Sunday 16 December 2012

Sunday 2 December 2012

Next Show- Friday Dec 7th at the B Ex

We are getting excited about performing Friday at the British Ex-Servicemen's Association. Joining us on the bill will be our friends The Population Drops and opening the night is none other than The Rain and the Sidewalk.

We've been working on the set, making a few changes, adding songs, cutting a couple, and most importantly we've been rehearsing with Juice (former drummer of The Yoke Casionos - currently performing with Fine Times).  In case you've not had the pleasure of witnessing Juice yet, you've got to come to our show next Friday.  Not only is he one of the best drummers in the country, but he's a consumate showman and professional (and drumming is only one of him many musical skills).  Things are sounding fantastic! To make the event even more special we've located an electronic drumkit for Juice to apply his genius (thanks Pat and Helen).  Some very astounding sounds have been emerging from that kit this past week, and I'm confident it will be even more glorious on Friday night.  There are a few other secret guests lined up too, so it's going to be a very full evening of music.

We're also bringing in some extra production for the evening - no offense to the B-Ex but their system is a little lacking!  And I'd personally like to put a call out for those of you who are coming to bring a camera and shoot some video of the show.  We want to cut together a live show for youtube so we can successfully apply to the many music festivals going on next year!

Thank you once again to Robert Edmonds for his excellent poster of the show.  He never disappoints and regularly delights!

"Come Dancing"

Friday December 7th
British Ex-Servicemen's Association
1173 Kingsway, Vancouver

Doors at 8
9 pm - The Rain and the Sidewalk
10pm - The Population Drops
11pm - Combine the Victorious

Tickets $5 at the door.

Oh!  and we shall be appearing for an interview on CiTR this tuesday at 11:30 AM.

Sunday 25 November 2012

"Cities in Dust" - Siouxsie and the Banshees cover

This clip is from our Shadowline performance on Thursday night at the Waldorf Hotel. We had some fun reworking an old Siouxsie and the Banshees favorite in honour of the Goth night.

We'd like to thanks Rod Grim for shooting video on the night, turns out the mic on the camera is pretty good too!

Looking forward to our next show at the B-Ex on December 7th.  Putting together a nice full set for the evening.  Plus it'll be a great night of music with The Population Drops and The Rain on the Sidewalk opening the night.  Come dancing.

Wednesday 21 November 2012

Live on Radio - Live at the Waldorf

It's going to be a fun week this week.  We are performing live on Co-op Radio 100.5FM today around 4Pm and then tomorrow night we are the guest performers at the Shadowline goth night at the Waldorf Hotel.

Mark Bignall, host of Radio Bandcouver, has asked Combine the Victorious to play a few songs on his show this afternoon.  I think we're going to try out Smoke and Choke and Glasgow for the show, but perhaps we'll unveil our new special cover song too!

Tomorrow night at Midnight we will be jumping on stage at the Waldorf.  The home of resident Goth experts Vampire Bats, we've been asked to make a special appearance to tie in with Alternative Fashion Week (Isabelle's fashion connections never seem to fail us!)  As mentioned we've even worked out a new version of an old favorite of mine for the show, gonna keep it a secret until the night though!  I think it's at least as good as our Donna Summer's cover, but of course this time we pull from the lexicon of magnificent 80's artists for our inspiration.

Please come to both if you can, or if this week is too busy note that we shall be making an appearance on CITR on Dec 4th (11AM) to precede us playing the Indie Pop series night at the B-EX on Dec 7th with friends The Population Drops and The Rain and the Sidewalk.

We've been writing away and come up with several new ideas for the new album too.  We'll begin recording in December with hopes of finalizing the tracks by January.  Lot's to do!

Thanks for reading, please tune in at 4pm today.  Cheers!

Thursday 8 November 2012

Next Shows, video news, EP

We are pleased to announce that we will be the special guests at the next Shadowline night at the Waldorf Hotel here in Vancouver.   Tied in with Vancouver Fashion week this is a special showcase on November 22nd.  Also in keeping with the Goth vibe of the night Combine is performing at Midnight.  A special cover song is being prepared in the spirit of the evening.

Also we have just signed on to appear at the Indie Pop Vancouver night, Dec 7th at the B-Ex on Kingsway (British Ex-Serviceman's Association).   Combine is headlining the night but we are very excited to be sharing the bill with The Population Drops, a band that I've been recording over the summer and am really impressed with!  The Rain and the Sidewalk is slated to open the night.  We are hoping to make it into an early Xmas party.

Still working on a Portland show, if anyone reading this has a good lead please let us know!

Thanks for reading, we'll have another new video soon.  The multitalented Stefan Sigerson has been editing some of our European footage and has shown us a few early edits and it looks very cool!  We will be doing some additional shooting to flush out the concept of the video - I'm certain it will be the best things we've done yet!  (Here's the interview he cut together last month for our latest release)

Our Crumbling Hearts EP had a good review in the Georgia Straight this past week.  Comparisons to Depeche Mode and OMD were pleasing to read, though I personally question the "melancholy" labeling.  Still, good to be in the Straight!

Tuesday 30 October 2012

Crumbling Hearts (Stockholm Edition)

We are pleased to present our new video - Crumbling Hearts.  It's comprised of footage we captured while exploring Stockholm on our day off in that lovely city!   Even in the drizzly October weather we were quite taken in by it: a beautiful place with exceptional people.  Great crowd too!

Big thanks to the staff of Bonden Bar, especially Adnan who treated us so well.  Of course our friend Erika deserves special praise for setting up the showcase and getting us to commit to coming to Sweden.  We look forward to returning, hopefully next year.

In the meantime we are excited to debut our latest adventure on video.  Please share if you enjoy it!

Thanks for watching, cheers!

Mark and Isabelle

P.S. if you are a music supporter and would care to download the song it is available at iTunes as well as many other sites and our own bandcamp page as well.

Friday 26 October 2012


We just got back, but we're still buzzing from being in London.  Our show with the Club Fandango guys was brilliant.  The whole evening was entertaining, every band on the bill was great.  Big thanks to everyone involved and the fantastic audience on the evening.

Buffalo Bar couldn't have been more convenient for us.  We were staying with our friends, the incomparable Baz and Ings, who lived a mere ten minute walk from the club.   Even though I was nursing a severe hangover on the day, the excitement of performing in London soon wore that off.

Our set for the show contained every song from the new Crumbling Hearts ep as well as a new cover of the Donna Summer's classic "Hot Stuff."  This was the very first 45 that Isabelle ever bought, so it's a bit of a rite of passage for us to be playing it now.  We have to give thanks to our friend Kym Brown who so kindly videoed the show on our tiny camera.  The following video clip is that night's performance.

We both felt very honoured by the overwhelming reception from the audience and the other bands.  It was a fantastic night, we stayed right to the end as all the other bands were so good!  Big thanks to everybody in Bat and Ball, Sister Gracie, Animal Noise, the staff of Buffalo Bar, and the folks of Club Fandango.  Couldn't have had a better introduction to London!  Cheers!!

Sunday 21 October 2012


Our first time to Sweden was a success.  The show at Bonden Bar went over exceptionally well, the audience was so responsive and fun, the people at the bar were brilliant, and the place itself was absolutely perfect.  Can't say enough great things about the night or the city.  Stockholm has it going on.

