Mark Quan and Brian Dixon (in back)

My Conversation With Mark Quan

I had quite a conversation with Rhythm Doctors keyboardist/leader Mark Quan where he had much to say about former band members, past present and future of the band, collaborations with Cedric "Im" Brooks, Prince Buster and Scientist and many other topics. Mark promises this will reveal the man behind the myth...

In the beginning...

KYLE - First of all can you introduce yourself and what you do?

MARK QUAN - They call me Quan.  wada gawan Quan?  I play keyboards for a group called the Rhythm Doctors. I have to work on the side at a 9-5 and another jobbie job cuz i got bills.  I think. I sing. I write. I talk. I listen. And I try to do what I am supposed to do.  

KYLE - Wow you sing too? I didn't know that, is there anything out where we can hear you singing?

MARK -     Yes. In my 4 track vaults.  But on our demo, there is a track we play that Romy and I sing on.. we sing the hook. its on the website as well.   Its called "The Right Mood".

KYLE -  So who has influenced you musically?  And when did you start playing keyboard?

MARK -  Hmm.. my moms side has a musical history.  Learning piano lessons when I was very little. Maybe when I was 5 or six? .  One of my relatives was the band leader on the Titantic.. moms was in the choir.. bunch of relatives whom are singers or something..  I play alot of reggae and enjoy listeing to fat beats.. so the keyboard kings from Jamaica got me into reggae..  but how I arrange and write riddims comes everywhere, to old skool funk- current top 40 hip hop beats.. just things that make people get crazy i wanna listen to and write...  

KYLE - When did you form the Rhythm Doctors? Is that the first band you played in? Can you give us a kind of history of the very early days of the band?  

MARK - Yes. Let me access the archives.. man I first was asked to play with drummer Charles Cleveland . It was supposed to be a skinhead reggae band. This is like  '97 -- I was already playing in a four piece singing and playing keyboards in a group kinda like a reggae/Elvis Costello/English Beat thing?? I don't know really about that thing in the beginning of some of the projects are kinda like a joke..  but anyways.. so I    was doing that... and we rehearsed as this "reggae" band. One time. The guitar had bad timing and drove a Porsche... I don't think there was a bass player.. one sax player, we rehearsed in some rich house in Tustin! hahah oh man.. i had to bring my first organ it was all a L 103 console organ, the one that winston wright used at treasure isle..  Shit was heavy.. after one rehearsal..  we never met again..  then! mr Cleveland called me again to get together with this bass player and his brother.  This was in Whittier. 98

KYLE -     Was this the line up that recorded the first single, "Johnnie Cochran" b/w "Feels Good"?

MARK -      No- almost there - we had no name for a long time.. and with this four piece came musicians they came in and would jam with us.. it was a joke. for a long time.. then the drummer got beat up a bunch of times at some oi shows or something and never showed up.. and I was pretty much leader before that anyways.. and the percussionist was with the group then  and we would just play every weekend practically..  I've got 4 track shit of us trying to record.. man.. haha its cool. Very funny. Very shitty.. I would play the drums on a overdub.. before Jesse joined the group, I asked what everyone thought  about the Rhythm Doctors  they were feeling that..  so Jesse jammed with us  we meet him through gary ward a friend of the bands.. who else was chillin, then.. Richard Dominguez..  anyways.. the bass player was Mark Perine and his brother Loren ... things were going good with Loren so I said lets do this without him.. Jesse plays.. and at this time its just some joke band trying to be somewhat good to play a show.. ya know?  So I was orchestrating change from the beginning.. just kinda happened to find myself in those kinda situations in life in general, actually. SO - around the time SeeSpot broke up.. Allen from the Allentons at the time.. the drummer.. ya know? We auditioned him along with Brian, oh SeeSpot broke up and Brian came down to a rehearsal and thought it was cool so he played guitar and we went on search for the drummer.   That Allen guy said he would have rathered to play with the Allentons.. i said. "Cool. Thats cool if you don't wanna go anywhere",  he didn't like that.  so,  he was a ska drummer he couldn't play the drop heavy enough, I didn't know then, but i know now.. so Brian said Boogie plays.. or just started.. so sure enough he was in there, just playing the drums real steady and basic.. cool.. cuz thats the way everyone was, steady and basic. Nothing special.  So we record that 7 inch later that year.. in feb 98? We played the Troubador with Yeska- Inciters.. and others.. there we get the Nor-Cal connect  and we become pretty popular in their scene...  We recorded a album with that lineup as well. The bass n drum tandem Mark Perine and Boogie Jones.... man that shit was weak back then..  we played  this show at the Key Club.. it was embarassing, Boogie was pissed...  Boogie was cool, I liked him.. he quit the day after the gig.. until we replaced him..  "they" didn't like that, what i did to Mark Perine.  We had to move forward, and I had to move forward and he was keepin me back..  things at this time were getting kind of serious in my mind.. I had to let Mark Perine go to keep Boogie. I had to make a decision based on the future.. I guess..  Had to weigh the pros and cons.. no more free rehearsals in Whittier in his more dinners his mom would make and feed us.. with glasses of lemonade..   oh well.. need to go forward never backwards.. you feeling me Kyle?  

