Early 2007 – Moke has departed Puddle of Mudd. We wish him the best wherever the road takes him. He was always very gracious and took the time to meet the fans before and after the shows whenever possible. He was not only great behind the drumkit but also as an individual. The lucky fans who were able to see him play with Puddle over the last 18 months will miss him tremendously.
Mark ‘Moke’ Bistany
When Puddle of Mudd fans arrived August 11, 2005 at the Roseland Theatre in Portland, Oregon, they weren’t sure what to expect. Long time drummer Greg Upchurch had departed the band in early 2005 and the big question became, if Puddle of Mudd are touring, who’s on drums?
That question was soon answered on the opening night of Puddle’s Sin City tour in Portland and from behind the kit emerged a talented drummer who has a long list of band credits including one with a tie to Puddle’s bassist, Doug Ardito.
Mark ‘Moke’ Bistany stepped onto the stage and remains the current drummer as we close in on the end of 2006.
Moke was born on July 9 in Peabody, Massachusetts and although he is currently a resident of sunny California, he claims this Boston suburb as his home.
Most people can pinpoint when their interest in something becomes so strong that they decide to pursue it on an active level and Moke is no different. At the impressionable age of 15, with the music of Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Rush, and Van Halen ricocheting inside of his head like a pinball machine, it was the defining time where he would make his career choice, one that would give him a notable portfolio of musical credits.
Making time between baseball and soccer while at Peabody High School, drums were his first choice while in the high school band. Not one to be limited, Moke over the years has acquired a bit of bass experience and also plays the piano by ear, all ingredients that assist in the ability to evolve as a songwriter and player, using all the tools one has to travel from A-to-B during the course of ones career.
Moke’s first band was while he was in high school was called Prowler. They worked the local Boston nightclub scene and had their first gig at Narcissus and more were to follow at The Channel, Celebrations, and other hotspots. While many teenagers have side jobs to fund their band or hobbies, Moke had just enough time for one of the most important things to him at the time and spent all of his time outside of school with one focus, music.
Some musicians veer away from the traditional education of music and skip professional lessons, preferring to jump right in with both feet gorilla style. Such is not the case with Moke, who from an early start had some well known drummers inspire him as teachers to perfect his craft. Rod Morgenstein, whose credits include being a founding member of the Grammy nominated Dixie Dregs, the Steve Morse Band, and Winger, became Moke’s first drum instructor. Morgenstein has an eclectic mix of music styles ranging from jazz, rock, folk, and classical influences that serve him well as a teacher, giving Moke a beginning background in several valuable techniques.
Moke’s second mentor was Jonathan Mover who has a long list of collaborations with top artists such as Joe Satriani, soul singer legend Aretha Franklin, and was on board with GTR as a founding member with Steve Howe and Steve Hackett. While an apprentice with Mover, Moke was able to learn an even wider diversity of genre that in the end would make him a drummer that could take on any challenge. Moke was later taught by Gary Chaffee as well, who has a long list of successful students including Steve Smith (Journey) and Vinnie Colaiuta (Sting and Frank Zappa). Lessons learned are long lasting and by staying flexible and aware of the vast array of music available, it is a hands-on education that can only prepare you for what is to come. By surrounding himself with trainers who had taught him various methods of drumming that are outside of the box the foundation had been laid. Moke was setting himself up for the bigger picture, a life-long career in a field where satisfaction is paramount.
Wishing to continue his musical education at a school of higher learning, he demonstrated a talent that was audible to the more refined ear than that the average person during auditions at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, and he was selected to receive a full-paid drum scholarship. Though this stint lasted only six months, it provided another notch towards experience that would contribute to the drummer Moke has become today. It’s like a ladder, every lesson, every gig, every band, provides a stepping-stone to tomorrow.
The time had come for a more prominent move to gain mainstream exposure which began in 1984 with a band named Tyrus with many bands in between, including the Switzerland-based rock band Mud Slick in 1993. Unknown to Moke, more mud would be in his future 12 years later.
