As Peter Crouch’s stature defies all logic in him becoming the professional and talented football player that he clearly is, so too does Mark Screeton’s persona give the impression that he is anything other than a highly proficient rock guitarist: a presumption that couldn’t be any further from reality.
A quiet, unassuming and extremely modest individual, Screeton could easily be mistaken for a man who would shy away from the public eye rather than be in its spotlight and it is only when he picks up a guitar and effortlessly runs through chords and riffs, that you stare wide-eyed and open-mouthed and realise; this man – like Crouch – has something very special to offer.
It’s 2.30 in the afternoon and I’m sitting in the spare room of a house that is located in a leafy suburb of Manchester. Outside, the weather is warm and gloriously sunny but in here, it remains cool; the temperature climatically controlled by AC. The lighting – I am reliably informed – is purposefully subdued (though not too dark) in order to establish and maintain a “creative” ambience. It evokes inspiration and concentration apparently.
The room itself is roughly the size of my own lounge at home but that is where the similarity ends. What immediately struck me about this room is that it bears an uncanny resemblance to a Dawson’s Music Shop: an area stocked with a plethora of musical instruments and recording gadgetry whilst remaining meticulously organised. I also note that the room is somewhat dominated by guitars, counting at least ten different examples that are all neatly lined up in highly polished guitar racks. My host explains (somewhat sheepishly) that guitars – apart from being his instrument of choice – are actually his guilty pleasure, his addiction, and though he is trying to get “clean” he still possesses some thirty-plus pieces, not to mention a couple of original guitars constructed by his own fair hand.
Screeton offers me a beer and asks if I would like to hear his latest composition entitled No More Miracles. What struck me about his question was the humble almost apologetic tone that he used, as if he felt he might be boring me or wasting my time … he wasn’t and he didn’t. What he did do – or rather, what his composition did – was put goose bumps onto my arm and left me craving more. It was – to my ears – a perfectly crafted, catchy and enjoyable piece of music with the vocals and every instrument on the track being played by the man himself. What shocked me the most, is the fact that Screeton claimed that it was a bit rough around the edges and needed some work. This particular statement told me one of two things: either the man is an incredible perfectionist of OCD proportions or – and this is the explanation I’m opting for – that Mr Screeton truly doesn’t realise how good he is. And believe me readers, the man’s good.
Listen for yourself: https://soundcloud.com/musicmanneo https://soundcloud.com/p-a-davies-uk-author/atrium
However, like I stated in my first expose of the Undiscovered series, anything connected to the arts is highly subjective and a matter of taste and the musical talent of this man is no exception. That said, I often wonder – like with so many talented people – why the breaks haven’t been there for them and why oh why does life decree that they remain undiscovered or unsigned and thus deny the population a little more pleasure? It is a question that is impossible to fathom yet, with the help of this series, I hope to go someway to answering it.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you….
Where were you born?
When were you born?
In the ‘60’s … ouch!
1964 to be exact.
What did your mum and dad do for work?
Dad was an MD of a large pharmaceutical company.
Mum did several jobs (mostly to pay for my education) in addition to keeping my older sister Karen and I, safe, happy, fed and loved.
What was life like, growing up?
Happy, I would say. Really clear memories of long hot summers, my first Raleigh Chopper bike and being competitive at school lessons and sport. Dad worked away most weeks but made up for it at weekends.
So? What got you interested in music?
A beat-up guitar with one string on it: given to me by my uncle Joe when I was about 6 or 7 years old.
Plus, my dad had a cool taste in music and introduced me to Tubular Bells and Dark Side Of The Moon at a very early age.
Why did you choose to play the guitar?
I wanted to impress my dad, be Jimmy Page and could actually see it as my future.
Who were/are your biggest musical influencers?
Wow – there are so many!
Okay. In chronological order:
Mike Oldfield, Dave Gilmore, Jimmy Page, Peter Gabriel, Crowded House, Prince, John Mayer. Some great songs produced and performed by these musicians.
Are you … or were you ever …in a band?
My first band was named Chapter One, formed when I was 14. Then came Morgan, NoSecret, Inexecs and currently, The Statesmen.
To be continued … ha-ha-ha!
You write and compose your own songs. Where does your inspiration come from?
Yes, that’s right. My inspiration comes from anything and everything that evokes emotion – love, sadness and the awesomeness of the universe.
What is your proudest moment as a musician?
I could play Stairway To Heaven when I was 12. Jimmy Page didn’t actually write it until he was 22. I think that says quite a lot. Ha-ha!
Where would you like to be in say, 5 years – musically speaking?
I would like to have finished the difficult second album … and hopefully the first one … and be listened to by millions of people? Too much to ask?
Who is your hero/idol and why? Doesn’t have to be connected to music.
My Dad. I miss the relationship we had and would have had if he hadn’t died so young.
What are your hope, fears and expectations in life?
Primarily that my children are happy and healthy but also, that we find a way to stop killing the planet we live on and instead, appreciate the miracle that it is.
And finally, Mark. If you could give one piece of advice to all the budding musicians out there, what would it be?
Don’t wait, JFDI – Just F**ing Do It!
All photos & music tracks © reproduced with the kind permission of Mark Screeton
Contact Details for Mark Screeton
Interview by P.A. Davies 2020