1.You are the author of "Beatles Undercover" and recently released Mark Farner biography "From Grand Funk to Grace". I guess that writing biographies is 90% research and 10% writing. Right or wrong?
Youíre pretty close. Maybe more like 75% research and 25% time in writing.
2. I have to admit that I have not read any of the books about GFR Ė yet. But many questions from the fans concerns the bandsplits. What is your personal conclusion about the relationship between Terry Knight and Mark Farner back in the PreFunk days?
Mark NEVER had much use for Terry Knight from day one. They are as different as night (no pun intended) and day. However, Mark recognized Terryís ability to hype and spin. Mark knew that if anyone could promote Terry Knight and The Pack, or Grand Funk Railroad, it was Terry.
3.One of the most frequently asked questions from the diehard fans concerns Marks role in the first bandsplit. Whatís your personal opinion about what happened?
I think the falling out between Mark and Don, the two dynamic and diametric elements in Grand Funk, began as a result of the break with Knight. I think Mark may have blamed Brewer for Terry Knight. Brewer was always closer to Knight. Brewer had suggested Knight be brought in to manage the group. Mark was also dead set against Brewer wanting to bring Markís good friend Craig Frost into the band. From that point on, Grand Funk split into two camps: Mark and Mel, and Don and Craig. The musical tensions began in earnest during the recording of "Phoenix." According to Mark, Don just took over the production of that album. From then on, musical and personal tensions mounted between Mark and the other members of the group. It became an "Us against him" situation. I think there was jealousy over Markís talent and being the front man. Mark had expressed wanting to do a solo album and other members of the band felt he was holding out his best songwriting for his solo projects. And then the hits stopped coming. That only added fuel to the fire.
4.In your opinion, how much influence has Marks Christian faith when it comes to the fact that there where several bandsplits?
Well, Mark is very strong willed and principled, even before his conversion. Don is all business. Mark has always been the conscience of the band and VERY outspoken. Don Brewer has tried to bridle Markís statements on stage. He even went so far as to try and write into Grand Funkís reunion contract that Mark could not mention anything about God or religion during their shows. Mark insisted that clause be taken out. I donít think itís the underlying reason for the splits though. Sadly, I think itís just reached a point where Mark doesnít trust Don anymore and Don has tried to become very controlling. The two just donít like each other anymore. Perhaps they know each other a little too well.
5.As an unofficial webmaster, Iím very concerned to be objective Ė not to offend any of the bandmembers. My own conclusion of the latest bandsplit Ė is that people around the band are to be blamed for making the split deeper than necessary. Am I right or wrong?
My take on the latest situation is that basically, Mark canít stand working with Brewer anymore. Itís that simple. Thatís why Mark wanted half to be a member of the band. It just wasnít worth it to him to put up with Don for any less. Itís just no fun for him to put up with the B.S. and pretend that all is lovey dovey between them, when itís not. To begin with, Mark would like to see some forgiveness and heartfelt apologies for what he feels is an abuse of his artistic property and identity by the other members of the band. Their going out as Grand Funk without itís principle member and having a second rate stand-in pretending to be Mark Farner greatly offends Mark. Whatís out there now as Grand Funk is really a pretty sad misrepresentation and it hurts both sides. Mark has NEVER gone out as Grand Funk and believe me, he sounds a lot more like Grand Funk, than Grand Funk! I donít think most true fans are buying it. All Grand Funk is selling is a name to people who donít know any better, or even care. Itís kind of like the Beach Boys. They go out as the Beach Boys and sing "Fun, Fun, Fun" and because itís Mike Love, the original singer, everybody can relate, but to go out as the Beach Boys with two of the six original core members and NO Wilsonís (the creative force in the band) on stage is a joke in my humble opinion. Itís like Ringo going out as the Beatles or the Stones going out without Mick! Believe me, there is NOTHING Mark Farner would like more than for Grand Funk to bury the hatchet, learn to get along again, and go out and have some fun performing as the real deal, but that just isnít the case at the moment and probably never will be unfortunately.
6.Do you think that there is any chance in the universe, that GFR will reunite as the original PowerTrio?
As Mark says, "Never say never! Stranger things have happened." But if I were a betting man, given the bad blood that has been spilt in this last round of battles, I think the chances are slim and none. Itís a pity really because there is only, and will only ever be, one Grand Funk Railroad -- Mark, Don and Mel. That musical chemistry IS truly unique and they all know it! If they could learn to get along and played their cards right they could make some great music again and a damn good living at it too.
7. I have read the Metalshrine.com interview with you. They asked about your plans for the future. Your reply was: - "More biographies!". My question is, if you had the chance to choose next object, any artist, dead or alive, - who would you like to write about?
Oddly enough, Ricky Martin. Donít laugh! Heís a fascinating person and an unbelievable talent with a great story. I also have a deep affection for his native Puerto Rico.
Name: Kristofer Engelhardt
Age: None of your Fín business!
Family: two sons, a dog, a cat and two totally useless ex-wives!
Favourite music: There are only two kinds of music, good and bad. I prefer the good. My taste runs the gamut Ė from Steely Dan to the Beach Boys, to Zappa, to Latin and Reggae Music to Jazz. Like I said, if itís good, I love it! If itís bad, turn it off!
History: Iím saving that for my autobiography -- if I can ever stand to write it.
Hobbies: Photography, travel, cooking (Mark LOVES my cooking) and record collecting.
Latest read book: From Grand Funk To Grace (Hell, I had to proof read it, and even then the publisher didnít make a lot of the corrections.)
Favourite pet: Thatís easy -- Pamela Anderson! (No, actually itís my current girlfriend.)
Copies of the book signed by Mark and the author are available
by sending an IMO for $25.00 in US to
Rock 'n" Record Research
424 Ricoma Beach
Bay City, MI 48706 USA
Read an interview with the author
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