(soundcheck in Bonden Bar)

There's something so reassuring about Stockholm.  The city itself is clean, organized and safe.  Though more expensive than Vancouver, the difference wasn't as great as I'd initially feared.  In fact we managed to have a marvellous time in our three days there without breaking the bank.

The architecture, the transit, the bike lanes, the progressive nature to the society, and the Swedes themselves all impressed us.  For a European debut of our new Crumbling Hearts ep I don't think we could have asked for anything more.  Can't wait to return for another show!  Takk!

Next up is our show at Buffalo Bar in London.  Gonna rock that one too!  Then it's back to Canada to prepare a west coast tour.

Friday 19 October 2012

Behind the Scenes of Crumbling Hearts

Here is a little interview, behind the scenes look at the writing and recording of our new five song EP Crumbling Hearts.  Video shot, edited and directed by Stefan Sigerson.

Thursday 18 October 2012

Promo for Stockholm

Takk to the multitalented Stefan Sigerson for putting this clip together for us!

CtV vs. Ryanair: or 14kgs to poverty!

Our first week in the UK was a family filled adventure that took us from Northwest London area, up to Lincolnshire and then down to Kent where we took in the stoney beaches, the lovely pubs and the white cliffs of Dover.  Wednesday we got up early, boarded a train and made our way to Gatwick airport for our flight to Stockholm and our first show in Europe!

I will confess that I had a scheme for this tour that involved travel "light" and simply.  We booked our flights to Sweden with Ryanair, the infamous budget airline of Europe.  It was at the check in counter that we just discovered the illusionary pricing of said airline.  Having paid only £16 (each) for our flights to Stockholm we were feeling pretty chuffed with the deal!  Interestingly enough we had the foresight to actually prepay our baggage for the flight (at £30 for one bag - each way!).   So I reckoned we were kinda set, with perhaps a small overage fee because we were both using the same bag and had some of our gear in it too.  

Let us just say the Ryan Air is very very stringent about their 15kg baggage fee.  We had in fact topped out at 29kg!  I was surprised we were that far over the scales and even more surprised that the small fee that I had imagined we might be charged for the excess weight turned out to be £280!!  The clerk did offer us an option though.  He suggested we go and buy a second bag and pay a second bag fee.  We quickly went over the small kiosk around the corner and purchased a cheap bag, well it looked cheap, but in fact cost £20 for that too!  Then we played the weight distribution game.  Three times back and forth to the counter to get each bag under the 15 kg allowance.  It seemed an easy thing to do but in fact proved quite challenging.  Some of our stuff was long and couldn’t fit into the other bag.  Then we had to keep shuffling things between the bags until we hit the magic number.  They were gracious enough to allow us 15.2 kgs on our large bag without any extra fee.  The second bag now weighed in at 14.2 kgs.  

They take their baggage fees very seriously at Ryan Air.  

Thankfully we had the foresight to print up up our tickets and boarding passed before we hit the airport.  Ryanair charges a blinding £15 for being forced to do that labour for you.  I suppose paper and printers are far more rare in Europe than North America!

Budget travel is an misnomer.  The low ticket price gets you interested, but your credit card will die a death of a thousand tariffs!  

However, we got through and had a nice pint of London Pride and on our way to Stockholm as I type this.  Our travel plan’s budget has increased somewhat, but we are on our way!  

We have saved money with this flight compared to using a larger carrier, but the difference has become very marginal.  I guess that’s just the way it is with these things.  One for the books to be sure!

We’ll let you know how things go in Scandiland soon enough.  Then it’s back to Blighty for our first UK shows.  Fingers crossed.

thanks for reading.  take care.


Tuesday 9 October 2012

Our First European Tour

Bonden Bar
Oct 19th
Bondegatan, Stockholm  Sweden

Gunners Pub
Oct 20th
Highbury, London  UK

Club Fandango at Buffalo Bar
Oct 23rd
Islington, London UK

The official release date for the Crumbling Hearts EP is October 19th, it will be available worldwide thru all popular digital stores and streaming services.  

Big thanks to artist Robert Edmonds for his poster designs once again.  We both loved these the moment we saw them!  He's also assisted us with our promo cards for the tour as well.  Everything just seems so important with his art.

We're both very excited about these shows, our first time playing in Europe and a first time to see Stockholm.   Look forward to writing more about our adventures!   

Thanks for reading, please share.  

Mark & Isabelle

Sunday 30 September 2012

New EP "Crumbling Hearts"

We are very proud to announce our new EP - Crumbling Hearts.

First off we both want to thank Robert Edmonds for his cover art,  Klee Larsen for the amazing photo, and of course model Megan Jones.  It's an ethereal image that almost appears holographic.

Additionally we'd like to thank Stefan Sigerson for his help in the production, and Jim Berry and Simon Hunt for their drumming and Marc Wild for his guitar work.
It was a pleasure to work with you all, thanks!

Crumbling Hearts
(dunlop, henning)

Produced by Combine the Victorious with Stefan Sigerson
Recorded and mixed by MRH at Imagined Aire Studio, Vancouver BC, Summer 2012
Vocals: Isabelle Dunlop
Backing Vocals, instruments and programming: Mark Roland Henning
Live Drums: Jim Berry

California State of Mind
(dunlop, henning, schroeder)
Produced by Combine the Victorious with Stefan Sigerson
Recorded and mixed by MRH at Imagined Aire Studio, Vancouver BC, Summer 2012
Vocals: Isabelle Dunlop
Guest Vocals: Ingrid Schroeder
Vocals, instruments, and programming: Mark Roland Henning
Synths and Live Drums: Stefan Sigerson

(dunlop, henning)
Produced by Combine the Victorious
Recorded and mixed by MRH at Imagined Aire Studio, Vancouver BC, Spring 2012
Vocals: Isabelle Dunlop
Backing Vocals, instruments and programming: Mark Roland Henning
Live Drums: Simon Hunt
Electric Guitar: Marc Wild

Smoke and Choke
(dunlop, henning)
Produced by Combine the Victorious with Stefan Sigerson
Recorded and mixed by MRH at Imagined Aire Studio, Vancouver BC, Summer 2012
Vocals: Isabelle Dunlop
Vocals, instruments and programming: Mark Roland Henning
Live Drums: Jim Berry

(dunlop, henning, wild)
Produced by Combine the Victorious with Stefan Sigerson
Recorded and mixed by MRH at Imagined Aire Studio, Vancouver BC, Spring 2012
Vocals, instruments and programming: Mark Roland Henning
Vocals: Isabelle Dunlop
Live Drums: Simon Hunt
Electric Guitar: Marc Wild

We hope you enjoy the new songs, they represent our most focused recordings to date.    Crumbling Hearts EP will be released on Oct 19th 2012 to coincide with our European debut at Bonden Bar in Stockholm, Sweden!

Thanks for reading. Please share.
Mark & Isabelle

Tuesday 25 September 2012

first rehearsal tonight

so many ways to play these songs.   so many ideas.

Stockholm is going to be amazing.

Our London gig is going to even more amazing!

looking forward to it.


Tuesday 18 September 2012

Our first European Tour!

