Producer Mark Ma$h, Founder of the Hard (K)Nox$ Family and the new Hollywood Straight Edge Movement, gets up close with Rick Jamm in an exclusive interview.
Jamm: So it’s been a while since I last talked with you but it looks like you have a lot going on as usual, so what is Mister Marklin, a.k.a. MARQ-e, a.k.a. Mark Mash, a.k.a. The Monsta Mash been up to?
Mark Ma$h: Not much and everything I guess, whatever keeps me busy and outta trouble I guess. Oh, and you forgot Cain Quazi, my late night witching hour of the night name.
Jamm: You have more names than anyone I know.
Mark Ma$h: Yeah, and there is Magnice too. I have to count them up to make sure that they are all present.
Jamm: You talk about them like they are people.
Mark Ma$h: Well they sorta are. Each one is unique and special.
Jamm: So is this the part where I ask you about the 5150?
Mark Ma$h: ha ha (Laugh) Well, I wouldn’t blame you. Many people wonder about my state of mind. Yes I am officially declared 5150 by the California penal system, 5 doctors, 3 clincs, 4 hospitals, 25 girlfriends or so, my family, most of my friends and definitely by my enemies.
Jamm: Wow! That’s quite a list, but I guess that any rapper worth their weight in salt should be, right?
Mark Ma$h: Yeah, I would agree with that statement. I think honestly you have to be a little crazy to be an artist of any kind, to see the world different and the entertainment industry is the king of the hill. Probably 90% of all the people I know are either on prescription drugs or self-medicating. I mean anyone who would give up a normal life to work 18 hour days, often without pay, for years on end to create a project, depriving themselves of the pleasures of life like food and sleep and a social life has to be a little 5150, but don’t get me wrong when people work this hard they play hard when they get the chance.
Jamm: Oh, I agree 100% and from people say about you, you were quite the party animal in the Hollywood scene for a very long time, but now have a quite different story?
Mark Ma$h: Yes, that is true. I started partying in the night clubs when I was 16 years old.
Jamm: and your parents let you do this? Weren’t you tired in school the next day, or even hung over rather?
Mark Ma$h: My parents had no say. I moved out on my own when I was 15 years old after being kicked out of high school.
Jamm: You sound like you were a bit of a troublemaker. Kicked out of high school?
Mark Ma$h: Yeah, I was pretty much. I actually got kicked out of 3 High Schools and Junior High School.
Jamm: Your site says that you went to UCSB and a Community College. How were you able to manage that?
Mark Ma$h: Well, at the age of 28 I took my GED finally and I was so surprised that I passed the stupid thing in like the top 96 percentile without even studying for it, or actually now that I’m thinking back I did study pretty hard for the Math part. My fiancé at the time insisted that I go to college. She insisted, I resisted, but eventually I enlisted. Just like I enlisted 2 years later for the Navy, but that’s a whole different story. As far as the UCSB thing goes, I found a loophole that allowed be to be a concurrent student while enrolled at Santa Barbara City College. It wasn’t smooth sailing exactly because my dislike for school and authority runs pretty deep, but I applied my street smarts and made it happen. No one should ever deny the college opportunity. You are never too old or uneducated. You deserve it dammit, so do it baby. Like Kool Moe D said, Knowledge is King.
Jamm: OK so let’s just jump right in and talk about what you are doing right now. You have 4 things that really jump out at me. First of all, you started a new company The Gallery Group and it is very secretive and exclusive. I am dying to know what this whole thing is about?
