Endorphin Bath & Todd E. Jones presents...
 INDIE MUSIC Reviews & Interviews
by Todd E. Jones aka The New Jeru Poet

Interview: ARMS OF KISMET (Mark Doyan of Arms Of Kismet and formerly of Wampeters)
“Getting Embraced By The Arms Of Kismet”
An Interview with ARMS OF KISMET (Mark Doyon of Arms Of Kismet & formerly of Wampeters).
(Jan 2004)
Interview by Todd E. Jones aka The New Jeru Poet

   Mark Doyon, formerly of the D.C. indie pop group Wampeters, has come full circle and started his solo project along with his own label. After their third album “Murder Your Darlings”, Wampeters called it quits. Mark Doyon’s new project, Arms Of Kismet, is an eclectic mix of guitar indie pop, with a little bit of funky rhythms. The vocals are clear. The music is indie guitar rock with a slight psychedelic side. Influences range from Beck to Robyn Hitchcock to Cracker to Velvet Underground. The debut album “Eponymous” has classic songs like “Cuckold Of Titan”, “Alive And Awake”, and “Are You My God”. Mark Doyon has been extremely busy since Wampeters. He wrote a book titled “Bonneville Stories” and started his own label Wampus Multimedia, which not only is home for acts like Tvfordogs and Kowtow Popof, but they also released tribute albums for Robyn Hitchcock, Lou Reed, and others. Doyon cannot separate music from writing. For him, they go hand in hand. His lyrics are both filled with passion and are of a descriptive nature. For the new year of 2004, I had an in-depth conversation with the writer, the songwriter, the label president, the artist Mark Doyon. So, get ready to be embraced by The Arms Of Kismet.

T.JONES: "What goes on?"
MARK DOYON OF ARMS OF KISMET: “That's a great Lou Reed song.”

T.JONES: “Your new album is out. Tell us about the LP and your new band, Arms Of Kismet.”
MARK DOYON OF ARMS OF KISMET: “The CD is called ‘Eponymous’. It's pop Americana for all the happy feet out there.  It's a bit of a challenge to what's going on now musically, but it's not outside the realm of what you might hear from, say, Beck.”

T.JONES: “Do you have a favorite song on the new LP?”
MARK DOYON OF ARMS OF KISMET: “That's like picking a favorite kid or something. It depends on my mood and which kid is pissing me off.  The track you or another listener would pick is more important to me.”

T.JONES: “Can you explain the name Arms Of Kismet?”
MARK DOYON OF ARMS OF KISMET:  “I think of how fate holds you close, of how it doesn't let you float away unless you try to break free of it.  I also think of ‘arms’ as weapons of kismet, of providence, the idea that what goes around comes around. We all get ours.”

T.JONES: “What made you go to Arms Of Kismet from Wampeters? What happened to Wampeters?”
MARK DOYON OF ARMS OF KISMET:  “Wampeters made three CDs in the '90s. We closed up shop after that. We're doing different things now, but we still help each other out. Eamon and Scott, from Wampeters, show up on the Arms of Kismet record.”

T.JONES: “Will Wampeters ever record or play live together again?”
MARK DOYON OF ARMS OF KISMET:  “You never know. I'd like it sometime.”

T.JONES: “What does the name Wampeters mean? Where did it come from? How did you guys meet and form?”
MARK DOYON OF ARMS OF KISMET:  “The name is from the Kurt Vonnegut novel, ‘Cat's Cradle’, ‘An object around which other objects revolve.’  We meant it playfully. We met when we were all knee-high to a grasshopper. We practically played together in bands as fetuses.”

T.JONES: “How did you get the money to start your label? What was it like starting out?”
MARK DOYON OF ARMS OF KISMET:  “Money? You're funny. Thank you.  We used credit cards. We sold cassettes. We played shows. The usual stuff.  We put out a few records a year now, but we'd like to put out 10 or 12. Maybe within a few years.”

T.JONES: “What else were you doing besides making music for money?”
MARK DOYON OF ARMS OF KISMET:  “I'm a writer and editor, and have made a living that way for a while. Making a living from music is very hard to do but it's worth a shot. If that doesn't work, it's worth another shot.”

T.JONES: “If you only could do one thing, write or make music, what would you choose?”
MARK DOYON OF ARMS OF KISMET: “That's a great question. I'm stalling. I don't know. I wouldn't choose. Why choose? One informs the other so they're basically linked.”

