Fan of the Month – Mark Poirier

You can take Mark Poirier out of Tucson, AZ, but you can’t take the Tucson, AZ out of Mark! His latest screenplay – simply titled Goats – was filmed in Mark’s hometown and is scheduled for an early 2012 release. It stars Vera Farmiga, David Duchovny and Minnie Driver. He also wrote Smart People [2008] starring Dennis Quaid, Sarah Jessica Parker, Ellen Page and Thomas Haden Church. In addition to screenplays, Mark writes novels [Modern Ranch Living and the aforementioned Goats] and short stories [Naked Pueblo and Unsung Heroes of American Industry]. Enough talk about books and movies, let’s hear what kind of music smart people listen to…

Mark Poirier:One Louder Magazine: The desert island question: if you were stranded on a desert island and could take the collected works of five artists, who would the five be?

1. Fishbone

2. The Jam

3. The English Beat

4. Jay Farrar [Uncle Tupelo, Son Volt, and his solo stuff]

5. Arcade Fire


OLM: Tell me more about Fishbone. Who are they? What’s their story?

MP: Fishbone was seriously one of the best things about my youth. I was already into ska when I heard Fishbone’s first single “Modern Industry,” but I had never heard ska interpreted in that funky way.

I believe the members of Fishbone got together when they were in junior high in Los Angeles in 1979 or 1980, just as punk was taking root in that part of the world. If you ever had a chance to see them live, you could tell they knew each other really well.

They were all superb musicians, and they blended ska with funk, punk, and metal like no other band. They also had a social conscience, intelligence, and a sense of humor. They created their own style. I don’t think it was easy for a group of black guys to break into the alternative music scene, but they did.

I shouldn’t talk about them in the past tense, because they’re still around, still touring with a few of the original members.

OLM: Why do they make your desert island five?

MP:  They were so much a part of my youth — eagerly awaiting their new releases, seeing them live — they had to make my list.

And it’s not just nostalgia. I still listen to them and admire them today.  

They also remind me of my good friend Rose, who died eight years ago. She was a huge Fishbone fan, and she and I had great times at their shows together.


OLM: How were you introduced to them? When did you get into their music?

MP:  I think I saw the “Modern Industry” video on MTV, then my friend Joe bought a tape of their first EP, and I thought it was the most exciting and provocative music I had ever heard. 


OLM: Have you seen them live?

MP: Eighteen times. The first time was at a place called Nino’s Steakhouse in Tucson in 1985. There was no stage. They played right there in your face. It was the first and best show I’ve ever been to. A sweaty, loud, churning mass of musicians and fans. It was heaven. Fishbone made me a fan of not only their shows, but of all live music.

I got to meet Angelo Moore in the parking lot before that first show, and it was the first time I was ever star struck. The guy’s a genius on so many levels, and even at 16, I understood this.

OLM: Do you get the same sense of satisfaction from their live shows as you do with their releases? In other words, do their live shows live up to your expectations?

MP:  Their live shows were some of the best hours I’ve spent on this planet. So, yes. 


OLM: Are there any particular albums of Fishbone’s that stand out from others?

MP:  I think their first EP, simply titled Fishbone is my favorite. Every time I listen to it, I can conjure up the excitement I experienced when I first heard it at age 16. Truth and Soul and In Your Face are also great examples of early Fishbone.


OLM: Curveball question. Extreme guitarist, Nuno Bettencourt, wrote the music for Smart People. Was this your call? Are you a fan of Nuno’s and/or Extreme’s work?

MP:  To be honest, as a teenager, I made fun of Extreme. Nuno Bettencourt doing the music for Smart People was not my call. I was just the screenwriter. By the time he was hired, the control of the movie was ceded to the studio, Miramax. I think some critics were pretty harsh about the music, but I actually think it was totally germane for the film. It’s not intrusive, and — this may sound corny — lovely. As much as I was not a fan of Extreme, I know that Nuno Bettencourt is a rare talent, and I admire him very much. He’s also a very nice guy who’s devoted his life to his passion. I have the soundtrack to Smart People on my iPod, and I don’t fast forward when one of the songs comes on.



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