NEW ALBUM: ‘Tear Your Heart Out’ by villagerrr + INTERVIEW: with Mark Allen Scott

‘Tear Your Heart Out’ is villagerrr’s fourth album! The album is a forest of sonics, each track its own unique patch of soundscape. The land is peckered with twangy guitarwork and lovely melodies. The production is more intimately polished on this one to let clear lyrics ring out through like on “River Ain’t Safe.” I heard influence from Alex G, particularly, key moments on ‘Rocket’/‘God Save The Animals’ like the driving piano on “See.” The presence of Merce Lemon on “Never Everrr” adds another voice into the mix that helps tell the track’s story. All in all, this is a beautiful album that blends country and indie rock in a fresh new way that also fits in with the waves of new age indie alt-country talent such as Alex G, Wednesday, MJ Lenderman, Geese, Waxahatchee and Dawning.

Three days ago, I had the opportunity to interview Mark Allen Scott of villagerrr. You can read up on the interview below!

Listen to the album while you read up on our interview!

on BANDCAMP (consider supporting!)

or Spotify below.

“This is the beginning-”

These are the first words we hear on “Neverrr Everrr” as we dive into the world of ‘Tear Your Heart Out’, villager’s fourth LP, out now.

Elliott Hay | NCC: Greetings villagerrr! I’m beyond honored to have you here for an interview on your new record, ‘Tear Your Heart Out’, which comes out Friday, March 22nd. I wanted to thank Jaycee for making this happen and you of course Mark, for being here.

Elliott Hay | NCC: How long have you been working on this particular release?

Mark Allen Scott | villagerrr: Um, it’s been done for a while, but I feel like it was, uh, yeah, I can’t quite put a time on it, but I know that, yeah, it’s been like over a year since I’ve put out anything for like Villagerrr, which is, yeah definitely different for me, but yeah, it’s cool. Yeah. Super cool.

Elliott Hay | NCC: How are you feeling right now about releasing this new body of work into the world?  

Mark Allen Scott | villagerrr: Yeah, I feel like in terms of production maybe, I don’t know, it feels a little more like, polished and stuff. Uh, maybe even more than I would want, but not in a bad way, I think it all turned out great, but like, I think I just wanted to try maybe doing something a little, yeah, a little more clean, and hopefully, y’know, it still has like some character to it.

Elliott Hay | NCC: I definitely think it’s still got that authenticity to it.

Elliott Hay | NCC: Totally. I was actually going to mention, I think your production is so pretty and some of this recent work, like on, “Like Leaves,” is some of the coolest production I’d ever heard in an indie project. The sounds on “Pretty Little Liar” just seem out of this world to me… And I was wondering, could you like, leave some breadcrumb trails for aspiring artists on how you approach producing?

Mark Allen Scott | villagerrr: Yeah. Well, thanks. That’s really nice. But,, yeah, I don’t know. Like, I mean, I hate to be like, I don’t know. I’m not trying to be like too humble about it or something, but like, I really, , don’t entirely know what I’m doing, but I think that, like, helps, like, a lot of times I would just use, I think it’s an SM57, like, a mic with, like, a flat. I, like, use that to record, like, everything.
Yeah, the last album and then this, the tear your heart out one, I don’t know, I was just like, like, sometimes I would record the drums with like a mic, like that mic just like on the floor in the room. Like, I wasn’t really like setting it up how you should or anything. I would just like play and a lot of the times. What you’re hearing on the song is usually just like my first attempt at like placing the mic and then just playing. Like sometimes I do multiple takes and all that, and do some post production stuff, but, yeah, a lot of it was just being inspired and just doing it right away.

Elliott Hay | NCC: It’s something really raw and authentic about it. I feel like and yeah, I think that that kind of cuts to like what a lot of people like resonate with in your music is it’s very… honest… to put a word into it, honesty, which is awesome because, Margeaux placed “Honesty” and also “Neverrr Everrr” on their best music of 2024 playlist.

Elliott Hay | NCC: So it’s such a cool like shoutout to see that you’re getting the recognition you deserve, not to mention from one of the like biggest curators in our sphere at the moment (Marg.mp3). I wanted to ask you about, playing on that bill with Wishy, Friko, Horsejumper of Love, and such. And also I wanted to make a note that I thought it was really cool that you pulled out of SXSW.

