Interview: Jon Mack

On, November 12, 2009 I had the opportunity to chat with actress Jon Mack, who was still riding the success wave of “Saw VI”. We briefly discussed “Saw VI” and the future of the franchise, as well as other upcoming projects… Ms. Mack will be seen soon on a handful of SyFy movies, and fans of industrial and electronic music are encouraged to check out her band’s new albums — she is the creative force and voice behind Auradrone.

David Hasselhoff rears his godlike, Teutonic head again, and we reminisce about life in a part of the country where times are simpler, and you can see the stars at night without the smog and light pollution blocking your view.

Many topics are discussed… and don’t worry, if you’re curious how a woman gets the name “Jon”, we cover that, too.

GS: To start off, let me be perfectly honest… I don’t have a strong knowledge of your background besides from what I’ve read in interviews, so I’m going to do somewhat of a wide overview to introduce you to the fans, who may be as new as I am.

JM: Okay.

GS: The big thing we were supposed to be talking about was “Saw VI”.

JM: Right, right.

GS: But in the interviews I read you were more or less barred from talking about anything with “Saw VI”.

JM: Yeah. Now that the movie’s out, I can say a bit more. (laughs)

GS: And that’s what I was hoping. Is there some big secret or story you wanted to share but couldn’t? Because I ‘d love to hear that.

JM: Oh! A big story? Well, no, nothing really earth-shattering. The questions people were asking me were about my character and I couldn’t say too much about what I was doing in the film. I know they’re making another “Saw”, so I’m hoping to be able to continue into the next film. And hopefully have a bigger part in that. My character in this film got cut out a bit, but I’m one of the ones that doesn’t die. I could show up again. And there’s a similarity to the Amanda character in that I play a junkie in the same clinic that Amanda was, with the character Jill looking after me. So there’s definitely room for that role to expand. And if you know the “Saw” franchise, you know they’ll do that — have a character from one film show up again in another. Another twist in the plot. I don’t even know if they know what they’re doing with it right now, it’s all a big process.

GS: Yeah, my understanding is that they’re contracted up through “Saw VIII”, so you definitely have an opportunity to return.

JM: Yeah, and I know the next one is going to be in 3-D, which is really cool.

GS: I’m kind of scared about that.

JM: Yeah. They’re going to do that one in 3-D and as far as I know, it’s slated to start shooting in the winter again. I’m not sure what the exact schedule is, but it should be in the next few months.

GS: Totally unrelated question, something I take a personal interest in. You were born in Michigan, were you raised there?

JM: Yes, I was.

GS: Okay, and I’m in Wisconsin. I love to hear that the Midwest represents, and it’s not all New York or LA.

JM: Oh yeah! I was born and raised in Michigan.

GS: Can you say more on that?

JM: Sure. I grew up in a small town called Romeo, Michigan, forty miles north of Detroit. And I grew up on a farm. Beautiful 180-acre farm. And you’ve probably been to Michigan, so you know the Midwest is very beautiful, very lush. I think it’s a great way to grow up.

GS: And that makes me happy, because I hear all the time about parents whisking their 3-year old kid away to Hollywood, but we have such real talent in Milwaukee, Detroit and Chicago.

JM: Certainly. That’s a shame. I grew up there and graduated there, so I grew up in one place. It’s a more simple lifestyle, but very beautiful, very Midwestern. Different values, and much different from here and all the big cities. I’m privileged to have grown up that way, because it gives me a sense of groundedness.

GS: Aside from being an actress and model, you’re also an accomplished musician. Your band Auradrone has two albums out, and the reviews have compared your sound to Nine Inch Nails and Garbage and the whole 90s alternative era. But I want to know more specifically, because I grew up on industrial music.

JM: Yeah, me, too.

GS: So, can you name a band that people who know industrial music could identify your sound with?

JM: Oh, definitely. One of the first concerts I went to was Ministry, and I’ve always loved Meat Beat Manifesto and the bands with loops and samples, especially when they incorporate guitars with that. Another band that’s influenced me a lot was Curve, I love Curve. I would say even more Curve than Garbage, as Garbage was sort of the off-shoot of Curve. The more slickly polished Curve. The band Curve was great; most people don’t know them, so I don’t mention them. But the female vocals with the industrial beats and blending the guitar with the melodies, that’s more where I come from. I like the harsher elements of the very pretty, melodic things.

GS: That’s very helpful, thank you. As much as I love Nine Inch Nails and Garbage, those are sort of generic, stock answers.

JM: I know, I know. You have to use names that most people can reference. If I get too esoteric with my answers, people will be like “what?”. But there’s so many influences. Even David Bowie, or Blondie or Siouxsie and the Banshees. I listened to a lot of both industrial and UK stuff growing up, lots of post-modern rock, things that would now be considered old school. There are so many different influences, but I always lean towards the blending of the electronic with the rock. And today, with computers, it just seems a natural step that people would start making this type of music, and the sky’s the limit.

GS: Can we get the album just about anywhere, or is this easier found online?

JM: I was going to say it’s probably not in record stores, but then I don’t think most people are buying their albums in record stores these days.

GS: No, probably not.

JM: Times have changed. There’s no Tower Records. But yeah, you can just go on iTunes or CDBaby and type in Auradrone. You can just go to iTunes, click it, and it’s on your iPod. Some people still order the CD, which is nice, but in general the majority of sales seem to be coming from iTunes. And there’s two albums: “Whitelite Britelite”, which is the main CD, and the remix album called “Whitelite Britelite Rehabilitated”. I worked with DJs and remix artists from all over the world, anywhere from France to South America. It’s a companion to the first album.

