INTERVIEW WITH WILD TALK AND EX-DEXTRESS GUITARIST MARK JANZ
Date: August 15, 2023
Photos: Fin Carroll of Steamtribe Photography
Band Websites: Official Website, Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok
ABOUT NINE YEARS AGO, I RAVED ABOUT A FOUR SONG EP TITLED ‘THE DEMO‘ FROM THE CANADIAN BAND DEXTRESS, WHICH FEATURED AN ABSOLUTELY KILLER (BUT QUITE YOUNG) GUITARIST NAMED MARK JANZ. I ENDED UP INTERVIEWING THREE OF THE BAND MEMBERS SHORTLY AFTER AND THE GROUP’S SELF-TITLED DEBUT ALBUM LANDED THE #8 ON THE SLEAZE ROXX READERS’ TOP TEN ALBUMS OF 2017. UNFORTUNATELY, DEXTRESS SEEMED TO KIND OF SLOW DOWN AND A FEW YEARS LATER, I NOTICED THAT JANZ HAD MOVED TO THE UK AND STARTED A NEW GROUP CALLED WILD TALK. WILD TALK, WHICH ALSO FEATURES FRONTMAN JAX ROCK, DRUMMER ALEX MCAROV AND BASSIST CHARLIE MURRAY, JUST RELEASED THEIR DEBUT SINGLE “LIPS THAT KILL” ON AUGUST 18TH AND I HAD A FUN CHAT WITH JANZ A FEW DAYS PRIOR TO THAT. KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR WILD TALK! BIG THINGS ARE COMING!
Wild Talk‘s “Lips That Kill” single:
Sleaze Roxx: What made you decide to relocate to the UK?
Mark Janz: For me, you’ve known me since I was 16 — I’ve always had these huge dreams of pursing that arena destined rock n’ roll band. I love Calgary [Alberta, Canada] and there’s some much talent in Calgary but I just found there wasn’t so much a scene built for and preserved by the city for live acts to thrive, especially rock n’ roll acts. I spoke to a few friends because obviously the reflex is Los Angeles [California, USA] or New York [New York, USA].
Sleaze Roxx: Sure.
Mark Janz: I spoke to some friends in those places and they were telling me, ‘You know, L.A. is not what we read about in ‘The Dirt’ anymore.’ They said New York had a really big DJ nightlife scene. I spoke to one friend who actually had some consulting done with Allen Kovacs, Mötley Crüe’s manager, and he was saying that when their label launches new rock bands, he puts them all out to Europe as he said that’s the easiest spot to launch them and that London [UK] is just [the] rock n’ roll city.
Sleaze Roxx: Really?
Mark Janz: Being part of the Commonwealth and eventually seeing it for myself, it was yeah, just the clearest move and the best choice I made for sure.
Sleaze Roxx: When did you start plotting your move to the UK because it’s not that simple to move from Canada to the UK?
Mark Janz: It was quite a journey actually trying to get here, especially with Covid and stuff. I had started plotting it — I might have been 21. I hadn’t graduated uni [university] yet. I was still with Dextress and we were writing some new tunes and stuff. I was really ready to keep getting busy and take things further, to really take that big plunge. I was plotting since — I am trying to think — yeah, 2019. Something like that. 2019, 2018 — I’d been thinking about it. Then obviously, the original plan was to head out there in September 2020 when I had just finished uni but obviously Covid hit and put all that on hold.
Sleaze Roxx: Right. So when did you end up moving to the UK?
Mark Janz: I ended up moving April 6th, 2022.
Sleaze Roxx: Now, it seems to me, the term ‘uni’ — isn’t that a very European term?
Mark Janz: Ummm. Yeah, I think Europeans and Australians say it a lot. We used to say it back in Calgary too but maybe that was just my friend group saying that. Everyone out here says ‘uni’.
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs] OK. You’re adapting quite well.
Mark Janz: Doing my best.
Sleaze Roxx: So what happened to Dextress then? I imagine that the band disbanded?