Mark Allen Scott | villagerrr: Yeah. Yeah. That. Yeah. First and foremost. That felt like a pretty tricky situation because -I think he’d be fine with me saying this because we’ve talked about it a lot, but- Zane, like his dad and his whole dad’s side of the family is immigrated here from Palestine.

Mark Allen Scott | villagerrr: So, like, it was just a really, yeah, I don’t know, we didn’t know the right decision to make, honestly, like, to pull out or to, like, play and, like, have, like, Palestinian representation or, like, like, at the festival and to call attention to it that way or, like, yeah, it was crazy. On, like, a lighter note. Yeah, that show with Wishy and all them, it was kind of crazy. Like we definitely, I think the whole week were dealing with a little bit of imposter syndrome a little bit, but like by the end of the week, yeah, I feel like we were playing pretty good and like. made a lot of friends and like, it was cool. Yeah. So a good experience.

Elliott Hay | NCC: That’s cool. And of course, David Fuller was playing in Friko- I checked with him before and he said, it was okay- I wanted to ask you if you could talk about your friendship with David and whatever works that may have spawned from that or, you know, however, y’all influenced each other.

Mark Allen Scott | villagerrr: Yeah. I mean, Patience Tapes that he started and everything with like Dawning and Yawner. and yeah, like, I don’t know, like, I don’t want to say this, to disparage Columbus at all, but like, I think just where I was at, I felt kind of isolated and like, he just used to live in Columbus and we linked up, just through music, I liked his, he liked mine.

Mark Allen Scott | villagerrr: He’s just always been super encouraging. And yeah, in times when maybe I didn’t have very much, like, faith in myself. So that’s been cool. Like, and I try to do the same for him. He’s done like a lot of work and stuff for me, which is awesome.

Elliott Hay | NCC: I love the ‘Like Leaves’ album art that David did. I think it’s so like, it’s such a crystallization of like a certain time. Like, I don’t know. I think that album in general accomplishes that goal of like an album being a bookend from, from here to here. And yeah, I think it’s awesome that the album art can help tell that story.

Mark Allen Scott | villagerrr: I don’t know. Sometimes- I don’t want to- if he reads this, which I’m sure he will, I’m not trying to embarrass him, but like, yeah, sometimes I even feel like he’s a bit of like a mentor to me in some ways, but I don’t know. Hopefully I teach him some things too, you know, hopefully I’m not just like ‘little brother’ or whatever.

Elliott Hay | NCC: Nice dude. Yeah, no, really inspiring guy. I wanted to also say like Yawner. inspired me so much to get involved in the scene and to do anything with writing on music. I remember it just blew me away that there was music like that in Charleston. Then, Dawning was born and they really spun the scene together and it made a big impact on a lot of people (myself included). They had this alt-country festival that took in place in a boatyard that was super dope called “Neilson Fest.” I feel like villagerrr would fit perfectly at a show like that, it fits in seamlessly. I was going to mention next is, all of your music seems to have the sense of nature to it.

Elliott Hay | NCC: Honestly, I haven’t been able to stop listening to “River Ain’t Safe” – it’s in my top 3 most streamed songs of the past month-  and again, it’s in the name “River Ain’t Safe”- your tracks always feel as if they have a sense of nature to them… where does that come from?

Mark Allen Scott | villagerrr: Yeah, I don’t know. Like maybe, I, like was a big, maybe to like literally answer, I was like a big runner growing up. Like I, I wasn’t great at like, Other sports or like, I just, I don’t know. I was too afraid of being embarrassed or something. So I just, I don’t know. I started running when I was in like junior high and then just kept that and like, went to college to run essentially.
Like I hated school, but I kept competing. But anyway, like, I think I just really like being outside and like I haven’t been outside as much really the past like a year or so but yeah maybe I’m yearning to get back outside I don’t know.

Elliott Hay | NCC: Yeah no that’s that’s beautiful you hear it in the lyrics and like it probably you probably get inspired when you know like you see something on your run and you’re just thinking I should write about that.

Mark Allen Scott | villagerrr: Yeah. I think just exercise in general, really helps, you know, like your state of mind. But I find when I’m like, yeah, when I’m exercising a lot, like I’m way more creative, like energized to do stuff. Just helps everything really.

