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TALK: Money Mark

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The world of Beastie has been knee-deep in the film game recently. It was just a few weeks ago that Adam Yauch premiered his brand new basketball documentary, Gunnin’ For That #1 Spot, at New York City’s Tribeca Film Festival (which is set to hit theaters on June 27). Meanwhile, earlier this year, the Beastie Boys long-time keyboardist Money Mark was at SXSW, promoting the soundtrack work he did for the film Beautiful Losers.

(left: Money Mark welcomes you into the world of…Money Mark).

A short time ago, I tracked down Money Mark and we chatted about his work on the film, when his next solo album is going to drop, doing handstands on keyboards, and writing new songs with, you guessed it, the Beastie Boys:

Jim Shearer: How did you end up doing the soundtrack for the upcoming film, Beautiful Losers?

Money Mark: My friend Aaron Rose (director), called me a couple years ago, and said “I’ve got this thing that I’m working on, and it would be great if you could look at it and give me some ideas for music.”

Jim: How does that work for a film? Does he give you little snippets of the movie and say, “I want a happy song here and a sad song there”?

Mark: He gave me complete license to do whatever I wanted to do. It turned out really, really great, and I was so honored to be asked to do it.

Jim: Wasn’t your first film score for the movie Blow?

Mark: I did the happy parts before the movie got dark. I did a scene or two at a time, but I think people think I’m good for romantic comedies or something. I did Along Came Polly with Jennifer Aniston and Ben Stiller. Ben was a fan–maybe it came through him, “Yeah, let’s get Mark to do it.” I did about seven very Latin [influenced] kind of songs for that. I’ve done various other things, but I’m almost even uncomfortable to name drop–

Jim: Ah c’mon Mark, why?

Mark: I’m not the self-promoting type. Maybe you can look online or something.

Jim: How about the Napoleon Dynamite score? It sounds a lot like a Money Mark soundtrack to me.

Mark: On the actual Napoleon Dynamite Soundtrack CD one of my songs is on there, “Sometimes You Gotta Make It Alone.” The sound of that song was kind of mimicked–that’s a nice word–in the film. The sounds in that film sounded very familiar to me, and to a lot of my friends.

Jim: Didn’t a lot of your friends think that you actually scored the film?

Mark: [After they saw the movie] I got at least 100 text messages on my phone that read, “Great score!”

Jim: What was your response to these texts?

Mark: “Thanks–I guess. What movie are you talking about?” I guess at a certain point it goes beyond flattery. In my whole career, I listened to tons of records, and when the Beastie Boys hired me to join their group, all of the stuff that I wrote with them was from our favorite albums. Being a musician, I’m kind of half academic, like I would really get into the song and break it down to look at why a song made me feel a certain way, or what were the emotive parts of the music. Some of it was derivative, but none of it was copied.

Jim: Speaking of the Beastie Boys, you came to their camp because you were friends with Mario Caldato? Can we talk about Phase II and Jungle Bugs?

Mark: That was the moment when Mario decided, “I’m going to be the engineer/techy/producer guy.”

Jim: Are we talking Jungle Bugs now?

Mark: Yes–and then I decided, “Okay I’m going to be more the musician/song-writer,” being in more of the front part of the scene. The teamwork there helped us a lot on the Beastie Boys’ Check Your Head album. Even now I work with Mario on a bunch of stuff.

Jim: Everyone knows you as the long-time keyboardist for the Beastie Boys. During live performances of “Sabotage” you sort of flip yourself perpendicular to the ground. Have you ever injured yourself while playing keyboards?

Mark: No.

Jim: Never?

Mark: No. I practice that move a lot. In fact when I leave here I’m going to go practice that move.

Jim: How do you practice? Do you do it in a foam pit?

Mark: When I’m in a restaurant waiting for food, I just, like, move everything out of the way and do my handstand on the table.

Jim: Seems like you could really injure your wrists that way.

Mark: I’m actually pretty athletic. And believe me, on that song I’m only holding one note, the A-flat note, so I’ve got to do something. I can’t just stand there.

Jim: I saw the Beastie Boys not that long ago and during “Heart Attack Man,” you came to the front to the stage and began frolicking around.

Mark: Yes. I did my little one-man mosh pit.

Jim: Do you do that just for “Heart Attack Man,” or are you allowed to frolic whenever you “feel” a certain song?

Mark: I have license to just walk on the stage and be goofy anytime I want to. It’s fun.

Jim: When you are making a Money Mark album, how do you determine if you put words to it, and how do you determine if it is just instrumental? I think right now you are at 50/50, right? You have got two instrumentals, and two vocal albums.

Mark: That is a good question. It is just whenever I get inspired, you know? And sometimes I just say, “Wow, this sounds great, the music is great and I’m just going to keep it this way.”

Jim: Have you done a YouTube search recently on Money Mark?

Mark: No I haven’t.

Jim: There is a rapper called Money Mark and he has a ditty in which he sings, “Now Money Mark, now Money Mark.” So I was wondering if you planned on filing a lawsuit any time soon?

Mark: I think we sent a letter to somebody–

Jim: Because if it takes off, today’s generation will know that Money Mark rather than this Money Mark.

Mark: I think there has been other Money Marks. So I don’t know. I’m not all that concerned with that–yet.

Jim: Phase II is also the name of a hip-hop group?

Mark: Oh, okay, well. In Japan there’s a group called the Beastie Boys. There’s an island called Beastie, spelled differently though, and they’re the boys from that island.

Jim: Have you ever been to that island?

Mark: No I haven’t.

Jim: Let’s talk carpentry.

Mark: Ah hah.

Jim: Do you still have skills?

Mark: Yes, I still do that at home every once in a while. That’s kind of how I met the Beastie Boys and how we became friends. When they moved to Los Angeles I was making record shelves for them and whatever.

Jim: I know, there’s the famous lyric, “Give him some wood and he’ll build you a cabinet.”

Mark: That’s right.

Jim: So if I gave you some wood today would you have the kindness in your heart to build me a cabinet?

Mark: Sure, later on. I have my tools in my hotel room, but that is where the name [Money Mark] came from, in that song [“Finger Lickin’ Good”]. A few seconds from that line is, “Keyboard Money Mark, you know he ain’t havin’ it.”

Jim: Are you guys writing stuff for the new Beastie Boys album?

Mark: Yes. Every once in a while we will get together and do something. It is not very intense at the moment.

Jim: Can you prognosticate when this album will come out?

Mark: No, no, no. I would be out of line to say anything about it. I don’t know.

Jim: What about Money Mark? I know you got the Beautiful Losers Soundtrack, but when will we get a new solo album?

Mark: Working on that right now. So far I have a kick drum and a guitar (mimics playing them simultaneously).

Jim: You play both at the same time?

Mark: Uh huh, I’m doing Meg White and Jack White at the same time. I’m starting there, so I don’t know what it will end up being.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at IFC.com

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…