on my new record that I'm working on. But it takes a little bit of convincing. She's got a beautiful voice.
STN: I can't wait to hear it. Now, let's talk about the future of the Shock Treatment covers. You would eventually like to do the entire soundtrack. I believe you said your current project was Farley's Song?
MWAC: I've already recorded a rough version of Farley's song. But I feel as if I'm missing something. I just can't put my finger on it. It's recorded similar to Thank God I'm A Man, with lots of vocal layers and a drum line as well. But the reason I delayed on recording Thank God I'm A Man (and the remaining songs) is because at the time, I didn't have the technology to do it easily. Now I have a bit more, so I was able to attack the project. And now I can do Farley's song with a bit more confidence.
STN: What's your interpretation of Farley's Song?
MWAC: You know the guy who's had a couple beers and he's just telling you how it used to be, and how great he is? You know, you can just see that false confidence in this guy, and he goes home and sleeps with his teddy bears. That's sort of how I'm trying to approach that.
STN: I can't wait to hear the finished product. Take all the time you need. If it sounds anything like Thank God I'm A Man, it's sure to be a hit with Shock Treatment fans.
MWAC: I've had a couple requests to perform Thank God I'm A Man live but I'm a little bit weary about being in the middle of a club and singing a line like "Faggots are maggots" to a crowd that may not know the context of the song. The only way I could do it is to perform a Shock Treatment only show. Which I am considering. I don't know yet.
STN: Hey, I'm there. Count me in. I'll promote it here on the site.
MWAC: It won't happen until I've finished all the songs, of course.
STN: When the day of this concert happens, perhaps you'll throw in a few Rocky Horror songs. You said you have performed Touch Me before.
MWAC: I had done Sweet Transvestite, but it was too obvious of a song. Touch Me was really easy to play. My shows rely on a lot of audience participation.
STN: Wow, just like Rocky Horror. So tell me about your other songs, non Shock Treatment related. Decribe your style of music.
MWAC: Uh, very sarcastic for the most part. I walk it like I talk it. I write one of my records just like having a conversation.
STN: Can people still download them on your site?
MWAC: There's a few tracks there for download. You know, we definately wanna get people to buy the albums. People should go there and check out the samples.
STN: Well, I wanna thank you, Marc, for taking the time out of your morning to do this interview.
MWAC: Not a problem. It was a lot of fun.
STN: I--or I should say we fans--are looking forward to some new Shocky tracks in the future.
MWAC: Thanks, Donny. Take care.