Mark Renner :: The Aquarium Drunkard Interview

As a young man in Baltimore, Mark Renner created music that coupled the energy of punk and new wave with a sense of romantic longing. Recently, Brooklyn-based label RVNG Intl released Few Traces, a wide-angle selection of Renner's early work recorded between 1982-1990. The material varies in tone, evoking the thrum of Joy Division at one turn, the alien soundscapes of Talk Talk at another, and the quiet calm of Harold Budd elsewhere, but even as the compilation showcases different sounds, moving from lyrical passages and long stretches of ambient quiet, it maintains a spiritual cohesion.

Mark Renner :: Saints and Sages

These days, Renner spends his time in Fort Worth, Texas, creating new soundscapes and working on paintings and woodcuts. Aquarium Drunkard caught up with him to discuss this recent reappraisal, his early days, and his creative nature.

Aquarium Drunkard: There's a theme of churches being referenced in your lyrics and song titles. In Brandon Soderburg's notes for Few Traces, you talk about sneaking out of Sunday school in your youth to play guitar in a church's reverberating halls. What is it about those spaces that moves you?

Mark Renner: One of my favorite things to do in Scottland -- I go there every year -- is visiting the  St Giles' Cathedral in Edinburgh. There's usually an organist practicing there, and I reserve some time at the end of the day to listen. I have a fondness for church music, both traditional hymns and classical.

AD: It feels like location plays a role in the music you make.  You're in Texas now, Fort Worth, correct?

Mark Renner: Yeah. I came expecting to be here a very short time, and I'm now beginning my ninth year. [Laughs] If you want to make God laugh tell him your plans.

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