Mark Janz: We disbanded in 2020 during Covid. It was kind of how you can infer, it was really we all had these different goals with Dextress and those goals were very much informed where we were at in our lives. Keep in mind, when we released that Dextress album, I was 19, and that line-up, everyone was four to seven years my senior. So while I was kind of getting halfway through university, wanting to be on the road and be busy, some of these guys had mortgages, and spouses, and kids, and career commitments. So it took a few conversations and I just came to realize that we were at these different spots in our lives and if I really wanted to pursue this childhood dream of mine, it might be without these boys.
Sleaze Roxx: So was it a mutual break up?
Mark Janz: Yeah. There were a few conversations, There were a few other elements. I mean, [also on] the creative side too. We were all looking to embrace kind of different things, which usually is not a major, major issue but I mean, when you kind of add on all the questions and ‘what ifs’, possibly moving and things like that, I think it made things a few difficult — not difficult but less fun conversations maybe — but at the end leading to realize that it’s probably what’s going to be best for everybody. We’re not quite sure what the future looks like for everyone right now so it was a very friendly final conversation for sure.
Dextress‘ “Wild Is The Night” audio:
Sleaze Roxx: Cool! So you arrive in the UK. Did you arrive in the midst of the Covid pandemic or just before?
Mark Janz: Thankfully not. By the time I got up here, it had kind of gone away. The mass restrictions had been lifted and they obviously have not come back since then. I think I got here right in the knick of time. People were going out for walks. We weren’t seeing case numbers and things like that. More so, I think I just got here at the knick of time. I am kind of glad, as much as it was frustrating back in Canada during Covid, being like, ‘Aaah, I wish I could be there right now.’ In the end, I am glad that I wasn’t probably.
Sleaze Roxx: OK, yeah. That’s fair enough. So tell me about your new band Wild Talk. How did that come about? And how did you meet the guys?
Mark Janz: Yeah! So I’ll tell you. I landed in London on April 7th cause I left April 6th. I landed in London on April 7th, soundtrack to “Ooh La La” from The Faces.
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs]
Mark Janz: For most people, you’re trying to figure out how to live. Get the smart stuff done, find a place to live, find a job, let’s figure out transit. I was like, ‘No! First thing, let’s find a band.’
Sleaze Roxx: OK [laughs].
Mark Janz: I didn’t know anyone of course. Thankfully, I am very extroverted. I did my crawling around the pubs and hanging out in small pubs talking to people. I found actually — the thing that led me to the boys — was this App called ‘Band Mix’, which is basically a Tinder or Hinge for musicians to meet up. So I was sitting in my cousin’s flat. She was at work. I was just crashing there when I first arrived and I came across this guy Alex McArov — a big blond Chris Holmes looking drummer. So I thinking, ‘Interesting.’ I shoot him a message. I say, ‘Hey, here’s my old band.’ Things like that. ‘I am looking to do something that really rocks. Would you like to maybe meet up?’ And so that night, we went for beers in Camden Town. I don’t know how familiar you are with London.
Sleaze Roxx: I’ve been there a couple of times but I wouldn’t know that section.
Mark Janz: OK. Yeah, Camden Town is very rock n’ roll London. That’s where I live right now. You’ll see stars outside the stations of The Who, The Kinks, David Bowie and things like that. Amy Winehouse statues. Places where Robert Plant used to hang out. Just really, really cool. So we met in Camden Town, had some beers and just chatted [about] music for hours and hours, even without jamming together. I had seen videos of him playing and vice-versa. Without even jamming, it was like, ‘Yeah, I think it’s you dude.’ And then, the other guys — the same. The bassist is Charlie Murray. We found him on the same App. He’s a really strong bass player. He really loves The Beatles. He really brings a really great vibe. And then we had a singer [Antonio Mantino] that went to music school with our drummer. He again had his different band pools and stuff like that so he was kind of temporarily filling for us while we found our permanent guy. And we did find our permanent guy bartending at this place called The Amersharm Arms here. He’s just this really kick ass Axl Rose meets M. Shadows rock n’ roll singer. It’s like, ‘What are you doing serving us drinks? You should be up on the stage man [laughs]?’
Sleaze Roxx: Right.
Mark Janz: His name is Jax and he’s incredible.
Sleaze Roxx: Cool! So timeline wise, how fast did you meet all these guys?
