For nearly 35-years Mark “Gus” Scott has kept the beat for glam metal band Trixter. With Trixter currently on hiatus, Scott has picked up his trumpet and put it to work on a new solo effort, a Christmas album called Christmas Miracle. About as far away from glam metal as you can get, Christmas Miracle is a sublime recording that features well-known holiday songs (and a couple of originals) performed in a “classical pop” style.
We had a chance to chat with Scott by email, and he told us about the making of the album and how, in the season’s spirit of giving, some proceeds are being donated to charity. Scott also gives us a rundown of the rock’n’roll pals he hangs out with in his adopted hometown of Phoenix. His commentary below is given exclusively to AXS.com.
AXS: Back during the heyday of Trixter, did tour commitments interfere with spending the holidays at home?
Mark “Gus” Scott: We were pretty fortunate with regard to Christmas; we typically were home with family. I guess we got lucky. Then again, there aren’t many Christmas performances of heavy metal bands on Christmas Day unless you're a member of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. But I remember having Thanksgiving on the road. It was the first time I was away from my family for a holiday. Nevertheless, I was with the people I love; my brothers in the band.
AXS: You penned a couple of the tunes on Christmas Miracle. Was writing this original music and getting it to fit with the tenor of the EP’s well-known selections more difficult than you first imagined?
MS: That touches upon an interesting notion, getting original material to fit with already established material. I was very in tune with that ordeal prior to recording. That's why I actually composed one of my songs after the album was done. “A Gift from God” was actually written after everything was done with Christmas Miracle. By having the finished recorded material, it offered me an opportunity to write something that actually fit. The other song I wrote, “Symphony for Christmas Eve,” is something I wrote a few years ago. When I listen to the song I can imagine elves packing gifts into Santa's bag and loading it onto the sleigh. Halfway through the song where there’s a large crescendo, I can see Santa’s sleigh taking off into the air and traveling around the world bringing children Christmas surprises from the north. If you really listen, you will see what I mean. It’s a song that truly magnifies the magic of Christmas. Makes you want to believe.
AXS: Another song from Christmas Miracle, your take on Schubert’s “Ave Maria,” is being released as a single and you’re donating all of the proceeds from the release to Hope 4 Kids International. Can you tell us a little more about your work with the charity, and how you came to them in the first place?
MS: I was looking at a number of different charities to join forces with and support. I did not want this project to just be a collection of songs; I wanted to do something more with it. A friend of mine introduced me to Hope 4 Kids International. I had heard about them but I did not really have great familiarity with them. I was invited to the corporate offices and got to meet the people that actually do the work. I found something really interesting; the people that work there really get involved. Each one sponsors a child. Every employee takes trips to places like Uganda, the Philippines, Mexico and places that you might not normally want to visit. These are poor and depressed areas where children are truly in need. The efforts of Hope 4 Kids International have truly touched me.
AXS: You’re currently a resident of the Phoenix area. Do you go out to hear live music often, and what type of music are you likely to go hear? Are there pals from ’80s and ’90s bands coming through town that you try to meet up with?
MS: Pete Loran, my best buddy and singer for Trixter, plays in a couple of bands in the Phoenix area; a country band called Georgia Chrome, and Smashed, a smoking Top 40 band. As far as buddies from the old days, there's been a lot of people passing through not to mention people that actually live around this area. Some very good friends of mine I see a whole bunch. Wild Mick Brown of Dokken has become a very good friend of mine and we hang out every week, ride motorcycles together and have a hell of a lot of fun. Robert Mason, singer of Warrant, and Steven Sweet, the drummer are local residents and we see each other a lot. Greg Chaisson from Badlands lives out here. Tim Gaines, formally of Stryper, the guys from Flotsam and Jetsam, BulletBoys, Icon, Bang Tango, Brett Kaiser of Madame X; too many to list. Hell, Maynard James Keenan from Tool has a vineyard out here for crying out loud and he's making wine! A lot of great bands that my buddies are in come through town; Mr. Big, Metallica, Mix Master Mike, Bret Michaels Band, Ted Nugent Band, Firehouse. It’s always great to see them, particularly when it’s just around the corner from my house.
AXS: Trixter remains active; when can fans expect to catch you back on drums and rocking out?
To tell you the truth, I really have no idea. Everybody started doing these ancillary projects and it appears that they’re still going on. I guess we will have to see what things look like come 2018. One thing I'm proud to say, I enjoy doing other projects and exploring other areas of life. However, the thing I truly love most is kicking ass with Trixter. Beating the ever living sh*t out of my drums is truly my favorite thing. I look forward to doing it again.
Follow Mark “Gus” Scott here.