 We are extremely excited to announce that we are going to Europe!   We will be playing shows in Sweden and the UK in October.   Hopefully we can cram in another show somewhere in between but we will be performing in Stockholm on Oct 19th and then two shows in London UK on Oct 23rd and 24th.   We'll be going in support of our new EP - Crumbling Hearts, which will come out on Oct 2nd through Boutique Empire.

Isabelle has outdone herself these past few weeks and landed us a couple really amazing shows.  The gig in Stockholm is going to be blinding.  We're playing an excellent venue, the Bonden Bar, right in the heart of the city.  We've been assured that it is one of the best places to play and have a cool little room booked not too far away in the lovely old centre of town.  We're going to be there a few days early just to take in the city as I've only been there once way back in 1987, and Isabelle's never been there at all.  (Plus there's a good chance we're also playing an after party too, which I hope does happen, as the music scene there has been putting out great stuff for a long time - I'd love to get caught up in it!)

London will be brilliant too as we are part of a Club Fandango night at Buffalo Bar in Islington.  These promoters are right on top of the scene and we're feeling really lucky to be on one of their bills.  That'll be Oct 23rd, and then the following night we're playing across the city at The White Lion - a cool venue that is in direct support for a charity called Music for Children.  It's something that we both feel really strongly about.  Plus, you know, it's London, what could be more fun!  Quite looking forward to my first pint of London Pride!

This time out we're going as a duo, which will hopefully allow us to go back later next year with a full band.  And, of course, we'll be playing our new material.  Have a listen to the songs we're putting on the new EP, I think it makes for an excellent listen.  We are closing in on the full length, but these five songs define the new direction really well.  I'm predicting we'll write a whole pile of new songs on our return, which will probably alter the sound of the full length album (scheduled for March 2013).  Looking forward to it.

Crumbling Hearts EP comes out Oct 2nd-2012 on iTunes and all other sites.

Wednesday 12 September 2012

Crumbling Hearts - new song!

We are pleased to announce our latest song - Crumbling Hearts.  This one has an interesting history, it was actually started in another band before transforming into this Combine the Victorious version.

Isabelle had started writing Crumbling Hearts while she was still singing with Sex With Strangers last winter.  SWS was compiling ideas for their fifth album and Isabelle had put forth this idea as an option.  The SWS gang had a lot of songs to work on and though they made some nice progress on the tune it kind of fell to the wayside over the months of writing.  In the spring, when Isabelle decided to focus solely on  CtV she asked if she could take the song back so we could work on it.  Of course her former bandmates were only too kind to comply.

So, we started working on it over the summer.   In seeming coincidence we were talking with a director about songs for her movie (Random Acts of Romance - it comes out this October)  and suddenly the song took a new direction: it occurred to me that maybe we could take inspiration from the plot and shape the lyrics from the movie.  It can be amazing how quickly a song can come together with the right impetus.

We worked out an arrangement and debuted Crumbling Hearts at our Electric Owl show back in July.  I knew we were on to something when I had a long conversation the next day with a person who'd never seen or heard us before but was convinced it was a hit (always nice to hear)!   So with some confidence we moved forward and began recording it.

Once again we set up in our newly refurbished studio, Imaged Aire Studio, and asked Jim Berry to lay down some drums.  Jim had performed with us at the Electric Owl, so he was already up to speed and therefore laid down some nice clean parts that helped bring the track to life.  Isabelle had her voice all set too, and the song was quite simple to capture.  I took a bit of time, passing ideas back and forth with Stefan Sigerson about arrangement and instrumentation until we finally arrived at this mix.  Gotta say we're both extremely happy and excited by it.  It's one of the most fun songs we've ever recorded and I'm hoping a lot of people embrace it.  There are some nice hints of Primal Scream and Black Grape in there, my love of the '90's dance scene entwined with my respect for the '70's.

Please have a listen, it's available for download from the player below, pay what you want.  If you do enjoy it, please click the like button, share it, and leave us a comment.  Word of mouth is still the absolute best form of advertising anyone can get, so we'd both be very appreciative for your support!

Crumbling Hearts by Combine the Victorious

Dunlop, Henning

Co-produced by Combine the Victorious and Stefan Sigerson
Recorded and mixed by MRH

Vocals: Isabelle Dunlop
Backing Vocals, bass, keyboards, guitar, programming: Mark Roland Henning
Live Drums: Jim Berry

Artwork: Robert Edmonds
Original Photography: Klee

Monday 3 September 2012


We've been writing and recording our next album pretty much all summer long.  It's coming together, slowly, and though I can't quite see all of it yet, it seems to be taking shape!

In August we started working with producer Stefan Sigerson to help us finalize a few of the songs we've been messing around with for months!  One in particular was our song "California State of Mind".  While Isabelle had been in Scotland last summer (where she started writing our song Glasgow) I was back in Vancouver working on new ideas.  California came out of those sessions.   I sent a copy of the rough mix over to our friend Ingrid Schroeder who gave us back a lovely vocal part.  We worked on a mix and came up with our initial version (you can hear that one thru this link).

Later last fall we sent it around to a few producers and got a couple brilliant remixes. Check em all out on our bandcamp page: I love how they have such variety in their approach.   Big thanks once again to Adam "Wonderbro" Percy and Kreap for their excellent work.

So it would seem we should have been content with all these versions but in fact they served to inspire us to want to create a new, definitive version!  Quite honestly I don't recall ever spending so much time deconstructing, reconstructing, reinventing or re-recording any song.  However, by August this summer we'd come up with a version that seemed to answer all my needs and aspirations.  This time, with Stefan's input, we've come up with a kind of electronic disco version that just drips with chilled vibes and summertime warmth.   Personally I think it's the best work we've done to date, and we're both excited and hoping it can find its way onto the radio soon!  (we're even talking with the extremely talented folks over at BKS Crew to help us make a video for the track).

Please check it out, and if you like it, press that like button, share it with friends, leave us a comment.  It all helps, believe me!

Thanks for reading - hope you enjoy the song!

Monday 27 August 2012

Backdrops, painting and autumn tours

We are currently actively seeking shows in the UK and Europe for late fall this year.  In preparation for such events, Isabelle has taken it upon herself to paint our new backdrop for stage.

Based on her original photo taken in the Glasgow central train station last summer, we then used it as the cover art for our Glasgow single.  Now it is being transferred onto a large canvas backdrop so we can pack it up with our gear and fly across the Atlantic.

I filmed her in action painting in our backyard yesterday afternoon.  She's doing a great job of it!

that is of course our song Glasgow playing in the background of the video: the player below has the entire track if you'd care for a listen!

Saturday 18 August 2012

New Video - Paros

We've been having a stunning summer here in Vancouver and Isabelle and I managed to capture a bit of that sunshine on our latest video.  Paros is a love story that starts in Greece, so we tried to capture the blazing light with this clip.  That, and we were having just too much fun playing around in the heat to notice it was perhaps a tad overexposed!