Moke joined the band Impelletteri in 1992, which was led by the band’s namesake, guitarist Chris Impellitteri. Chris remains a guitar favorite of Moke’s to this day and when asked to describe him, Moke comments that he is a onlinecasino.se.net phenomenal guitar player who is fast, and impressive. Moke appeared on Impelletteri’s 1993 EP Victim of the System under the label JVC Entertainment in Japan. They weren’t a big breakout band in the United States at the time but had a tremendous following in Japan. Ken Mary had been the previous drummer and upon Mary’s return, Moke was once again available and looking for a new band.
Bands pop in and out of your life unexpectedly and such was the case for Moke, playing a two month gig in 1994 with Lenny Kravitz.
In walks Cellophane in 1996 with Shannon Crawford who had worked a deal to get a demo produced for his new band. Under the guidance of producer Ross Robinson, a connection was made with Moke and a bass player named Doug Ardito. Robinson called Moke and asked him to come and jam with the band and was soon on board with the fledgling project. John Chase also joined as the guitarist rounding out the band. They worked hard trying to make a name for themselves in the music industry and for promotion at shows they would pass out a four-song demo that included Standing In The Storm, Tamarak Tree, Ride Thy Neighbor, and Down.
The band began touring larger gigs to gain exposure and even secured a spot on the inaugural Ozzfest tour in 1996. Appearing on the second stage with Earth Crisis, Powerman 5000, Neurosis, and Coal Chamber, it was their biggest gig up to that time. Ozzfest had not grown to the monster event it is today, but in 1996 the audience count was amazing for an outdoor event with roughly 10,000 screaming, heavy metal and rock fans, it was absolutely, freaking crazy remembers Moke.
More gigs were to follow for Moke and his band mates as they went on to perform at ESPN’s Extreme Games at several of the program’s seven-stops in 1997 including Atlanta, Mount Trashmore in Virginia Beach, and Florida. Cellophane was also on tap for a few dates on the Vans Warped Tour that also included the Nixon’s and Sevendust.
Cellophane’s luck continued and they landed an opening spot for a new up-and-coming band, Creed, whose debut album My Own Prison was creating quite a stir with rock fans in early 1998. It gave the band a much-needed push to get their name and faces out to the public and created a buzz about their own debut album. It was while touring with Creed that Moke acquired his nickname, which evolved from hanging backstage between shows Scott Phillips and Mark Tremonti from Creed and band mates Ardito and Chase. The popular “Got Milk” campaign was the beginning of the banter that ended with “Got Moke” emblazoned on his bass drum and the name stuck, he had been branded.
Cellophane had also become a staple in the Los Angeles area performing at local hotspots The Whisky, The Troubadour, The Roxy, and even scoring an opening spot at a surprise show by Rage Against The Machine at The Dragonfly. The show was crazy Moke recalls, it was an unannounced show and by the time word spread Rage Against The Machine were the headliners, 2,000 people had shown up and were lined up outside, it was packed and out of control. It was a good outing for the band and it worked to get their identities out to the masses.
In 1997 MTV was launching a new summer program, MTV Beach House which had it’s first show filmed in Panama City Beach, Florida. Cellophane were one of the guests appearing along with Fred Durst and his band Limp Bizkit. The program was carried on the MTV schedule and any publicity is good publicity. Cellophane also had a brief blip of publicity in the popular 1997 Wes Craven film, Wishmaster. In one scene as the character of Josh Aikman (actor Todd Crane) is talking to Alexandra Amberson (actress Tammy Lauren), he is getting into his red convertible, as he starts the car Cellophane’s song Down was playing on the radio for a brief 10-15 seconds. A band takes a hit of promotion wherever they can get it.
Cellophane had reached a recording deal and had been signed to Virgin Records, and subsequently released their self-titled debut CD in the fall of 1997. With eleven songs on the disc, Here We Lay, Down, No One In The End, Cut Away, I Crave You Gone, Ride Thy Neighbor, I’m So Glad You Came, Home, Dress The Day, Tamarak Tree, and Standing In The Storm, one tune in particular garnered nation-wide radio airplay. Down set the band’s precedent and established their genre of hard rock and full of grit, a sound that was on the edge of avant-garde stylistically. A promotional video had been shot for the band for this same song, and for Moke’s part of the performance, we witness a 007-ish persona as he gives a sideways glance as if scouting for an unknown enemy.
