Spin Doctors' Houstonian Bassist Talks Grooves, Kryptonite

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Though they've often been unfairly characterized as strictly a "jam band," The Spin Doctors were in fact one of the more underrated acts of the '90s, particularly as a live unit. The group's 1991 debut, Pocket Full of Kryptonite, proved a commercial smash with songs like "Little Miss Can't Be Wrong," "Two Princes," and "Jimmy Olsen's Blues" on the charts and their fun, frenetic videos in constant MTV rotation.

And though subsequent albums like Turn it Upside Down and You've Gotta Believe in Something didn't deliver the same numbers, a dedicated fan base (which you might also encounter at shows by Blues Traveler or the Black Crowes), followed them through lineup changes, periods of inactivity, and singer Chris Barron's bout with a rare vocal-chord paralysis that might have prevented from talking - much less ever singing - again.

The four original members - Barron, guitarist Eric Schenkman, bassist Mark White, and drummer Aaron Comess - are back together as a unit, touring to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Pocket with an eye towards recording new material. When Rocks Off discovered that White actually lives full-time in Houston, he seemed like the right Doctor to place our house call to.

Mark White: Houston Press! What's up!

Rocks Off: I could ask you. How the hell did you end up in Houston?

MW: My father came down here in the '80s, and it was the only place they would give you a house and a gun at together. In New York City, you're only allowed to have a butter knife and an emergency phone that dials 911. Plus, it's freezing in New York City.

And we did a gig in Houston one Halloween, and all the girls were dressed in jeans, or as Princess Leia, or Jungle Jane. In New York, they were all dressed as gorillas because of the cold! So I knew I had to come here. My uncle was also a sheriff here. So I lived in Katy, and now I'm in downtown Houston.

RO: So you don't have to travel far for the gig this Friday?

MW: No. And I love Rick Springfield!

RO: What's the band up to these days?

MW: It's the 20th anniversary of the record, and they're going to be re-releasing it with bonus tracks. We doing a tour this fall, and we just came back from England where we played the whole record from start to finish and just jammed it out. We may play the same songs, but they're never the same. I just prefer playing live than in the studio.

RO: When you put together the set list, do you have to balance playing all the familiar material with deeper cuts?

MW: Naw, we just play what we want to (yells away from the phone to someone) Hey, I'll talk to you tomorrow! We're going to Dallas then New York. Hey, I'm doing an interview with the Houston Press right now! I can't talk to you!

RO: I didn't know that this paper wielded such power for you to diss your friends.

MW: No, he's the owner of [Houston music store] Rockin' Robin. I give bass lessons there, and also in my home. I don't really play with anyone here.

Location Info


Arena Theatre

7326 Southwest Fwy, Houston, TX

Category: Music

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john pursel
john pursel

mark is not only an exceptional bassist with deadly chops but and exceptional bass/music teacher... this is not a typical pairing of skills. last week, during my first visit to rockin robin guitars and music (houston, tx), i enjoyed every minute observing/auditing him with three students. before his first student who was late, we chatted briefly as i gazed at the 100 plus basses of all kinds hanging on the wall in the bass room... as the student showed up late , it was apparent he has a take no prisoner attitude with a comedic yet serious attitude. as a bassist/teacher myself, i hovered about silently in the background to observe yet another student and a third for a few moments; the sessions reminded me of my days as a faculty member of stanford jazz workshop. he really clicks with the young pups learning bass.  his attitude and sense of humor are fantastic with no degree of over inflated ego... i am looking forward to sitting down with him as well when our schedules permit... he seems very approachable yet pretty busy, quick to the point (east coast vibe), and certainly in demand as a teacher; in my opinion, one of america's finest artists in many ways for sure... john pursel (wharton texas; oceanside ca)


How much are lessons?


It's awesome that he's a Houstonian! More power to him! 

furioso ateo
furioso ateo

Sounds like a goofy guy. Not in a bad way.

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