Please enjoy our latest video offering.  We both feel it expresses our love of the Greek isles and our personal desire to get back there soon!

download single from

Boutique Empire presents "Paros" by Combine the Victorious
video produced by Boutique Empire

song produced and performed by Combine the Victorious
recorded and mixed by MRH
mastered by Clayton Worbeck
(Henning, Dunlop, WIld)

Drums: Simon Hunt
Guitars: Marc Wild
Vocals: Isabelle Dunlop
Vocals, keyboards, bass: Mark Roland Henning

JP and Farrah
were two young lovers
who came together
one night on Paros

he was waiting tables
she waited for him
they spent their summer
just lying in the sun

when you fall in love
it doesn't matter where you are
'cause it might be enough
if the distance doesn't get too far

end of the summer
Farrah went to London
JP, he found his way up north
to Berlin

They made a promise
to see each other
but then reality and
home life set in.

when you fall in love
it doesn't matter where you are
'cause it might be enough
if the distance doesn't get too far

when you fall in love
it doesn't matter where you've been
'cause it might be enough
to help you live this life you're in

fourteen years later
he uploaded some photos
and tagged a couple
they were both in
he got a message
from a familiar stranger
she'd really love to
see him again

when you fall in love

(chorus reprise)

Wednesday 15 August 2012

New Single: Paros (released July 27-12)

We released this song to coincide with our fantastic show at Electric Owl last month.  Written with the warm water memories of the Greek island Paros in mind, this is a summer love song from beginning to end.

Thanks once again to the brilliant Robert Edmonds for his simple but effective artwork to accompany our song.  I think it's exactly the mood we were trying for!

Combine the Victorious - PAROS
Henning, Dunlop, Wild

Produced and performed by Combine the Victorious
Recorded and mixed by MRH at Imagined Aire Studio
Mastered by Clayton Worbeck

Artwork by Robert Edmonds
original photography by Janis Nicolay

Vocals, keyboards, bass: Mark Roland Henning
Vocals: Isabelle Dunlop
Drums: Simon Hunt
Guitars: Marc Wild


JP and Farrah
were two young lovers
who came together
one night on Paros

he was waiting tables
she waited for him
they spent their summer
just lying in the sun

when you fall in love
it doesn't matter where you are
'cause it might be enough
if the distance doesn't get too far

end of the summer
Farrah went to London
JP, he found his way up north
to Berlin

They made a promise
to see each other
but then reality and
home life set in.

when you fall in love
it doesn't matter where you are
'cause it might be enough
if the distance doesn't get too far

when you fall in love
it doesn't matter where you've been
'cause it might be enough
to help you live this life you're in

fourteen years later
he uploaded some photos
and tagged a couple
they were both in
he got a message
from a familiar stranger
she'd really love to
see him again

when you fall in love

(chorus reprise)

p.s. We are currently putting the final touches on our video for this song too.  It's been a busy summer but we're getting things done!  

Live footage from the B-EX

Isabelle and I were both happy to be performing this night, at the British Ex Serviceman's Association on Kingsway.  Despite the reeling news of our close friend  Todd Simko's death we ended up having a rewarding show and really pushed our set into new territory.  This clip is of us improvising an electronic, extended version of our song "All Together" at the B-EX.


Thanks to the fine folks who video'd this for us!  Cheers!

New Song! "Glasgow"

9 Apr 2012

We've completed a new song, the first of many!  This one was started by Isabelle while she was in Scotland last summer.  Combine has been performing it live for the past few shows and we're both feeling really proud of both the song and this clip.

We shot the footage in our own studio and thru a few creative turns it seems to have really become something unique and evokative.

Please have a look, all reports back have been very positive!

Video produced by Boutique Empire
Music produced and performed by Combine the Victorious
Recorded and Mixed by MRH at Imagined Aire Studio

Vocals: Isabelle Dunlop
Backing vocals, keyboards and programming: Mark Roland Henning
Drums: Simon Hunt
Guitar: Marc Wild

download the song from here

Lyric Video: FKBC

20 Feb 2012

Even though it's a few years after the initial release, here is a new lyrics video for our track FKBC.  Pretty straight forward, but it seemed fun to do.

New Song: California

New song: California (featuring Ingrid Schroeder)

We have a new song: California, which features the lovely vocals of our good friend Ingrid Schroeder. This is an early mix, we are still working on a few things, but I was too excited to keep it under my hat for any longer. This will most likely be the first single off our upcoming third album (which we are still writing). Rather than hold off and wait, we thought we'd share the new sounds and get some feedback.

Writing "California"

After more than a year away from Combine the Victorious Isabelle and I have picked up the keyboards and started writing new songs again. Last year I was pretty much dedicated to Guilty About Girls and getting that band going, but suddenly I found there was a rather large collection of songs in my head that weren't going to fit that project. Instead they seem to have arrived specifically for CV.

In that light we are pleased to offer the first track we've finished which should be the harbinger of a new album: California. This song features our very good friend Ingrid Schroeder on guest vocals. Earlier this year Isabelle had to return to Scotland for personal reasons and while she was away I became inspired to write and demo as many songs as possible. Several will probably appear on the next Combine the Victorious album, but one in particular was the basis California. It came very rapidly, almost everything within an afternoon, and then over the course of a few more evenings I put together the bedtracks that have now become our song.

One slightly different idea on this one was the blatant use of autotune. I've always been adverse to the processing, though of course have used it to correct the pitch of certain lines and words over the years. This time though, there was something intriguing about the robotic quality it imparted to the chorus line, something that seemed to make it more important with the effect on! Perhaps it was just the way it suggested Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg to my ear, but it seemed to fit perfectly. A statement on the synthetic nature of our N American culture - or just a cool sounding vocal.

When Isabelle returned from Scotland I played her the new idea and she immediately liked it. In fact everyone I played the demo to seemed incredibly excited by it, so I knew we had something interesting. However I couldn't quite find what the rest of the song might be about, so suggested we send it over to our friend Ingrid Schroeder in London. Ingrid is a glorious singer with a sultry smooth voice and lovely delivery. Over the years I've worked with Ingrid on her own recordings and know just how wonderful her singing is. So we sent it over and waited to hear what she might write for our song.

A few weeks later we received a demo back from her that had a gorgeous story lyric about traveling through the state of California by car, almost a Kerouac-like narrative given in a style similar to Suzanna Vega! Of course Isabelle and I loved it and set to work on completing the track. The collaboration is now the first single we have finished leading towards our third album. I can't say whether we'll do another co-write with Ingrid for this album (though I'm always open to such an idea) but this first song is exciting and promising, so perhaps we shall.

We've asked several producers for remixes of the track and will be releasing an extended single in late October. A video is in the works and a new live show is being figured out. A full length is tentatively scheduled for March 2012, and this time I think we shall bypass the CD release and do only Vinyl and digital albums. Feeling very inspired these days, so more songs shall be appearing in rapid succession. Please stay tuned!

Thanks for reading,


New demo If Not Love

24 March 2011

New Demo - "if not love."

This is a new song I've started writing for my brother. Still in the very early stages but I think it's coming together nicely. Isabelle was filming it, you can hear her singing from behind the camera in the second refrain. We're hoping to put together a new release and have it ready for release by sept.

Video: Charmer

Jellyfish vs. iTunes


 We are offering a free download of this song at our bandcamp page.   Please click here to jump.  Jellyfish footage courtesy of   Lightshow courtesy Apple. 

