EMQ’s with CHAKA
Hi everyone! Welcome to our new EMQ’s interview with New York City based Cave Metal project CHAKA. Huge thanks to bassist Mark Sokoll for taking part.
What is your name, what do you play, and can you tell us a little bit about the history of the band?
My name is Mark Sokoll and I am a bass guitarist. The band is called CHAKA and it is a side-project. I also play bass guitar for Darkside NYC. Our singer, Rich O’Brien, suggested that we all record a solo album (like KISS did! hahaha) and my Neanderthal Tales EP is the result. I have been playing bass guitar since 1986 (!) and all of us are true and lifelong Metalheads.
How did you come up with your band name?
Chaka is my nickname and has been since I was a teenager. It may have something to do with my rather pronounced brow ridges. Originally, I was going to use the stage name of Martin Ain’t. Cha-Ka is also the name of a simian fellow from “The Land Of The Lost” T.V. show and considering our prehistoric, Cave-Metal approach, it suited perfectly.
What Country/Region are you from and what is the Metal/Rock scene like there?
I am from NYC and in normal times, the scene truly rocks! It simply could not be better in terms of venues and also because of the fact that most bands make an effort to play here. I love it!!
What is your latest release? (Album, EP, Single, Video)
Our latest release is called “Neanderthal Tales”, which is a four-song EP. We shot a video for “Flak”, which is the first song on the EP, and it is also the first single. Check out “NeanderthalTalesTube”
or www.neanderthaltales.com to check it out.
Who have been your greatest influences?
To be brief, my greatest influences would be the Classic Rock and Oldies music which I had absorbed from NYC radio as a youth. I was also coming of age during the inception of the Thrash Metal and the NWoBHM (New Wave of British Heavy Metal) genres. I have been a KISS fan since age five and that loud and distorted bass guitar sound really affected me in a good way!
What first got you into music?
As an addendum to your last question, I remember being in my parents’ station wagon when I was a young boy and hearing an Eagles’ song. The bass channel was cut to the speaker under my seat and I felt this amazing vibration and I had an epiphany. I still remember thinking “What is that?” and “I must seek this out”. I guess I kept my word since I am now a bass guitarist. Furthermore, I believe that music has an effect on almost everyone and they may not even be aware of it. I remember rediscovering Oldies songs in my 20’s and thinking: How am I familiar with this? Well, I had heard most of those great tunes on the radio at home or while travelling in the car while growing up. At that time, I just figured that everyone listened to KISS and Rock and Roll!
If you could collaborate with a current band or musician who would it be?
Jeff Becerra of Possessed. It is not completely out of the question considering today’s technology. Neither of us would even have to travel. Maybe he’d consider recording a vocal line or two for me. I could then eventually hang up my boots in confidence if this were to occur!!
If you could play any festival in the world, which would you choose and why?
I’d have to go with Wacken Open Air in Germany. What an amazing experience simply being there is! Great food and beer, amazing bands and such a cool audience. When I was there, it felt like the closest thing to a religious experience that I have ever had. If you are reading this and have not yet been to Wacken, make it a point to get there. Hellfest in France is rad, too!!
What’s the weirdest gift you have ever received from a fan?
A KISS “Destroyer” puzzle (with some missing pieces!). After playing two live sets with Terminal Confusion in a record store in Yonkers, I was presented with the puzzle. This was during the early 90’s. I still have it. Normally, I am the person who gives out stickers, buttons or even T-shirts, as gifts, to the most demonstrably rabid fans.
If you had one message for your fans, what would it be?
Stick to your guns: Heavy Metal will never die, so keep supporting it. Help out your fellow stagedivers and crowd surfers, try to prevent them from becoming injured.
If you could bring one rock star back from the dead, who would it be?
Chuck Schuldiner. He really understood what Metal was all about and was a true gentleman with the voice of Hell. Rest in Peace Paul Baloff, Jeff Hanneman and Eric Carr.
What do you enjoy the most about being a musician? And what do you hate?
I love the stage energy during live shows! I also love hearing the riffs that I/we wrote privately come to fruition as heavy songs and the expressions and hard slam-dancing of the fans who appreciate the music. I hate lying promoters and “misunderstandings” between what was promised and what was delivered.
If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?
Silly hierarchies and unnecessary egos. These two things might be lumped into one category?
Name one of your all-time favourite albums?
“Necroticism” by Carcass. Give it a listen if you are not familiar.
What’s best? Vinyl, Cassettes, CD’s or Downloads?
I must go with vinyl. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
What’s the best gig that you have played to date?
Definitely the Ieperfest in Ypres, Belgium. This was in August of 2018. Wow! What an intense experience! It was certainly one of the best days of my life. Amazing people all around. Great stage, great sound system! People travelled from France, Italy and other places just to see us. Normally, I am the one travelling hundreds of miles or to other countries to see my favourite bands.
If you weren’t a musician, what else would you be doing?
Going to shows, discovering new bands, photographing bands, maybe doing a fanzine again? I am interested in astrophotography, WW2 and military history, horror movies and Hallowe’en.
Which five people would you invite to a dinner party?
Jeff Becerra, Tom Araya, Jeff Walker, Tom Warrior and Anthony Hopkins.
What’s next for the band?
We are going to shoot some more videos. This time they will be for ‘Anthroapology’ and ‘The Battle Hath Begun’, whenever we can safely do so. I have a new EP in the works by CHAKA and Darkside NYC is also going to make an EP and maybe a video as soon as we can.
What Social Media/Website links do you use to get your music out to people?
Jaffa Cakes! Are they a cake or a biscuit?
They look like cookies to me, so I will say they are “biscuits”.
Thank you for your time. Is there anything else that you would like to add?
You are welcome. It was my pleasure. Yes, please visit my website (stated above) and also check out: www.darksidenyc.com to keep yourselves posted about all of our latest music and projects. I have free stickers of two varieties available to anyone on the planet as long as one sends a self-addressed stamped envelope. I am 100% serious. E-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org to determine my address. My ZIP code is 11361, if that helps. Lastly, the Neanderthal Tales EP is also available in digital and physical formats. If you’d like one, just reach out and I’ll make sure that you get one. We have shirts as well. Thank you very much for a fun interview. “Let the regression begin!”
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