Mark Janz: Alex and Charlie — [it] was really quick. That was probably in less than a month. Jax took a little longer. We had played our first two gigs before we met him. So we started jamming probably — let’s say like May  — the first gig was in September  and Jax’s first gig with us was in November .
Sleaze Roxx: That’s quick.
Mark Janz: Yeah! I made it my full-time job so….
Sleaze Roxx: Have you [laughs]?
Mark Janz: Pretty much.
Sleaze Roxx: For the lead up to the debut single, there’s a little bit of humour from the video that you released. So is that going to be a big part of the band?
Mark Janz: Totally! The thing with us, we see all these other bands in the city, and even the big players, they all look so cool. I don’t know if we’re all really that cool but we’re all pretty funny. So I’m like, ‘Let’s just embrace that you know [laughs]?’ We did incorporate humour and it just makes us feel more comfortable. We’re not really big fans of doing the Tik Tok thing and things like that. We’d rather just be up playing but just allowing taking the serious away and putting the humour in makes it all so much easier. I think people viewing that, they get that as well, which is nice.
Sleaze Roxx: So even though you guys are about to release your debut single, you’ve played live quite a bit. Isn’t that right?
Mark Janz: We’ve gotten some really great shows under our belt. We’ve done a mini-tour in July of kind of the UK Midlands sop we played Derby, we played Stockport, we played Nottingham. We are playing Manchester in a few months. Those crowds really helped us to hone our show, especially being where no one knows who you are. Even more so for me, it’s really changed the way I perform and the way I play. The band is so much better for all these shows that we have taken on.
Sleaze Roxx: So your first single, I’m just going from the top of my head, it’s called “Lips That Kill” right?
Mark Janz: Yeah.
Sleaze Roxx: So obviously there’s a little hint to [Mötley Crüe’s] “Looks That Kill” so how did you come up with that?
Mark Janz: Again, the phrase kind of came to mind. I think it was around the time that ‘The Dirt‘ had just come out on Netflix and Mötley was back in my mind a bit more then in previous years, and “Looks That Kill” was one of the big feature songs in it. I don;’t know how but one day, I was just thinking about lipstick and thought ‘That’s kind of neat’ so I wrote that down and it happened to coincide with lyrics and things that I had already been working on and some riffs that I had gone with. So it was a match made there. I do like that you picked up that it is a bit of a nod to Mötley because I like to think that the embrace of that early Mötley is in there for sure with our music. We just capture it and do it just a little bit different.
Sleaze Roxx: So what are the plans with the new music? Obviously, the new single is coming out this month I think.
Mark Janz: Yeah, Friday [August 18, 2023].
Sleaze Roxx: Very good. Are you going to have a video as well or just the single to start?
Mark Janz: Yeah, I’m working on some content for sure. Obviously budget wise, that’s our biggest Achilles’ heel. I’m definitely probably going to throw some compilation of some live stuff, on the road things, with the song but really, we’ve been contacting lots of radio [stations] and things like that, and we’ve already gotten a few bites on it. I think it’s just going to be a really big fun campaign. It’s going to be very social media based obviously. Tik Tok will be popping up for sure. Yeah, we’re just really looking forward to it and furthermore getting some more tunes out within a few weeks later.
Wild Talk‘s “Lips That Kill” video:
Sleaze Roxx: Is there a plan of actually releasing an EP or album?
Mark Janz: No. We’ve found with the nature of the industry today and the way things move, especially with the advent of social media and Tik Tok, and things like that, things are moving so quickly now, and especially with my generation, the younger generation, it’s really hard to keep that attention. We figured our best course of action is to record an EP’s worth of songs and kind of release them one by one so that we’re always in the news feeds, so that we’re always trending, whatever have you on social media because I think if we’re going to gain some traction in this new world and in this new way of consuming music, that that’s going to be the strongest way to do it.
Sleaze Roxx: That makes sense. How did you guys come up with the band name?
