February 1, 2016 · North Hollywood, Calif. – “I think this place is kind of done, I’m heading out, going way out west,” Mark Loughman sings in his Mancunian English accent at the beginning of “Leave a Light On.” A track from his debut record ‘Bleedin Aura,’ out on January 9th on iTunes and Spitfire Music, he is speaking as his 35-year-old self, leaving Manchester for an odyssey through the United States that would ultimately land him in his adopted home of Los Angeles. “In Manchester I was already on the scrapheap,” Loughman recalls. “If you weren’t signed by the time you were 30 no one was ever going to be interested ever again. I couldn’t believe it, but that’s what it was over there.”
Arriving via Greyhound bus with what little baggage he had lugged across the Atlantic—a bag, a guitar, and a few demo tapes—Loughman decided to settle in. “It felt like home, it felt like the land of broken toys and I kind of fit in there,” Loughman says of landing in LA in 2000. “It was also wintertime and it was cold everywhere else, so I figured I’d stay for a while,” he jokes. While Loughman began to pick up shows around town as a performer, his new day-job building microphone preamplifiers took off unexpectedly. His ascendancy in that industry led him to a different kind of notoriety, but necessitated putting music on the backburner. However, Loughman became friendly with many top musicians in the LA music world through his work, and those very same friends, like session drummer Kenny Aronoff and Jane’s Addiction bassist Chris Chaney, found out about his songwriting and encouraged him to hit the studio and make good on his long-deferred dream.
Teaming up with engineer and co-producer Warren Huart (Aerosmith, The Fray), Loughman called on Aronoff’s talents on drums, tracking at the legendary Sunset Sound studio. They later decamped to Huart’s Spitfiire Studios in Laurel Canyon, with Loughman handling most of the guitar, bass, and keyboard work himself. “It’s melodic indie rock, that’s how I would describe it,” Loughman says. He cites Paul McCartney’s Wings, David Bowie, and the Sex Pistols as key influences.
15 years have transpired since Loughman left England for good, but with ringing indie-pop guitars, a touch of punk rock attitude, and instantly memorable hooks, there is still no mistaking his British roots on the 9-song effort. Conversely, there is something distinctly American about the triumph of a man making his way to LA on his self-described “last roll of the dice” only to release his debut record at age 50 with the help of the top studio talent.
Loughman called in a few of his other admired friends to contribute, including legendary guitarist Steve Stevens and Billy Idol guitarist Billy Morrison. “Getting Steve Stevens to play the solo on ‘Leave a Light On’ really meant something to me. This is a guy who gets to pick and choose what records he plays on, so it was a real honor.” In addition to top-notch performances, ‘Bleedin Aura’ features observations both esoteric and quotidian, marrying wry British wit with American soul-searching. Loughman took a “One Way Flight” across the pond 15 years ago, but in the song of that title he realizes that while the trip remains one-way only, the ride is far from over. He took to the stage at the vaunted Viper Room in LA on January 9 to perform songs from the record.