T.JONES: “Tell us about your book 'Bonneville Stories'.”
MARK DOYON OF ARMS OF KISMET:  “I used to edit a fiction magazine called ‘Friction’. I published some short stories there and elsewhere during the '90s. After a while, I started to see a book emerging in all that, and wrote some more stories to flesh it out. The book is basically about existential uncertainty, about how absurd, ridiculous things happen all the time, seemingly at random. It's also about how you can trump those things with your own actions, with free will. At least you usually can.”

T.JONES: “Writing wise, who are some of your favorite authors? Favorite books?”
MARK DOYON OF ARMS OF KISMET: “I think Dave Eggers is really good. I like a lot of David Sedaris. Going back, I like a lot of 20th-century American writers like Vonnegut, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Frederick Huxley. My favorite book, if there can really be one, is probably ‘Franny and Zooey’ by J.D. Salinger.”

T.JONES: “What about music? Who are some of your favorite artists?”
MARK DOYON OF ARMS OF KISMET: “Recent stuff, Beck, Aimee Mann, Fountains of Wayne, The Minus 5, Wilco. Going back, Lou Reed, Bob Dylan, Jonathan Richman, the Clash, the Kinks, the Who, The Beatles. I'd go hoarse trying to recite all of them.”

T.JONES: “What made you do a tribute LP to Lou Reed? What did you think of the outcome? How has Lou Reed's music inspired you?”
MARK DOYON OF ARMS OF KISMET:  “We released a tribute CD to Jonathan Richman in 2001, so it made sense to follow it up with a Lou Reed tribute CD in 2003. I thought the artists on it did some amazing things. I've enjoyed Lou's stuff since the Velvet Underground days. It's very honest, immediate, unflinching. Despite his rep as a hard-ass, he's done a lot of disarmingly heartfelt stuff.”

T.JONES: “You also did a tribute to Robyn Hitchcock, who happens to be one of my favorites. What was it about him that you liked?”
MARK DOYON OF ARMS OF KISMET: “That was actually produced by a guy named Bayard Catron. We just distributed it for him. We like Robyn, though, because he doesn't care whether you like him or not.  But, somehow he does. He's full of surprises.”

T.JONES: “Can you explain the song ‘Cuckold of Titan’?”
MARK DOYON OF ARMS OF KISMET:  “A lot of the CD is about whether or not people get what they deserve. ‘Cuckold of Titan’ is about somebody who didn't really get what he deserved or he did, and then it was kind of taken away from him. A lot of people will figure out who the song is about.”

T.JONES: “Where were you on Sept. 11th, the terrorist attack? How did you deal with it? How do you think it has affected the music industry?”
MARK DOYON OF ARMS OF KISMET: “I was on my way to work, in the car. I was speechless like everybody else. It was surreal. Even in memory, it doesn't quite fit with the other stuff that was ‘reality’ in the world at the time. I guess a lot of artists have written songs about it since, which is cathartic. I don't know that it's affected the industry all that much, at least directly. It seems like the wheels keep turning, whatever happens. That's both reassuring and scary.”

T.JONES: “Death penalty - for or against?”>

T.JONES: “Tell us about the other bands on the label. What made you choose those bands?”
MARK DOYON OF ARMS OF KISMET: “Kowtow Popof and I go way back.  He's a great songwriter. The others like Tvfordogs, Cafebar 401, and Amateur God were European bands who contacted me, and who I liked. There has to be a passion for the music, from both the artist and the label.”

T.JONES: “What is your favorite part of your live show? Is it much different now that you are not playing as Wampeters?”
MARK DOYON OF ARMS OF KISMET: “It's totally different, because it's just me instead of a power trio. I enjoy the challenge of it, as it's a lot harder than playing with a band, at least for me. It's more intimate, too, which is really interesting. The songs fly or crash based on vocals and guitar.”

T.JONES: “Do you believe in God?”
MARK DOYON OF ARMS OF KISMET:  “If you mean something greater than us, sure.”

T.JONES: “What kind of guitar do you use?”
MARK DOYON OF ARMS OF KISMET:  “Takamine amplified acoustic, Guild 12-string acoustic, Parker Fly Deluxe electric.”