KYLE -     Haha yes sir  

MARK - This is kinda when i started to realize the business end of the music. or the non personal part of the band. You just have to do what you got to do.. to see your dream coming along.. step by step...    "step by step" isn't that a show that was on TGIF?  

KYLE - so what happened to this album you recorded..this was the album that was originally supposed to be "Reggae Injection"?

MARK -     Yeah, i guess so you are right.  Originally, it had those two on there. and also two Greg Narvas and Justin Klukejian tracks..  who else was on there..... Cedric Brooks. played on a few riddims as well..  we did a reggae version of "Sitting in the Park", that Brenton Wood song..   he played sax it was the only good song on there I called it salt n more...Cedric "Im" Brooks.

KYLE -  Yes the foundation Studio One sax player,  how did you hook up with him?  

MARK -   He was playing in the Carlos malcom thing and he wanted to play and gig.. he heard about the "new" thing we were doing and he was into that..  he really wanted us to learn from him. I did, thats for sure.. fuck man.. that fool is "roots".  He is also the Mystic Revealer founding member, I think as well..  

KYLE -  Yeah he played on Count Ossie's "Grounation" album as well  

MARK -  He hated Mark P and also wasn't feelin the drummer at the time..  

KYLE -  He didnt like Boogie either?

Mark and Boogie

MARK  - Boogie didnt' like him either..  Its okay.. he wanted to rehearse with us  wanted to teach us..  Boogie no want to do dat.. So after he left town to play with the Skatalites, Boogie bailed to pursue his true passions.. doing his home studio thing..  

KYLE -     Tell me more about Justin Klukjian? how long was he in the group?

MARK -     He was from the end of SeeSpot bass player.  he was in there for at least 6 months..  he was in fresno so he would drive all the way down to La... guy was cool. but his girf friend hated my guts.  i think she thought i was a spoiled Chinne man.    So now what?  with boogie gone..  Greg Narvas came out to a show in the past and I called him up to play.. he was all shy, but he did it.  Justin liked him alot. So did Brian and Jesse and Paul.. greg is my boy.. we have kept in contact since then..

KYLE -     And Greg Narvas was with Hepcat for a little while wasnt he?

MARK - Greg Narvas was Hepcats drummer.. from tha first album and second one as well.  As time goes on, the band gets better.. and better. moving forward. I was liking this feeling.. playing scene shows.. consumed with what happens in the scene.. like the jack ass with blinders on as it pulls the wagon full of goods that eventually spoil and the driver must toss of into the ditch.  So was I, the jack ass, pulling the wagon.. playing Steady Beat shows.. ( if Luis didn't do what he did, what would happen?  Luis needs people to show him more love)  going up north rockin up there.. we also did some gigs with oliver charles from ocean 11.  So oliver unavailable, and Greg having to pursue his goals, in graphic design,,  what would happen now?  oh i remember that one time at the whisky, where tim armstrong cameo ut and saw the group and later that weekend called the manager said, i want to sign the rhythm doctors... was a tall black rude bwai saying i am drummer here's my card. 'I want to play with yall niggahs'.  I called him, told him to come down this is... spring of 99, people weren't feelin him.. but i could hear that Kory would be super maximum gigantic dope.  

KYLE -   Yeah he's probobly one of the best drummers playing this style of ska and reggae these days.

