Photo: Cody Bollinger (Visual King, Cody Bollinger – Creative Studio)

I’ve known Mark Li (guitar/vocals) for a hot minute. We go all the way back to booking Showplace Theatre through ESI EVENTS back in the mid 2000s, if anyone from WNY reading this remembers such a thing. Back then, he was slinging riffs for melodic metallers, The Rival Sonata (formerly Led Astray). These days, however, Mark is revisiting his pop punk roots and giving us all the nostalgia we can handle in 2022! It was great to reconnect with Mark and unofficially meet the rest of his new band! You can check out their next show listed below if you’re into this stuff, but for now, let’s get to the interview!

1. What is the story behind the band name? I’ve noticed a few band brands with this name but didn’t google the meaning because I want to hear it from you.

Jared: Picking a band name is one of the hardest things a band does – once you pick it you’re pretty much stuck with it. it’s what you’re known by. In the beginning it’s really import because people are going to ask you, “hey, what’s your band’s name?” and you don’t want the answer to be something really fucking stupid. Gumshoe was the least stupid one we came up with. Our band is a democracy, it’s tough to get everyone to agree on the same thing sometimes. It’s one thing to write music together and bounce ideas off each other and give/get feedback, but the band name is a different sort of animal. We pretty much just picked the name all four of us liked the most. Mark honestly mentioned it passively, pretty much as a joke and we all kind of liked it or came around to it.

2. How did this band come about? Mark, I’ve known you the longest and I can’t recall any musical project of yours leading up to this. Tell me about the journey leading up to Gumshoe.

Jared: It all really started with Todd’s Facebook post asking if anyone wanted to start a band. He really was just looking for some people to jam with every now and then. Mark commented and said he’s available, Jared commented and said he’s available and showed interest. Mark and Todd started talking and Mark mentioned he knew a guy named Dan that is a great drummer, they’ve known each other forever. Mark mentioned to Todd that him and Dan are both sober and Todd’s first thought was, “great.. I’m gonna be jamming with a bunch of sober dudes” (laughs). We all got together one Sunday and all of a sudden by the end of our second practice, we had written our first song. We all really bought into the band and the sound we were going for and we all worked really well together. After playing our first song through and working the kinks out, I think we all were pretty surprised. We thought, “Damn, we’re not too bad. There’s actually something here.” (laughs) In the next two weeks we wrote another 3 – 4 songs together and here we are. There’s no epic story of the formation of this band. It really just happened, like any good relationship does.

Mark: Well I have been playing in bands for over 20 years now. My first few bands were back in high-school. And at the end of Hugh school my first real band Limited Identity started to play shows and attract attention. I did LI for a bunch of years with different members and such. I also played in a ton of other bands. From The Rival Sonata, Boss Tribal, Straightforward to Hope is a dangerous thing with Dan our drummer. At one point in time I was asked to play guitar for My Chemical Romance before they got Frank. But I didn’t want to move to NJ.

3. Talking strictly pop-punk, who are your favorites? Who do you think are the best to pull off this sound? Everyone loves Blink (182), but I’d love to hear about some pop punk bands that people might scratch their head over.

Dan – Rufio has been a huge influence on me. I was big on them in high school and their music really got me through a lot and they’ve always been my go through.

Jared – I listen to a lot of heavier stuff. I guess the most “pop-punk” bands that I really got into were Taking Back Sunday and The Used. They’re not really a pop-punk band but they def have some pop-punk influences in some of their songs. Um, and Brand New, Story of the Year, Underoath, Every time I Die .– those are really the bands that have inspired me.

Mark – As far as who I think best really pulls off the sound, I mean, New Found Glory are the kings of pop-punk. Then you have bands like Yellowcard, they really pulled off the pop-punk feel and added a little extra to it with their violinist. My biggest influence as far as pop-punk goes is a band called Lanemeyer. They were my favorite band growing up – the songwriting and the lyrics were really good and catchy. Other amazing bands not all Pop-Punk but very influential are Bigwig, The Lemonheads, Midtown, Lucky Boys Confusion and Dynamite Boy. All very solid bands.

Todd – Taking Back Sunday is the band that really got me into the whole scene. The first show I attended was Blink 182, The Used, and Taking Back Sunday. It changed everything for me. Lately I’ve been really into the band Hot Mulligan.

4. How did you all meet?

Jared: Todd and Jared actually played little league baseball together on the same team. When they were both in high school they were in separate bands and we would play shows together all the time. Mark and Dan met at a Bigwig show that Mark’s band had opened for them at. Dan knew who Mark was, but they weren’t really close. One of their mutual friends (Macy Paradise) told Dan, “Bro, you’ve gotta meet this guy!” and he actually introduced them to each other. Mark took Dan to this party, and Dan’s brand new shoes actually got stolen. Someone had the same pair, but Dan’s were brand-new and the dude just ganked them.