Video: Back In Style

New Video - Way Stations in Space

We've just made a new video for our song Back In StyleThanks to our friends Mark Hjorthoy (of Good Natured Threat) we have discovered the joys of digital archives.  There is a great massive storage of video footage from all walks of life.   In a random scurry through the virtual vaults we discovered this film Way Stations in Space and Isabelle became very excited about the idea of placing our song to these images.   The most remarkable thing is that there are several moments where the two seemingly disparate narratives overlap to create an new story.   Kinda like that famous Wizard of Oz mashed with Dark Side of the Moon thing.   Only ours involves Space!  

If you haven't already yet, please check out our new bandcamp page.  I honestly think this  is the best music service on the net>>>

"Candy Candy" video

We just spent this past weekend shooting a video for the new Guilty About Girls song, Candy Candy.   It's turned out quite well.   Been learning Final Cut Pro; how to edit video.  It's very fun. 

Here's the final cut, Jordy and I are both excited about it and I like how great Isabelle looks in this video!
Things are getting busy these days.  Between playing shows with Guilty About Girls and Combine the Victorious it's hard to find time to work on new music.  Looking forward to the Seattle show.   Plus CtV is playing our first out of town gig ever on May 22nd in Brandon with The Invisible Men  (home town heartthrobs I'm informed).  Seems as though there are many things on the fire these days.  Exciting times again.

I think we may have informally begun our third album.  Strangely compelling titles emerged the other night.  It's probably going to take a while to write, and hopefully we'll be playing the songs on stage before we record them.  at least that sounds good right now. 

 thanks for staying tuned.


p.s. - yes that is Isabelle singing the backing vocal parts in the video.  All our band's seem to be sharing one member in particular these days!  

Boutique Empire - Rec:10

The First Boutique Empire compilation:

I've been putting together a compilation for Boutique Empire.  We now are the proud partners in Boutique Empire: Rec'10.  

It features 10 different bands, with new singles form Guilty About Girls "Candy Candy", Combine the Victorious and a remastered version of New City Anthem from Sex With Strangers.  Also in the mix is Ingrid Schroeder (London), Gilles Zolty (Saskatoon) and Marc Wild (Vancouver) as well as a new single from Ten Suns (Vancouver) who Isabelle and I saw for the first time last night and they were brilliant.  Additionally there are songs from our new friends Chiwawa (Montreal) and Piper Davis (Calgary) and a remix from Lurch of the CtV song The Hours.

Things are busy.  I'm playing a show with Jordy Birch this Friday in Victoria as Guilty About Girls and Isabelle just got back from Sex With Strangers' first appearance at SXSW.  We're also still trying to book a spring tour across the Prairies, so if you think you might have a show for us, please let us know.  We'd like to tour right across the country this summer, but will settle for Winnipeg at least!  (I confess to having a soft spot for that city as I grew up there)

Be well, thanks for reading. 


p.s. The new video shall be online soon.  Quite happy with it.  We recorded the audio live as we were performing for the camera.  It's interesting how that changes things. 

Review: Disagreements

A review for "Disagreements"

Just found this one online.  It was published last month, but Isabelle came across it in her travels the other night.  Thought it was rather favourable.

Combine the Victorious are having "a very fun life" in Vancouver

"A love for music starts off quite innocent. It begins when you’re young and you hear something catchy on the radio. That’s when you decide “yeah I like this.” From that point on the gateway is open and it doesn’t take long to flood. Soon you’re an addict and there’s no turning back. Music has become the cornerstone of your existence. Mark Henning and Isabelle Dunlop are two people very familiar with the compelling addiction that is music, and Combine the Victorious is their electronic fix.

Henning, former keyboardist for alternative rockers, Pure, back in the 90’s, is a renaissance musician. He’s one of those people who can walk into a jam session and show everyone a thing or two about their instruments. To form Combine the Victorious he’s teamed up with a local fashion designer by the name of Isabelle Dunlop, who just happens to have a very enviable voice. With help from a few friends in the industry, they’ve recorded two albums since their merger in 2005.

Their sound is a mashing and melding of electronic and indie-pop with both parties offering an even balance of vocals. Their voices fit together nicely and make for a charming little vibe. Their music is new and almost futuristic in a way. It can be dark and serious at times and very upbeat and fun at others. Henning’s experience as a musician and a studio producer permit the duo to create just about anything their collective minds can come up with.

If you’re in the mood to kick off the Olympics in style this Friday night, be sure to catch Combine the Victorious at Las Brasis Pub on Main Street. The show starts around 9pm and is sure to be loads of fun. Don’t worry; it’s far enough from downtown that you should be safe from all the road closures and never-ending lineups."

Remix: The Hours

REMIX: The Hours (Spoonfed in Delhi Hippy Curry MIx)

Just wanted to give word of our new remix, done by none other than Lurch (who's also done a few excellent tracks with Sex With Strangers).  He chose The Hours and has given us a really trippy reworking on that track.  We proudly present:

The Hours (Spoonfed in Delhi Hippy Curry Mix) - Combine the Victorious vs. Lurch

Thanks Adam (let's do another)

Please have a listen, it's very cool, kinda early 90's (which is where The Hours stemmed from ) and there are sitars!



We Have A Very Fun Life

A Very Fun Life


Well we've completed our first new song in over a year.  "A Very Fun Life"  I've just uploaded it on the page today, so it should be available for a listen as I type this.

This song came about from a conversation we'd had with my Mom a couple years back.  She'd suggested that I try to write a "fun" song.  The strangest thing about that statement is that I honestly didn't know how to!  I remember DJ'ing at a Christmas party in the Hyatt a couple years ago and the host asked me to play a "fun" song and my mind went blank!  Fun - what does that sound like?  Do you know? 

I guess I'm a musical snob or something but the vast majority of music I enjoy is probably what most would consider "serious music."  I mean Sigur Ros became one of my favorite bands in the past decade and Mew ranks up there as well.  Neither of those acts could be considered fun.  In the past I've enjoyed the usual Rock and Roll fare: from the past masters of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Queen, etc.  I guess they've composed some fun songs, especially Queen who always had a decent sense of humour about their music, but really not many would consider them fun bands.  The 80's was an interesting decade of crazy fashion and dodgy hairdoo's but most of the acts that I'd been a fan of weren't really fun bands either. Funny to look at perhaps, but they took themselves quite seriously.  I mean Duran Duran might have been popstars, but they worked very hard at it and I'm sure never really considered their tunes to be light hearted.  Echo and Bunnymen, U2, Ultravox, these were some "please take us seriously" bands.  The 90's weren't much different, though at least I can think of a few goofy acts like Right Said Fred that might be called Fun, but I wouldn't suggest I was a fan. 

Which brings me back to my dilemma.  What does fun sound like?  I know what is fun to me, but how does one write a song that reflects that emotion? 

So saying all that, we have our new song, "A Very Fun Life".   And I think it may even be a fun song.  The lyrics came first, in fact almost a year before we put them to music.  I had the lines:

I have a very fun life
I have a very fine life
'cause I don't need to cheat
and I don't need to fight.
Simple enough, but actually incredibly truthful.  We do have a very fun life.  We get to write and perform music, and occasionally get paid enough to actually pay the rent from it!  Isabelle and I don't live a very flashy existence, but we have enough, and we have fantastic friends and family.  Ever week or so we get complimented on how we're looking youthful, or healthy or whatever.  I'd love to say it's entirely due to Music, but somehow I think it's really about not being obese and living where we do in the world.  Vancouver's a gorgeous place, the air is clean and the water is pretty good.  Music plays it's part to be sure, but there are several factors at work, not the least of which is good genes!

