Mark GE has been busy this year. His performing group and recording act, XPosed 4Heads, has emerged from the pandemic slump, opening for ABC at Summerfest and will play his brainchild, New Wave Fest, next month. And his studio project, Cyberchump, has just released its 13th album, The Quirks of the Zen Dog.
Where to start? “We try to do eventssays GE of XPosed 4Heads. “We’re not the kind of band that can play on your lawn while everyone else is having a beer. We demand attention. We have costumes. We have a shtick. We’re putting on a show!”
At New Wave Fest, this show will center around songs from the album they released last year, Planet A Go-Go. Included on this long drive is a track with traction. “New Wave Apocalypse” gets regular rotation from Rodney Bingenheimer. The lyrical name checks out 80s new wave-era 4Heads influences, acts that Bingenheimer introduced to his KROQ Los Angeles schedule. Today it has a worldwide platform on Sirius.
“Some members of the bands we named gave us kind ratings,” GE says. Among them, Jane Wiedlin of the Go-Gos.
Like its fundamental influence, Devo, GE will wrap its ideas in luminous melodies. “On the second chorus, people can sing if they’ve only heard the song once,” he explains. “The songs are original, sympathetic and fun. I try not to get too heavy.
But listen carefully: “It’s important to present a message and inspire people and represent a point of view that could bring positivity to the world. I frame my complaints constructively through satire. It contrasts this with the punk rock ethos that surrounded XPosed 4Heads when they first aired 40 years ago. “Now unity is the rebellious thing to do. In punk, we were angry, cursing things. Kind of like the berserkers of January 6? “The world is so angry now, so divided, that singing about love, community and unity sounds like a rebellion.”
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For the all-instrumental Cyberchump, the music itself has always been the message. The remote duo of GE and Jim Skeel of Kansas City get their name from the trial-and-error learning process of “going digital.” GE explains: “We were just morons who spent hours wiring up our instruments and only had an hour left to play.
The Quirks of the Zen Dog is soaring, upbeat, with an upbeat beat, and as the groove continues, you’ll want to join a happy, dancing crowd on the dance floor. At times, zen dog will remind fans of Krautrock Neu, Popol Vuh and other early 70s German bands. The music is full of surprises, even for GE and Skeel. “It’s electronic-organic, with the studio and software as instruments alongside traditional instruments. “Because of the enormous possibilities for digital manipulation, ‘we don’t know who played what by the time the album comes out, which is exciting!’ said GE.
The new release features solos from a pair of Milwaukee jazz musicians, soprano saxophonist Jason Todd and alto saxophonist-flutist Jesse Montijo. “Cross-pollination brings in people with different interests and skills. That’s what’s exciting about collaboration. Being in total control is not interesting. I’d rather take her to a place you would never have considered.
New Wave Fest is scheduled for Saturday, October 1 at Shank Hall. The range includes XPosed 4Heads, The Quilz and The First Wave.