Major Spark is Mark Goodman and producer Brian Charles. Their debut album Beautiful Noise is a stirring amalgam of garage rock, power pop, psychedelia, and synth-drenched textural soundscapes, all lovingly detailed, sturdily composed, and immediately catchy. Mark and Brian used drum loops and improvisational techniques to break free of their solid backgrounds producing dozens of indie rock albums.
Mark previously formed Magnet in 1995 when Moe Tucker from the Velvet Underground agreed to dust off her drums from the VU European reunion tour to record a full length titled Don’t Be a Penguin (PC Music/ADA). Mark also teamed with other talented musicians such as David Lowery (Cracker, Camper van Beethoven), Matt Wilson (Trip Shakespeare), and Steve Steve Schiltz (Longwave) for subsequent Magnet releases. Brian Charles is the owner of Zippah Recording Studio where he has produced and engineered excellent artists including Chad Stokes (Dispatch), The Sheila Divine, and Weakened Friends.
Major Spark aims to bring a positive vibe with lyrics that are plainspoken, sharp-witted, and instantly memorable. “Run Run Run,” the latest Major Spark single, is a star-struck ode to a female athlete of imposing strength: “she’s got muscles like a stoner’s got weed,” is the way the frontman sums it up. He’s matched this sentiment to a fizzy guitar-pop arrangement complete with a swinging riff and a singalong chorus. Fans of Magnet — or high-quality power pop in general — will be right at home.
But there’s more to Major Spark than catchy melodies, and “Beautiful Noise,” the title track from the group’s debut, combines a classic EDM beat with vintage guitars and keys with vocals that pay homage to Hope Sandoval and James Murphy. Brian’s production on the track is spellbinding, wholly immersive, and marvelously moody. Goodman’s sense of play producing the videos shines through. For “Run Run Run,” he engaged music producer Philip Stevenson to collect vintage clips of powerful women in action, running races, lifting weights, or heaving a discus. For “Beautiful Noise,” director Roger Metcalf blended studio moments with female circus artists performing high above the ground, radiating grace and power with every move.
When and Where did Major Spark begin?
Brian Charles produced bands at Zippah Recording for 33 years in Boston… until it burned down in December 2021. He continues to produce artists in other studios – as we look for a new space to rebuild Zippah. Mark Goodman previously released albums as Magnet for PC Music/ADA. He recorded the Magnet Which Way EP at Zippah Recording with Matt Wilson (Trip Shakespeare) producing. Magnet also recorded and toured with Moe Tucker (Velvet Underground). Mark and Brian started Major Spark a couple years ago with the aim of creating high energy music.
How did Major Spark form? How do our talents blend?
Mark contacted Brian with creating a specific type of music that seemed to be missing from the current indie soundscape. We work very well together. Creating Major Spark is so different from creating in a band. There’s only two musicians, and there’s not much ego – so we can tell one another, “Hey, that part is not cutting it… let’s try something new..” and we know feelings will not be hurt.
How we write; Brian creates a drum loop from lots of live drumming he recorded – OR Mark writes a basic song on guitar. We add parts over the course of a couple of weeks – taking time to listen and not to settle for something that’s half baked. Brian is an outstanding vocal producer helping to create a vibe and vocal delivery that fits the song. And – Brian plays every instrument on Major Spark recordings except for horns and certain BVs. Mark occasionally hums melodies that become guitar or key parts. And provides lots of opinions.
What genre is “Beautiful Noise”?
All the songs are designed to be upbeat with positive energy. They should make the listener want to get up and move, clean the house, go for a run. The genre is somewhere in the rock world because we like guitars. But we did aim to create Pop music…. we just failed a little because we are old school indie/Power Pop people.
What Inspired “Run Run Run”?
Mark wanted to write a song that was down the middle of the Power Pop highway. The song is about a woman who kicks ass… in a good way. It’s from the perspective of someone who admires an ass kicker.
What inspired “Beautiful Noise”?
We listened to some Chemical Brothers and old Fatboy Slim and aimed to borrow a little of the classic Big Beat sound. We used an improvisational approach to creating the lyrics. Mark sang for around 30 minutes non-stop over the groove. Brian then edited and built the song based on the pieces he liked. The song is about the power of music to create a positive vibe. We also wanted to channel a little of the Hope Sandoval vox delivery – and were so impressed with the performance delivered by Miranda on this track. She’s amazing. She won the Boston Music Award for Producer of the Year last year.
How did we create the visuals for “Run Run Run”?
Mark hired Philip Stevenson, a music producer from Washington DC, who creates some of his own videos out of found footage. Philip edited together vintage clips that fit the vibe of Run Run Run. He pushed to include a wide variety of clips – not just vintage sports clips, and we think the result works quite well.
How did we create visuals for “Beautiful Noise”?
We wanted to blend video of recording at Zippah Studio with circus arts performers. The circus arts performers used a really nice outdoor facility, and Roger Metcalf and his Video Garage team directed the video using slow motion, special effects, drone footage to make a video that works well with the groove of the song.
How do “Run Run Run” and “Beautiful Noise” showcase Major Spark?
Brian and I think these two songs are perfect as a pair. Run Run Run is the type of song we’ve done in previous bands and is quite comfortable for us. We could crank out songs like Run Run Run easily. But we’d never created a song like Beautiful Noise. We had to push outside our zone a little – as we are not EDM kids or Pop producers.