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Interview with Mark Wilkerson of Course of Nature

Known for their single “Anger Cage”, Course of Nature was originally signed to Lava/Atlantic Records in 2001; experiencing label changes as well as band members. CON is back again in 2007. I was able to get a phone interview with founder, Mark Wilkerson (vocalist and rhythm guitarist). Not only a major artist with an upcoming album to be released Jan 22, 2008; Mark is also married to the beautiful Melissa Joan Hart.

Scottydawg: I’m here talking to Mark Wilkerson, lead singer and rhythm guitarist, of Course of Nature. Thanks for the phone call. Can you tell me a little about how your band was formed?

Mark Wilkerson: It was originally formed as a cover band. Then we started writing our own music. We played this club for about two years and then we started throwing in our originals and we were getting a good response. It was really, I guess, lucky that we didn’t have to go through the whole horror stories that bands go through getting a record deal. We got instant responses from the labels and literally over the course of a weekend we had a record deal.

Scottydawg: I noticed that. You were originally signed to Atlantic Records.

Mark: Once we got one call from a label, they just poured in. I guess they all talk. Once one finds out that a deal is on the table, then everybody tries to put that out there.

Scottydawg: When you got that call from Atlantic Records, how did you initially feel about it?

Mark: I don’t know, it’s weird. It’s kinda like you’re struck by lightning. It’s like an athlete making it to the NFL or something like that; so hard to do it and so many obstacles. But getting the deal is just the framework to building your career. You still have to make it.

Scottydawg: Well you’ve toured with some pretty big bands such as Nickelback and Creed. If you had the opportunity to tour with any band, who would come to mind?

Mark: Obviously we would like an arena tour with Nickelback again because there’s no denying the power of a mass audience. But if I had to choose any band right now would be one of my buddies’ band that is doing really well, Breaking Benjamin. As far as music and writing and what’s going on today, they’re definitely my favorite band out there.

Scottydawg: You have an upcoming album titled Damaged. Has it been released yet?

Mark: No it hasn’t been released yet. The first single is out on the radio called “Anger Cage”. The album is tentatively to be released either later this year or in January. There’s no solid date yet but that’s the schedule right now.
Author’s Notes: “Damaged” will be released in stores Jan 22, 2008.

Scottydawg: Do you have a tour planned to kick off the release of the new album?

Mark: Not yet. If Breaking Benjamin is going out in January, we’re gonna be doing that tour, but it’s not solid yet. The rest of this year we’re gonna be playing radio shows. Just basically going around, re-introducing ourselves and seeing if anyone remembers us; try to start building again.

Scottydawg: On the new album, Damaged, you have ten tracks. Do you plan on playing all of them while on tour?

Mark: It depends on the set and how long it is that night. If it’s an hour and a half; yeah, we’ll play every song. If it’s your typical half hour or forty-five minute set, then we’ll play six or seven off the new and three or four off the old. We still wanna let people know that was us four years ago.

Scottydawg: Has your music changed in the last four years?

Mark: It has. I think we’re a little more aggressive sounding now. The problem was our main set off our first record; it was a ballad. And our first song off the new album “Anger Cage”; it’s a heavier song. It may be hard for people to remember us by “Anger Cage”.

Scottydawg: I love that song. It’s like stuck in my head. Where did the lyrics come from and what inspired you to write that song?

Mark: For me, it’s all about where I lived. I’m from south Alabama and I moved out to Los Angeles five years ago. It’s like finding that way to release anger without exploding on somebody (laughs). It’s all about not letting things get the best of you, but getting it off your chest.

Scottydawg: I feel ya. I’ve been told I need to take anger management classes but I think I’ll stick with a Course of Nature (laughs). Now you were originally signed four years ago to Atlantic Records but now you’re with Silent Majority Group. Any particular problems?

Mark: It’s not really that we had a problem; I guess the label had a problem (laughs). We got caught in a really tough time for music. We were on Lava/Atlantic Records. Lava split from Atlantic and tried to go on its own but didn’t have the necessary means to facilitate a band at the time, so we didn’t really get a fair shake on the first go-around. Then it was about doing what’s best for us, and the label doing what’s best for them. Then it came a point to where we were sitting around waiting to see what they wanted to do. It’s a typical thing that labels do. They’re not really interested in doing anything with you but they don’t want anyone else to either (laughs). So it was more or less that we had to wait them out.

Scottydawg: What are your long term goals for Course of Nature?

Mark: We want this record to do well. I want to be back in the studio by at least the beginning of 2009 doing another record. I definitely don’t wanna do the four year nap again (laughs). I just wanna sell enough records that people wanna hear ‘em. And as far as touring, we want that to be something that we love to do, not because we have to do it to support ourselves.

Scottydawg: Any advice you might give to local bands that are just starting out?

Mark: Yeah, stick to your guns. Don’t change cause it’ll all come back around. Once it’s hot, it’ll be hot again. If you really believe in something, stick to it. Definitely arm yourself and protect yourself.

Scottydawg: What’s your personal life like when you’re not on stage or touring?

Mark: If I’m not doing anything related to music then I’m with my son and wife. My wife’s pregnant; we got a second on the way due in March. It’s weird, cause you gotta lead two lives. I really got adjusted to the daddy mode so it’s gonna take me a while to jump into the rock and roll mode (laughs).

Scottydawg: Congratulations on your future child number two. I have to bring this up and I’m sure you get it all the time. You’re married to the actress Melissa Joan Hart.

Mark: Yes.

Scottydawg: How did you two meet and how do you both find the time to manage professional careers as well as a personal life?

Mark: We met at the Kentucky Derby when we were playing a benefit there. She introduced the band that night and then we talked afterwards; kept in touch and then started flying off to see each other. And then from there we got married. That’s how we came to be. As far as how we function in our personal life, we made a commitment, especially since we have kids, that family is definitely number one. One of us will always be available. We don’t work at the same time. So that’s pretty much how we operate.

Scottydawg: Well that’s good that you have a game plan like that. Is there anything that I might not have touched base on that you want to let your fans know?

Mark: Yeah. Our lineup is totally different. We’re a totally new band than we were in 2001. We got a new drummer, new bass player, new guitar player; so people that come see us will see new faces but I’m still writing the music like I did back then. But it’s all gonna be the same deal. I really want people to hear the rest of the record. If “Anger Cage” isn’t their thing, there’s a vast variety of music on there. So check it out.

Scottydawg: Well, Mark. Thanks for taking the time out to give me a call. Your website is www.courseofnature.com and we can check you out on myspace at www.myspace.com/courseofnaturemusic. Your single “Anger Cage” is on the radio as we speak. Look forward to your upcoming album, Damaged, in the next few months. Thanks again, Mark.

Mark: Anytime.

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