"http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd"> MARK ABER
Tyler Vile Goes One on One With
Punk Globe: Hey Mark, pleasure to be doing this interview. Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your band, Agression.
Mark Aber: Well... I have been playing drums and guitar since I was about 13 years old. I grew up around the entertainment industry (music, movies and television), and it has definitely had a large influence on my playing and creativity. I have also gone to school for audio engineering and music production. I played drums in all of the school bands like jazz band, symphonic band, marching band as well as all of the local rock and roll party bands, etc. The school stuff really helped my drumming chops tremendously and I was into all kinds of music at the time. Then punk rock came along! I was heavily involved in the late 70s punk, art and party scenes. I used to frequent all of the infamous Hollywood and Orange county clubs back in the day and saw many, many shows that included all of the classic punk bands of the time: FEAR, X, Black flag, Dead Kennedys, Germs, Dickies, T.S.O.L. etc... So when I hooked up with Aggression (spelled with two Gs at the time) in late 1981, I was good to go! Agression was pretty much the first So-Cal punk band to mix punk rock with skateboarding who wrote and recorded songs about it.
Punk Globe: The sometimes unreliable Wikipedia claims that you aren't the original drummer, yet you claim you are. Would you mind clarifying that dispute for us?
Mark Aber: Well, true. I was not the first drummer for the band. In fact they had a few drummers that did not work out. Larry White was the drummer before me. He recorded with the band on three songs for the first BYO compilation lp "Someone Got Their Head Kicked in". He was fired from the group shortly after that. Larry was let go from Agression for various reasons that we do not need to go into here. He is a great guy and I have a lot of respect for him. He just did not work out. A good friend of mine, Scott Hatch, was the manager for the group FEAR at that time. He had just started to manage Agression and after Larry's departure he recommended me for the position. After the audition, the rest is history. When I joined the band, it totally changed the dynamics of the Agression sound. My fast, solid, multi-influenced and high energy drumming style helped take the band to the next level. We had a very intense practice schedule that really made us tight and we started getting bigger and better shows which prompted BYO to put out our first full length LP "Don't Be Mistaken". That album is also the first full length punk album on BYO records which had a large part of helping to build the BYO empire. Anyway, getting back to the original drummer thing, I will use my Beatles analogy. Their first drummer was a guy named Pete Best in the early days, but people will always think of Ringo Star as being the original drummer of the Beatles.
Punk Globe: You left the band for a spot in The Angry Samoans, right? What was your time in that band like?
Mark Aber: I did not leave Agression for that reason. I am good friends with Todd Homer (original Samoans bass player/founding member) and he asked me to join The Angry Samoans because they had just fired their drummer Billy Vockroth, for whatever reason. We rehearsed alot and played a few shows and it was great fun. They wrote some of the best punk songs ever. I was in the Samoans for a little less than a year, but I was still in Agression. L.A.s Wasted Youth also asked me to join and I did. They were great guys with killer tunes as well. I was becoming somewhat of a drum whore and was stretched pretty thin at the time. I was in Agression from about late 1981 to early 1986. There were a few reasons I left the band. We were all good friends but I just felt that the focus and direction was not quite where it should be at that time. The bands drug and alcohol abuse was kind of getting out of control. I knew it was time to take a break. I guess I also felt the need to expand my musical horizons.
Punk Globe: How did you get involved with DC-Jam records?
Mark Aber: Darron Hemann, the President/Founder of DC-Jam Records contacted me thru myspace. We started corresponding and it led to a new recording deal. Darron is a very cool, smart guy and we clicked right away. I think he will do very good things for us. Also, my friends from T.S.O.L. are very happy with their dealings with DC-Jam and that helped seal the deal for us.
Punk Globe: What will this new release entail?
Mark Aber: We are doing about 9 or10 songs. Most are new, with maybe two or three covers of our old stuff. The new tunes are fresh but do not stray too far from the original formula of the early Agression sound..
Punk Globe: Will it include the controversial "bar-s" logo that was mistaken for an SS symbol?
Mark Aber: The Agression "Secret Symbol" logo is pretty cool in a Black Flag bar logo sort of way and old KISS logo. Agression is not, and has never been racist in any way shape or form, but there is a history/mystery of how that logo came to be. Legend has it (from my understanding anyway), that back in the day in the northern area of Oxnard/Ventura county, there was a punk gang called NASH.. The N, A, and the H were blackened out to form the "bar-s logo". The secret symbol might appear somewere on the album cover or other artwork? Who knows?
