By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
Music fans worldwide have heard songs by the ’80s hair metal band Trixter. The “One in a Million” act’s drummer, Mark Gus Scott, hopes those listeners migrate to his songs.
The North Phoenix resident recently re-recorded the 1991 Trixter hit “Give It to Me Good” as a “power country” song—with him on vocals—in honor its 30th anniversary.
“I just want people to hear it,” Scott says. “Whenever I have something come out, I want fans to go to my website and check it out. The whole industry is upside down. If you want to buy it, I’m not going to stop you. God bless you. I just wanted to do this song so bad. I hope people like it and then share it. That’s what I think this is really about.”
“Give It to Me Good” is important to Scott, as the song changed his life. It was a Top 50 hit on Billboard’s Top 100 singles chart, No. 1 on MTV and led to a five-month North American tour with the Scorpions.
“Not sharing it is a crime,” he says about the song. “I’m bringing it to new markets—‘power country.’ It’s got a country twist and transcends generations. My son is sharing it with his friends and they’re going crazy.
“The idea that it’s carrying on and people are embracing it is great.”
Scott says he coined the term “power country” after attending several country shows and seeing a tie between that genre and metal.
“I’ve gone to several country show—Eric Church, Toby Keith, Brad Paisley,” he says. “All these guys come out playing heavy metal. The crowds are going crazy. There’s a connection between today’s country and heavy metal rock.
“I would love for those audiences to bridge the gap. That’s where I came up with ‘power country.’ It’s basically country with a kick in the (butt). When you come from New Jersey, you think country music is ‘down south’ and old people listen to it. In the Southwest, there’s a different flavor to it. It’s a little more aggressive.”
The demographic is younger, he says.
“They still have life,” Scott adds. “Country needs a kick in the butt, and I want to give it to them.”
His musical ally, Lou Piccadaci, co-produced the song, which takes the listener on a musical journey from country six-string acoustic to a rockin’ powerhouse hoedown. Piccadaci, who lives in Surprise, defines his value not only as an engineer, but with his superior guitar performance throughout the track.
“For the past few years, I got away from rock ‘n roll and made a lot of music that touched my heart,” Scott says. “But one thing is for sure, I miss rocking and nothing is better than playing music that truly drives you and an audience to throw your hands in the air and dance.”
Scott adds Piccadaci has more talent than that. He’s a stellar pizza maker.
“He has a pizza oven in his back yard and I was totally locked in when I heard that,” Scott says with a laugh. “He bribed me with pizza. He has that East Coast mentality with the pizza. He knows what he’s doing. It’s thin crust.”
Scott first dabbled with vocals on “With You,” which combines an ’80s-style power ballad piano riff, symphonic orchestration and powerful melodic hooks—a big surprise for one of rock’s most well-known drummers.
“I’ve never sang before,” he says. “I’m not playing just drums. I play all the instruments on the cut, except guitar. I’m a horrible guitar player.
“I wanted it done right and I wanted what’s best for the song. That’s more important than me playing all the instruments. I’ve never felt so strongly about putting words down on paper. I was trying to be emotional. I always thought I sucked as a songwriter, but something clicked, and I felt passionate about it. This one’s right on target.”
Both songs are available through Apple iTunes, Amazon Music, Google Music and CD Baby. Autographed CDs can be purchased at MarkGusScott.com.
He previously released “Christmas Miracle,” a holiday album that included his version of “Ave Maria.” The video features Scott performing among iconic Washington, D.C., landmarks like the World War II Memorial.
He frequently supports veterans by playing taps at cemeteries in New York City and the Valley to honor fallen heroes during Veterans Day and Memorial Day.
“The Christmas album was a real deal, adult contemporary Christmas record,” he says. “I thought I should be opening for Bing Crosby. The band was doing ancillary projects. Now I had a focus and I knocked it out of the park. I love the way it came out.”
“I’ve done a lot of music, but this power country is sticking with me,” he says. “‘Give It to Me Good’ is the perfect song to show people what I’m really all about. I feel this is going to define the direction I’m going to go on. It’s kind of old gospel or bluegrass with a heavy metal kick to it. I’m bringing it somewhere it hasn’t gone before.”