5. When you first established this band, who were the main influences you were trying to emulate? Your first single, I Don’t Know When to Quit, definitely has a “New Found Glory” vibe.

Jared: We really don’t try to emulate anyone, we have influences.. but all four of our different styles and tastes came together to create what we have now. We really just try to do our own thing. Like Todd mentioned, we really just thought we were gonna get together and jam, play some covers with each other, things like that. We never really wanted to have the same sound as another band.

6. Following up on question 5, talk about the bands and artists that really inspired you all to write and preform music in the first place.

Mark – I grew up listening to the Ninja Turtles man, I saw them live when I was a kid and it was awesome. I think it was like 1992 the “Coming out of our Shell” tour.

Todd – for me, it was really Blink 182. When I was younger, I would get off the school bus at 3:10, would run inside the house and crank my little 15 watt amp up as loud as it would go, put “Take off your Pants and Jacket” into my stereo and turn that up as loud as it would go – I could barely even hear my bass because the stereo was so loud. I would rock out in my bedroom and jump around, occasionally hitting the right note. I would do that from 3:10 – 4:30 when my mom got home. I would turn everything off at 4:29 because she would be pissed if I was still going when she got home. Taking Back Sunday made me want to write music, but Blink-182 is what made me want to play music. I never really tried to write music like Blink. I heard TBS’s “Cute without the E” and “Great Romances of the 20th Century” and I just thought “this is all I want to do”. The first song I ever covered was “A Decade Under the Influence” – why the fuck we decided to do that song I will never know, it was so fucking hard when you’re first learning how to play music.

Jared – Definitely Taking Back Sunday. They were huge for me when I was in high school and their music and lyrics were so relatable. It was like they were writing their songs for me and for that period of my life.

Mark – another big influence on me were Nirvana, Green Day and bands of the early and late 90’s.

Dan – Switchfoot for sure. Growing up, I wasn’t allowed to listen to most music. I had a very Christian background growing up – my grandpa was our Pastor. My mom actually gave me my first Switchfoot CD – she said “listen to this” – and they were so good! I got inspired by Pete Metzler (Down to Earth Approach) because my brother and him were best friends. Mystery Funk Alliance was made up of my brother, John McCampbell, and Pete Metzler. In 4th grade I started playing the drums, and almost bought Pete’s first drum set which I regret not doing everyday. I was a huge fan of his and would have had him sign the drum set. I was such a huge fan of his, I really thought he was going places, and he did! I knew he was going to – he actually gave me my first drum lessons.

The band Down to Earth Approach are like local heroes for all of us. They were a local band that ended up getting signed by Vagrant Records Todd – “John McCampbell was a huge influence of mine. He made me realize I would never be as good as he”

7. Talk about any shows you have coming up in the near future.

Jared: April 15th @ Mr. Goodbar, and June 19th (Father’s Day) at Mohawk Place.

8. Discuss the writing process for your music and where you see things going for your debut EP / LP release.

Jared: The writing process is kind of a cluster fuck. Someone comes up with an idea or a riff and we all kind of leach off it. As opposed to a band that really has a song writer, everyone here pitches in. We are all extremely blunt about what we feel is working and what isn’t. We all give each other feedback – change this or try this – and eventually it all comes together.

For our release, we’ll probably go the route that has worked for most other bands. We’re going to do one to two song releases for a bit and eventually compile an EP or LP. We’ve dropped “I Don’t Know When to Quit”, up next is “Bulletproof” and “Here We Go”. “Standard” and “After the Fact” will most likely be released together.

9. Our Website Plugs –

Soundcloud / Bandcamp

Facebook – GumShoe Band

Instagram – Gumshoepunk

10. For Mark: Talking strictly past bands you’ve been a part of, which was your favorite project from your younger days in the scene?

Jared: I would have to say Limited Identity. It was fun to watch it grow and be known for playing music and the crazy antics we pulled off and just the joy and fun or creating something from nothing. It was a proud moment to do it all ourselves.

11. How long have you been playing your perspective instrument and how did you get started?

Todd- I was 13 when I got my first bass guitar. It was my birthday gift.

Jared – I played the trumpet since I was in like 3rd grade, then my brother got an acoustic guitar for Christmas when I was like 14 and I stole it from him. He never played it and I locked myself in my bedroom for the next 2 years and learned to play.

Dan – 4th grade. Jazz band, concert band, marching band. All of those.

Mark – For me, my brother played a little guitar and keyboard. I bought my first guitar off my brother and I really got into it because my friends played. One of my friends played the drums, another one played the guitar so we started a shitty grunge band I think I was like 13 or 14.

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