T.JONES: “Word association. I am going to say the name of an artist and you say the first word that pops into your head. So, if I said 'The Beatles', you may say 'John Lennon' or 'Let It Be'. If I said, 'Sex Pistols', you may say 'Punk' or 'Sid Vicious'. Ok?”
T.JONES: “Robyn Hitchcock.”
T.JONES: “The Verve (Richard Ashcroft).” 
T.JONES: “The Beatles.”
T.JONES: “The Rolling Stones.”
T.JONES: “Eminem.”
T.JONES: “Blur.”
T.JONES: “Momus.”
T.JONES: “Morrissey.”
MARK DOYON OF ARMS OF KISMET: “Talented mofo, waster of talent.”
T.JONES: “The Stone Roses.”
T.JONES: “The Roots.”
T.JONES: “Mojave 3.”
MARK DOYON OF ARMS OF KISMET: “Magazine covers galore.  Salutes all 'round.”
T.JONES: “Gil Scott Heron.”
MARK DOYON OF ARMS OF KISMET: “Jazzy piano character in the cobwebs. I seem to remember him being good.”
T.JONES: “Close Lobsters.”
T.JONES: “Felt.”
T.JONES: “George Bush.”
MARK DOYON OF ARMS OF KISMET: “(Pause) Vomit break.”

T.JONES: “Your songs are going to be in some movies. Tell us about that.”
MARK DOYON OF ARMS OF KISMET:  “The songs ‘Are You My God’ closes a film called ‘Nihilistic Chick’, that was directed by Dan Azarian.  It is most amusing, worth seeking out. ‘Cuckold of Titan’ is going to be in a feature film called ‘Sol Sirens’. I haven't seen it.”

T.JONES: “What does music need these days? What does it lack?”
MARK DOYON OF ARMS OF KISMET:  “I think music has gotten a little better this year. It needs songs, and people seem to be interested in songs again. It lacks spontaneity, mostly, which is a function of overproduction and Auto-Tune and so on. People shouldn't be afraid to sound human when they sing. It's cool to sound that way.”

T.JONES: “Are you married?”

T.JONES: “How has your wife inspired or change your approach towards music?”
MARK DOYON OF ARMS OF KISMET: “When you're lucky in love, or it works out for you, you tend to be more hopeful about things. I'd say my stuff is pretty dark, but it's ultimately hopeful. The future is going to be a great place to go. So my wife probably feeds my faith in life. She actually doesn't mind me doing this!”

T.JONES: “What is the biggest mistake you have made in your career?”
MARK DOYON OF ARMS OF KISMET:  “Thinking promotion was for promoters. I used to make records and then hope somebody would ‘find’ them. Don't ever do that. Get out there and shout, evangelize, stump for what you're doing. Prove you mean it.”

T.JONES: “What advice would you give to somebody starting a solo career along with a record label?”
MARK DOYON OF ARMS OF KISMET:  “Work on it every day. Don't think too much about what anyone says about it, positive or negative. Just do what you believe in doing. If you stick to what you believe in, you'll be original. If you don't do that, you'll be everybody else.”

T.JONES: “What artist would you like to collaborate with in the future?”
MARK DOYON OF ARMS OF KISMET: “You mean if I was dreaming? Ray Davies, Graham Parker, Tonio K.”

T.JONES: “What are some future things we can expect from Mark Doyan and Arms Of Kismet, along with Wampus?”
MARK DOYON OF ARMS OF KISMET:  “I'm doing an Arms of Kismet tour of the eastern U.S. in April. I'll have a couple books, one non-fiction and the other short stories, out in the next year or two. Wampus releases the debut CD from Cafebar 401 in May. It also has a Warren Zevon tribute coming out in early 2005, as well as a new CD by Kowtow Popof.”

T.JONES: “Do you wish to be cremated or buried?”
MARK DOYON OF ARMS OF KISMET:  “Makes no difference to me. Recycle the organs if you need 'em.”

T.JONES: “What would you want on your epitaph?”
MARK DOYON OF ARMS OF KISMET: “I would just want it to reflect how the people close to me saw me while I was around.”

T.JONES: “Any final words for the people who will be reading this?”
MARK DOYON OF ARMS OF KISMET:  “Peace and love, baby, peace and love.  That's all I'm thinking of, baby, peace and love.”

Thank you Mark Doyan of ARMS OF KISMET ! !

-interview done by Todd E. Jones aka The New Jeru Poet
Official Website

Cuckold Of Titan
Are You My God
Sepia Eyes

INDIE MUSIC Reviews & Interviews

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