Elliott Hay | NCC: Yeah, I think that a lot of that can also stem from childhood, it’s cool to follow something that you found when you were younger and like, kind of stoke that fire. I was wondering, when did you start playing music? I know it can be one of those things that’s amorphous with the exact start, but I was curious of like, maybe what your path to this has been.

Mark Allen Scott | villagerrr: Yeah, I think, yeah, I like first started when I was a teenager, probably like 16 or 17, like playing guitar. But yeah, it was a lot of stopping and starting like it was really hard. Of course, when I first started, I thought like I would never be able to do it. And then, yeah, just picking it up every now and then I feel like every time I picked it up, I would do it for longer. And then, Yeah, just started like making songs. I think when I was like 20 or something. Yeah, or maybe 19. I don’t know But yeah, that was like six or seven years ago. 

Elliott Hay | NCC: That’s really cool It’s like a I feel like that’s a really creative time in people’s lives, that’s when they find the new, the most new music also, and people like the Beatles wrote so many of their songs and they were like 19, those songs that maybe are still in the warehouses of your like songwriting that you haven’t like fully fleshed out or something, but like it’s still there or maybe just, like one of the first songs you ever wrote, it might’ve taken a new shape by this point. It’s just like cool to see. It’s a very recyclable period.

Mark Allen Scott | villagerrr: yeah, I think so too. Yeah. I definitely am. No. Yeah. I know a lot of people don’t like to like go back to stuff, but I have like no problem with that. Like, I think it’s like, I almost wish people would do that. Go back and like reimagine things and make them better.

I don’t know. Sometimes people might think it makes it worse, but either way, like it’s, it’s making something new.

Elliott Hay | NCC: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, if hip hop and like remixing and all these other forms of music can like, accept that, like, why can’t like rock or something?

Mark Allen Scott | villagerrr:  Yeah. I don’t know. You got to ask the-, I don’t know who you gotta ask.

Elliott Hay | NCC: Who are some of your influences, man? Like I kinda, I can ponder myself, but like, it’s cool to kind of think of during that songwriting period of like 16 to like 20, who was most influential for you? And then like who are you most influenced by now?

Mark Allen Scott | villagerrr: Yeah, definitely. When I started, like when you were saying about like when you’re younger and you like discover a bunch of bands, like, I feel like the bands that made me want to play guitar were like, just like classic stuff, like freaking like Pink Floyd and all that, like, I don’t know, like CCR, like just classic rock stuff or even like Prince, like just all that kind of stuff. I feel like when I’ve started making songs though, like it’s kind of cliche, but like I was like a huge like Mac DeMarco head and like. He was just in interviews like “oh, it’s easy to make a song. Like you just do this and this and this” and I like and I literally just started doing that.

Elliott Hay | NCC: I feel like Mac is just the greatest celebrity of all time- he’s got this one interview where it’s like i’ll include it in the the link to the blog But it’s like mac’s just doing it And it’s like a 20 second clip of him just like giving this message to artists where it’s like “that’s the thing you just got to do it like just do it if you do it enough then like you’ll get better at it and I didn’t even do it all that much but I did it as much as I could and if you do it more than I’m doing it then you’re doing it.” and that’s like literally the video like I don’t know it’s just like 20 seconds.

Mark Allen Scott | villagerrr: Yeah there’s some truth to that I feel like really with anything like if you just persist like can you keep like going forward like Yeah, and you, you know, like, take notes, do your research, practice, like, you’re probably gonna get better, and you just, not to oversimplify it, but, like, that’s a pretty good, like, rule of thumb, I feel like, but yeah, just, he was a big time influence for sure, and then, like, obviously, like, Alex G and stuff, like, I feel like he was, like, doing the same thing, like, just, like, making stuff in like a bubble and then just the rest is history.

Mark Allen Scott | villagerrr: I guess. I don’t know. Yeah, man

Elliott Hay | NCC: So, on I wasn’t okay from brain pain you sing, “I’ll be like Neil Young” and in honor of young’s music going back on Spotify Do you have any favorite Neil Young songs?

