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This interview was conducted in 1997 and revised in 2003.  It was published in the Lummox Journal in both years.

Editor’s note: I first interviewed Mark Weber back in 1997, when the LJ was in it’s “big” format.  I had gotten a split chapbook (co-written with Mark) from Gerry Locklin that had pictures of some of the musicians that I would later come to know of as those involved with the experimental music scene here in Los Angeles, (some of whom Mark has recorded) like Nels Cline and Vinny Golia.  Imagine my surprise when I walked into Sacred Grounds in San Pedro, one Sunday afternoon and found Golia, et al, working before a near empty house…I ran home and got that chapbook and raced back and asked Vinny to sign it.  He looked at me like I was crazy.  But he signed it.  So for that, and the introduction to Todd Moore, I’ve undertaken this re-interview.  I hope that after reading this, you’ll want to contact Mark and order a copy of one of his wonderful CDs.  You can reach Mark at

RD: How'd you ever get started doing the Zerx Chapbooks?

MW: I've always been a do it yourself kinda guy,   and it just occurred to me in the early 80s to start doing them.  And then as I went along, more and more was revealed to me   -- what do the anthropologists call that?   "participatory consciousness"?  I found out that chapbooks are the best.  They’re short, quick, easy to read,  and if a poet can't get it together in 20 pages of poems then they'll NEVER get it together.   If you can't do your poet thing in 20 pages there's no amount of additional pages that is going to help.


RD: You publish a lot of split chaps with Gerry Locklin, how’d that happen?  Is he the only poet you’ve published with?

MW: Regarding split chapbooks  -- I've come to feel that about 18 pages is all you should need to get your poem thing across.   But, 18 pages is too small for a book.  So, you do the double book thing with Gerald.  He's always game.  We've done one per year since 1987, if I remember correctly.  And we're already planning the next one.   My side some years winds up being a dumping ground for a lot of odds & ends that would never find themselves in a book anywhere.  Most of my book-length manuscripts are still awaiting a publisher.

RD: How long have you been at this?

MW: I was born writing.  My mom has 6 pages letters I wrote to her concerning the state of our household when I was 7 or 6.    Published my first poem in high school newspaper, 1971.  I didn’t get on board with the American small press lit thing till 1980-ish.  Though, I was writing poetry all along.  Up to 1980 I was so involved with the Los Angeles jazz & blues scene that I never got around to checking out the huge happening poetry scene during those days.   I wrote for jazz magazines  -- CODA mostly --  for 14 years.


RD: So, is that where you met Vinny Golia and his crowd?


MW: I met saxophonist Vinny Golia in the early 70s in Los Angeles when we were both acolytes at the church of clarinetist John Carter and trumpeter Bobby Bradford.  John has since moved on into further dimensions of himself, but Bobby is still around and No, I haven’t recorded with Bobby.   I did engineer the recording of his latest CD where we got a live shot of his band at Museum of Modern Art there next to the La Brea Tar Pits, last August.  I'm not sure what Bobby's calling the CD yet, but I suggested he call it WHEN YOU GET TO THE MONA LISA TURN LEFT, which is something Bobby said when we came in the back door of the museum and asked directions.  I've never been in the bowels of that museum, huge!   I've always been up top.

RD: I regard you as being the Alan Lomax of modern music. How'd you start the Zerx Recordings?  

MW: Oh, I'd been doing poetry readings all around the country and the idea of working with poetry + music always interested me, and being that most of my friends are musicians, we just did it.  And then we put out a record on Vinny Golia's 9 Winds label and that got me hooked.  It was purely fun.  Writing is such an in-grown occupation that it became a healthy social thing to goof off with musicians.  I still prefer poems on the page, best.  But, again, it's a gas to work with musicians.


RD: Who are some of the people you’ve done recordings with?


MW: Here’s a list of some of the poets/musicians who record on Zerx: Bayou Seco, Stefan Dill, J.A.Deane, Todd Moore, Mitch Rayes, Lisa Gill, Janet Feder, Bubbadinos, Ken Keppeler, Jeanie McLerie, Gerald Locklin, Joe Somoza, JB Bryan, David Parlato, Mark Weaver, Michael Vlatkovich, Nels Cline, Vinny Golia, William Roper, Chris Shultis, Steve Peters, Mary B, Melody Sumner Carnahan, Ray Zepeda, Socorro Romo, Juan Taike, Quincy Adams, Manny Rettinger, Larry Goodell, Kurt Heyl, Al Faaet, Dave Wayne, Steve Terrell, Tom Guralnick, David Moss, etc etc


RD: What about this ALBUzerxQUE series?  How did that come about?


MW: The ALBUZERXQUE compilation CD series came about when it became apparent how much music was here in New Mexico.   Presumably a person who has spent a goodly portion of their life in the arts should know when they’re hearing good music and poetry without consulting the Name Game.   You should know a good poem even if only Joe Blow wrote it and not Robert Pinsky.  So, I started recording the local New Mex scene.  The series is up to 15 volumes presently.  Sales have been pitiful so we're taking a breather right now.  