Anyway, the lyrics for the song are quite straight forward:

I have a very fun life, I have a very fine life
'cause I don't need to cheat and I don't need to lie

We have a very fun life, we have a very fine life
'cause I don't need to cheat and we don't need to fight

I have a very fun life, I have a very fine life
'cause I do what I want and it still turns out alright

We have a very fun life, we have a very fine life
though we're living without heat, makes me sleep better at night

of all life's little mysteries
there's one thing's become clear to me
if all the best in life is free
I can only just afford it!

We have a very fun life, we have a very fine life
'cause I don't need to cheat and we don't need to fight
We have a very fun life
We have a very fun life
We have a very fun life
We have a very fun life
The bridge came about after a critique from Vince (Monkey 68) who wanted the song to express a bit more depth.  (thanks again V).   
And that's it!  Pretty much every word is true and reflects how we're doing it.  Hope you enjoy it, please let us know what you think!

Be well,

Mark and Isabelle

New Drumkit! (repost)

Bought a new drum kit

I bought a drum kit last week.  It was used, but it looked okay.  In fact, it turns out to be a little more than okay.  Nothing fancy, a white Pearl kit, with more toms than I'll ever hit, and a couple dodgy cymbals: but for what I paid, that's fine too.  I had a few more cymbals in the house that sounded better anyway.

This move was in attempt to add a little more spark to our new album.  I thought I'd try writing from a more rhythmic perspective this time.  Of course there's the challenge of learning how to drum first, but I've been messing with the instrument for years now so it shouldn't be impossible.  Perhaps if I get a decent handle on it we'll start adding live drums to the show (again).  It's fun. 


p.s. we've been added to a New Year's Eve gig at the Anza Club this year too.  I think it should be a very cool way to spend the night.  Once again we're on first - which is to my liking as then we get to relax and enjoy the evening with our friends!  oh, and I wil be filling in with Rat Silo once again on that night as well.  So a full NYE of music.  Just that way I like it.  

Sex With Strangers - Video- New City Anthem

New Video

Yes I know I'm trying to steal a bit of their thunder, but I'm blown away with the new Sex With Stranger's video.  And really, Isabelle sings in both bands so it's not entirely unrelated to what CtV does. 

Have a look, it's really fantastic!

Produced by BKS Crew Productions, featuring Carol Yuen as the "Unreal."  Make up for the "Unreal" by Carey Williams, Edited by Stephen Green, Directed by Brett Harvey.  Shot on a Canon 5D MkII.

Music production by Sex With Strangers and your truly! 

you can see cameos from members of several Vancouver bands, including: Adjective, Accost, Girlfriends and Boyfriends, Danny Echo, Spotlight Carnival, and The February March.  A big THANK YOU has to go out to everyone involved in this video, from Brett and Stephen, Carey and Carol, Luna, Kokanee Beer and everyone who showed up for the party back in September.  I think it turned out amazingly and looks world class.  

Not Tired of Music

Not tired of music

Last night Isabelle and I went to see our friend's band Young Galaxy play at the Biltmore.  It was a nice night, and the thing that made me smile the most was how everyone's parents had come out for the show.  There they were, in their 40's, 50's, what ever, and standing with a glass in hand watching their children perform music.

Seemed to make perfect sense.  My mom is still coming out to our shows, she's in her 70's!  Mind you she's also very cool so it's to be expected.  :D

Last week was the Joel Battle cd release, and once again I was surrounded by family out supporting their own.  It's good to see the community surround it's artists.

Even after all the glitter of the rock and roll era, music is still an intimate thing. 

It's nice.

>> oh, Bend Sinister opened the show last night and I thought they were great.  Check 'em out.  

CtV in Slovakia! (repost)

CtV in Slovakia!

Just got word from a new friend in Slovakia that he'd been on the national radio and spoke of our Boutique Empire label and played a Combine the Victorious song on air.  Apparently it even generated some favorable comments from listeners and there is a chance it will be added to the playlist next month!  All this from a CD exchange we did earlier this year in the summer.  Amazing things can happen on the internet.  This one was thanks to  Also looks as though we shall have a song appearing on a compilation CD as well: appropriately enough it will be titled "Long Distance Compilation" on the AZYL/Bizarre Republic label.   (Interesting the "bizarre" connection as we've also got another song to come out on a "Some Bizarre" compilation next year too. hmmm...)

Here's to being bizarre.


Is Optimism Foolish?

Is optimism foolish?

It's strange how the common reaction to a bit of optimism (at least that I've encountered) is usually met with extreme contempt or that sad knowing little nod of the head as to indicate, "how naive you are, if only you knew what I knew you'd never believe any of what you just said."

If you've read the books, heard the music, seen the movies and experienced the real thing, and you're still optimistic, does that make you simple?  Or does it mean you've seen a different whole from what most are claiming to be the truth. 

Truth is so subjective.

What is really gained from pessimism?  The ability to always guaranty the outcome; for everything will fail right?  How can we progress if we are self-fulfilling our prophesies of doom.  

The icebergs are pretty easy to see, even from a distance, do we really need to crash into them to prove their existence?

Somehow, thinking we can make it seems far more interesting.  

Our First Electronic Show

First Electronic Show

Isabelle and I have been working on reinventing our set as an electronic duo.  It's been very fun and a lot of work but I think we've come up with an interesting sound.  Isabelle's even learned to play the keyboards a bit!  Things are sounding good, hope it all works tomorrow night.  Fingers crossed. 

Speaking of which, if you're in Vancouver on Saturday  August 8th please come down to the Railway club for our label Boutique Empire's first anniversary party. It's a full evening of entertainment.  On first is our friends from Accost, with the electronic stylings.  Combine the Victorious will be on at 10:15, then the comedy troupe The Skinny shall change the mood with their exceptionally funny sketch comedy, Sex With Strangers shall storm the tiny stage and get everyone sweaty and our friends from Seattle The Keeper will be bringing their feel good brand of swords and dragon music to Vancouver for the first time. 

Hope you can join us - we've even lined up a guest violinist to join us for a few songs. 

Until then...


Not bad for the first time...

Our show on Saturday was a success.  We managed to complete it without crashing the computer, well no more than once, and only had one keyboard die in the middle of the performance.  The drum pad fell off the stand and the monitors were kinda low, but other than those slight glitches everything went smoothly!  you know...  ; )

It was good.  We had fun.  We both heard it sounded good and were pleased that the vocals finally were heard and went over very well.  Happy about that. 

It looks as though we're going to continue this format for the foreseeable  future.  Everything fits comfortably into the trunk for the car, and I'm certain I can streamline the set up a bit more with additional thought and planning.   Touring is finally an option. 

Isabelle played her first show on keyboards and did great.  Her singing was of course better than ever and I even managed to stay on course for the night.  As mentioned a few little glitches happened, but it was just that kind of night.  Gremlins everywhere, but the vibe in the Railway was great, if not a bit haphazard. 

