PUBLISHED OCTOBER 13, 1995 in THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR

 

BY NICK KREWEN

 

A motorcycle accident seven years ago might have been the best thing to ever happen to MARK HOWARD.

At the time, Howard was a Hamilton-based soundman working for The Guitar Clinic, spending his days and nights for five years traveling the Ontario bar circuit working with rock bands.

Then came the accident, which injured his back and prevented him from loading any heavy equipment, Since he couldn't load sound gear, his employment opportunities were crippled.

So Howard walked into Grant Avenue, met MAUREEN DOIDGE, and began his new career as recording engineer.

A year later, he hooked up with DAN LANOIS, and approached him with an idea.

"I was developing my own road-ready sound system," recalls Howard, "Dan was interested in the concept of a portable studio."

Howard traveled to New Orleans to set up shop in Lanois' newly purchased Kingsway Studio in the French Quarter, which is where he's been based for the past six years.

As Lanois' right hand man, Howard has engineered both Lanois solo albums, Acadie  and The Beauty Of Wynona, as well as projects for IGGY POP, R.E.M. and CHRIS WHITLEY, to name a few.

He's also toured with Lanois around the world, and over the past year, set up recording studios in Mexico and The Joshua Tree for the internationally renowned recording artist and producer to simultaneously work on a pair of albums.

"We recorded at one place in San Jose de Cabo, this dusty little Mexican town. There was a house cut into the side of the mountain. One side had a glass balcony overlooking the Sea Of Cortez, and that's where we set up the studio. The album was basically recorded outdoors."

These days, Mark Howard is branching out onto his own.

His first big production credit is the new TRAGICALLY HIP album, Day For Night, which was recorded in New Orleans and Canada, and he's scheduled to begin work on Southern guitarslinger IAN MOORE's sophomore album as well as bassist DARYL JOHNSON's first effort for Real World.

He's also completed some remixing work on a new MIDNIGHT OIL tune, has engineered a few songs on the new R.E.M. album Monster, and will be rejoining Lanois to continue work on his albums -- an instrumental and a vocal -- in November.

"I wanted to have my own ideas and build my own career," said Howard, 30, recently over the phone from his new San Francisco pad, a Victorian home where he resides with his girlfriend and his collection of Harley motorcycles.

"I've been with Dan for six years, and thought the time was ripe. A lot of projects I couldn't take because of my commitment to Dan. Plus I was afraid of being dragged into his world and losing my creative identity."

In the case of The Hip, the Manchester-born Howard won the job as the band's co-producer after touring with them across Canada last summer and recording the benefit single Land, which also included Lanois, Midnight Oil and CRASH VEGAS.

He said his biggest challenge was breaking new sonic ground for the band.

"I thought they needed a new sound sonically," says Howard. "They've been slightly uninteresting for the past while, but the band took some chances. They were nervous about some guitar and drum techniques, but I tried creating more of a deeper image than guitars in your face. It's a darker sounding record."

Howard also revealed that a second "secret" album was recorded by The Hip, but he's unsure if it will be released in the future.

"It's called The Shadow Album," divulged Howard. "A couple of things on it are pretty outside. This is more of a film soundtrack-stylish work."

-30-

DISCOGRAPHY

1988 -- Blue Rodeo, Diamond Mine -- Warner (as mixer)

1989 -- Crash Vegas, Red Earth -- Risque Disque/Warner

1989 -- Bob Dylan, Oh Mercy -- Columbia

1994 -- Chris Whitley, Living In The Law -- WORK

1994 -- Lisa Germano, Happiness

1996 -- Chris Whitley, Terra Incognita     WORK (Sony)

1996 -- Lisa Germano, Geek The Girl

1998 -- Brian Blade Fellowship, Brian Blade Fellowship -- Blue Note

1998 -- Willie Nelson, Teatro

AS PRODUCER

1996 -- The Tragically Hip, Day For Night -- MCA/Universal

1996 -- Various Artists, Sling Blade

LONGFORM VIDEO

1999 -- Willie Nelson, Willie Nelson's Teatro

7copy1996, 1999 Nick Krewen, Octopus Media Ink

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