Cellophane continued to press forward with touring and despite their best efforts, the band later disbanded and were not able to achieve the success they had hoped for under the Cellophane name. This was a band that was clearly ahead of their time. Popular music was moving in a different direction at the time and had they emerged on the scene five years later, they could have quite possibly been a major player in the rock music scene.
In 2000, during the break between Cellophane and his next band, Moke worked as the Music Director for rapper DMX. This is where his versatility and his love of music across several spectrums came in to play, all the diversification in the early days had landed him a position that could only create even more on the job experience and in the end make him an even better musician in the long run.
In 2001, OTEP was the next progression. OTEP had been put together with Moke’s assistance in less than two weeks and by the end of six months the band had landed a record contract. Front woman Otep Shamaya leads this hardcore metal band as their vocalist, who echoes lyrics from a deep, dark, dungeon-like place. Classified as nu-metal by some, their sound was not tame by any stretch but along the same grain as Nine Inch Nails. During Moke’s time with OTEP, he appeared two of their albums. Jihad EP (2001) featured five songs, Possession, Lord Is My Weapon, Germ, Fillthee, and T.R.I.C. A full-length album, Sevas tra (art saves), soon followed in 2002 with the track list Tortured, Blood Pigs, T.R.I.C., My Confession, Sacrilege, Battle Ready, Emtee, Possession, Thots, Fillthee, Menocide, Jonestown Tea, and a hidden 13th song. It was while performing with OTEP, that Moke earned his Three-Time-Ozzfest-Veteran status by appearing on the second stage in 2001 and in 2002, an achievement no one else in Puddle has matched to date.
Southern California band HED (pe) had it’s roots going back to 1994 and had a long history before Moke joined the band as their drummer in 2004. The HED (pe) name has evolved through several changes, pe meaning planetary earth, planet earth and later being shortened to pe. During Moke’s time with HED (pe), he appeared on the album Only In Amerika in 2005, which featured the songs Foreplay, Represent, Truth, Wake Up, Ware, Box, CBC, Voices, Raise Hell, Amerikan Beauty, Chicken, Daydreams, Not Ded Yet (sic), and an untitled 14th track. He was also on their next album Back 2 Base X with the tracks Listen, Novus Ordos Clitorus, Lock And Load, White Collars, Get Ready, Sophia, Peer Pressure, Beware Do We Go, Daze Or War, Sweetchops, Soitbe, Let’s Ride, and The Chosen One. Included on the Japanese and Australian version of the disc was the bonus track Niteclub In Bali.
Puddle of Mudd 2005 to early 2007
Puddle fans were left wondering the status of the band since Upchurch’s 2005 separation from the band. Early on there weren’t any official comments on who would fill the seat, but Puddle had plans, the fans just didn’t know it and they had to wait it out.
A familiar face and former Cellophane drummer would soon be seen be appearing on stage as the new percussionist. Moke had been doing a few tracks in a Malibu recording studio with long time friend and former band mate Ardito and songwriting came relatively easy, completing one track in 15-20 minutes, the old flow between Moke and Ardito had not been lost, and in the end two songs had been recorded. It was at the invitation of Ardito that Moke was invited to do a jam session with Wes and Doug. The band had been scheduled to do a few shows beginning in August for their Sin City Tour and a few radio festivals. It wasn’t a matter of trying out, everyone just had the vibe, it was like being on the same page, and a good fit between the players. It was while Moke was still with HED (pe) that he started doing double duty with Puddle and soon it was decision time, with Puddle being chosen.