Accost played a very solid set, their sound is getting tighter and tighter and Chantelle is stepping up as a front person.  Our set was smooth and cool which set up the comedy of The Skinny quite well I thought.  They had to fight through some feedback and really project to get over the audience, but there were a lot of laughs emitting from the front of the club!  Sex With Strangers had a pounding set, everyone was shaking it, and they pulled off a unique switch over with The Keeper by not stopping playing between the bands.  Each player just played on his respective instrument until the next band member was ready to take over.  Very cool.  if a bit strange switching between the dance rock of SWS into the heavy groove metal of The Keeper!

Great night, and a huge thanks to all of you that attended.  Hey, a huge thanks to all of you reading this note too.  Great party.  I wonder where we'll do it next year?

Cheers, have a good week.

Mark (and Isabelle)

"Selling Out" (op ed)

"Selling Out"


I was just perusing various pages on and reading some of the comments under certain songs.  One of the things that I found common was the sentiment that bands sell out when they become successful.  Or more directly, if they license their music to an advertisement.  Now we've had a modest amount of money come in from licensing our songs to television shows so far and personally I would appreciate the opportunity to have a song used in a cool ad (provided it was for a product we actually might use, or at least didn't despise).  I can assure you we haven't sold out, sold in, or sold through anything. 

In the 2000's it's quite challenging to make a living from composing and performing music.  The old paradyms have changed, the old business model really doesn't exist anymore.  Gone are the days where a band might be discovered, signed to a deal with a major label, given the opportunity to record an album's worth of material in a high end studio and then spend a year touring it.  Corporate radio is all but a closed door to the indie bands, unless they can provide some revenue to the station by purchasing an ad, or perhaps they have a mysterious benefactor (exception being made here to a few local stations who are playing very cool music from our scene here in Vancouver.  I hope the same can be said elsewhere).  So what recourse is left for the underground artist to be discovered?  Record stores are all but gone (though I have nothing but respect for the ones that are still here - they are a great resource and usually filled with knowledgable staff who actually love music), radio had lost it's importance to most younger listeners, magazines tend to need some cash to get things in print, and music television is so marginalized that it only serves the top 10 videos which all seem to pander to a teenage viewership (one exception is The Wedge on Much Music, possibly the most enjoyable hour of television nearly every week - thank you to the programmers!).  

So where are bands to earn their living?  I've harped on this issue before, but let's reiterate.  We are in a strange time where a couple generations of music listeners have grown accustomed to getting all their music for free.  The mp3 is the ultimate cassette tape.  Where in the 80's, vinyl albums used to come with stickers inside them stating "home taping is killing music";  I'm sure ALL the labels from that era would give anything to just have to contend with cassettes once again.  At least someone had to buy an album for the tape to be made!  Now, with digital technology if a band like Coldplay were to have a leak and their album made available online by an unethical engineer, hundreds of thousands of copies could be freely taken in only a matter of a weekend.  I know a few of you might think who cares about Coldplay, but replace them with a band you love and then consider the impact it will make on their lives, the lives of their families, the people who work for them, etc... 

The accepted adage of our era is that musicians will have to make their living from the live shows.  Yes that's true, if you're in the Coldplay status.  You can make a phenominal living. But what of the vast majority of us who aren't?  Ask a friend who plays in a local band how much she or he made at their last performance.  I'll bet most will simply grin sheepishly and tell you "nothing."  When you're starting out you play for free. Or very close to that.  You are investing your day job's money into your art.  You buy an instrument and then spend years learning to play it.  You pay for rehearsal spaces (in Vancouver it seems the going rate is about $60 for a three hour block - how much do you think gets done in three hours?)  Your guitars cost anywhere from $100 for some used piece o' crap to several thousands for a high quality one.  Drum kits can cost the price of a small car, plus there is constant upkeep.  The expenditures are massive, the income is small.  If, after a year of playing, you end up with a decent following you may end up getting a couple hundred bucks for a show.  That's nice, but in reality if that band has an album out they've probably paid anywhere from $5000 to $20000 to record and press their indie release.  It's going to take a helluva lot more than three hundred bucks to offset those costs. 

Bands do sell CD's and vinyl at their shows, and I've been seeing an increase in download cards appearing at the merch booths (which personally I'm into as they reduce the waste of a CD, and fit nicely in your wallet!) but perhaps you've noticed they rarely sell out.

Where are we to make our living from then?  Is it now to be that all musicians have to hold two or three jobs and try to fit their art into the spare time?  Can anyone become excellent in a situation like that?  Obviously a band will have to be good to succeed: that will never change.  But now even good bands are struggling to make a living.  Bands that were once on major labels who have been dropped due to financial worries at said label.  The belts have been tightened all over the world, but for the musicians that started in 1999 not 2008, th emp3 and Napster changed everything. Unfortunately most of us didn't see that.  And then we can see the result of a profit driven society, it hasn't been too friendly to the arts. 

So, is it really surprising that The Dandy Warhols licensed one of their best songs to a Citreon ad?  Or Moby licensed almost every song off his Play album back in the day?  These artists were looking for exposure.   And while the internet is a fantastic resource for the indie muso and the music fan, its vastness and choice are also what make it so difficult for us to find what we want.  Strangely, commercial television has become the harbinger for new music.  Shows like Grey's Anatomy, The OC,  I don't know... they have broken several acts wide open to the North American audience.  TV commercials have made overnight stars of obscure electronic artists who were unheard of only weeks before.  And these people are all probably very happy to be paid. 

I guess I will alway marvel at the misconception some people have about the riches of the music industry: millionaire rock stars, private jets, and flashy sports cars.  The truth is almost everyone who creates, performs, and records music for a living makes a very modest income from it.  Very modest.  Please don't begrudge them getting a few thousand bucks for a television ad, it might be their sole income that year!

Alright, all done, the soap box shall be put away for the weekend.  Thanks for reading and understanding.  Have a great summer, and if you're in the mood, please buy some music or go to a show: or go to a show and buy some music: hope you enjoy it too!


p.s.  oh yes, and we'd like to offer our respects to Michael Jackson, r.i.p.

More Songs Licensed (repost)

More songs Licensed

Another good week for Combine.  In addition to the Some Bizarre compliation we've placed All Together on, we've also licensed Fat Kids Big Cars and Decay (so far at least, we're hoping they use all seven songs off the Disagreements EP) to an MTV series called "The Peak".   It's such a pleasure to see those e-mails come in, makes the days and months of writing and recording seem worthwhile. 

Vancouver has been gloriously beautiful this week and both of us are taking as much time as we can in the sun.  Hard to get your head back into writing mode, but Isabelle assures me she's been keeping extensive notes and ideas, so perhaps we'll be turning over a few new songs rather quickly.  Hey, if they can get exposure on TV, I'm down with that.

Oh and we just signed up on the Jango music service, so if you're a user, please check us out online.  It's a streaming radio service like, just a different site.  A few friends have been raving about it for the past while, I'm just starting to listen there to see what it's like (Jordy tells me he's loving it).

Hope you have a great weekend, and thanks for reading.



"Music is Free"

"Music is Free":

In 1809 the only way you could "own" music was to purchase the sheet music.  Of course, you'd have to be capable of "playing" the music laid out before you which in all likelihood entailed years of lessons at an instrument, otherwise that paper was only dots on a page.  If you could read it but played poorly your music sounded bad.  If you were a capable player perhaps your music sounded enjoyable.  But to hear that music performed by a virtuouso, that could change your life.