Mark Allen Scott | villagerrr: Oh, dude. Yeah. I mean, that’s another obviously like huge influence for sure, but like yeah, I really like like the entire record Zuma with like Cortez the Killer on it.

There’s a song called “Stupid Girl” that’s kind of annoying, like the lyrics are pretty whiny and like dumb, but like there’s such a cool guitar solo in that song. And then there’s like, Don’t Cry, No Tears. That’s another good one on that album. And just one of my favorites that’s like on his greatest hits is like Only Love Can Break Your Heart. Dude, I feel like even though it’s a greatest hit, it’s like an underrated one. It’s such a good song.

Elliott Hay | NCC: Only Neil Young could do that.

Mark Allen Scott | villagerrr: Yeah, like he’s got so many hits that you’re like, I don’t think this one is big enough haha. But, like, yeah, I think Neil Young for sure, especially like lately., I said this before, like, I don’t know, it feels kind of weird because like, you know, sometimes artists do some pretty crazy things that then like change your perspective on their music.

Mark Allen Scott | villagerrr: But like, Like Sun Kil Moon and Red House Painters like I don’t know something about that guy being like from Ohio Like really was inspiring to me like hearing that stuff and like when I was like 15 And I was like what the heck like this guy’s basically just like talking in his songs and telling these like elaborate stories Like that was really cool. But yeah, I mean I dunno, I’m not condoning that guy obviously.

Elliott Hay | NCC: It’s the same thing with how a lot of people feel about Kanye West. Great music though for the most part.

Mark Allen Scott | villagerrr: Yeah, so like him and who else just really like a lot of slowcore in general like I didn’t even really know what that was until like yeah finding like the sun kil moon stuff and like Duster like a while ago whenever they just started being forced on everybody through yeah algorithms but i’m not complaining because that stuff is so good.

Avant Gardener Radio asks: how do artists pave a new fresh path for Midwest indie rockers without being bogged down by comparisons to other artists that came before (Songs: Ohia, Guided by Voices, or Bright Eyes etc. ) while also embracing the twangy country influence of their place of origin?

Mark Allen Scott | villagerrr: Yeah. I mean, I feel like comparison is like inevitable, like no matter, almost no matter what you’re doing, like, so it’s kind of like, You might have to like, ignore that the best you can. That’s easier said than done, but like, It’s not a bad thing.

We were just talking about like, recycling your own art or music or whatever. Ultimately, you have to, like, hear something else, this is what I believe anyway. Like, you have to, hear something else so it will inform what you make. Even if that’s just a new experience. And, like, I think it is cool sometimes to maybe, like, be influenced by things geographically, like, close to you or, like, culturally similar. Like, I feel like that. Usually maybe helps to like, produce like a more authentic piece of work.

Just like, maybe that’s changing a little bit with like the internet. Like that’s something me and my bandmates talk about just like the homogenization of music. Which that’s usually used in a bad way, but like, I don’t necessarily mean it like that. Just like. You can listen to anything, like, whenever you want, pretty much, like, I don’t know, like, the Charleston music scene, like, I could have access to that at my fingertips, like, on my phone.

I might not get it entirely, because I’m not, like, living there or anything, but, like, I could at least check it out, like, pretty easily, and maybe that could seep into my subconscious, or just, you know, Or something when I’m like making something. Yeah, it’s the idea of the influence from all over. We all have that art can just get to us and it wasn’t always that way.

Elliott Hay | NCC: That’s really of cool. I think that’s kind of what I wanna do with the blog, is pull people into local scenes from all over- we’re starting with Charleston. At the same time, independent music is thriving in the age of the internet. There’s a web that connects us all.

Elliott Hay | NCC: As an independent artist, how do you approach self-releasing and promoting your music? What challenges have you faced, and what advice would you give to other musicians in a similar position?

Mark Allen Scott | villagerrr: It definitely can be discouraging maybe when you’re first starting, And like, I don’t know, maybe to just, yeah, some advice, maybe like, maybe, yeah, try to like keep your head up if you are just starting and like, I would say, like, find some like cool little labels and like shop your thing around, like not necessarily to get money, but you know what I mean? Just like see who’s willing to work with you. Like I feel like that’s something I didn’t do. I was just like releasing my stuff into a void. I think playing shows, like, probably helps raise awareness, like, wherever you are, but if you can’t do that, like, if you can’t play shows, or you don’t have a band, or, like, you don’t feel comfortable playing in front of people, like, yeah, maybe just have your project and, like, send it to people, like, make real connections with people, try to make friends.

