For the five members of the Connecticut-based progressive rock group Mile Marker Zero, gaining individual satisfaction through a collaborative, team-driven effort is the essence of true art celebrated through self-expression and sonic chemistry.
From the moment they formed nearly a decade ago while attending Western Connecticut University school of music, the group, led by vocalist Dave Alley, John Tuohy (guitars), Mark Focarile (piano/keyboards), Tim Rykoski (bass) and Doug Alley (drums), has taken a slightly off-kilter, multi-tiered approach towards modern rock music spending the past decade honing their skill set both as musicians and songwriters.
Check the Progstravaganza Questionnaire with Mark Focarile belowç
How did you come to do what you do?
I began playing piano when I was 8 years old. My mom played piano, and my dad played drums, so music was very important in our house.
What is your first musical memory?
When I was really young, I used to play 45”s on my PlaySkool record player and pretend to sing into a microphone or reach my hands up on the piano in the family room.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I try to draw on inspiration from all kinds of music because as a keyboardist, I’m able to take the song in so many different sonic directions depending on what I’m feeling. Certain sounds will also inspire me to play a certain way.
What message does the song on our Progstravaganza compilation carry?
“A Trick of the Tongue” is about being consistently lied to by the Government, and how easily people fall into the trap of believing whatever is told to them.
Do you tend to follow any pre-defined patterns when composing a piece?
We don’t have any pre-definied patterns, but it’s easy for us to get obsessive over one particular part or detail, so we record as much of our ideas and jams as possible, so we can come back to it the next day with a fresh prospective.
What is your method of songwriting?
Most of the time, we’ll start with a riff or chord progression and begin jamming on it to see where it might lead us. We’ll play around with different textures and arrangements, and one idea will spark another one. Lately, we’ve been trying to get the main structure of the song down first, and then going back and working out some of the intricacies so we can keep a good overall perception of the song without getting too bogged down with one part.
How do you see your music evolving?
The writing sessions for “Young Rust” were long, and really made us examine ourselves to find out who we really wanted to be as a band. We’ve been inspired by bands who evolve and take chances, and we feel now like we can do the same while still connecting to what our personality is.
What advice would you give to other musicians, trying to make inspired music and get it out in the world?
Learn as many skills in the music industry as you can. From recording to booking, to marketing, you have to do as much as possible on your own. If you want your band to make headway, you have to get it out there yourself.
What are you looking forward to?
Now that the EP is out, I’m looking forward to playing as much as possible and seeing us play in as many new places as possible.
Bands, send your music submissions for the Progstravaganza compilation series to firstname.lastname@example.org