Featured Guest is a place on my website where I interview actors, authors, musicians, film makers and all kinds of various cool individuals from all walks of life. Tonight we catch up with the powerhouse drummer, singer and Carolina based rock madman, the one and only Mark Binion. Mark and I are old friends and we caught up on his latest news of the band Thundering Herd, talked a little about his past history in bands, his life and interests. Mark and company have a new cd out and have been tearing it up in shows big bad and nationwide. Dig this interview with the well known and loved underground rock soldier Mark, a guy I'm proud to call my friend and a great musician. - G
1.Mark how are you doing today man? Good to speak with you my friend. How is everything?
 
Always a pleasure to correspond with the mighty Gid Smith.  Things are good here at my patch of dirt on this big ole world.
 
2.Thanks bro. You too man, great to hear. Tell us a little about your background, you grew up in North Carolina? I know you were in the army and served in Germany (is that right?), did you have bands before then or did you get into it after?
 
I lived in Ohio until we move to NC when I was 15. Yep I did a three enlistment in the Army straight out of high school. Went to Germany where I met my future wife who was also in the Army we've been together now for about 31 years married for 21. Shit I'm old! I guess the first serious band I was in was in the Army. That was the first time I actually consistently jammed with other musicians. We would practice about three times a week just jammin some covers and maybe one or two original songs. We use to practice in a theater on one of the Army bases that was pretty cool. Our bass player didn't have a cabinet so he would run through the theater speaker behind the movie screen.  We played a talent show that was video taped and of course we where to only rock band at the show and on the video while we're playing this woman grabbed her kid and ran out of the theater with her hands over the kids ears. That is still one of the coolest experiences of my musical journey. 
G: Yeah okay right on. 
After the Army I lived upstate New York for the blink of an eye then I moved to Raleigh around 89-90.
G: Lived in NY? Now that I never knew.
In Raleigh I jammed a little with some guys but nothing was a good fit until I answered an add posted at a music store for a band looking for a drummer.  This would be the first "real" band that I was in called Sarabellum. This was from like 1990 - 1992 we had a fair amount of regional success. Our singer / guitar player Bob Weis was still in the Army early in the band and was deployed during the first Gulf war so we where in a holding pattern. This was actually a good thing because this is when myself, Guitarist Dennis Woolard, and bassist Skip Cromely wrote a bunch of new songs that would be the sound of the band.
G: I remember that and long before I met you, I knew Dennis in early nineties when he ended up in Charlotte. He was a good guy. I knew the original Oven dudes around that time cos I worked with Brian Hill..! Those were fun days in that era of music.
We were doing really well regionally starting to get opening slots for some bigger bands like HR ( the singer from bad brains ), Agnostic Front, The Jesus Lizard, Corrosion of Conformity, and so on. We where also touring regionally with Buzzov*en, Schlong, False Sacrament, and some others I can't remember.
G: Alot of good bands, playing with Jesus Lizard, I'm a big AF fan and HR is pretty awesome. I always love COC too.
Then the day after Thanksgiving of '92 we where suppose to start a national tour with Buzzov*en but our singer quit. That started a trend for me that as soon as a band would start gaining steam somebody would quit.
The next band was call Detura we had label interest from Sony, Mercury, and some smaller labels and one of the guitarists quit. Then was Grinman. We self produced our own CD and the bassist quit. So I tried to beat the dead horse of Grinman with some new players but we could just never really gain any momentum so I put that to rest.
G: Yeah man that's frustrating for sure. I know the feeling, many ups and downs and part of being in a band for most of us.
I had a couple of other things that went nowhere so I took some time off then I became  a part of this band in Charlotte called Gideon Smith and The Dixie Damned. You ever hear of them? Anyway I jammed the the Gid and did some recording. I'm on a couple of songs on Dealing Decks some other tribute stuff and I played on one song on each of the last two albums. 
G: Haha yeah man I know a thing or two about those days. It was always fun to jam with you and honored you're my friend. We had fun on all those various recordings and shows we did. I'd jam with you again anytime and hope we get to kick out some rock sometime again.
Since the haul to Charlotte and back is a ways I started jamming with what would evolve into Thundering Herd over the years. Me and guitarist Mike Goodwin have been jammin since around 2005. We started with Domestic Violence which became Blood Drunk and when everyone bailed out Mike and I started Thundering Herd and decided we would be a three piece so we didn't have to worry about everyone quiting on us. We found Skully to be the bassist for the ole Herd in 2016 and here we are today.   
G: Very cool man I dig the sound, happy to see you doing so well man. What inspired you to sing and play drums in rock groups and what was your history leading up to Thundering Herd?
 
