Mark Fletcher is a Slough-based Americana guitarist and songwriter, who performs in two duos, the Remnants and Slough Bar Romeos.

The Remnants put out both a five-song EP ‘You Make Me Smile’ and an album ‘All That Remains’ last year, and Saloon Bar Romeos released two singles, ‘Her Tribute (For Amy)’ and ‘Clouds’. They were all released on local indie label Heavy Traffic Music.

Pennyblackmusic spoke to Mark Fletcher about both the Remnants and Saloon Bar Romeos.


PB: You formed the Remnants in 2019 with Alex Rice who you had worked with on and off with since 2006. Had you been in bands with Alex before?

MARK FLETCHER: Alex and myself were two of the founding members of a punk band called The Nasca Lines back in 2006. I played a few gigs before I quit. I had no problem with the guys in the band. I live with bipolar and had to stop and change my lifestyle.

Jules Gabriah who runs Heavy Traffic Music really likes my songs, but I can't sing. He asked if I knew any singers. I called Alex and he came round for a jam. We recorded some demos of my songs and sent them to Jules. He booked us in the studio, and the Remnants were born. We recorded the ‘You Make Me Smile’ EP in one day at Bonified Studio in Muswell Hill in London.

PB: You wrote all the songs on ‘You Make Me Smile’, but just two of the songs ‘Ugly and Greedy’ and ‘I Played The Game’ on ‘All That Remains’, both of which are the only electric tracks. Was that a conscious decision to separate yours and Alex’s songwriting on this, with him writing the acoustic songs and you writing the electric tracks, or was that just the way it turned out?

MF: Unfortunately due to COVID19, time was precious in the studio. Originally we had planned six songs each. But it seemed easier for Alex to record the majority and save him learning my songs. So, I only wrote ‘Ugly and Greedy’ and ‘I Played the Game’.

PB: Where was 'All That Remains' recorded given that you were struggling with lockdown at the time? Was it recorded entirely at the home or partially in the studio?

MF: ‘All That Remains’ was recorded by Jules at the Heavy Traffic Studio in Slough. We only had a short window to complete the album.

PB: The Remnants come from what could be described as a classic school of songwriting. Songs are minimal and direct, often based around one guitar and voice and possibly one other instrument. Nothing lasts more than four minutes and many clock in at just over two minutes and they never outstay their welcome. Is that again deliberate?

MF: Absolutely, I have an approach of get in and play what you need, write what you need to get the message across. Don't repeat too much!

PB: ‘Ugly and Greedy' is a very angry song. Who are you asking on it "how can you live with yourself?" Is it anyone in particular?

MF: It is about my gambling, womanizing dad, who left my mum to fend for herself when I was seven years old. I suppose the anger will never fade, but it was great fun and cathartic to record.

PB: 'I Played the Game' seems to conclude that obeying the rules can often get us nowhere. is that an accurate interpretation? What inspired that?

MF: It is very accurate. It's inspired by the people who constantly break rules, lie, cheat, scheme and come up smelling of roses.

PB: Saloon Bar Romeos started out as a covers band performing Lionel Richie covers at weddings. At what point did you decide to start writing your own material for them?

MF: I had my own material while playing with my good friend Duke Cunningham who is the vocalist in Saloon Bar Romeos. I played him my songs and he loved them.

PB: Saloon Bar Romeos’ songs are pretty stark and minimal as well. How does the songwriting work with them in comparison to the Remnants?

MF: I really write what I feel. If a song is two minutes or four, as long as the message gets through I'm happy.

PB: Of the two Saloon Bar Romeos’ songs you have released so far, ‘Her Tribute’ is about a drug addict and dedicated to “for Amy”. Is that about Amy Winehouse?

MF: I actually wrote ‘Her Tribute’ the day Amy Winehouse died. It made me so sad. But it could be about any addict during the last days of their life.

PB: 'Clouds' seems to be about a battle between depression and trying to grab at hope. Was 'Clouds' inspired by living with bipolar?

MF: It is totally inspired about living with bipolar - the ups and downs, the light and dark days and doing my best to cope. Music helps, whether listening, writing or playing.

PB: Do you write in mind separately for the Remnants or Saloon Bar Romeos or do you put things in a general pool and pick things depending on what seems appropriate at the time?

MF: Duke in the Saloon Bar Romeos will only sing songs that he feels of has a connection with like ‘Her Tribute’. Alex in the Remnants on the other hand loves my Nostrodamus like lyrics and puts his own stamp on what I write.

PB: What are your plans for 2021?

MF: The Remnants are hoping to promote and gig the EP and album as soon as possible. There are plenty more songs. Alex is also working on a solo project. I'm looking forward to releasing a Saloon Bar Romeos EP In the summer. Hopefully we will get back to gigging as soon as possible also.

PB: Thank you.









Related Links:

https://heavytrafficmusic.bandcamp.com/
https://twitter.com/barromeos
https://www.heavytrafficmusic.co.uk/artists/the-remnants/


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