MARK -     People don't realize that he does jazz, funk and hip hop just as good.. hes that kinda drummer and in the RD's hes able do be "Kory the drummer" not a ska or whatever drummer..  Korey is my brother. I love that guy.. anyways.. so i said, fuck it. Let me put the blinders on and pull the wagon.. yo Kory is dope lets play with him, let us vibe with hiim and he will get dope quick.. he did! but justin no like him..  and after awhile. he left.. no what to do!!!   I was working with this bass player Earl Miles. Serious player. Bass player for hire.. he played with BB King - to Chaka Kahn to Eric Bennet - Temptations..   he loved Korey..  he wanted to join the group after a few dates up north and  whisky gig..  As we got tighther the weak links were starting to show..  Kory and Earl had concerns..  at this time Jim wanted to to do a album on TKO. So we were okay. The original recordings suck so we did it all over in a day.. out came "Reggae Injection".. Feb 2000 the album is released.. then it dawns on me.. like looking into a mirror and you see that you got a big ole chunk of food up in your teeths..  

KYLE -  Going back really fast, I wanna ask about the first album again and also the Hellcat thing

MARK -     Okay..  The first album was the same songs but probably played alot better and arranged differently.. and some songs excluded..  

KYLE -  Real quick, what happened with the first album and also what happened with the Hellcat deal?  Was "Reggae Injection"  supposed to be on Hellcat initially?

MARK -     The first album was scrapped cuz it wasn't good enough. Hellcat took to long Jim said. and Hepcat and the Slackers didn't want us on their tours supporting them.. its like they didn't like us for some reason..  we re recorded the album intially for Hellcat.  

KYLE -   So then you signed with TKO and the line up was now you, Korey, Earl, Paul Morton and Brian Dixon and Jesse Wagner?

MARK -     Correct..  

KYLE -     Is there any hope on ever seeing a release of the tracks you recorded with Cedric?

MARK -     we are going to record a new instrumental album..  the current lineup will actually do him justice.. how about we re-record him..?  

KYLE -  Haha fantastic, so there are currently plans to work with him again?  

MARK -     There has always been.. just not the right time...  

KYLE -  Ohh i see.  So anyways, back to the "Reggae Injection" album.  You guys headlined the Whiskey in Hollywood just before the release, was this your first time headlining?

MARK -     hmm...  no.. we have headlined previously at a few scooter rallys up in San Francisco..  

KYLE -    What happened after the album came out?

MARK -     I was hit with the  " its serious time, Mark" stick.  I was concerned with the future.  I knew I had to keep a tight and heavy bass n drum tandem together.  That was my number one concern.  So I orchestrated some change, weakest links either had to become strong or had to go..  We wanted a singer, we needed a singer, or back a talented singer.  And also the majority of the group didn't want to play any longer with the percussionist, and with the future ahead I knew we needed and wanted, and when I say "we" i mean drum n bass and myself, to expand the sound..  just so we can do what we want to do and just enlarge our impact.    But previously.. the guitar players and perc tried to  kick me out and replace me with Bill Purdy..  but Korey and Earl halted that move.. I didn't find this out until after the dust settled.  So i knew if one of those three would go, then it would be a dominoe affect.  So you just have to weigh the pros and cons.  So it happened just like it was supposed to.  

KYLE -  Who left first?

MARK -  Jesse told me if I kicked Paul out, he would leave.  When Paul was gone..  Jesse understood but didn't agree. If he didn't agree maybe he should move on.. so he did.. and I knew Brian and Jesse were tight. they would all go with each other and be mad at me. Like I was the Lone Ranger on this.  Earl and Kory had my back. and having a dem two pieces being heavy preserved I was happy.   No wait.. this all happened before the album was released. I think. I can't remember... it was after.

KYLE -     So Paul left and then Jesse left and Brian followed?

MARK -     You mean quit or you mean in that order they were gone?  

KYLE -     Well lets say say Paul was asked to leave? and the other two quit after that?

MARK -     Yeah  cept that, I think Jesse was asked indirectly to leave and Brian left.  It was tough, cuz these musicians where part of this pipe dream I had brewing for the past year..  I thought this was it..  

KYLE -   And it seemed to come at a weird time too.  I remember the album just came out and you guys were headlining and then all was quiet in the Rhythm Doctors camp

MARK -  Yes.... it had to be done in my eyes.. I hate the feeling like there isn't any future.... and the Rhythm Doctors were only playing ska shows too.. so through that change we slowly are distancing ourselves from it all.. not on purpose just cuz the ska scene wants that old style.  We wanna do our style, and its always been me leading the group. Leading the change..  and its more of a equal playing field now.. everyone in the group has so much to say. Its like its our group.. lets have fun..  i don't need to write all the songs.. I just need to do what i do.. maybe plan a little bit and do some calling..   buy hey I can't be where I am today with my past and without my present. so I am grateful.  

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