Those Animals
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Those Animals

Moorpark, California, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2021 | SELF

Moorpark, California, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2021
Band Alternative Indie




"Meet Mark Cross"

We recently connected with Mark Cross and have shared our conversation below.

Mark, thank you so much for taking the time to share your lessons learned with us and we’re sure your wisdom will help many. So, one question that comes up often and that we’re hoping you can shed some light on is keeping creativity alive over long stretches – how do you keep your creativity alive?

Staying creative isn’t always easy. I try my best not to force creativity when I’m not feeling it. I do, however, have a few things that keep me motivated to stay creative. I like to walk or jog 3 miles 5 days a week. I feel that being away from my phone and pushing myself physically helps clear my mental headspace. Sometimes I can get too stuck in my own thoughts. I think we all fall victim to that from time to time. Like feeling stuck in a box of ideas. Seeing someone else’s approach to similar goals helps me get out of that box. Working with other artists is incredibly inspiring. Collaborating has pushed me to educate myself on recording, performing and writing. And, it’s fun getting together with other like-minded people.

Thanks, so before we move on maybe you can share a bit more about yourself?

I love writing music and inspiring others to work towards their passions. I try to have an infectious sense of friendliness and optimism. There is no better feeling to me than cultivating a new idea and seeing it through to completion. Music is so cool. It isn’t a tangible item. You can’t physically grab a song or melody, yet it still exists and influences the world. It’s a creation from thin air. People hold special songs in their heart. A song can bring back good and bad memories just like a picture can. That is what I ultimately strive to achieve. To create music that moves the listener and feels relatable. I try to write lyrics that resonate with the listener and bring a sense of introspection. Having built my home recording studio up, I plan to release a lot of new music that portrays my creative ideas as accurately as possible. Having the home studio allows me to help other artists flesh out their ideas as well. I also love to BBQ. So, chances are when an artist comes over to record, we’re also doing some grilling! I’m not sure when this interview will go live, but I’m hosting a music festival at Enegren Brewery in Moorpark, CA, at the end of July, 2023. I’m beyond honored and excited to perform some of my new songs and provide a stage for other artists to showcase their talents. I also have a new Those Animals song “Step on the Line” dropping August 25th on all streaming platforms. Keep your ears open for it!

If you had to pick three qualities that are most important to develop, which three would you say matter most?

Having the patience and passion to keep learning and accepting that I am not where I want to be in terms of success, but can get there, is a quality that has helped me along my journey. Finding my “tribe” that continuously supports me has been a key component in keeping me inspired. That includes my friends, family and music colleagues. To anyone that is early on in their passionate pursuit, my only advice is to accept that you can get better and keep trying to get better. Everything else will fall into place and nobody can hate on you if you’re consistently pursuing to better yourself. And, when you have haters, that’s when you know you’re making ripples. All the greats have had an equal amount of hate as they have love from other humans.

Any advice for folks feeling overwhelmed?

I wear a lot of different hats. Aside from working a 9-5 desk job, I write, produce, do my own booking, managing, social media, play in other bands and coordinate events, to name a few. I can get very overwhelmed very easily. Going back on a previous topic, I find exercising outside a great way to step away from my phone and critically think about my next moves. When I can slow down my thoughts, I have a much easier time organizing them in my head. They don’t seem so mountainous that way. I can imagine them one step at a time. Like a staircase. I need to take one step at a time, I can’t jump to the top step. I think everyone has their own strategy of slowing down their thoughts. A piece of advice my girlfriend shared with me recently was “things are happening for me, not to me”. I find that saying to be so true. All these things are happening as a manifestation of my dreams and I am grateful they are happening for me. - Bold Journey

"Stories and Insights"

Mark, looking forward to hearing all of your stories today. If you could go back in time do you wish you had started your creative career sooner or later?

A part of me wishes that I had taken music more seriously from a younger age. I was always obsessed with music and performance in grade school. It wasn’t until around the 8th grade that I realized I had an affinity for playing guitar and singing. On the other hand, I like to believe that my music journey has been playing out exactly as it should. I definitely view myself more as a songwriter than anything else. The path I walked has influenced my creative choices and allowed me the opportunity to continue to follow my passion. If we all walked the same path, we’d all reach the same conclusion. Which, in my opinion, would be incredibly boring.

Mark, love having you share your insights with us. Before we ask you more questions, maybe you can take a moment to introduce yourself to our readers who might have missed our earlier conversations?