The parade drum
Scott’s family knew he would be a musician when he was about 7, after his grandmother bought a “big parade drum.” At the same time, his mother gave him his first album, “Elvis’ Golden Hits.”
“I turned ‘Hound Dog’ on and I beat the living crap out of that parade drum,” he says with a laugh. “It made me feel wonderful. I broke the drumhead, and I thought, ‘What am I going to do?’ So, I flipped it over and started pounding the other side.”
His first concert was Foreigner on its “Foreigner 4” tour in 1981 at age 13. Immediately, he knew his calling.
“When that bass drum busted the waves of the room, I said, ‘OK. I know exactly what I want to do in life.’”
As a sophomore in high school, Scott received the NAJE Special Citation for Musical Excellence and was granted admission to the University of Hartford Hartt School of Music. He attended three summers studying piano, drums, trumpet and a curriculum that included jazz, classical, chamber music, rock, music theory and composition.
He also put his knowledge to use as a musician/songwriter, and toured high schools and colleges throughout the country as a guest lecturer, teaching and promoting music, DARE and his drum instructional video/teaching method, “Rock Solid.”
With Trixter, Scott sold more than 3 million albums worldwide, had three No. 1 videos on MTV, four Top 20 adult-oriented rock hits and hit No. 26 on Billboard album charts.
Trixter toured extensively in the United States, Canada and Japan in support of its five major-label releases. They shared stages with Kiss, The Scorpions, Bret Michaels, Poison, Ted Nugent, Night Ranger, Cinderella, Twisted Sister, Dokken, Warrant, Great White and Firehouse.
Trixter is on hiatus, which is why this was the perfect time for Scott’s singles.
“Some people don’t make the band a priority any longer,” he said. “In any business with four guys, if you all don’t agree on what you’re going to do with the business, the business suffers.”
Perhaps Trixter’s most well-known tour was 1991’s “Blood, Sweat and Beers” with Warrant and Firehouse. Next year is the 30th anniversary and Scott is hoping Trixter reunites for it.
“It was more successful than we ever thought it would be,” he says.
“Warrant had ‘Cherry Pie.’ We had three No. 1 videos on MTV. Firehouse’s ‘Love of a Lifetime’ was just about to break. We just packed them in. Why shouldn’t we celebrate the 30th anniversary? We’re all here. What the hell? Fans ask about it. To not celebrate that, that would be a crime.”
Moving to Arizona
Scott considers Arizona his home, after living throughout the United States in and out of suitcases on tour.
“I was going through a divorce and was very unhappy,” he says.
A friend asked him to consider moving to the Valley.
“My first day of exploration, I was sold before lunchtime,” Scott explains. “I literally went to breakfast, saw mountains, went over there and knew I was sold. I’ve been here four years and I can’t tell you how much I truly embrace the area.
“I can get anywhere in 20 minutes. I’m outside the circle of the 101. It’s more rural. I’m not in the thick of the madness of Phoenix. I look outside every morning and I can breathe. Everything comes alive. It’s quiet—until I make some fricking noise (with music).”
Scott has friends in the area, including rock drummer “Wild” Mick Brown, who played with Dokken and Ted Nugent. The two spend their weekends riding motorcycles around Cave Creek.
“There’s something very comfortable about doing that just about every weekend,” Scott said.
“We do it 52 weeks. It may sound repetitive, but there’s something comfortable about it. We have a special gang of five members. We’re a tight-knit group. It’s a wonderful brotherhood and the motorcycle riding here is the best in the country—there are no potholes.”
Scott and Trixter singer Pete Loran record music for video games and movies.
“The whole thing started when we were doing sound effects for a video game and I started getting punchy,” Scott says with a laugh. “I pulled out the trumpet from the back of my car and it sounded really good.”
First and foremost, Scott is excited for the world to hear his music.
“I’ve never felt so strongly about my music,” he says. “I hope fans enjoy it as well.”
Mark Gus Scott