Mars Hall on the cover of Maximum Ink
photo by John Flores
I recently caught up with Mars Hall bandmates Jon Scott (bass) and Perry Steven Polito (guitar, vocals, keys) who are recording a second studio album and have a show coming up at the High Noon Saloon in March, and are celebrating Perry’s 64th birthday at the Thirsty Goat on February 29th with a Beatles-themed karaoke party.
Maximum Ink: Tell us how you got started in the music biz and creating Mars Hall.
Perry Steven Polito: I joined my first band when I was 17 years old and found my way to Madison in 1975. We were a cover band in the same club scene as Cheap Trick and went on the road to open for them throughout ’75 and ’76.
I eventually found my way back to Madison and played in two other cover bands through the 90s. The whole time, I’d been writing my own music, which no one else wanted to play.
I realized you don’t get very far playing other people’s songs. I took time off from music to raise a family. Ultimately decided that if I didn’t do anything with the music I had written, nothing was going to happen. So, I reached out to Scott a few years back and here we are.
Jon Scott: We were in rival bands back in 1975 when Perry formed Shock. But a few years ago, Perry and I were both guest musicians at a Holiday show in town. I played a song on bass and Perry met me at the stage and said, ‘You gotta play again!’ I said I had no interest in playing another cover band and he said ‘Good, because neither do I.”
MI: Looking back, things came together pretty beautifully.
PSP: After I recruited Scott, it wouldn’t be the right way unless Jeff Hinds was our guitarist. He’s a brilliant musician that I’ve known for years.
JS: And what’s amazing is we didn’t play our first show until a year ago. We’re recording the second album of Perry’s music and it’s just been incredible. I feel extremely fortunate.
MI: After all these years, what makes it worth getting back out there?
PSP: Throughout my career I’ve been playing in cover bands and finally, right now, the music I’ve been writing is coming to fruition. I made the decision to go all original because I had this vast reservoir of music to share with the world.
MI: How does the Madison’s musical landscape today compare to when you first started out?
PSP: Coming up in the music scene back then, everyone was doing original music! The influence from Madison was immense. We used to all hang out at record stores around town, where I met a lot of Madison musicians that are still my friends today.
JS: There seems to be a hunger for more original music. We’ve met a lot of original artists and we’re trying to connect with them to play our shows with us. It’s a great time to be a Madison musician.
PSP: And there are musicians everywhere you go. The music scene here is quite amazing; you name the genre, you can see it in Madison.