Kal Marks Discusses “My Name Is Hell”, Sopranos, Masks & More

Dominic Acito: Congratulations on the new record. It’s really super. You released a demo album titled broken songs beforehand. How was it for you to see the songs reach an audience before you really felt done with them? Did you feel like you were responding to feedback from people who had heard the demos?

Carl Shane: The songs changed a lot, but not because of the feedback, because honestly there wasn’t a lot of feedback on it. I think when I took out the broken songs stuff, there was so much going on. I thought I was going to make a decent amount of money for the recording, but that’s definitely not the case. It was just that there was so much going on that I understand it doesn’t count as a real release. I think our official full album is always going to get a lot more attention, and there’s also, like, the PR behind it and the label behind it. So, me putting out demos, it’s just for the real enthusiast, and it’s not like that and that from Houston, Texas, it’s gonna be like, hey, that’s what I thought. I haven’t really had a lot of feedback on it. And honestly, I don’t know, I might be wrong, but some people might have bought it just to support us and maybe didn’t even listen to it. I have no idea. So the songs didn’t change at all based on the feedback. It’s just that all the songs have changed just because a lot of these demos are just by myself.

When we get together with a band, everyone’s taste and style affects the song and changes it and honestly changes it for the better, in my opinion. I’m not too attached to my vision or anything, but I also understand that people who play in Kal Marks really don’t get paid. We do it because we love it. I hope we can make some money. But I have to respect their time, so if they’re going to be part of it, they want to have their voices heard, in fact, most of the time.

Just, like, letting the other band members have their say and it’s all good for them and it’s good for the songs because I can’t play drums. Leave that to someone who’s been playing drums his whole life.

DA: There’s a cover of the Sopranos theme on it. Did you watch the Sopranos in confinement?

CS: Yeah, we started watching it during lockdown and I had never watched The Sopranos before and fell in love with it. It was really a lock watch. We hardly saw anyone. So it started with my friend Pat from Bethlehem Steel and he’s also in a new band that I’m in with Christina from Kal Marks and Bethlehem Steel. We were just watching it on Zoom Together and yes, I fell in love with that show. I can’t believe it took me so long to watch it.

DA: It’s a big commitment. What’s interesting, though, is that I don’t know if you’ve seen The Wire, but the intro to this definitely sounds like a song that could be on my name is hell because this record has so much to do with heaven and hell and the devil and God, themes like that. I know you are also a fan of Tom Waits and he wrote the theme song “Way Down in the Hole”.

CS: Yeah. I love Tom Waits. Frankly. Everyone complains about the Sopranos theme song, it seems. I actually love it, and I think it’s kind of iconic, but maybe it could have been a better song if it was by someone like Tom Waits.

DA: Yeah, it really feels like the 90s. Did you like the song right away, or did you eventually start liking it because you had heard it so much?

CS: I had heard it even before watching the series because one of my best friends, she was obsessed with the series. it was funny, when i was going to hang out with her and her husband, i would hear the song because they had it in the background. So I thought to myself, what is this song? And she’s like, oh. She’s like, I’m deep into the Sopranos. Yeah. I get the fandom of this one.

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