Punk Globe: Being that two longstanding members of the band died a few years ago, what's the current lineup like?
Mark Aber: Big Bob Clark (the original bassist) and I decided to reform the band in 2005. We have Rob Thacker on guitar, who was one of Henry Knowles' (original Agression guitarist R.I.P.) protege and best friends. He was actually in Henry's last incarnation of the Agression line-up playing bass, guitar and some vocals. He now plays our songs with the same spirit and intensity as Henry did.. To quote Henry "He totally shreds". Before he passed away, Henry spoke very highly of Rob. We also have Jess Leedy on vocals, who is an Oxnard/Silver Strand beach local and still lives on the same street as Mark Hickey did back in the day. He was just a kid and used to come and watch us practice. Jess knew Mark Hickey very well growing up and has been influenced by his vocal style and it definately shows. Jess also fronts a local Oxnard band called Slider in which he sings and plays guitar. Our new line-up is very faithful to the original Agression sound and feeling as well as adding a newer edge.
Punk Globe: Have you been in bands besides Agression and Angry Samoans?
Mark Aber: Yes, I was in Wasted Youth for awhile and also Circle One when my friend Kyle Toucher (Dr. Know frontman) was filling in for the original Circle One guitarist Mike Vallejo, who was injured at the time. I was also asked several times by Kyle to replace drummer Rick Heller in Dr. Know but for some reason I could not do it (?). In 1995 I auditioned for the bass slot but ended up the drummer for The Dickies. I was in the band for about a year and we did a nation wide tour with GWAR. That was a total blast! In 1986 I formed an eclectic side band with guitarist Philo Cramer from FEAR called King M'butu. It was like Led Zepplin meets Bob Marley meets Jimi Hendrix. Sort of punk/funk/tribal. Needless to say we were way ahead of our time. We put out our own album and caught the ears of Slash/Warner Brothers records and they gave us $3000 to do an 8 song demo recording. They really loved the tunes, wanted to sign us and brought Faith No More's producer Matt Wallace into the mix. There were some artistic differences and the deal fell through. There is a King M'butu myspace page if you want to check out some of the tunes.
Punk Globe: Are you comfortable with the term Nardcore?
Mark Aber: Yes and no. Ismael Hernandez (Dr. Know bassist) coined the phrase years ago and I think he was half joking. I was never too crazy about it at the time but I guess it's cool. It is kind of clever and silly at the same time. I thought that the word nards was slang for testicles? As in nard guard? kicked in the nards? I could be wrong.
Punk Globe: Have you heard the Agression tribute album and if so, what do you think of it?
Mark Aber: I really like alot of the bands that are on it like JFA, Channel 3, Rick Agnew, Big Bob's Agression Session etc. In fact, I even do a cover of Brain Bondage on it. Big Bob and I do have some issues with the way it was put together and the final outcome of the product. The person who produced the record had very self serving interests in the project. I do not really want to get into it right now but it is kind of a mess. I do however really appreciate all of the bands who came out and were involved in supporting the project. They all did a great job. I guess I will leave it at that.
Punk Globe: What do you say to those who view current Agression activity as a cash-in on the band's legacy?
Mark Aber: There are only a very small handful of shit talking jealous haters who perpetuate all of this crap and they know who they are! I know who alot of them are too but I won't mention any names. Cash-in? Hell, It costs us alot of time, money and energy to get together and play these shows. We do it because we love the music and we have alot of fun doing it. The people who come to see us love the Agression experience and don't care about any of this hater bullshit. We keep the Agression legacy alive and why not? Henry, Bob and I were talking about putting Agression back together a few months before he passed away. Towards the end, Henry's words were "Do not let Agression Die, keep it going no matter what". Look at bands like the Misfits. They only have one or two original members and people still go to see them for the experience and the music. All of those haters should just go about their own business, ignore us and F**k off.
Punk Globe: Thanks for doing this interview, Mark. Any final words of wisdom?
Mark Aber: Thank you for asking some really good and important questions! All I can say is "Go for what you know" and "Don't let em grind you down".