Ma$h: Well, as you know, I have been in music and entertainment since 1984 when I was about ten years old, and I don’t want to date myself, but that is almost 32 years now and I am a very spiritual person. In fact I would say that my career and my spirituality are the two most important things in my life aside of my 3 kids and my mother. That being said I have been around Hollywood, have toured 46 states of this country, worked with, been friends of and/or been around some of the biggest people in the industry during those years. I have worked on many, many music projects of all different types ranging from Rap to Pop, Rock, Punk, Hard Core, Alternative, R&B, Dance, Music for Stage and Film/TV, you name it. I have also worked on films and TV Shows in every department and stage of production you can imagine from intern to PA, to camera man, to director, sound design and mixing, transportation, editing and now Executive Producer. I have developed brand names for products and started at least 35-40 successful businesses and companies for myself, groups and other people. I have been a fly on the wall for most of my career. I listen about 85-90% of the time and take everything in. My mother, who is a very successful porcelain artist in her field, raised me to start businesses at a young age and told me that I needed to make good first impressions, stay organized, be disciplined and always listen more than I talked, so that’s what I did.
Jamm: and what did your dad say?
Ma$h: hmmm… Not much really. He was a very quiet man with a 6th grade education who could barely read and write but everyone who met him loved him. He worked non-stop at Dolly Madison Bakery in Glendale, CA, in the Bakers Union. Basically it was a factory. He worked their 6 days a week 14-18 hours a day, never called in sick, was never late to work, took 2 vacation installments a year to Vegas and Carpentaria Beach, didn’t complain much but when he was mad you better believe he was coming hard and fast with that belt. I never seen a man before him or after him get that belt off fast man. He just basically told me that real men work hard, don’t bitch, never start fights but always end them, be honest, loyalty to your people is paramount, always pay the bills before you party or buy fun things, always open doors for women and small children, say please and thank you always and be grateful for everything. Say what you will, he worked that job that most kids today would turn their nose up at and he put three major meals on the table a day and we lived in a very nice house.
Jamm: OK, sorry for interrupting your train of thought. So back to what you were saying about the Gallery Group…
Ma$h: Oh, yeah, don’t worry I got ADHD bad like that too. So, anyway I had a vision to start The Gallery Group as a company that would combine all of these things together, so we could develop projects, brands and branded images. Take bands, actors, directors, political figures, products that need to go to the next level to reach a bigger or specialized audience. For instance we were just working on a Pepsi Cola campaign this last month and basically were trying to reinvent Pepsi’s image for a New Generation, no pun intended. Earlier this year I worked on a Coca Cola campaign, doing the exact same thing.
Jamm: Was that weird being on both sides of a battle like Coke and Pepsi?
Ma$h: No, not really. It’s just business and business is good. We just look at the product, the history of the product and all the things it represents and allow a vision to happen. Sometimes they like it and sometimes they don’t and sometimes they don’t get it till later or never. I have gotten calls 2 years later from people who fired me and they say, “Holy S—T I can’t believe what you came up with,” and I’m like, “What are you talking about?” they’re like, “Those ideas you came up with for us a couple years ago, I get it. It makes sense!” It happens like that sometimes. I meditate throughout the day and it is a very big part of my approach. I ask God and the universe to lead me and reveal things to me clearly. When I hear a song or see a product, the vision usually comes to me within 30 seconds to a minute.
Jamm: Ok, so when you say we, who do you mean by we?
Ma$h: Well, I have to be 100% honest with you, I cannot discuss that too much but I will say that we a system of checks and balances within all of our organizations that is very specific and suits a very specific purpose, but I will say that I have 1 visible partner, Angela Holladay, who I have worked with for quite a while. I trust her and I trust her judgment and that is very important especially to someone like myself because I am so damn particular, so she had to jump through a lot of hoops and prove herself. As far as the other members of our team go, I hand selected people who I have known throughout the years, they are all different ages, come from all different backgrounds, deal with totally different genres and are sworn to secrecy. They do not even know who the other people are. We never meet in person, only over phone conference, text message and various instant messaging software.
Jamm: I think I get what you’re doing, but maybe you could elaborate on why all the secrecy?
Ma$h: You know why Jimmy (Winks), you’ve been around, so you know that it is very hard to trust people and even harder to predict who people are going to talk to or what they are going to talk about. Sometimes your guy means well but just shares too much with the wrong person who either spreads it like wild fire on the gossip circuit or just outright tries to throw salt on your game, hate on you or steal your idea. Then there is the 2 or 3 alpha jack asses who work in the group and see the potential, the money or think that they can do better, so they pull a mutiny on you, ya know?