I think a lot of times people forget that, like, I’m not even saying this, like I’m saying, like, I do this all right or something, but just, like, I think a good way to do it is, try to form, like, real connections with people and, like, associate with people you feel aligned with, like, and that you think are also trying to, support each other.

Yeah, I think that in the end, like, goes a long way with like, trying to support your own, like you need the support of others to support your own thing, if that makes any sense.

Elliott Hay | NCC: Absolutely. Yeah, no, it’s a whole, it’s a force and like independent music, everyone wins when we all like, kind of push each other forward because independent music needs to fight for its spot in the first place. Which leads me to my last question-

Elliott Hay | NCC: I read on your bandcamp about how collaborating with other artists like Merce Lemon has inspired you to push forward with villagerrr. You’re leading the charge and even inspiring new independent artists. Who are some other artists that you’d dream to collaborate with?

Mark Allen Scott | villagerrr: Yeah, that’s awesome. I mean, I don’t know if I’m, I don’t know who I’m inspiring-

Elliott Hay | NCC: I’ve literally talked to people who are like, in the independent underground, they put on like little discord Minecraft music festivals where they just showcase a bunch of music and like, some of them are really big now. I’ve talked to like multiple people who’ve been like yeah villagerrrs one of our favorite artists. The indie label that puts them on is called Morningrise. You can read up on the festival here.

Mark Allen Scott | villagerrr: That’s so cool. I just thought it was kind of funny, oh, yeah, people, yeah, so like, Merce was, yeah, I just, also, if you wanted to know, I feel like she really helped, like, I don’t know, just that collaboration, like, gave me a lot of confidence, and she’s really cool, and like, basically helped me get on the label that I’m on now, like, And I don’t know if things would be going the same way, like if that didn’t happen. So I’m pretty thankful for that. And then that, yeah. And then, yeah, just with that little boost of confidence. I feel like I, yeah, I just like reached out to Boone, Dead Sullivan and he plays in Teeth and Chrisman and all these bands in Texas that I really like. And like, he was just down to play, like, I don’t know, like that was sick.

And then yeah, there’s a few other people like this person, Alex Montenegro has a project called Skirts also in Texas. She was down to play on something and might be on something, some dream people. I don’t know really, but like, yeah, I’m just interested in like pushing forward. I don’t know, like, just, I’d like to work with like my own band a little more maybe and like we’ve talked about wanting to do like a live album or something that would be sick and yeah, I don’t know just anyone who’s really down like I’m pretty much down I like to make music and mix and all that like. This is a call for help haha, no but yeah, who wants to make some cool music?

Elliott Hay | NCC: We’ve got a little time left so use this space to talk about whatever you want I was also gonna ask you if you have any just like general music recommendations for the reader of this article.

Mark Allen Scott | villagerrr: For a music recommendation, uh there’s I mean, i’m not even like trying to plug the playlist in some kind of way, but I do have like a playlist. So I guess I am plugging it, but like linked to my Spotify thing. And like, I don’t know, pretty much all the songs on there. Like I love, and they’re all over the place. Uh, some of them are like, there’s a couple of like joke songs on there too, like funny songs, but like, I don’t know. I think that’s, there’s a lot of cool stuff on there.

Elliott Hay | NCC: Support the new limited cassette edition on bandcamp, of course.

Mark Allen Scott | villagerrr: Oh, yeah, there’s like 10 left [5 now], which is wild. I’m thankful that people want to get those.

Elliott Hay | NCC: Thank you so much for joining us today and taking a stop by The New Curious City. 

Mark Allen Scott | villagerrr: Thanks for having me, dude- It’s nice to meet you.

Elliott Hay | NCC: It’s very nice to meet you too. Have a wonderful day.

Mark Allen Scott | villagerrr: Yeah, you too

If you got this far- first of all, thank you for reading <3
and secondly, you might enjoy this album review I did of villagerrr’s previous album, ‘Like Leaves’ (spoiler alert, I love it).

Read it here on The New Curious City.

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