I started singing in bands before Thundering Herd for the same reason most people who play instruments do. We needed a singer and all the people that wanted to be the singer couldn't sing and all the good singers we jammed with would be sketchy as hell. coming to practice every blue moon never having a money to help pay the bills. So I said the hell with it I'll sing.  Singing and playing the drums was no easy feat at first. I had to overcome the breathing cause singing I gotta hold notes out and what not and that crap was tough at first. But I got a handle on it now.
 
 
4.Yeah man for sure I have never tried it. Did you have any favorite albums or groups that inspired you during your early years?
 
I was a huge Led Zeppelin fan when I started playing drums. So of course they are a big influence on me so are AC/DC. I use to do the old play along with the record to learn how to play the drums. 
   
 
5. What were some of your favorite concerts you saw back in the day and what affect did they have on you?
 
Man I saw Iron Maiden in Greensboro on the Powerslave tour. Still one of the best shows I've ever seen in my entire life. 
 
6. Yeah man I saw Maiden on Fear of the Dark with COC and Testament and it was amazing. Some of the happiest days of my life and it was such a great concert. I only saw them once and they were awesome. It was great seeing COC and Testament at that time too. So Thundering Herd has you drumming and singing, how did you meet the other two guys and whats the background on the band?
 
I met Mike back in 2005 we where in a band called Domestic Violence which turned into Blooddrunk then we went our separate ways for about a year. When Mike and I first started jamming again Thundering Herd was just going to be a recording project while I was in school but the itch to do more kicked in and around 2014 or so we decided to do more with it. We had a tough time finding a bass player so we did our first show at a two piece. We had booked studio time to start recording in the fall of 2015 with the idea that Mike would do the bass parts. Then we hooked up with Skully and we threw him into the fire because we started recording about two weeks after he joined. He made out ok though. 
 
 
7. Tell us a little about recording the cd?
We recorded at Pershing Hill with Greg Elkins at the knobs. It was a really cool studio because it was kinda gritty not the pristine place some studios are. It was lived in is how I would describe it. The building was one of those Quonset huts. Plus we had to turn the AC off while we tracked the drums so it would be picked up by the mics. Greg was very easy to work with which made the process very comfortable. We took our time and didn't rush anything and we're really happy with the end product.This was actually the first recording where we quanatized the drums, much to my chagrin oh well. The stuff that can be done with pro tools is amazing plus you can save time and money with cutting pasting from other performances. Greg mixed it up and we went down to good ole Charlotte to get it mastered at Studio B. I feel this is one of the most well produces recording I've ever been on and I really proud of it. This just makes me even more excited to do the next one cause it's gonna be even better!
8. That's great. Yeah I know Dave Harris of Studio B. Very cool guy, old friend. Sounds awesome bro and totally understand. You guys have been playing a lot since then what have been some of your favorite shows?
 
We've had a few really bad ass shows in Asheville at the Odditorium. Trust me Asheville is not just bluegrass and jam bands anymore, they like the metal in the mountains.
 
9.Thats great. I remember when we were headed there years ago and we had two vans in two different cities that weekend and one with you and the equipment in it broke down somewhere near Raleigh. To this day I have never played there! Lots of cool friends there though. Hope to get up there one day soon. Outside of music talk, What life skill do you feel everyone should have?
Just make sure you don't take everything to serious. Some folks get way to bent out of shape over some really tiny crap that just isn't worth the time.
10. Good advice man. Some people sweat the small stuff like the saying goes and others gotta make a mountain out of a non existent issue,so it's in all how your perception determines and defines it. I'm with you man, what is worth your time and energy and what is not? Good advice for everybody. What do you feel were some of your mistakes in your life and some of your best choices?
 