Jamm: No Comment, but yeah, I know what you’re saying. OK, so we have established that you are crazy.
Ma$h: Crazy cool
Jamm: Yeah! So what about your drugs and alcohol message?
Ma$h: Yes, and Yes
Jamm: So now, you are or have started a movement called Hollywood Straight Edge? What is Straight Edge? I thought that was a punk thing for vegans or something along those lines? Is that still a thing?
Ma$h: Yes Sir Jimmy, I have been drinking all my life and I was good at it, I mean really good at it man. It was like a skill more than a hobby and I added weed, then cocain, then crank, ecstasy, shrooms, heroin, GHB, pills, PCP, MDMA and whatever I could put in my body to either work harder or have more fun. As you can imagine I could only take it so far for so long and my little house of cards was going to come crashing down around my feet and that’s exactly what happened. I ended up in jail 23 times in 7 counties in 2 states, all drug and alcohol related for stupid s—t that I don’t care to discuss.
Ma$h: 5, but only one remains on my record for a DUI in Oregon.
Ma$h: Yeah, you’re telling me.
Jamm: So you have spent some extensive time in jail then
Ma$h: (Laughs) No, not really.
Jamm: What is the longest you have spent in jail at one time?
Ma$h: I think about a month, but it was two weeks in one jail, a day or so out and then two more weeks in another jail.
Jamm: OK, I want to go back to that in a moment, so don’t let me forget. But back to Straight Edge, give me the low down.
Ma$h: OK, well I have had a recent revelation in my life. After becoming clean and sober for once and for all, I was meditating and praying to God about my position on the subject and other like subjects in my life. All of a sudden it just popped into my head like a moon bound rocket ship. I saw the black X and I found myself saying “Stright Edge” out loud, and yes Straight Edge has been around for a very long and I was only introduced to it back in 1996, some 20 years after it first emerged with bands like The Teen Idles and of course Minor Threat who coined the phrase as a title to a song. What people do not realize is that many other people have already moved into Straight Edge who are not punk such as rapper Odd Future, Los Angeles Angels Pitcher C.J. Wilson, front man for Rage Against the Machine Zach De La Rocha, Pete Wentz and Andy Hurley of Fall Out Boy, Pro Wrestler Dogg 20, former wrestler and MMA Fighter CM Punk, Jerry Hortan of Papa Roach and of course Dick Dale who I have had the pleasure of performing with.
Jamm: and I see that among the many famous people that you know or have worked with you talk about Metallica front man James Hetfield, he is Straight Edge.
Ma$h: Yes he is. This is true. One of the coolest guys you will ever meet as well.
Jamm: So, looking at your sites and your Twitter I see some very interesting things that might raise some eyebrows among the Straight Edge community, like guns and sex and vampire pictures and such and then some of it almost looks like a religion or a recovery program for addicts, what is your particular definition of Straight Edge?