It was with Puddle on New Years Eve in Times Square 12-31-05 that MSN caught up with the band for a few quick comments on what to look forward to from Puddle in the upcoming year and Moke says he, “hopes for a great album in 2006.” When asked what was it like to play for the largest audience ever, “It was cold and awesome,” Moke replied and added, “It was off the hook!”
Though delayed from the hoped for 2006 release, the fans wait for the next Puddle disc and a full course tour of the United States and abroad. While we wait, it gives us time to learn more about the new players in Puddle of Mudd, one being the drummer, who is talented and fan-friendly, while having a serious side as necessary but never forgetting to be humble and gracious.
Moke has come a long way in his journey as a musician. A milestone in his career occurred not long after he moved to Los Angeles when he participated in the Southern California Division of Guitar Center’s Drum Off. With over 3,000 contestants, he emerged as the winner and as a bonus besides the recognition included a sweet cash prize, a plus for any musician. Moke’s current drum set up includes Yamaha Drums, Sabian Cymbals, and Vic Firth drumsticks. Endorsement advertisements have been featured in past issues of Modern Drummer for Yamaha and Vic Firth.
Since Moke’s first appearance as the new Puddle of Mudd drummer in mid-2005, he has worked hard and steadily to keep the fans confident that he will deliver the old songs as well as the new tunes with what Puddle fans have come to expect. It’s not easy to be the new guy, you are trying to find your fit with the band, and you hope the fans can accept you as their new player. “You do it for the fans,” Moke said. He has the best seat in the house when he steps on the drum platform before a show. His thought… “Is to rock the house. Second, it’s done, relax, and spend time with the fans after the show if possible.”
But if the fan’s response is any indication, they have welcomed Moke with open arms. Reviews from the Sin City Tour that traversed the west coast and mid-west were more than favorable with the question arising, who is the drummer. Fans have been quick to respond to questions on the band’s message board, willing to give Moke a shout-out; the fans have accepted the round of changes that befell the band in 2005 even though changes have been difficult for everyone. We appreciate Moke’s sincerity, professionalism when performing, and his generosity taking the time to make everyone at the show feel like they had a great time and if he can enhance the fan experience by offering an autograph or a photo with an admirer, then that comes with the territory and he is happy to oblige when the opportunity permits.
Off The Cuff
When Moke isn’t sitting behind the drum kit, he has other interests as an avid car fan, participating in auto racing and restoring muscle cars, Mopars, hot rods, and American made automobiles as a hobby. His interest in cars began with his first car as a teenager, a 1970 Plymouth Duster and when asked if that car could talk what would it say, “Never drove over 55 or I was airborne for 50 feet,” the answer wasn’t 55. Restoration and rebuilds include a Porsche and a black 1970 Hemi ‘Cuda. Formula 1 racing is another favorite along with grand prix style cars, and shifter carts that have the capability of doing 130 MPH; extreme sports as a relaxation and stress reliever to take him out of one zone and into another.
When not working with Puddle or his hobbies, with Moke’s background in music that covers everything from rock, metal, rap, etc., he has an interest in the next level within the industry and has lent his backing to Boston record label Common Wealth Records who’s main genre services the hip hop community.
Q & A
Band shirt you owned from back in the day you wore till there were just threads left?
KISS, Van Halen, and Rush t-shirts.
First concert you ever went to/last concert you went to?
First concert AC/DC, last concert, Roger Waters.
First album you ever bought?
KISS Alive II on vinyl.
What is currently in your Ipod/CD player?
The Internet/Snail Mail
Night Owl/Up With The Chickens
How do you kill time on the tour bus- DVDs, CDs, reading, the Internet, sleeping?
All of the above.
DVDs/Going To The Movies
Board Games/X Box
Favorite Classic Rock Band
Everything from Rush, Van Halen, KISS, Frank Zappa, too many to list a favorite.
What is the next trend in music or is rock making a comeback?
Rock is coming back!
Thanks to 7digital.com, bnrmetal.com, Charlie L. Yap, Cellophanelosangeles Myspace, and various discography websites for helping to fill in the blanks.
A special thank you to Moke!
© POMuddRockOn Karen 10-25-06