Mark Janz: Wild Talk — that’s actually one that I came up with back in Calgary. It was actually just another title that came to me out of nowhere. I was originally thinking of it being for a song but then I was thinking about this new rock band that I wanted to form and with this new rock band, I wanted to do something with yes, really great songs, and put on a really great show, but I wanted a degree of concept to be there and more so than there was with Dextress. I had all these really great friends that were girls and things like that who love rock n’ roll and stuff, and said like, ‘I don’t like going to shows because it’s like guys quizzing me on my t-shirt, saying things like ‘Can you even name three songs?”
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs]
Mark Janz: I found like rock n’ roll, especially as I expanded my listening to not just ’80s stuff, all the way back to The Doors, and The [Rolling] Stones, and all the way up to Måneskin and The 1975, I found — it’s been kind of a boys’ club in a lot of ways. It hasn’t fully made a space for ‘You know what, this is not just for the boys to be liberated but everyone — the boys, the girls — can have a good time. We can all feel respected and invigorated and things like that.’ And again, it was tough because it kind of goes in the face of the models set up by Jim Morrison and things like that. Especially in such a tradition based genre like rock, it does even for me, feel like a little bit of dissonance kind of going against that. But to me, it was like, ‘Oh no, you’ve got to keep things moving and rock n’ roll is about challenging convention and institution, and speaking crazy talk.’ I was like, ‘Well, what if we just spoke wild talk?’
Sleaze Roxx: Cool! That’s great. And what did your band members say when you raised the [band] name that you had?
Mark Janz: At first, they didn’t dislike it. At first, they didn’t think much of it. I am about a democracy. I was like, ‘OK, let’s chat about it, throw some ideas around.’ We threw some stuff around and as we were throwing stuff around, [the] more and more that Wild Talk started to grow on everybody. But it’s really funny because they said to me, cause half the band is English, our drummer is born in Russia and raised in Portugal — the English boys, they say, ‘I like the name Wild Talk but I like they way you say it.’
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs]
Mark Janz: In an English accent, it doesn’t sound cool but like ‘Wild Talk’ [in his Canadian accent] sounds way cool.
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs] That’s pretty funny. So how does the writing work within the band?
Mark Janz: With these songs coming out, these were kind of ones that I brought the skeleton from Canada. “Lips That Kill”, the future singles, those are ones that I had some music and lyrics for. Obviously, the boys in the band are all wickedly talented so they throw all their grooves and licks in there. For the most part, it’s kind of weird. We like to write separately the skeletons and when we come together, we make it super, super collaborative to the point where myself, Charlie, Alex or Jax will have something that we worked on ourselves and when we bring it in, we all kind of collaborate on each others’ parts and bits. Like Alex, our drummer, has written some really great guitar riffs for some songs that will be released down the road, and Charlie, our bass player, has written some really cool lyrics and things like that.
I know Queen would do something similar like Freddie [Mercury], Roger [Taylor], Brian [May] and John [Deacon] would kind of write separately and then come together and put some fingerprints on it, and that’s how you got really diverse sounding Queen albums. All of us being big Queen fans, that’s what we really wanted to do too. Especially in the industry — sorry, not this industry — kind of the nature of listening to, especially among younger people, people kind of love the diversity and people love the different sounds and I think that’s partly why Queen translated really well to younger groups too. So we really embrace that writing style of [writing] separately and [then] collaborating on the nit bits just to create a really diverse sounding band.
Sleaze Roxx: So [the song] “Lips That Kill” won’t really be representative of what Wild Talk will sound like. It sounds like to me like you’ll have a lot of different sounding material.
Mark Janz: Yeah! Tons of different sounding stuff! We definitely agree that “Lips That Kill” is kind of the essence. We call it — if you saw on our Instagram — we call our genre ‘glam pop’ just because it’s got all those elements of Mötley and things like that, but it kind of glazes it over with a more modern danceable [The] 1975 – Arctic Monkeys kind of groove to it that gives it that just spritz of freshness. No one would mistake it that it came out in the ’80s. It’s kind of got a 2020’s kiss on it for sure.
Sleaze Roxx: You actually started a Facebook page where you had different material as well.
Mark Janz: Oh yeah!
Sleaze Roxx: Why did you start a whole new [Facebook] page for that?
