Mark Haney talks about AIM FOR THE ROSES

mark-haneyMark Haney is composer and double bassist in Vancouver, BC. He is currently the Artistic Director of The Little Chamber Music Series That Could, Composer in Residence at Vancouver’s Mountain View Cemetery and a freelance bassist. I met Mark online on the Archie Fan Message board. He contributed to First Comics News in 2010 and 2011, with “Archie A Day”, “Panel A Day” and various review. In 2011 Mark joined me at Archie Comics when Archie started publishing his “Archie A Day” panel on their blog. In 2012 Mark sent me a copy of his debut solo CD “Aim for the Roses”. It took him two-and-a-half years to make the CD. It’s composed of painstakingly layered double bass parts employing a formal strategy based on Pi. “Aim for the Roses” tells the true story of Canadian daredevil Ken Carter, and his 1976-79 quest to jump one mile over the St. Lawrence River in a rocket car. I was unfamiliar with Ken Carter and found the CD quite informative. Much to my surprise Mark wasn’t done with his tribute to Ken Carter and Aim for the Roses is now a movie. Mark was nice enough to return to First Comics News to let our readers in on how this all came about.


First Comics News: Who was Ken Carter?

Mark Haney: Ken Carter was a Canadian daredevil whose career peaked in the 1970’s. He used to travel all over Canada and the US with his team, putting on death-defying events like jumping 6 school buses or 12 chuck wagons, or something similar. My album centers around his quest to jump a rocket powered Lincoln Continental 1 mile over the St. Lawrence River; a stunt he spent years trying to make happen.

1stHow did he die?

aim-for-the-roses-posterMark: You have to watch the movie to find out!

1stWhat type of legacy did he leave?

Mark: Ken left an interesting legacy: there are little pockets completely devoted to his story. As part of the St. Lawrence stunt he built a 9 story takeoff ramp on the banks of the river at Morrisburg, Ontario. For many people it was a seminal part of their childhood, looking at this giant ramp, and today there is a Ken Carter Preservation Society in Morrisburg. Other people are fans of a documentary made in the early 80’s by the National Film Board called “The Devil at Your Heels”. It’s through this doc that I first heard of Ken.

1stWhat is it about Ken that intrigued you?

markhaneyMark: I appreciated the way he felt he was “locked on target”; there was one thing he did in this life, and for better or worse that thing was jumping over things in a car. He felt stuck with it, and saw the jump over the St. Lawrence as a way out, a way to get enough fame and attention that he wouldn’t have to keep jumping things. He knew that if he kept up the daredevil stunts, eventually there was only one possible ending. I felt the same way about my life and career. There was one thing I did (playing and writing music) and even thought in many ways it could be argued that it was trashing my life (poverty, obsession, etc) I was (and am) totally locked on course.

1stSo your a fan, how did you decide to make the Aim for the Roses album?

aim-for-the-rosesMark: I was looking to make an album that really showed how I thought about the double bass and how I approached it. Early on I had the idea of the pi structure, but wanted a story to put on top of it. Since the structure was rigid and mathematical, I wanted the most human story I could find on top of it. Ken’s is the most human story I could think of.

1stThis was 2008?

Mark: Yes, I started in mid-2008.

1stAnd the album came out in 2010?

cover_2523-2Mark: October 2010, I spent about two and a half years on it. A lot of that time was mixing all the layers of bowed bass, in place there are over 100 layers of it.

1stHow well did Aim for the Roses do as an album?

Mark: It was very well reviewed in Canada, and I got a lot of attention for it which helped to open other doors. So in that sense it did very well. If we’re talking about sales…….well, let’s not.

1stSo how did you go from an album in 2010 to John Bolton deciding to make a movie about both you and Ken Carter in 2012?

teamMark: John was at the album release show at the Vancouver Planetarium in 2010, and began talking about wanting to make a film that night. He had made several shorts for classical music pieces and was looking to make a full-length film. He was intrigued by my story and Ken’s story and decided to put them together.

1stAre you playing yourself in the movie?

Mark: Yes, I play myself in the movie. Both a real-life “me” for interview segments, and a fantasy “me” for the musical numbers John created for all the songs from the album.

Photo by Trevor Brady

1stHow does the movie bridge you in 2008 and Ken in 1976?

Mark: There are 2 types of scenes with Ken in the movie: archival footage of the man and his actual jump, and stylized “recreations” that include the songs from the record and the music/dialogue parts of the album. I’m a character in these.

1stThe movie has been shown at a few festivals, what type of reception has it received?


Mark: It’s been incredibly well received. People like the heart in it; both Ken and I are (arguably) delusional idiots pursuing questionable goals. There’s a beauty to that. John’s film is incredibly well made and entertaining and people are really responding to that.

1stHow can fans see the film?

Mark: It’s starting it’s Canadian theatrical run in Vancouver, and will be playing more festivals in 2017. Eventually it will be on the various online services and for sale as well.

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