– Male Boxx: Mark Robert Fuller of Gold Fields
The instant Gold Fields’ frontman Mark Robert Fuller appears on stage, it is clear he is a star. Tall and narrow, more often than not with a hood pulled over his unruly mop of wavy locks, the vocalist for the Australian quintet seems permanently on edge—in a good way. Leading his group through their indie-dance combination of surefire-hits-to-be from debut album, Black Sun, Gold Fields’ performance is an unfailingly taut one.
Not quite fitting in with indie-rock sensibilities—or dance ones for that matter—Gold Fields is confusing its already dedicated audience. Expecting something conventionally rock-y, Gold Fields fans are instead met with a group that can slide easily into a cover version of Underworld’s “Born Slippy” (made famous by Trainspotting) to dual drummers and a grinding guitar on their own song “Moves” before lightening up with the twinkling melodies of “Treehouse.”
It took three separate recordings of Black Sun before Gold Fields were happy with the result. Recording take one was with Mickey Petralia (Flight Of The Concords, Ladytron, Peaches) in Los Angeles. Take two was with the group’s manager Scott Horscroft (the Presets, Sleepy Jackson, Silverchair) on a farm in Australia. Take three was the band on its own in Fuller’s parents’ garden shed.
“We just weren’t getting the sounds or the vibe we wanted,” says Fuller of Black Sun’s not-so-false starts. “The first time we were in massive studios with American producers and engineers who are absolute pros, but we’d never been in a studio before so we felt a little bit in over our heads. The second time we were just trying to fix everything until we decided to scrap it and re-do it ourselves. When we did it that way was the first time it felt completely natural and we could do things the way we wanted to.”
This would not have been possible without the learning curve Gold Fields experienced with Petralia and Horscroft. “Each song had so many layers of different shit going on, we learned how to strip back and not clutter a song,” says Fuller. “We hadn’t thought of things like tempos and structuring. We learned a lot—enough for us to feel confident within ourselves to record alone.”
With all the effort that has gone into Black Sun’s pop-meets-indie-rock-meets-electronic-dance sounds, Fuller has no reference point for a group Gold Fields can model themselves after. In fact, he’s not sure he can call it a career until he makes some money from the venture. “I haven’t mapped out how to make a living off of making music—or if that can actually happen,” he says honestly. “I love the writing side of being a musician so that’s the part I would see more of a career in, but it seems the money-making side of things come from trying to fool people into buying your music, and I don’t want to do that. From what I gather, musicians don’t make much money these days.”
Hand-in-hand with trying to make a living from music is a musicians’ required reliance on social media—not something Fuller is enamored with either, even if Gold Fields did snag model Shaun Ross for their “Dark Again” video via Twitter exchanges.
“On the whole, we are pretty bad at social media,” Fuller admits. “It’s a great way for people to get information on where we’re playing and stuff, but social media shouldn’t have anything to do with being a musician. It’s a shame that it has become a part of it. Musicians used to be relevant because they made good music. These days musicians are judged by how many likes they have on Facebook or how many YouTube hits they’ve had. This mean bands are focusing on how they can get more hits and likes instead of focusing on making good music or a good live show. I think social media is making bands better at social networking and shittier at being musicians.” Fuller also had plenty of opinions on the female musicians who have inspired him.
Mark Robert Fuller on the women (musicians) in his life…
Who are some of your favorite female musicians of all time?
“Stevie Nicks, Whitney Houston, Beth Ditto.”
How have these female artists inspired you and your music?
“Fleetwood Mac has influenced most pop musicians in some way. Whitney Houston helped me fall in love with music. Beth Ditto is almost before her time. She’s a true, unique, modern day artist in every sense of the word and her voice is amazing.”
What would you recommend from one (or more) of these particular artists?
“I would recommend seeing (Beth Ditto’s band) the Gossip live. We toured with them on a festival in Australia and their show is awesome.”
Are there any female musicians on your radar now that people should check out?
“There is a singer-songwriter from Australia named Emma Louise. I’ve only heard a few songs but she’s a great writer and really captivating live. She’s putting her first album out really soon. And obviously Haim are on everybody’s must see list this year.”
Are there any all-girl bands or female bassists, drummers, guitarists that you admire?
“I’m excited to hear more stuff from Haim. There’s also a rock band from Australia called Stonefield. It’s four young sisters playing real rock ‘n’ roll stuff if you’re into that. They’re so good for their age. It’s weird watching them live because they look so little and they’re belting out these huge rock sounds.”
If you could collaborate with any female artist who would it be?
“I’d love to collaborate with Robyn. I’m not sure why but she was the first one that popped into my head. I really like her music.”
Buy Gold Fields’ debut Black Sunhere