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BIOGRAPHY

Mark McGrath

BIOGRAPHY | GALLERY | GOSSIP

As lead singer for the popular pop rock band Sugar Ray, photogenic party boy Mark McGrath is certainly one of the most recognizable faces to come out of Orange County. Dangerously handsome, McGrath has become the group's media focus and resident sex symbol, gracing the cover of popular magazines like Spin, Rolling Stone, Teen, Cosmo, and was named People magazine's "Sexiest Rock Star" for 1998.

Mark McGrath

Mark stars in the notable ad campaign for Candies shoes, and even modeled for Jansport backpacks and Levi's, with a billboard in Times Square. Though the other four members of the group admit they wish maybe they'd get a little more attention, they realize the focus on McGrath is nothing but helpful to the band's career. Besides McGrath, Sugar Ray consists of guitarist Rodney Sheppard, bassist Murphy Karges, drummer Stan Frazier, and DJ Craig "DJ Homicide" Bullock.

McGrath, who now resides in L.A., grew up in Orange County. Ever since he was in the fifth grade, McGrath dreamed of being in a band. There was only one problem: By his own admission, he had no talent. Just a love of music, a lot of balls, and a helluva pretty face. The perfect mix for rock stardom, it seems.

Sugar Ray began in the early '80s when Sheppard met Frazier in Newport Beach and formed a British Invasion tribute band. McGrath was a fan, and after sitting in one night for an AC/DC cover, the band was reformed as Shrinky Dinx. Five years later Karges joined the band and eventually Sugar Ray was born. Their '97 album "Floored" launched them into stardom with the pop ballad, "Fly." Emerging in the midst of other '90s flash-in-the-pan chart-toppers, critics immediately accused Sugar Ray of being a one-hit wonder.

Mark McGrath

The band earned respect, however, in 1999, with the release of their next album, "14:59." The name of the album was a play on the Andy Warhol prediction that everyone will enjoy 15 minutes of fame. "I think by naming our record 14:59, we were kind of letting everyone know we're not the greatest in the world," says McGrath. "We were beating people to the punch." The critics were indeed knocked out when 14:59 exploded, selling more than 3 million copies in the United States, with hits like "Someday," "Every Morning," and "Falls Apart" dominating the airwaves.

"To have one hit was just all we ever wanted," says McGrath. "Then once we got there, we were like, "Oh God," we wanna keep going. I don't want to just make one record and be quiet for the rest of my life. There are still a lot of goals to achieve."

Bassist Karges and guitarist Sheppard still reside in O.C., where the band often convenes. Karges built a home recording studio, conveniently located in his garage. Equipped with ProTools, a drum set, and a bass amp, not to mention a Playstation, DVD player, VCR, TV, and a couch, the home studio was a perfect atmosphere for the band to begin jamming and writing material for their current album. "I wanted to make it easy for us to record in a totally organic, natural, comfortable environment," Karges explains. The songs for the new album were written by varying combinations of Sugar Ray members. Musicians would come by the garage in shifts, each adding their personal touch to the tape. The recordings were finished at NRG studios in North Hollywood, and released last summer as their fourth full-length CD, simply titled Sugar Ray. The album is a mixture of sweet pop ballads and hard rockin' tunes with simple lyrics and catchy choruses, including their instantly infectious hit, "When It's Over" that you're sure to have heard at least a thousand times already on every popular radio station in Southern California.

According to McGrath, "This album is defining us more as a band. We had the hit, and it just exploded into this level that was in our fantasies. But we weren't ready mentally, physically, and as players. We've slowly been evolving." Adds Sheppard, "I don't know if we've matured as much as we've grown. Anything you do year after year you hope you get a little better ç we're just better at what we do."

Mark McGrath

Sugar Ray defied the odds, and proved the critics wrong with staying power. Still, McGrath seems humble, and understands that even 15 minutes of fame is a blessing. "To even get a record deal is amazing," says McGrath. "Twenty bands get signed a year. Of those 20, 11 bands ever release a record. And of those 11, three ever make money from the label." He adds, "I understand the fragility of it all. We were almost dropped. I could be working at McDonald's right now. There's been divine intervention that enveloped this band and kept us going forward."

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