The 20th Century gave us recordings.  Recordings of brilliantly talently musicians performing works of genius by inspired composers.  Now,  for the first time, you could hear a performance of Django Reinhart, Dizzy Gillespi, The Beatles, The Sex Pistols, at any time, without having to leave your home!

This is a very important distinction: way before the mp3, CD, cassette, 8-track, vinyl album and rotary disc, the only way to hear the music of a composer was to attend a live performance.  Which in the 1800's and earlier, the average citizen was excluded from such events.  Pretty much the privaledge of royalty and their entourage.

I confess, personally, I adore music.  Since the age of three I've been capitvated by sound.  Especially sounds being combined in beautiful ways.  I attended my first concert - a Boston Pops concert - at three and a half years of age.  I was euphoric (my mother put me into piano lessons  immediately after, I could read music before English!)  As a kid I'd listen to both sides of whatever album was on, just to hear everything.  I never understood how my friends could bore of it so easily.  My brother first introduced me to rock and roll with a Beach Boys Greatest Hits album.  I would sit through that in its entirety as well.  In the age of the vynil album it was a thing of pride to display your collection.  And it was all paid for.

This entire dialog is spurred by a conversation I had a few weeks back with a bartender ,he made the absurd comment that musicians should simply stop expecting to be paid for their music.  He furthered this with the all too typical refrain of "musicians will make it up at their live performance."  Imagine my glee at this comment.

What everyone seems to conveniently forget when they adopt this line of reasoning is all the thousands of people other than the artists that are involved in the recording process.  People who own studios, engineers, producers, manufacturers of recording gear, distributors, label people, publicists, managers, etc.  These people are also seriously in jeopardy of losing their livelihoods if everyone simply stops paying for music.  File "sharing" is a great way to promote music, but in the end it amounts to stealing. 

But music is free right?


Ask yourself: can you write a song?  Congratulations to those of you who can, it's a wonderful thing, well done.  The rest of you?  Ever wonder how it happens?  Ever feel a tinge of envy?  Now ask yourself: what is it worth?


Nothing at all? 

Honestly?  By a reverse comparison, if I walked into your bar and sat down to drink a beer, wouldn't you expect me to pay for it?  But I don't think it has any value.  I mean, you could make it up in advertising right?  Or if my car needs repairing, I'll just come and get it once it's fixed, because that's free too right?  Or my legal matters, you'll just settle them for free too right?  No of course not, you'd expect to be paid for your services. 

I cannot possibly know how important music is to any of you reading this.  I live in a bubble - as most artists do - for me it is only superceded by sunlight, oxygen, food and shelter.  To have something so precious to me dismissed as valueless is infuriating.

It's not because I'm a money grubbing sleezeball, I've never really cared greatly about money.  It's nice, but it's never been the end goal.  Turns out the act of creation and performance is my most fulfilling moment.  To hear someone discredit the efforts of all the millions of artists and that have come before me, to simply dismiss thier efforts, their art, and insist it has no monetary value seems wildly absurd.  And I'll defend everyone with that statement: your Nicklebacks, Celine Dions, Mariah Careys, U2s... whoever is an easy target.  These megastars are like corporations, they employ armies of talented producers, engineers, assistants, musicians, truck drivers, roadies, grips, agents, managers, merch people... use your imagination.  Their art creates jobs for thousands of people.  And all those people expect to get paid.

But not if music is free.

This is a discussion that won't be resolved in the next few weeks.  I will be bold however and state, "Music is Not Free."  At least it can't be as long as we're paying for bread, gasoline, legal fees, haircuts, sports jackets, lawn cutting, bowling, plumbing, dentistry, wine and cheese, or every other thing you need or desire.  I think a great many artists would offer their creations for free if society sponsered electricity and some food, but until that utopian moment arrives I think it is hypocritical to assert the Music is Free. 

There is no shame in paying for art: there is only reward.  The shame comes from stealing art.  If you don't pay, you will never value it.  And that is a truth about human nature.

Please support the artists that inspire you: it always helps and it always will.


Province Review of "Disagreements"

Just had a heads up from a few friends that we received a review in the Vancouver Province paper today.   Not a bad one I think.  Always happy to see what Tom Harrison makes of our music.  

Disagreements EP release

"Disagreements: tomorrow (hopefully)

Happy Monday to you!

Well if all is going according to plan, we should have our second release up on iTunes tomorrow, November 25th 08.  The Disagreements ep took quite a bit of work, and seemed as though it might never be finished: but we did put a stamp on the package and sent it in to our distributor last month in the hopes of it actually being processed in time for our release date. 

We decided to release the ep entirely online, no cd's, just downloads.  So far we've sold almost five times as many copies of The World Over from iTunes than on cd (I'll admit that this might possibly be due to not utilizing a physical distribution system other than our myspace and .com page - but I've had nothing but grief from such services in the past) so it makes sense to us.  Additionally neither Isabelle nor I have actually purchased a cd in more than 15 months - we're truly converted to the convenience of the online world.  In Vancouver I've seen several music shops go under in the past few years, and CD's take up a smaller section of all the major chains each time I go into them, so why bother fighting a trend? 

The Disagreements ep is a departure from our first album, we made it entirely in our home studio this time and purposely restricted our production ideas to allow the songs to sound closer to how we perform them live.  The themes of these songs center around betrayal and disappointment (both in regards to personal events that have transpired and what we can see of the world as a whole)  but also resolve with hope for the future.  The song Decay could be considered autobiographical but has become a bit more universal over the past year.  Fat Kids Big Cars is a jab at the corporate transformation of North American culture, where citizens are reduced to mearly consumers and our value is measured by the girth of our wallets.  Back In Style might be considered more of a fable than a true story, at least that's what we like to tell people!  Where Are You is a little tone poem written after a night when I thought I'd honestly lost Isabelle (long story, but it did involve a mickey of Fireball).  There are two instrumentals this time, the first is Charmer, an introduction to the entire piece and the second is aptly titled Segue- Please, as it segues between Where Are You and the final song Please.  Please is our favorite song right now.  We roped in our friends Ingrid Schroeder and Barry Flynn to write parts for the second half of the song and I think their contributions raise the bar exceedingly high.  Our first true collaboration and quite a successful one too! 

We proud of these songs and excited to perform them on stage again soon.  I've started scripting videos for a few of them and a couple directors here in Vancouver have offerred their services in the creation of at least one more.  Perhaps a re-release will have to be scheduled with all the clips added to the package to give a fully rounded album.

Thanks for reading and please check out the songs on iTunes, Amazon, or Napster or whichever sourse you prefer.  Have a great week~

Mark & Isabelle

Disagreements Available TODAY!!

Current mood:cheerful


We're very pleased to announce that our new Disagreements ep is up on the iTunes music store as of today!  Please follow the link there, or if you prefer Amazon, Napster, whichever, it's also be available on those sites as well.

In related news, there is the first of a four part interview I did with a radio station from Florida available on their site as well.  If you're curious about some of the back story, our process, or a bit of our history, please have a listen on the HT Media page.  Thanks again to Don for such a comfortable and fun interview!

Disagreements has a flow to it rather like The World Over, so if you can, please have a listen from beginning to end.  I think it tells an interesting little story. 

Alright, we're both really happy right now,  hope you enjoy the new songs - Cheers!!!

Mark & Isabelle