"Fall", the first AFM release of Swiss rockers Shakra was a bit of a disappointment, but the new album “Infected” is a real step forward. It rocks like never before. The album will be in stores on May 18th and I had a short talk with singer Mark Fox about the new CD.

Could you please enlighten us some more about the title of the new album?

Mark: Sure, I think that it is a super title. We are Shakra infected and now it is the turn of the fans and the press to become truly infected with our music. It is our tenth anniversary, so let’s get the party started, right/

Could you name some highlights and some disappointments of these 10 years of Shakra history?

Mark: I have only been in this band for 5 years so I would have to say that every album we made was a step forward although we actually never made a real musical breakthrough. We played at some great festivals like Wacken and Bang Your Head. And lately we did some gigs with notorious bands like Guns N’ Roses, Iron Maiden and Whitesnake in our home country, which was really awesome. In other interviews when they asked me with which bands I would like to go on tour I always answered Whitesnake, Guns N’ Roses and AC/DC. In one year I had 2 out of three, not bad, right?

So, which one is your favourite one?

Mark: Oh, without any doubt Guns N’ Roses. In my youth I really loved them, they kicked ass! Because of them I am in the rock business!

So, how many songs are there on the new album?

Mark: Let me think, 13 and of course there is a digi pack version with bonus tracks and a video clip.

Who are the main composers in the band?

Mark: The guitar boys Thomas and Thom usually come up with the ideas, the riffs, the hooks and the melodies. Then we have some rhyme words or a verse and the chorus sometimes comes out naturally. If that is done then the entire band starts rehearsing the song and I can work on the lyrics. This entire procedure goes rather fast actually as we work together rather well.

What do you write about?

Mark: Lots of personal stuff, impressions, experiences, you know. The first song on the new album called “Make your day” is a kind of ironic view about how much we all have to pay to make our lives worth while.

Do you also use politics in your lyrics?

Mark: No, politics has nothing to do with music. I really would like to separate those two. Of course I have a political opinion but I do not “use” it in my lyrics. I like sarcasm in lyrics and I like to write and sing about things that go wrong in the world. “Higher Love” is kind of religious, saying: hello, I do not see you up there; I cannot feel you, what’s up?

What are the main musical differences between “Fall” and “Infected”?

Mark: The last album was really dark, more depressing. The new album is more alive, more sparkling. We had lots of trouble within the band when we recorded “Fall”, there were some misunderstandings among the guys and that is something that you can hear of course. “Infected” is better, we are friends again and that was very motivating, the enthusiasm is back and I truly believe that you can hear that in the songs. The album really sounds happier and more relaxed.

Will there be a single taken from the album?

Mark: In Switzerland it is always the ballad that becomes the single. On the radio they will not play a heavy Shakra song. Nickelback and AC/DC yes but no heavy Shakra song, no way! It is sad but true, but with the ballads we always had a lot of radio air play, so...

How many ballads are there on the new album?

Mark: Two. We always try to put 2 ballads on every album and the second ballad is most of the time the last song on the record and also an acoustic ballad, suitable for the radio! I love ballads, you need them for the diversity on the album and it is our style, so..

Which do you prefer to sing, a ballad or an up tempo rocker?

Mark: Ha ha ha, good question... Ballads are almost very emotional and it is really nice if the audience knows the lyrics and sings a long to it. You get gooseflesh all over then, which is nice. During up tempo songs you go crazy and wild and bang your head till it hurts, ha haha.. I love to sing them both really.

How are the sales of your albums actually?

Mark: Outside Switzerland you mean?? Germany is ok but it could be a lot better, we still have to work on that.

When will you go on tour?

Mark: We are still discussing if we should headline, co-head line or go as support with a big band. We still do not know what to do but we must decide in due time. In the fall we are planning to do a tour in Germany and as far as festivals concern that all depends on the sale and the impact of the new album.

Does the name of the band have anything to do with yoga?

Mark: It is an energy point and our music is full of energy, so. But we do not have a guru. Furthermore we were looking for a short and simple name that you could pronounce in all languages of the world and Shakra is perfect for that, so. Lately we sometimes had some problems with our name as some people insert the letter “I” between the “K” and the “R”, deforming our name into Shakira...

As you are a singer I would like you to comment on the following famous vocalists. Here we go:

David Coverdale

Mark: One of my idols, I love Whitesnake; his voice is perfect and very recognisable.

Geoff Tate

Mark:... (very shy) Who is that?

The lead singer of Queensryche.

Mark: I am young, remember! I know him, but it is not my thing although I do not know why..

Ronnie James Dio

Mark: Cool, I met him 2 years ago at Bang Your Head; he is a great guy, super voice.

Glenn Hughes

Mark: Not my favourite really.

Robert Plant

Mark: He has something special, something magical.

How did you learn how to sing?

Mark: I started singing when I was really young. I had some lessons but not for long. From a book I learned how to breathe better. I am not a fantastic singer but it is quite okay. I sing without much effort so I can go on a long time.

How do you feel about downloading music?

Mark: Shit. But it also has some advantages as you can get free promotion of your music via my space. We as musicians cannot do anything about it really, the record companies should do something.

Last question, why should we all buy the new Shakra album?

Mark: Everybody should be infected by our music so therefore you need to buy our new album.

Thanks for your time and see you on tour!

Mark: Thank you.

Interview for Rockunited by Martien Koolen
Photos borrowed from www.shakra.ch

8 May 2007
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