AFTER half an hour on the phone with Mark, two things are abundantly clear - one, he's a natural storyteller and has more than enough stories to keep him going for ages and, two, he's passionate about music and always has been. Talking about his upcoming appearance at the Rewind Festival in Henley's Temple Island Meadows, he seems to be looking forward to it as much as a fan as he is as a performer.
"It's going to be a real trip to the past for me. I'll be glad to see the Blow Monkeys, we did our first British tour supporting them back in '84, and I know Heaven 17 well, they're great. Nik Kershaw's brilliant, Kim Wilde's delicious and as for the B52s - I haven't seen them since 1978 when I saw them at the Electric Ballroom."
There's one act, however, that Mark is looking forward to seeing and meeting above all the other many acts playing in Henley over the 17th and 18th of August...
"I've been a huge Steve Harley fan since I was about 10 years old. He really changed my life because he was one of the people whose work made me think 'I really want to be a songwriter' because of the beauty of his songs, and their strangeness. They sound commercial but if you sit down and listen to them, they're very unusual and immensely complex - he's revolutionary. I've never met him and I'm dying to, I don't know what I'm going to say to him!"
After several hit records in the 80s, including their biggest single Big Area, Then Jerico went their separate ways under what Mark describes as "acrimonious" circumstances.
"We were all a bit uptight and, not having spent a day apart for about seven years, you're always going to get on each other's nerves. We all had different ideas, we were going to go off and make solo records and then come back together but that never happened."
It was several chance meetings with Scott Taylor, Jerico's guitarist, that got the ball rolling again.
"We kept seeing each other in London and became mates again. I was doing some gigs and he was playing various things - he said he'd like to come and gig with me, that he'd seen me a couple of times and I actually could sing these days! So we talked about getting the band back together and he said that it would have to come from me because I was the one who had left. So I made a few calls and sent a few emails and was delighted to hear everyone was up for it."
In 2012, after almost 25 years apart, the first face to face meeting for Then Jerico was quite the event, with even more pressure attached due to the fact that Mark had a filmmaker friend of his recording the meeting for a documentary.
"My friend told me that he wanted a warts and all documentary and said 'if the meeting goes great, we'll have a happy ending. If you end up arguing, I'm still going to use it - those are the conditions'. I was fine with that but glad it went well. That day when we all walked in, we looked at each other and it was like 'hi, I don't really know you anymore...!' But within 10 minutes, we all started taking the mickey out of each other and the jokes started flowing. At the end of our first rehearsal session, we sat down and said "ok, cards on the table, let's get this all out because we can't have anything bottling up if we're going to go on the road". We talked for about an hour and by the end of it, we learned that nobody had meant to hurt anybody else, we were just young and didn't really communicate well, even though we spent every day with each other. At the end of that day, we cleared the table and said 'now, let's look at the future'."
"When it was time to rehearse, we slogged it, doing 10 hour rehearsals. After five days, suddenly it just clicked and we started to sound like a band and, at the end of the last day, we started to sound like Then Jerico again. We're all very passionate about music, we've all been involved in music in different aspects over a lot of years but, as a band, we're drawn together and we play better. I feel like the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. There's an energy we create between us that we really get off on. The sound that we make - it's as much about sonics as it is about music. That's why we were called Then Jerico because of the Walls of Jerico being brought down by subsonics. The power of music, the power of faith and the use of music - it doesn't have to be audible to actually have an effect. It's a bit pretentious now but it thought it was great back at the time we came up with it."
Hang on... doesn't "Jericho" have an 'H' in it?
"I took the H off. I found out later that the actual original spelling didn't have the 'H' but the real reason I dropped it was that I couldn't fit it on our backdrop, so I had to drop either the 'H' or the 'O' - so we were going to be Then Jerich, or Then Jerico."
So, for the H-less Jerico, it's been a long road to Henley through their own choice.
"When we reformed, we didn't want to jump right on the nostalgia bandwagon and try and go straight to these festivals. We wanted to go out and earn our spurs, so to speak - try and earn our credibility back. We couldn't expect to reform and immediately be as good as we were and go and perform in front of 20,000 people - that just wasn't going to happen. We did two new low-level club tours and they were great but hard. It's easy to enjoy the high life, the adulation and the benefits of doing this but when there are ten of you in the back of a van, carrying your own equipment, playing small venues, getting your hands dirty - especially when you're 50 years old, you find out pretty quickly if you still really want to do it. I think we went out there and proved to our fans and ourselves that we're good enough to do it. I actually think we're better now than we were before, we get on much better than we ever did because we've all grown up and sobered up..."
Evidently immensely looking forward to playing the Rewind festival, by his own admission Mark is somewhere between excited and 'petrified'.
"I've played to crowd of 50,000 in Spain and Portugal - I even played to about 100,000 in Holland at one festival but that's way back. The biggest crowd I've done recently was in 2009 to about 10,000 in Spain, so this gig in Henley is going to really be something - not just because of the size of the crowd but because it's our first festival back as Then Jerico. We've got about 15 minutes so that could be tricky, since each of our songs is about three years long... but about 20,000 people at the event and going out live on TV to about 120 million people? Yeah, I'm a little bit petrified but it'll be fun."