Mark Pothier Interview p.2
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Q: Favorite tour story?
Pothier: An assortment. Having someone offer to spell out my name in cocaine at First Avenue in Minneapolis - I declined, honest. Playing before a stunned crowd of Allman Brothers-type fans in a sweaty Omaha club and feeling lucky to escape unscathed. Plugging in so much gear that we caused a power failure at an outdoor show on Cape Cod. Trying to act Bryan Ferry-cool while talking to Richard Butler of the Psychedelic Furs at a NYC show and having some drunk spill a pint of beer on my head. Spending two weeks camped out at The Tropicana in West Hollywood. Then, of course, there were Al's frequent meltdowns, many of them directed at Stevo for no apparent reason.
Q: Ministry opened for quite a few big groups during this time (Flock Of Seagulls, Depeche Mode, Culture Club, etc.). Any good stories about interacting with bands you played with?
Pothier: I remember The Police treating us well and Madness being the stereotypical snooty Brits. In San Francisco, we had dinner backstage with Boy George and a muffled roar erupted - it was an open seating show and they had just opened the doors, causing a flood of teenage girls, most of whom were dressed up like Boy George. He was kind of jovial, chubby guy who wished us luck and gave us a soundcheck. The bass player tried unsuccessfully to pick up Shay, our back-up singer. The drummer, as we all know now, would not have attempted that move.
Q: Were most shows at the time opening for other groups, or was there a point at which the group was big enough to consistently play as the headliner?
Pothier: We did both - opened big shows for The Police and Culture Club that summer and early fall (1983), opened medium-sized venues with Madness, and headlined on our own in places as big as 3,000 or so seats.
Q: The Blackouts ended up playing a pretty big role in the group later on. I know Ministry played at least a couple live dates with them and Al produced their last single, how closely involved were they when you were with the band?
Pothier: I'm afraid it's lights-out on The Blackouts for me - just before my time.
Q: Were you very involved in the Wax Trax scene back in those days? Any cool stories or info about Jim and Danny or any other Wax Trax groups would be cool.
Pothier: No, I was building Adventure Set in Boston at the time. I moved to Chicago in May of '83 to start rehearsing for the summer tour. We played every afternoon in The Metro, and that's also where we played the first tour date - hometown crowd advantage. Next to Boston, Chicago remains my favorite city.
Q: What did you think of With Sympathy?
Pothier: Like I said earlier, it's a decent timepiece. The songs had more definition live, less gloss, even though we did sometimes uses taped tracks to flesh things out. But I should add that I greatly admired much of the work Al did after that, starting with "All Day" and on to "Psalm 69" and his mid-nineties work. He deserves a lot of credit for rising from the ashes of the Arista debacle, and for producing uncompromising music that has been co-opted by too many people to count. Ministry's 1992 Lolapalooza performance at Great Woods outside Boston was one of the most powerful performances I've witnessed. And I'm not just saying that because I had a VIP pass, either.
Q: With Sympathy was dedicated to Carol Blank. Who's she?
Pothier: I'm drawing a, uh, blank.
Q: Anything in particular that you can remember from those days that never actually made it to release?
Pothier: Just the songs we tinkered with in rehearsal, a couple of which we played live a few times.
Q: There's a live video from Minneapolis in 83 circulating that looks pretty official looking. Bob didn't remember it, so I was wondering if you had any idea if it was intended to be released as an official video?
Pothier: I remember a camera crew being there, and I think we sounded fairly together that night, but my then I was not exactly being keep in the inner loop of decision making. In fact, when the 12-inch import of "I Wanted to Tell Her" was released, my name and Bard's were omitted from the credits. Thankfully, they reprinted the cover, but the original copies must be collector's items now - I imagine they'd fetch, oh, two or three dollars on ebay.
Q: I'm assuming you left in late 83 with the rest of the band. Any idea who joined the group after that?
Pothier: Yeah, I flew back from our last show in L.A. in Sept. 1983, essentially knowing I wouldn't be going back. The album hadn't sold well and it was clear Al was discouraged. We never had any arguments, but I wasn't going to be part of his future plans and I was fine with that by then - I don't harbor ill feelings toward Al - it is a ravenous business and he proved himself to be resilient. Brad stayed on as a hired hand for "All Day" and "Twitch." I'm not sure when Paul Barker made his appearance.
Q: What have you been doing since leaving the group?
Pothier: I've been in journalism, which was my other passion from my junior high days. I started as a $5 an hour reporter for a small weekly newspaper south of Boston, ended up somehow winning a Nieman Fellowship at Harvard (12 Americans and 12 international journalists are selected to study at Harvard and get paid for it), and now I'm Senior Asst. Metro Editor at The Boston Globe. I'm also a part-time writing instructor at Harvard, which is a lot of work but exciting. I write as well as edit for The Globe, and just last week did a Living section piece on Hugo Burnham, a cofounder of Gang of Four. So music remains close to my everyday life. No regrets, either - I wouldn't be here at the Globe now if I hadn't traveled through Ministry. And even when I was at Harvard, supposed to be pondering all-important issues like global warming and America's empire complex, you know what people really wanted me to discuss - Ministry.
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