Todd [Moore] told me he read that the "creativity index" for towns in the 650,000 population range, that Albuquerque is top dog in the states.  Albuquerque is also top dog in that category for murder.  Actually, if I read the NEW YORKER correctly, Albuquerque is 5-times more murderous than New York City. Personally, I've only been shot at once  in the 12 years we've been here, and that was just 'cause I was in the wrong place at the wrongest time.  They got the bumper of my truck instead. We were outside my engineer's studio. Actually, we were inside and thought we heard fireworks.  Went outside to check it out and found ourselves in the middle of some midget gangbangers playing out the dramas of their lives.  I'd sure be pissed if I got killed by a 13-year-old idiot.  Me and Quincy, my engineer, did a Keystone Cops and to this day neither of us can remember who got back inside the door first, we were grabbing and crawling over each other in a dead heat.  Three houses have holes in them to attest to the marksmanship of these drama queens. The recording studio is in Albuquerque's "War Zone." Perfect for Zerx.

RD: And your gig on KUNM?


MW: The radio show at KUNM came about after I sobered up several years ago and Mark Weaver, the tuba maestro & jazz dj, talked me into coming down to the station and being a jock myself.  I hadn’t really planned to become a jockey and then I fell in love with it.  Every Thursday I have 2,000 listeners and streaming on the web @  (Thursdays, Noon - 1:30 PM).


RD: I’ve been listening to [a tape of] your radio show and you play mostly straight ahead jazz, but you mix it up with some experimental stuff.  Zerx seems to record a cornicopia of styles of music besides jazz, but mostly it is not mainstream. So do you see yourself as an archivist? Or are you more of a musicologist?  Could you go into your philosophy" (meaning, your selection process, how you choose certain groups to record, etc)?  Is there a plan or is it more a case of who "falls by"?


MW: I see & hear the whole of jazz as one continuum.   You can't understand Albert Ayler without knowing 1920s New Orleans parade music.  You can't possibly understand Ornette without knowing Lightnin Hopkins.  You can't follow Misha Mingelberg & Han Bennink without knowing Thelonious Monk and Baby Dodds.

My radio show might seem "straight ahead" but it's more devious than that.  I don’t compromise one inch on the airwaves  -- everything I play I love and will defend.  But why play this way out ultra avant garde stuff  if you’re going to lose listeners.   Most listeners in the daytime (my show is Thursday afternoons also streaming on the web @ ) are at work or driving or just not ready for Marilyn Crispell, yet.   So, I don’t spin anything with extended forms or too involved  -- well,  I do actually, but I don’t make it a habit.  There's so much great jazz just in the mainstream that I don’t have a problem programming hit shows every week.  Tomorrow on the show I'll be interviewing saxophonist Frank Morgan and playing his music.  Bebop.

RD: Frank Morgan?  All right!

MW: Right now as I type this I'm listening to a CD of the Amsterdam group Instant
Composers Pool who were just here playing the Outpost, and I got to chauffer them around and hang with Misha Mingelberg, Han Bennink, and Tristan Honsinger!  These guys are Gods.  They are contemporaries with Cecil and Trane and Sun Ra in the free jazz world.  I got them to sign the Eric Dolphy LP, LAST DATE that they were on in 1964!  Monsters.  Still playing their butts off.  Raised the roof off the place.  Ten musicians from The
Netherlands killing us. BUT, I'd have a hard time spinning this on a regular basis.  Most people can't take it.   Most poets still write with their tenses uniform and in proper uniformity.   In music that's like playing with fealty to the tonal system, which went out with Eisenhower.  Most poets have tin ears.    Someday I'm going to have
to get them all together with a chalk board and a piano and explain a few things about music to them. 

RD: So could you go into a little bit more about this concept that most poets have tin ears?  (I believe that there is a direct connection between music and poetry and I don't mean that it's because jazz is COOL for backing poetry - tho it often is very COOL - so could you explain your reference to music and poetry?)


MW: I'm probably not making any friends with this question.  So, let's just say that by & large I'm scared to know what music poets listen to, in terms of music.   It's not really their fault, they’ve been brainwashed by the industry.  It's rare to find people who actually pay close enough attention to music to be knowing about it.

You can hear it in their poems.  Clunky.  No flow.  No ideas or development of deas.  All the poets who are influenced by Bukowski they went to the liquor store but did they listen to Mahler?  or Borodin?   (Bukowski was a Romantic)  (You never heard him digging Bach/Baroque music and you never hear him speak of 20th century music  -- it would have been great if he got some Ives, Cowell, Schoenberg, Webern, Berg, Bartok into his ears  -- whew, he would have soared even more)( he did dig Sibelius, but Sibelius was a 20th century composer who essentially was a 19th century Romantic ).

Gerald Locklin can play the piano!  He's a piano playing motherfucker.  And it shows in his writings.    And it shows in what he listens to.   Ron Androla plays congas and listens far and wide.  Fred Voss digs the blues.   Todd Moore digs Mozart.  And is there any question they can write?    These guys write their butts off. 

I've just always had high expectations for poets -- that they were a little more musically hip.  But, it hasn’t been my experience.      


Here's my latest poem (why I burned out on the poetry scene) :


what finally pushed me
over the edge
was when i got jerked around
by this guy who was publishing
an anthology of jaywalkers
called the Outlaw Bible of Poetry
said he wanted some of my poems
had me sign a contract
them crazy fuckers i knew
from my jail days could tell
stories to curl your hair
and if your hair was already curly
then, it'd get straightened
and if you didn't laugh when they
got to the part where he gouged out
a guy's eye then we'd know you wasn't
one of us
like you won't find me in this Bible either
that's no more outlaw than my house cats
i once punched an L.A. police dead square
in the face and when he got back up
i had already injected all the evidence into a vein
his .45 was shaking so bad i thought i was goners
but in this game
you don't flinch

--mark weber


Exploring the Creative Process since 1996