If you haven’t been paying attention to Canadian independent music for very long, you may not have heard of the Mark Inside. The Toronto band recently released an EP titled False Flag, its first album in over three years. False Flag is a follow-up to the band’s debut album, 2006’s Static/Crash, released on Canadian label MapleMusic. Following disagreements with the label over recording and releasing a sophomore album, the band left MapleMusic and took their sound into their own hands.
“We got in touch with Jim Abbiss in England, who produced the Arctic Monkeys,” vocalist and guitarist Chris Levoir says of the band’s change in direction. “[He] really wanted to focus on how we sound live, and added a lot of subtleties to the recordings.”
After choosing 12 songs to record out of 50 the band brought to Britain, Abbiss got more involved with the band. “He started a label just to sign us,” Levoir says. “That also prolonged the release of the EP for some time.”
Despite long periods of uncertainty, The Mark Inside has re-emerged with more energy and enthusiasm for recording and performing.
“After this long of us playing together, we kept at it because we really do like playing shows,” Levoir says. “As a band, we’ve gotten more into the ethics of writing songs, instead of stringing things together. We’re trying to make real compositions.” The band’s new songwriting and performing style can be seen in the tracks on False Flag and during their explosive live shows. The indie scene in Toronto is different now than it was when the band arrived from surrounding towns seven years ago.
“As it’s gone, it’s been a lot tougher to make money playing shows,” Levoir says. “People are able to get really specific in their tastes and only experience the things they already like.”
But despite such difficulties and changes in the scene, some things have stayed the same. Most importantly for the Mark Inside, the same group of artists that first migrated to Toronto has remained strong.
“The community is very important,” says Levoir, citing local bands Cuff the Duke and Anagram as long-time friends.
“It’s important to have friends you can socialize with and respect as well.” The influence of these groups can be heard in The Mark Inside’s aggressive rock sound, combining heavy guitar riffs, introspective lyrics and energetic rhythms that bring the energy of a live show into each song.
That level of respect and friendship has also resulted in more private shows in lofts and other small venues. Levoir says that he loves the cheap beer and the intimate environment you only get in smaller venues. “You really get to hang out and meet the band. That’s the kind of show we like to play.”
The Mark Inside will be touring in the upcoming months, and currently enjoying radio play on popular outlets like CBC Radio 3. The band is also gearing up for the release of their full-length second album in the spring.
“I think we’ve become more aggressive as a band,” Levoir says. “We’ve changed the way we describe ourselves to others. Our focus and enthusiasm is really showing through.”
The Mark Inside plays Le Divan Orange on January 14.