Ma$h: (Laugh/Pause) Hmmm, ok, now is the part where I have to careful what I say, so let me start in random order and say that first and foremost we do no drink alcohol, do not do any drugs with the exception of caffeine, which was once being considering being banned in the US as a class 1 narcotic and there is discussion and debate about making like Mormon’s and putting that on our list, but truth be known I drink 1 cup of coffee, 1 can of Dr. Pepper and 1 Rock Star energy drink daily so I am arguing that we consume it responsibly but we are a democracy so whatever the group decides I will go with and walk the line like a good soldier, all for one, one for all and we are a family. We also do not smoke cigarettes or date people who smoke cigarettes. It is a very disgusting habit and people around the world are dropping like flies because of it. Now as far as sex goes, different groups have different ideas about the subject of sex. Our idea is this, that it is ok to have any kind of sex you want if you feel that it is good for you just so long as you are not breaking any laws. We believe that those laws extend to legal age of consent, no sleeping with someone under age, so sleeping with someone who is too drunk or high to consent rationally, no sex with animals and no sex with married people. That person made a commitment with someone and they need to annul that relationship first, and before you ask, yes we have people of many different sexual orientation including gay and such. We believe in treating people, as we would want to be treated basically, we don’t take advantage of other people, use people or manipulate people. Now as far as being a religion, no we are not a religion. We do encourage people to believe in God, which most of us do, and to observe that belief in whatever way you feel connected to God. We believe in making the world a better place, recycling is important; setting a good and healthy example to young people is a great way, etc. As far as the guns go, it is true that we are not a passive movement, but we are not starting trouble either. Every American should exercise their rights to bare arms for protection and self defense. We also believe that our people should stash canned foods, dried foods and water away for a rainy day, just in case the s—t hits the fan, but as far as violence, we do not like violence and we do not like war but we are well aware that it is a necessary evil in the world and though we are working hard to end it, it’s gonna take a while, so we should be prepared for the worst. We are not vegetarians by and large, though there are a few among our group and they are just as gnarly as anyone else. I eat and many of us eat raw meat because it is natural for those of us with canine teeth, easier to digest, more nutrients and if we are ever forced into the wild to live off of the land we will be prepared to eat fresh kills and not get sick. We are not a recovery group either, though many of us, including myself are in recovery and many go to churches and AA and NA, but you will be surprised to know that a good majority of our group have never even had a drug or alcohol problem, they have just become illuminated to Grand Architects design to realize that drugs and alcohol are called spirits for a reason, they destroy lives and families and dreams and really good and talented people, cloud judgement, make really smart people do really stupid things and there are huge companies capitalizing on indiscretions, and they don’t give a s—t about anything but their bottom line. In America there is only one kind of prophet and it’s spelled profit.
Jamm: Wow! Those are strong words! So now I see that you have also started a group called the Hard (K)Nox$ Family? What is that? Is that all part of the Straight Edge movement?
Ma$h: Oh, yes, and no it is not part of the SXE movement, but rather the SXE movement is part of it. HNF is a family that started out in the 213, 323, 310, 909, 562, 310 and 805 area codes in LA and quickly spread throughout the West Coast and now is stretching East Coast Bound and to Europe. I can’t go into too much detail but I say that it is not straight edge at all, however the straight edge group runs it. You must be straight edge to be in the highest level for various reasons. We just believe that discipline is key.
Jamm: Fare enough. Now, I know we only have a few more minutes and you have catch a plane, so I will make this quick.
Ma$h: Yeah, they have already called the first group to board, so we gotta be quick.
Jamm: I see that you just Tweeted that you are going to write a new book and along with that you state that you will be talking about your tricks as a producer and how you broke out of jail not once but 3 times from Ventura County Jail in California. Can you share a little?
Ma$h: (Laugh) Yes, my agent, Melissa McComas over at Tsunami Worldwide Media is working on getting me a publishing deal and I am about to sit down and pump it out. I will be talking about gorilla tactics and maneuvers in this industry that I have learned over the years, things that key people know, but nobody will ever talk about, I am about to open Pandora’s Box big time. It will be a complete game changer to every person who reads it, I promise you. You may have to read a chapter and take a week to think about what you have just read before moving on to the next chapter. It’s gonna be heavy and yes, I broke out of the Ventura County Jail 3 times and I am the only person in history to break out of 24 hour suicide watch in that jail and perhaps any jail’s 24 suicide watch in the entire country in history, ever, at least that I know of and if they did they haven’t said it. I am not even going to hint at how I did it but I will say that you are in a pod area with cameras, no windows, 15-20 foot ceilings, cinder block all around, a guard watches 24/7, locked down 23 hours in a tiny cell and a guard checks on you and your cell every hour. You want to hear the rest, buy the book!
Jamm: Well, I have a feeling that we could go on and on but you have to get out of here, so maybe we’ll chat again soon.
Ma$h: For Sure.
Jamm: Have a safe flight and good luck Lewie, a.k.a. Mark Ma$h!
Ma$h: Thanks big Jimmy! Always a pleasure man! Catch you on the rebound.
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