XS ROCK: Tell me about the latest band news? Any new projects coming out, live shows or announcements?
Mark: I’m sure glad you asked about that! We have a new album called “Exile” that is coming out on April 19th.
XS ROCK: How long has the band been together?
Mark: Black Sites started in early 2016, although a few people have come and gone since then. The current lineup has been together about a year.
XS ROCK: What was your main motivation for starting or being in a band?
Mark: At the time, I had no other skills that were of any use to society. I still don’t, which is why I’m still in a band.
XS ROCK: What is your music background?
Mark: I’m pretty much self-taught, other than a semester of music theory and some singing lessons later on. Everything else, I learned from listening to metal when I was growing up.
XS ROCK: What image do you think your music conveys?
Mark: Mostly black and gray, with some bits of purple and maybe a warm brown.
XS ROCK: What are your immediate music career goals? (Next 1 to 3 years.)
Mark: Ideally, I’d like every human being on this planet to hear “Exile.” I think it’s really good. If non-humans were able to check it out, that’d be great too.
XS ROCK: What are your long-term career goals?
Mark: Everyone in this band has been doing this for a long time. There’s no real end goal, this is just something we feel compelled to push onward with. I would have no idea how to stop playing music or what I would do instead.
XS ROCK: Which do you prefer? Writing new songs and recording or playing for a live audience?
Mark: Playing live is fun, but I’m in this for writing songs. That’s definitely the part I’m good at, and the part I enjoy the most.
XS ROCK: What are your songs about? (What specific themes do they cover?)
Mark: Oh, the usual…the evils of religion, greed, envy, the inevitability of death, and the dark side of the human condition in general.
XS ROCK: Do you have any outrageous tour stories from the road? If so, please fill us in.
Mark: I hit a turkey once, driving back from a show in a particularly rural part of the Midwest. The van was covered in blood and feathers, it was pretty nasty.
XS ROCK: What’s the strangest request that you’ve ever received from one of your fans?
Mark: Nothing that weird. Someone asked us to film ourselves singing “Happy Birthday” to him, which we were happy to oblige. Hopefully the new album will usher in the “sign my titties”/”let me drink your blood” phase of our career.
XS ROCK: Were your parents supportive of your aspirations to play in a rock band?
Mark: Not particularly. In their defense, they didn’t do much to discourage me either. They seem slightly more enthused about it these days.
XS ROCK: What are your favorite tracks to play live?
Mark: I’m really enjoying a track from the new album called “Feral Child,” that one’s fun. Also “Burning Away The Day” from our first record.
XS ROCK: Which band or artist inspired you to perform? Why?
Mark: The initial inspiration was Mick Mars from Motley Crue, although I moved on to other bands pretty quickly. I suppose that was one of the first “heavy metal” bands I heard when I was a kid, and I thought he sounded cool.
XS ROCK: If you could design a dream tour for your band, who would be on the bill?
Mark: Hologram Freddie Mercury, Hologram Dio, Hologram Ol’ Dirty Bastard. Maybe we could have holograms of ourselves as well, that way we don’t have to carry any equipment.
XS ROCK: What do you consider your greatest accomplishment so far?
Mark: Musically, our new record “Exile” is definitely the best thing I’ve done yet. On a personal level, my son is a pretty huge accomplishment, although I had some help with that one.
XS ROCK: If you weren’t performing in a band what kind of career do you think you would have?
Mark: Who says I can’t play in a band and also have a career? I run a graphic design business by day. It should come as no surprise that playing heavy metal is not exactly paying my bills.
XS ROCK: What type of equipment do you use for live shows?
Mark: The live setup is currently in flux — Ryan and I both got new guitars recently, and I’ve spent the last year replacing almost all of my rig because everything broke. I’d like to give a shout to DR Strings though, who have had our back since the start.
XS ROCK: What do you think of the current music scene?
Mark: Everything is out there if you want to hear it. As always, there’s a ton of terrible music that receives most of the attention from the media and the public. But there’s also a lot of great new bands if you’re willing to put in the effort to find them.
XS ROCK: For anyone that doesn’t know you, what would they be surprised to know about you?
Mark: That I’m the guitarist/singer in Black Sites.
XS ROCK: If someone had never heard you before, how would you describe your sound?
Mark: I consider us a happy medium between progressive rock/metal and what people call “old-school” metal.
XS ROCK: Is there anything that you’d like to promote or say to your fans out there?
Mark: I’d like to thank anyone who’s read this far down, first of all. And as I mentioned, our new record “Exile” drops on April 19th. Give it a listen, you might surprise yourself!
XS ROCK: Thanks again for taking the time to talk with us at XS Rock!
Mark: Thank you for having me!
Black Sites Is:
Mark Sugar – Guitar, Vocals
Ryan Bruchert – Guitar
Garry Naples – Drums
Jose Salazar – Bass