THESE CRAZY, CHALLENGING TIMES?
VETERAN ROCKER MARK DAVISON, LEAD
SINGER/SONGWRITER OF NUKE THE SOUP,
OFFERS THE PERFECT SOLUTION ON HIS NEW
BAND’S DEBUT ALBUM: ‘MAKE WAVES NOT WAR’
Let’s face it—these days, it’s scary just to pick up the morning paper or turn on CNN.
Who wants to read yet another gloom and doom story about declining home values, jobs disappearing left and right, corporate bailouts, terrorism, political extremism, you name it.The big question is, are you “Filled With Dread”?
Maryland based veteran pop/rocker Mark Davison isn’t—mostly because that’s the name of the first single from his hot new indie band Nuke the Soup, and it’s already making a big splash on the radio charts.
The feel good, summery ska-fired song, a true emotional-spiritual pep talk if we ever needed one, was the fourth most added track on FMQB’s Triple A chart its first week out of the box. It’s a high energy intro to the exciting and eclectic mix of clever pop/rock tunes on Nuke the Soup’s debut album on Meteor Records whose title offers up the perfect surfing inspired solution for our crazy times: Make Waves Not War.
Davison credits the jangling, infectious final track “Our Song” to none other than Eddie Vedder, who sang its catchy refrain to him in his very low voice in a dream. “I had been watching this fascinating documentary about a tragic couple that had a scene where Eddie joined a Neil Diamond impersonator during a live performance,” he says, “and later in my dream it was me onstage with Eddie and he was singing the chorus! I woke up and wrote down what I remembered.”
Driven by his unique and optimistic vision as a singer/songwriter, the eleven track collection features a host of top flight East Coast musicians (keyboardist Brian Simms, bassist Mike Mennell, guitarist Rennie Grant) as well as drum legend Chester Thompson, who has played with Weather Report, Frank Zappa and on and off with Genesis for more than 30 years.
Make Waves Not War was produced by Pete Solley, who is best known for his seminal work with Oingo Boingo and The Romantics and who produced several albums for Davison’s former band, the popular Cubic Feet, which performed regularly in Baltimore, Washington D.C., NYC and Philly and scored numerous college radio, Triple A and Hot Modern Tracks airplay hits in the 1990s. Their last album was Superconnector in 2001.
Davison’s fascinating musical transition to the unique sunsplashed vibe of Nuke the Soup began after the final Cubic Feet tour in 2002, when he and his new wife Sarah took off to explore the Southern Hemisphere and embark on exotic adventures on a wild itinerary that included many of the world’s most exotic surf spots. They hit Fiji before snow skiing and heli-skiing in New Zealand. Their Magellan-like voyage also took them to Sydney and Perth (venturing down the Margaret River into the heart of wine country) and Rottnest Island, where they cavorted with the wallabees and watched surfers off the coast hanging with the dolphins.
This experience, coupled with a news item about a Brit who was on trial for lewd behavior with a dolphin, inspired one of Make Waves Not War’s more intriguing tracks, the crafty blues/rocker “Finger of Friendship.” The song’s storyline is that, apparently, male dolphins excite easily and are known to offer a certain body part to swimmers as a “finger of friendship.”
Mark and Sarah Davison later stayed at a surf camp in the Maldives (in the Indian Ocean near Sri Lanka), then hit several hot surf spots off the East coast of Africa, where they went windsurfing and wave riding: Reunion Island, Mauritius and the Seychelles. Once they got home and started their family—now including four year old Jack and 20 month old Maddie—the singer limited his water activities slightly, but has always had time for windsurfing in the Chesapeake Bay.
“I started getting more sleep once Jack was a year old,” he says, “and it was time to plan some sessions to launch the new band in 2006. I already had the idea for certain songs and the black and white logo of a soup bowl with a nuclear mushroom cloud. I thought it would look cool on a T-shirt and we could market the shirt and CD to surf shops. The name of the band came serendipitously when my sister and I were out at dinner and she sent a cold bowl of soup back. She told the waiter, ‘Nuke the Soup.’ I extend the metaphor to tearing up the soupy snow when I’m skiing and cutting through a big wave while surfing.”
Along those lines, he did his first Nuke the Soup live performance at Delaware’s Dewey Beach Music Conference in 2006 and is currently planning a debut tour.
As for the album title, which is borrowed from a popular Vietnam era mantra, Davison adds, “People in the surf world can be very aggressive because everybody out there is after the perfect wave. It’s about saving those aggressions for the waves instead of being at war with people and nations.”
He tackles a unique array of themes throughout the album, starting with his high energy, coolly grooving meditation on the “Ocean,” which declares that “the ocean is my church/the waves are my religion.” Davison keeps the spiritual theme going on “Filled With Dread,” which could refer to the rasta flavor of the music but whose lyrics are about retreating to the past to soar beyond present day troubles.
Other key tracks are the catchy “Yin and Yang,” which explores the confusing vagaries that sometimes exist in relationships (even those which are as complementary as New Hampshire and Vermont), and the vibrant and pointed funk/rocker “Big Green Jungle,” which tackles the global financial crisis head on, from a very personal perspective. The thoughtful, reggae tinged mid-tempo ballad “Seeds,” about the initial attractions that later blossom into a deep relationship, is a revamped version of a song that was originally written as a Cubic Feet song in the mid-80s but was never recorded.
“Rewriting and recording that song made me realize how long I’ve been making music and how far I have come,” says Davison. “The coolest part about getting back in the game with a new band like Nuke the Soup is just doing it, gathering incredible musicians in the studio and seeing songs I’ve written come to life. The record business has changed a lot since I started my musical career, but making music is still very fulfilling for me. I’m excited to have people out there listening, unafraid to Nuke the Soup and Make Waves Not War!”