Mark Janz: Yeah, totally. Totally a little while ago. Yeah, I think it was during the Dextress stage. I just did like one solo song that originally started as a joke. Back then, I was really into — still the [’80s] decade — but getting more into INXS, Duran Duran and bands like that. So I did start a page. I came up with kind of a joke single that I showed to the boys. It was kind of funny. So yeah, I did that. I got it a little bit of college radio airplay but as the English say, it was more just a laugh. I love to whip that out at a party once in a while. Be like, ‘Guess who this is?’ [laughs]
Mark Janz‘s “Move Me” lyric video:
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs] That’s cool. Now what about your transition to the UK? How do you find it compares to Canada and what do you miss about North America, if anything?
Mark Janz: Ooooh yeah. So transitioning to the UK, it was actually nice because they’re not an obscene amount different. There is no language barrier or things like that. Nothing is obscenely different. There are little things though. Obviously, the slang was one to pick up on. Everybody in London walks really, really fast.
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs]
Mark Janz: [Laughs] Everyone’s much more reserved, especially coming from [the province of] Alberta [in Canada]. People will be pumping gas and will strike up a conversation. Where as here, people are very polite but just kind of to themselves. So those were some things to get used to. I think another one for sure — I realize sometimes I have trouble understanding, especially depending where people are, where they’re from in the UK. Like if they’re from the North, they have much thicker accents versus down here. Sometimes I got egg on my face, [saying] ‘Sorry. What was that?’
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs]
Mark Janz: But otherwise, I found it’s pretty smooth. Things are very small here too. In North America, we’re very used to big sidewalks and big open roads, big apartments and things like that. Everything here is like very compact, which took some getting used to at first but now, I’m kind of embracing, especially when you have to move.
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs]
Mark Janz: And then playing live, like I said, even before Covid in Calgary, venues were closing left and right. There were always great bands in Calgary but it was a shame so many stages couldn’t survive. Out here, it’s really nice because there’s such an enthusiastic live audience, especially in younger people too. The way kids would go out dancing and go to clubs in Calgary, kids here go to the pubs to see who’s playing. And when that happens you know, there’s never a dead room you play. When people go, they want to listen to music. They want to dance. And obviously with the English drinking culture too, after a few pints, they get really into it.
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs]
Mark Janz: So yeah, the crowds here are definitely pretty rowdy. The live music scene is really embraced. All that stuff is great but I definitely miss my people back in Canada — all my friends and family. It’s so funny, I find myself really missing A&W.
Sleaze Roxx: Oh, OK [laughs].
Mark Janz: When I come back and visit at Christmas, the first thing I do is like [laughs] get a burger from A&W. Yeah, totally. I miss the mountains, especially being from Alberta. Going up to Banff and going skiing and things like that. But otherwise, I love all those things but they’re always there for me when I visit. But I’m really loving my life down here and really digging it. I hope that I’ll get to be here for a really long time.
Sleaze Roxx: Cool! So we’ve covered a lot of ground. Is there anything that we haven’t covered that you’d like to mention?
Mark Janz: Yeah, you know what? Keep up with Wild Talk on the social media. We’re most active on Instagram and Tik Tok now. And we’ll have songs coming out pretty much monthly until Christmas and then some after that. So definitely keep glued to the Wild Talk pages. We have some really cool and fun stuff coming up soon.
Sleaze Roxx: Why did you decide to focus on Instagram and Tik Tok? Obviously, you’re aiming for a younger generation but I find that interesting because you’re really the first band [that I am aware of] that says these [Instagram and Tik Tok] are the focus that we have for social media.
Mark Janz: Yeah, it’s funny because with Dextress too, our sound — a lot of the kids that I was in high school with, that’s not there stuff that they were listening to — it made sense to go for other outlets. Getting out here with the live culture being based with a lot of young people as well, whenever we wanted to get people’s contacts to inform them about shows, it was never Facebook and things like that. It was always Instagram and they always would go, ‘Do you guys have Tik Tok? You should follow me.’ It’s kind of in a sense the Gen Z MTV there where you got to go where the viewers are [laughs].
Wild Talk‘s Road Head Ep. 1 (London, Nottingham, Derby July 2023) video:
Wild Talk performing “Woman Like You” on Hot Vox Rising 2023, a benefit for War Child UK: