Mark Salling: The Idolator Interview

Robbie Daw | October 22, 2010 9:35 am

You know him as smug-but-talented jock Noah “Puck” Puckerman on Fox’s award-winning (and controversial) series Glee. But next week actor/singer-songwriter Mark Salling will open up a whole new side of himself to fans with the release of his album Pipe Dreams. In addition to playing all the instruments on the LP, the Dallas, Texas native also served as producer.

“Pipe dreams is a term that represents what people will tell you are unrealistic dreams,” Salling notes when speaking of his record’s title. “That’s kind of what me considering a career in music and moving out west was—a pipe dream.” Find out more about what Mark Salling is like outside the halls of William McKinley High in our interview with him below! IDOLATOR: Congrats on getting Pipe Dreams out there!  How would you describe the album’s sound? MARK SALLING: It’s kind of all over the place because I selected tracks from a 50-song library that I compiled over the last eight-to-ten years, really. I kind of wanted to show a little bit of diversity in the sound. Overall it’s got pop melodies over jazz chord changes with a rock feel, I’d say.

We see you every week on Glee. But which tracks on your new LP will give us the most insight into you as an artist outside of the series? MS: I hope all of them. Some are darker than others. Some are optimistic and some are pessimistic. I think it all documents where I was in my life at the time or the mood I was in. Sometimes my outlook on things is very positive and sometimes it’s not. I think overall the record will really give people an insight to who I am as opposed to one track.

You play guitar on the show, but you also play other instruments, like piano. Did you take lessons as a kid? MS: I did! Starting when I was five years old.

While we’re on a roll here listing your many talents, let’s point that you also produced Pipe Dreams. How challenging was that? MS: I’ve worked with producers in the past, and I think they’re great for some people. It just wasn’t for me at the time. Maybe later. It’s a lot of work—and also doing it for your own label is a lot of work. You have so many little decisions to make that you normally wouldn’t. It’s a double-edged sword, you know? If you want to be in control—with great power comes great responsibility.

Who did you listen to, musically, while growing up in Dallas? MS: Growing up in the ‘90s, when I was learning music, I was really influenced by Alice in Chains, Pantera, Pearl Jam. I’m still into those bands a lot, but I’ve gotten into singer-songwriters like Elliot Smith, Rufus Wainwright. And then I got into jazz when I went to music school, and a bunch of guitar players that no one’s heard of.

Alright. It’s almost Halloween, and, sorry—there’s no way I’m not mentioning that you were in Children Of The Corn IV as a young teen. What memories stick out about making that film—good or bad? MS: Karen Black was an actress in that, and she was really sweet to me. That was when I was about 13, and she had her six-year-old daughter with her at the time. Her daughter was like the most out of control child ever! I was at a party a couple years ago and this girl was talking about something, and she mentioned her mom. I said, “Who’s your mom?” She was like, “Karen Black.” And, oh, my God—you’re that little girl! She’s totally chill now. She invited me over and I reunited with her mom and had dinner at their house. We keep in touch now.

Karen Black in Trilogy Of Terror truly is the stuff dreams are made of. So, the “Rocky Horror Glee Show” episode is coming up. Were you ever a Rocky Horror fan? MS: I had never actually seen it. But I did watch it when I found out we were doing it. It’s kind of bizarre. I didn’t really get it, to be honest.

Can you give us any hint as to what we can expect from the episode? MS: I’ll just say that it’s pretty close to the movie.

So what are your plans for Halloween? MS: I don’t have any plans yet, but some of the Glee guys are talking about going out as the Power Rangers.

I guess we’ll know how to find you in a crowd then.

Mark Salling’s second LP Pipe Dreams will be released on Monday (October 25). “The Rocky Horror Glee Show” airs Tuesday on Fox.