Most of my youth was spent playing baseball in the suburbs of Los Angeles. My dad would drive me to games and show me his favorite CD’s on the way. For me, listening to music in the car was more significant than the actual baseball game. My dad played bass in punk bands growing up so there were always instruments around the house. I didn’t really feel the urge to try creating music until I was in middle school. It was so fun learning pop punk covers with my friend. My interest became more serious in my sophomore year of High School. That year, I wrote my first song “Float Away” and started recording acoustic demos on my computer at home. After writing and learning about 30 minutes’ worth of acoustic songs, I decided it was time to play a show. There were no real music venues in my town. So, I would reach out to pizza places and coffee shops to try and host Friday night events (shout out to Lamppost Pizza and Java Kai). These ended up being pretty successful and eventually led to meeting some band members. It felt like the sky was the limit. I started getting asked to play gigs instead of coordinating them. I felt like I was really doing something right. So, I rolled with it. Our band played all the popular spots on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood including The Whiskey a Go-Go, The Viper Room, and even The Roxy. At the end of High School, we found a manager who planned a month long US tour for us. After returning from that tour, my focus completely changed. I became more than obsessed with pursuing a career as a songwriter and performer. However, the band broke up after our second tour (about a year after our first tour). I was fairly upset about the situation and took a little break from writing. During this time I really focused on why music was important to me and what genres of music really resonated with me. I wasn’t really playing all that much to be honest. I worked at a sushi restaurant and was going to community college. One day, a friend of mine told me he was applying to work at a new Guitar Center that was opening a few cities over. I figured, why not apply? It wasn’t a job I was too keen on working at first but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to get more information. I ended up getting the job, quitting the sushi job, and loving every minute of my time at Guitar Center. People may have different opinions of working sales for music’s biggest corporation. I loved talking about music every day. I loved learning about music every day. I loved being surrounded by musicians every day. I think working at Guitar Center was really the catalyst that rejuvenated my passion for songwriting and gigging. I basically gave every paycheck I made back to them to buy music equipment. I was able to build out my little home studio which has since gotten more…cluttered (lol). After work, I would come home and demo out some riffs I had in my head during the day. These tunes swayed away from the singer-songwriter approach and leaned more into a surf-psychedelic rock approach. I’d show some of the songs to my coworkers and we’d play them at house parties but it was never a very serious project. That is, until I got fired from Guitar Center for accepting a tip from a customer. Apparently, that is a big problem for them. Go figure. With the new gear, new songs and connections I made from working that job, I was ready to hit the ground running with a new project. I enlisted a few friends, began practicing a more legitimate set and performing at our local open mic. This new group, three/\sides, really leaned into that surf-psychedelic rock vibe. We played a whole lot of gigs, had a whole lot of fun and made some incredible memories. Most notably, we opened for Foxtrax at the Roxy in Hollywood and had a feature on 95.5 KLOS’ “Stay or Go” segment. We crushed the segment with a resounding “Stay”. I ended up on tour with Foxtrax and Barns Courtney as a roadie for a few weeks around that time. Three/\sides, unfortunately, broke up shortly after. I was working at a recording studio when the pandemic was just starting and the band was splitting up. This kind of brings me to where I am today. With the extra free time, I was able to hone my performing, writing and producing skills and start my current project “Those Animals”. My goal is to write lyrics and melodies that evoke emotion in a subtle and nostalgic way. I’ve practiced a little more patience with this project. Sometimes I’ve felt that I’ve rushed a really good idea by surrounding a chorus with verses I’m unhappy with and vice versa. I’ve done a couple shows as a full band under this moniker, but now that I have more original music, I feel confident booking shows and getting the ball rolling again. I hope you enjoy the music I’ve released so far. I can’t wait to share the new music I’ve been working on.

What’s the most rewarding aspect of being a creative in your experience?

For me, anyone showing appreciation, true appreciation, for what I do is rewarding. If I see someone singing along to one of my songs or they reach out and tell me they really connect with a song I’ve written, it really really means a lot.

Is there something you think non-creatives will struggle to understand about your journey as a creative? Maybe you can provide some insight – you never know who might benefit from the enlightenment.

I think it would be difficult for non-creatives to understand that pursuing music feels like a divine obsession. It’s a lot of hard work and requires almost all of my free time. But, there is something so unexplainable about the feeling of writing a new song and performing for others. It quite literally feels like I’m being possessed or guided by a higher power. It would be impossible for me to try and explain that feeling to someone. - Canvas Rebel

"Mark Cross - Musician/Producer"

Hi Mark, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?