Nothing major that I feel was a huge mistake just some minor things that I look back on and breath a sigh of relief that it didn't turn out bad. Of course the best choice was my wife. Oh and singing so I don't have to look for a singer all the dang time. 
 
11. Cool man, right on. What do you feel best embodies strength in a musician and freedom in music?
 
The strength of a musician is the freedom of being a musician. If one is playing music they enjoy it just doesn't get any better than that for the soul. As frustrating as my musical "career" has been as far as financial gain I still will never stop.  

11. Cool man, right on. What do you feel best embodies strength in a musician and freedom in music?

 
The strength of a musician is the freedom of being a musician. If one is playing music they enjoy it just doesn't get any better than that for the soul. As frustrating as my musical "career" has been as far as financial gain I still will never stop.  
12.Good answer bro. You gotta play music because you love it and need to get it out. What advice would you give to a younger artist starting out today?
 
Man it's tough out there. Just stick with it if you love doing it but have a day job in the works cause it is harder than ever to make a living playing music. 
13.Yeah for sure. What mistakes do most bands make in your experience as an artist and how would you encourage them to avoid the issues?
It seems like bands  aren't critical enough of themselves and will put out a sub par recording either sound quality wise or just the performances aren't worth a ding dang. This day and age there are a lot of really bad music both production and musical ability being put out. Being honest with yourself about your music is tough but necessary. 
 
14. Definitely. In what ways has your perspective shifted about underground music scenes since you began playing?
 
I guess the biggest thing is that every thing in so fractured now. Use to be there could be a show with all kinds of different bands you know a hardcore band, a hard rock band, a straight up metal band, and a death metal band on the same bill. Now it's like it has to be a hardcore show only, a metal show only, etc. The internet and social media has split music up into micro genres and it feels like people are more closed minded about music now which is sad. I don't know maybe that's just an old man wishing he was young. Maybe not though cause I sure do see a bunch of old farts still out there doing it. It's almost more rare to see a band with nothing but 20 somethings as members. 
15.Yeah for real man I hear that all the time from many musicians. What are some of your favorite films?
 
Oh I'm Sci Fi guy. I like all the new Star Wars and the O.G. Star Wars movies. Episodes 1-3 can suck it cause they are terrible! I check out most of Marvell movies some I really like some I don't. 
 
16.Favorite books?
 
The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan is a favorite. I think it was 13 total books. It's fantasy with magic and weird beast and all that stuff. I also really like Harry Turtledoves alternate reality books. 
 
17.New bands you have been into lately?

I just discovered Gojira about a year ago I'm way late to the party on these guys but damn it they are the best metal band out there in the Binion opinion. I also really like Wolves Like Us yet another band that's not new just new to me. Whores from Atlanta are bad ass as well and there somewhat new.
 
18. Yeah man Gojira is cool. Yeah thanks for the other suggestions. Great man I will check them out. Awesome brother.  Any news with the band's second record or last words for your fans?
 
We have about 10 new songs finished but I only have lyrics for two finished. That is the biggest draw back to being the singer now I gotta write most of the lyrics and it don't just oooooz out of me like they do out of the Mighty Gid Smith. Anyway we'll be playing more shows and record number two should be coming out maybe next year.
G: Killer dude, look forward to hearing it and always great to catch up with you. Keep us updated on your news and thanks for the props I send you the same my friend. You're a great friend and bad ass drummer/singer. Keep up the rock.
 

Small Stone Recordings

GS Tribute Album

Cemetery Crows

C.Crows Gideon's side project doom metal, sludge, gothic blues band. You can check out a few songs from the early demo on the reverbnation page. Doom On.

https://www.reverbnation.com/cemeterycrows