Mark Alspaugh was born in 1960 in Hartford, CT into a family of musicians. His father, Bill, played piano and was in the church choir; his uncle, Bob, was a professional musician who had his own orchestra in the 1950s and 1960s; and his aunt was a professional singer.
Ironically, up until his teens, Mark hated music classes and thought the type of music he was being taught was “stupid.” He says he was wasn’t making the connection then between listening to Jimi Hendrix and the music lessons, of course later regretting his lack of attention as he was trying to teach himself. Instead, his favorite “toy” was the tape recorder, and he was fascinated with recording. Growing up, Mark, his cousin Lance, and a handful of their friends made several amateur films using 8mm cameras and film, including their own versions of “Dracula”, “Frankenstein”, and a spin-off of “Dark Shadows” they called “Collinswood: A Doomhouse”. They actually won a few local junior and senior high school competitions for their amateur films.
Mark credits Lance for encouraging the love of recording dialogue and music for their films on reel to reel and equipment they borrowed from Lance’s father Bob as the beginning of Mark’s interest in recording music.
As he grew older, Mark came to also enjoy playing live music with family and friends, was in a band during high school, and still has a band with his brother, Tom, and their friend, Gary.
Mark says, “I don’t know whether if was the art of recording, or the music itself, or the combination of them, that drove me to want to keep making and recording music every chance I get.” He started recording himself and his music on tapes. He continually practiced at his music, saying his interest really took off in 1986 when he bought a “…$150 high-tech keyboard with a little drum machine on it…” from Kmart and started teaching himself to play it. Asked about those early recordings, Mark laughs, “No one’s heard those tapes except my wife. I cringe and think they sound awful, but she insists for a beginner I had a very basic beat and melody going, and that she can hear the very early beginnings of what would much later evolve into ‘Dracula: A Movie Soundtrack’. (Coming Summer 2008) My new favorite toy was the recorder and all I could think about was recording music.”
During that time, Mark says he was “…using very cheap and unconventional equipment, all that I could afford, trying to produce studio multi-track recordings at home.” After poor attempts with an old reel-to-reel tape recorder, he finally figured out a way to make multi-track recordings with a microphone, cassette deck, a VCR and “…a LOT of wires…”, with his guitar and keyboard as his only instruments.
Over the years Mark has persisted in his music, constantly playing, recording and studying it to learn. “In the past I was often told by others I was crazy for listening to and studying my own music. I was trying to learn what felt it worked or didn’t. One of my ex-girlfriends once told me to ‘Stop that stupid music crap and go cut the grass!’, which, hearing that comment, my wife (self-proclaimed ‘#1 Fan & Official Groupie’ - although she’s not afraid to tell me when I’ve messed up my bass beat) responds, ‘Stupid b*tch!’”
Later, Mark discovered digitized music, and feels both his music and his recording abilities have become finely honed with all the years of practice. The early problems of using analog were solved with the digital recording. Mark grins, “I was able to start making studio quality music at home, which, before then, as any musician can tell you, would have cost a fortune at a ‘real’ studio.”
While creating music, Mark doesn’t like to limit himself to specific categories or genres, and he’s not afraid to experiment or mix acoustical instruments with a techno beat or electronic instruments. “If one instrument sounds good with another, I’ll use it whether or not it’s traditionally thought of as belonging together.”
Good examples of this are Mark's upcoming projects, including “Dracula: A Movie Soundtrack” which Mark describes as “ music for a film you’d like to see” that brings Bram Stoker’s classic horror novel to life. Also an as-yet-untitled version of “Dracula” as a dance mix that Mark is currently working on. And, his recent release “Enchanted”, which contains songs with elements and influences ranging from Mike Oldfield, the Moody Blues to Enigma. “Enchanted” is best described as a “New Age Contemporary Instrumental”, taking your imagination on a musical journey to a magickal realm.
To date, Mark’s musical accomplishments albeit mainly non-professional, include performing with his high school band the Senior Assembly; recording an unpublished album with a band called NRG in 1994; numerous recordings of his work in a private collection; scoring and recording a film soundtrack at the request of his cousin Lance for their early amateur “Dracula”; animated music videos he created for four of his songs (posted on YouTube), as previously mentioned, the soon to be released CD “Dracula; A Movie Soundtrack”-which Mark and his wife credit for “…getting her attention and (referring to their almost nauseatingly happy relationship) starting all this…”, and most recently, his just released CD, “Enchanted.”
In this writer's opinion, Mark is an up-‘til-now undiscovered creative genius, although he remains modest about his talent and his music. Mark says he isn’t frantically seeking fame and fortune, he simply loves creating music. However, he hopes his audience will enjoy listening to it as much as he has enjoyed making it.
Mark currently lives near Kansas City with his wife, three sons, and a handful of cats, and one neurotic dog, sharing with them a love of music, films, theater, Halloween, and many things Gothic, actively creating music every chance he gets.