I’ve always loved entertaining, writing, making new friends and bringing people together. Music has always been a way for me to fulfill those aspects of my life. I was an outgoing but shy, nerdy kid growing up. I’d write short stories, perform in elementary school plays and write silly songs. I also played baseball most of my life which took a lot of my focus. I think that was a different kind of creative outlet that allowed me to feel comfortable performing in front of people. I was a pitcher and the stress to be “good” was exhilarating! I didn’t want to stand around in the outfield; I wanted to be in the spotlight. However, I didn’t feel completely like “myself” until I started writing songs and performing them at coffee shops in my High School days. I’d feel empty without music. It’s something I think about constantly. I often tell myself it’s not a choice of whether or not I want to write songs. It’s something that comes to me and I constantly chase. I don’t really have a choice!

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?

I try to not rush the creative process. Especially with my new project “Those Animals”. I always strive to write songs that resonate with me first and foremost. I think it’s helped me cultivate a more authentic writing style. The songs seem to come naturally at different times in my life. I’ll feel inspired and then there will be this explosion of ideas and feelings all at once. I recently decided to invest a lot of my time and money into more professional recording equipment so I can more accurately express myself. I’m really excited to share these new songs with the world. I think they really portray who I am as an artist. I wrote, recorded, mixed and mastered everything myself. I want people to get a sense of who I am through my music and from meeting me in person.

Nothing about this journey has been easy but it’s all seemed to come together naturally and it’s what I absolutely, 100% love to do. Self-doubt and lack of direction are a constant in my life but I try to ignore those feelings as much as possible. It’s a pipe dream to make a career out of music but that’s never going to stop me from writing and trying my best. The more patient I am, the more the world seems to show me which path to follow.

The support and appreciation I receive from friends and strangers is amazing. I will always go out of my way to talk to people who support what I do. From U.S. tours, to friendships, to incredible support, I am very grateful for the opportunities I’ve been gifted thus far and I’m even more excited for what’s to come.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?

We’d start the week by riding bikes to the local brewery, Enegren, in my hometown of Moorpark, California. Riding bikes is a blast. Moorpark is a small town about 35 minutes north of Los Angeles. It’s beautiful and quiet but there’s not much going on. After a few beers we can ride to get some BBQ, enjoy some of the nature and then back to my house for music and video games (just got a PS5 ayooo).The next day, we can take a drive up the coast to Ventura. There are a lot of cool shops and restaurants to explore. Not to mention the beach is beautiful. There are also a lot of live music spots we can check out. We can spend the next few days in Hollywood, Los Angeles, Venice Beach and Santa Monica. Heck, let’s rent an Airbnb. We have to make a stop at Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles and the Baked Potato. The Baked Potato is an amazing jazz club. Since I’m a pretty social person, we’ll probably make some new friends and have some good conversations with random people. Lots of laughing guaranteed!

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?

My dad was a big influence on my creative journey. We spent a lot of time together and he showed me all the bands that inspire me. When I was probably 6 years old, he brought out his old bass from when he was in punk bands as a teenager. I also have to give my mom a shout-out. She has been and still is my biggest fan. My friends definitely deserve some love too because they’ve given me so much love and support over the years. Special shout-outs to Matt, Austin, Dustin, Charlie, PJ, Cameron, John, Nico and last but not least my sister, Megan. - Shout Out LA


EP - Released 6/18/2021
Interlude (Acoustic)
Living in Your Opinion

Tattoo of the Sunshine - Release 12/01/2022

I HEARD, YOU HEARD - Released 04/20/2023

Step on the Line - Released 08/25/2023



Southern California based indie-alternative rock band, Those Animals, deliver sweet, melancholy melodies that are sure to dig into your ear. Akin to the subtle surf rock vibes of Real Estate, the jangly guitar tones of Mac DeMarco and the psychedelic power of Tame Impala, Mark Cross started the project in 2020 as a means to express his unique form of songwriting. The singer/songwriter turned producer says he wants “to write catchy hooks that make a listener keep a song on repeat and evoke emotion”. Though he pulls themes from pop music, he strays from a formulaic approach to better serve the natural flow of his ideas. Having written popular songs that have aired on 95.5, KLOS, and having toured with bands that have opened for Barns Courtney and HUNNY, Those Animals have a solid foundation to become your favorite band on and off the stage.

I HEARD, YOU HEARD co-written and produced by Christian Lum of Private Island.

The current lineup includes: Charlie Alpert (guitar), Torrance Klein (bass), Austin Linkous (guitar/production), Ashley Rose Lilly (Keyboard), Austin Herzig (drums) and Mark Cross (guitar/vocals).

Band Members