GS: I have been asked to discuss upcoming SyFy Channel movies. Let’s jump tracks again.

JM: Yeah. Are you a SyFy Channel fan?

GS: I watch it.

JM: Well, I’ve done two movies this past year for SyFy Channel. One is coming out in March of 2010 and is called “Mongolian Death Worms”. It’s set in Mongolia and is sort of along the lines of “Tremors”. Have you seen “Tremors”?

GS: Oh yeah, I know “Tremors”.

JM: It’s sort of like “Tremors” in that it has these crazy, giant worms. It’s interesting. That one’s coming out in March and it will be fun. It also stars Sean Patrick Flanery [“Boondock Saints”] and Victoria Pratt. The one coming out after that we just wrapped up in Shreveport, and the working title is “Unearthed” as of right now. Or it could be called “Mandrake”, they’re not sure yet, but that one’s coming out in the summertime. And that one’s got a really cool storyline, too. Do you remember the movie “Ruins” from two years ago?

GS: I didn’t see “The Ruins”, no.

JM: Well, it involves an ancient jungle, and there’s a treasure that a group of explorers stumble upon. We anger this tribe, so a curse is put upon us. I’m excited to see it, it will be good.

GS: I have to ask a question about “Mongolian Death Worms”, and I apologize for the question, but with that title I have to assume it’s somewhat cheesy.

JM: I know, I agree. (laughs) I’m not a fan of the title. That’s a SyFy thing. I was hoping they’d use a different title, but… I like the title for “Unearthed” better.

GS: Would you say it’s misleading?

JM: “Mongolian Death Worms”? Well, no. That’s literally what they are.

GS: Yeah, I know, but it gives this impression that it’s like one of those 60s films with giant lizards or something.

JM: (laughs) Yeah. I hope it’s not cheesy. As an actor you just go and do your job and cross your fingers. You don’t know what it’s going to turn out like sometimes, but you hope for the best. I hope it’s not too cheesy, but I think sometimes with the SyFy stuff, some people really like the campiness of it.

GS: Yeah. No disrespect to the SyFy network, but they are really known for the campy movies.

JM: That’s their whole niche, I think. They’ve definitely carved that one out.

GS: SyFy does this thing called the “Maneater” series. It sounds like it could be one of those.

JM: I’ve heard of that, but I don’t watch TV. I don’t even have a TV.

GS: Yeah, I hear that. What can we talk about? We touched on “Saw”, the albums and the science fiction stuff. Anything more horror we can talk about?

JM: Well, “Unearthed” is an adventure, but it’s got some gore in it, so you’ll like that.

GS: Good. I do like that.

JM: Yeah, there’s some blood. We get bloody, a little bit.

GS: Alright, I have two questions I have to do. One of them I ask to everybody. Are you ready?

JM: Yep.

GS: If you have an answer, great; if not, that’s fine. Do you have any dirt you can share on David Hasselhoff?

JM: On David Hasselhoff? I’ve never met him personally, so I don’t. I have not met The Hoff, I can’t claim that privilege. Yeah, I’d be happy to share any dirt, and maybe in the future if I do, you’ll be the first person that I call. But yeah, I’ve never met him… yet.

GS: That’s a pretty normal response, but I have to ask around.

JM: (laughs) Hey, why not?

GS: I have another question, and I really didn’t want to ask it. I hate to do it…

JM: (laughs) No, go ahead. What is it?

GS: I have to ask about your name.

JM: It’s okay, everyone does.

GS: I know, which is why I didn’t want to do it. But it threw me off.

JM: (laughs) It’s okay. You want to know what’s the deal with my name? Okay, my name is actually Jeanne-Marie. It has a French pronunciation, but ever since I was a kid, no one could pronounce it, so they’d say “Jean” or “Jeannie”, but not “Jeanne” [pronounced sort of like the “Jean” in Jean-Luc Picard]. So, “Jon” [still pronounced like “Jeanne”] became my nickname as a way to help people out and it just stuck. And now i like it better, as it’s more suitable for who I am and who I’ve evolved into. It’s my name revamped in order to be more accessible.

GS: So, if we haven’t made that clear for everyone, despite the name looking like “John”, you’re a chick.

JM: Oh yeah, I’m definitely a chick. I’m a girl.

GS: Alright, so we know you have these upcoming movies and the CDs available. What else is coming up that we should be looking for, such as a tour or something.

JM: Well, I’m working on the second Auradrone album and I’m hoping to release that late next year. We’re going to be doing more shows, and looking into doing a tour this year. Probably either colleges or a festival sort of thing. People should be on the lookout for Auradrone. Right now we’re playing around Los Angeles, but after the new year we’ll be spreading out a bit. And more movies! I’m working on some deals for more movies coming up in 2010. And possibly “Saw VII”.

GS: If people look on IMDB, they’ll see you have a whole assortment of things coming out in a variety of genres.

JM: Yeah, but I really love working in the horror and sci-fi genres. They’re such a blast. Just total fantasy, total goofiness, it’s so much fun. I feel really lucky and blessed to do it.

GS: Awesome. It was so great to talk with you, and I’m sorry I didn’t have better questions. We’ll have to chat again after the SyFy films come out.

JM: Definitely. Thank you, and thanks to all the fans who buy the songs and see the movies.



Check out Auradrone on MySpace. Here’s a sample of their music, courtesy of YouTube:

And Facebook people can find Jon as “Jon Auradrone”

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