Mark Alexander would like to act all indie and hip—really, he would—but the truth is that his largest influence is the Dave Matthews Band.
“I wish I could be cool and say someone that no one knows,” Alexander, a senior recording industry studies major, said.
He doesn’t need a cool influence: Alexander has real talent. His jam band influenced music features compelling choices, such as violin and sometimes banjo and harmonica, similar to both Dave Matthews and O.A.R. His vocals, on the other hand, more closely match the intimacy of Ray LaMontagne, perhaps without such a gravelly sound.
Alexander just released his second album, “Closer,” which his manager Sara Bell, a Butler alum, describes as “a lot heavier” than his 2009 debut, “Better Days.” Both albums are currently available on iTunes. His EP is available on his website.
Bell promised that this album had a “more grown-up sound” this time around.
Patrick Hurley, the multimedia coordinator of the College of Communication, said Alexander’s music compares favorably with John Mayer, and, of course, Dave Matthews.
“His music isn’t narrowly focused in terms of audience,” Hurley said. “It really has a broad appeal to almost all age groups.”
Alexander cites Hurley as someone who has been absolutely essential to his success thus far as a musician. Far from emphasizing how much of his own time and efforts he spent creating two albums from scratch, he instead talks about the dedication of his band and the Butler faculty—most notably Hurley.
“[Hurley] always says how he doesn’t want to be that dad who’s always hanging around, and he’s not,” Alexander said. “He’s really more like that cool dad who hangs out with us.
This album would have absolutely not happened without his passion and support.”
When talking to Alexander, it really does come across that this is all about the music for him, rather than seeking fame and riches and a crazy Mick Jagger rock ‘n roll lifestyle.
He was open about the ups and downs of the music industry, made quips about Ke$ha and “the Beebs,” jokingly said that knitting is one of his other passions and discussed his musical theater acting career in high school. It isn’t hard to picture him appealing to a broad audience, not just his current fan base that is heavily centered at Butler and the Indianapolis area.
Lucas Anderson, a freshman recording industry studies major and Alexander’s newest drummer, has nothing but praise for the singer, who has “set the precedent” for being successful with their degree.
Alexander’s former drummer, Emillio Buonanni, also a Butler alum, is currently teaching music in Japan.
“I’ve really liked working with Mark,” Anderson said. “He’s enthusiastic, and basically told me to do my own thing on the album. He’s all about going with the flow.”
As with all in the arts business, however, there’s always the uncomfortable question of whether or not success can actually be achieved, especially for a soon-to-be college graduate.
Hurley is confident.
“He came in with a fair amount of talent, but there are plenty of people with talent,” Hurley said. “His determination and willingness to work hard and improve himself will set him apart.”
Alexander is surprisingly laid back about whether he’ll ever achieve fame. As of right now, his plans for after college include working full time at a studio owned by Live Nation.
“I’m not really concerned about making it,” he said. “It’s really just about reaching out to people with music.
“If I make money along the way, then I guess that’d be fine too.”