The Mark Haze Band (formally known as 12th Avenue) are what I would term a genuine rock band. I know for many of you the name Mark Haze is synonymous with SA Idols 2011, but that isn’t all there is to Mark.
The Mark Haze Band is made up of four talented musicians, namely Mark Haze (vocals and guitar), Bjorn Faree (guitar), Gareth Haze (drums) and Brian Lee (bass guitar). These four rockers are dedicated, hard-working and passionate about music. The road to success has been nothing less than bumpy, yet with the sheer determination and their belief in music, they have gone from strength to strength.
Mark Haze was a music student, but not just any music student; an A+ music student. Classically trained, Mark was always content to play guitar, which is what he did for various bands after leaving college. Until the day his uncle forced him into a singing gig. Singing was never something Mark had considered; although he realized he could sing, he did not believe that he could SING. The people he sang for were blown away and Mark realized that not only could he be in a band, he could start a band and be the lead vocalist as well as the guitarist.
Starting 12th Avenue, Mark was on the search for another guitarist. He knew what he was looking for and he found that in Bjorn Faree. Bjorn was introduced to Mark by a mutual friend and on the evening when Mark was auditioning two guitarists. One guitarist was very talented: he could play exceptionally well and knew his way around a guitar; the other guitarist was Bjorn. As Mark puts it, “Bjorn had more bad moments then good moments, but man were those good moments great.” So Mark asked Bjorn to meet for a jamming session. It was then that Mark realized Bjorn did not know any of the chord names. Bjorn admitted to making up his own titles for the chords of his guitar, but within three days he had learnt them and today watching him play on stage is an incredible sight.
Gareth, Mark’s little brother and Brian joined the band at a later stage. The band faced some challenges, in particular in the form of bad managers. Sadly, the world is full of shady characters and unfortunately 12th Avenue were hit with a double whammy of shocking managers. Their first manager stole every cent they made. While they were playing gig after gig, they thought they were playing for free and although they knew it was exposure they were starting to get a bit annoyed at all the free performances. Once Mark discovered the truth, he quickly fired the manager and sued him; a case that he thankfully won. Their second manager started off great. 12th Avenue recorded four brilliant albums and played some decent gigs, including opening for Seether on their SA Tour. But, as is sometimes the case in the industry, the Manager’s ego grew along with his attitude and, after almost wrecking friendships and Mark’s spirit, they chose to go their separate ways. It was at this point that Mark decided to manage things himself. By this stage all four band members had “respectable” day jobs and were living the average Joe life. It was never enough for Mark.
Mark’s passion for music (and by this stage, singing) saw him entering Idols two years in a row. Two years in a row he never even made it past the first round. You would think that would make a person throw in the towel, but on the evening prior to Idols auditions 2011 Mark decided he would give it one last shot. His passion for music was so strong and it was all he wanted to do. And so, Mark woke up at 3a.m. on 16 June 2011 and made his way to what he considered his final try at Idols. Thank the Pope he made this decision because when Mark Haze’s voice entered my ear drums I declared him the winner there and then.
So he didn’t win Idols, but Mark came second. Mark speaks of his time on Idols with guarded caution. He refused to bow to the pressure of changing who he was, the kind of music he sang, or the classic Idols “sob-stories” in order to gain popularity. Mark believed that he would gain fans only one way, and that was by being true to himself.
On the night Mark performed Adam Lambert (which in my opinion was not his best performance on Idols), he had been in hospital on a drip because he was so ill. Although the Producers of Idols asked him to tell the audience and therefore gain sympathy votes, Mark refused. He also chose his songs and never allowed anyone to influence his choices, although this was a constant request; he believes this is why he has managed to stay in the industry and develop his career further. He has stayed true to himself and his fans have therefore never been disappointed.
While I was chatting to Mark, it was this comment that, for me, summed up Mark Haze: “I got home after a busy weekend and I sat on my couch, in my house, that I have paid for. Shelly (Mark’s wife) is pregnant and I know I can look after her and my unborn son. To me, that is success.”
Mark Haze is humble, he is down to earth, he is charming and he is brilliantly talented. His band mates are the same and their connection on stage is just incredible. Africa Bike Week 2013 saw them performing on smaller stages, this being Margate, KZN, after all, and I watched in fascination at the dynamic between these four musicians. They aren’t just musicians. They are family men, they are genuine men and they have such an incredible vibe between them. They are friends and after meeting them and watching them perform it struck me that for an industry normally shrouded in ego; these guys just don’t have that. In fact, it was the band that supported Mark every step of the Idols path and the band that suggested changing the band name from 12th Avenue to the Mark Haze Band. That is support and that is brotherhood.
It was incredible for me to see them live, to meet them and to chat to them. If you are one of those people who know Mark Haze SA Idols, get yourself to Musica, Look and Listen or onto iTunes now and buy “Where Angels Fear to Fly” because you WILL be blown away, you will discover a CD you cannot stop listening to and you will realise that The Mark Haze Band is one AWESOMESAUCE talent.
Since my interview with Mark, the band opened for Bon Jovi in Cape Town and reading the response from the audience I believe we are going to see some amazing things from these four in the immediate future.
You can follow Mark Haze on Twitter @MarkHaze12 or on Facebook: Mark Haze, and if you want to keep in touch with his performances then sign up to his mailing list through his Facebook page.