Bruno Mascolo has a target on his back, literally. On stage, the lead singer of Drive A is frequently wears a rendition of a shooting range target for a shirt. Similar to other bands that have used symbols to represent concepts that can't always be pinned down by words alone, Mascolo created the idea of "Marked Man" which is featured on the groups newest album, The World in Shambles. In some ways, pointing to a weak spot was a power play on Mascolo's part. Although the average age of the band is just under the legal drinking age, they've seen a rapid rise in exposure, touring with international acts and being featured on countless websites. In order to find out the origins of the Marked Man concept, what it's like being a young band with huge exposure, and what the group thinks of genre tags, Punknews staff writer John Gentile centered his journalistic sniper riper directly on Mascolo's mid-section and pulled the trigger…
On The World in Shambles, you've created a concept known as the "Marked Man." On your shirts, the Marked Man is represented by a shooting range target. Can you tell me about this concept?
It's one of the songs on the album, the first single. When I was writing the lyrics, I had this storyâ¦ there was this one verse, the marked man without a face. I just had the idea, and made the whole song about that. The story is that if you just dwell on your problems, you eventually paint the target on your back and are in this weird little thingâ¦ It's just a kind of feeling I've had. I kind of made a character out of the idea and we thought it was cool. It's not really a running theme.
Do you feel like you are a marked man?
Definitely. If youâre dealing with stress or pressure, anyone with their own problems can be a marked man. If you don't know how to deal with them right, you can be a marked man. It just describes a feeling.
Some of my favorite artists, such as Salvador Dali and World/Inferno Friendship Society, often use reoccurring themes and symbols throughout their career. Do you think you'll return to the Marked Man concept?
I don't think weâll return to the actual Marked Man. I like the idea of creating characters in music, then just writing a regular song. It's almost like writing a story.
Earlier in your career, you mentioned how people used to criticize you for wearing Sex Pistols and ramose shirts, as if you, "weren't punk enough." Now you wear Marked Men shirts on stage. Was this an intentional strategy to deflect the criticism.
A little bit. It's kind of, well it's not like a solution. The band's message as a whole is more of solution, it's kind of describing a feeling and make into something else.
In an interview in May 2011, you spoke about how you didnât want to be pigeonholed as a punk band. Do you feel the punk scene unfairly requires bands to conform to certain preconceived expectations?
Oh yeah. I think when it gets into niche things, kids start to listen to only certain things. The reason we wear the same shirts and same jackets, the reason we started that, without even thinking I would wear a Ramones shirt and over time, people were like, "Oh, they're like a Ramones-type band" and were not. So we were like, "You know what, weâll wear our own shirts so people can judge on the music."
I've talked about this with Scott Sturgeon and Boots Riley before, and they both gave different answers, so I'm interested in your opinion. Visual representation is very important in music, but it's very important in marketing too. Where do you think one crosses the other?
It's just like a constant battle. It's really easy for one person to see something different than you do, so it can come up as something differentâ¦ creating something that is just misunderstood. It's kind of difficult to market yourself.
A lot of artists often feel misunderstood. Do you think Drive A is misunderstood?
I think we're misunderstood. We're still a new band. It takes time to really get guys to take notice of us. I think people really see us as more of a punk rock band, and we're not. We love punk rock, but were kind of over the fact. I don't want to hear another kid say were not punk, it's just a genre. We get misunderstood.
Really, the term "punk" has many, many different meanings. Do you think it's even useful at this point?
We like to play like energetic songs so people would call us punk. We listen to a lot of punk, so it naturally comes out. I think the genreâ¦ people are just so serious about genre labels. They get too into labeling stuff, instead of just listening to it.
You guys are still pretty young, with most members being under 20, but you're getting a lot of notice. Why do you think that is?
I think it's because weâve just been working. Weâve been touring our asses off, and meeting people. You play your music, that's one aspect, you spread your music by playing live, and just being out there and meeting people and just winning people over. That year and a half where we were touring non-stop took it to the next level.
Do you think being relatively young but having a great deal of exposure gives you a unique viewpoint?
It has given me a unique perspective. I definitely feel like I'm older than I am when it comes to music. Other kids my age… I've been away from home for two years and people are just starting bands. I'm thankful that we got a chance to start doing it that early. It was impossible for me to not pursue it.
You recently did an anti-bullying PSA. Is that a particularly important issue for you?
It's not like a super important thing. I think it's cool that bands talk about that issue. People in bands get subjected to that. It's kind of like, you make a product right, you put it on the shelf, but itâs like you're the product, so people don't feel the connection, so you have to deal with criticism. You just learn to be yourself.