Mark Heaney was born in 1970 in London to Irish parents. He first developed an interest in drumming at the age of 8 after seeing Buddy rich performing on TV. His father seeing that he had a natural ability bought him his first drum kit at the age of 9 and by the the time he was 10 he was the feature drummer in his fathers show band.
He performed in dance halls and clubs around the country and it was during these early years he started to develop his skills as a musician. His drum solo became a featured part of the set. Heaney took lessons with a local drum store owner Jim Luff but is on the whole self taught. He would practice constantly to records honing his craft. Mark’s early influences were drummers like Buddy Rich, Gene Krupa, Billy Ward, Jon Hiseman, Billy Cobham, Elvin Jones, Jack Dejohnette, Ringo starr, John bonham,
Jake Leibezeit and many many other drummers and artist’s and as he stated the discovery of Tony Williams changed everything.
After leaving his fathers band at the age of 16 he then began working for various drum and cymbal companies as a demonstrator for their products. He performed at many drum clinics and drum shows during this period and began to build a reputation as a serious player performing intricately structured drum solos.
In 1994 he enrolled on the first grant funded course at Drumtech in London. He began studying at the school under the tuition of Francis Seriau and Paul Elliott and in 1996 received his Diploma in higher education in music. During this time he also took a job teaching at Wembley drum centre and earned money by playing in various different
covers and originals bands around the West London area. Whilst studying at Drumtech he continued his work for drum companies and performed at drum clinics around the country and also a trip to the NAMM show in Los Angeles. He continued to build his reputation during this time and received many glowing press reviews from drumming magazines with Rhythm magazine saying “Jaws were literally seen to drop” and “Who’s Mark Heaney....You’ll see”.
After working as a pit orchestra drummer and a session player at the end of 1997 he received a call informing him that he was invited to audition for John Squires post Stone Roses band The Seahorses. After the audition he received a call telling him he had got the job. Mark then began rehearsing with the band and work started on a follow up album to their debut Do it Yourself. Throughout 1998 Mark recorded and toured with the band. Live shows included appearances at T in the Park alongside The Prodigy, V98 festivals which was televised on MTV, Reading and Leeds festivals, Radio 1 roadshow and an extensive tour of the UK. The band also supported the
Rolling Stones on their Bridges to Babylon tour. They supported the band throughout Spain and Scandanvia over the course of a month. At the end of 1998 the band began recording their second album at Olympic studios in London but mid way through the sessions due to the breakdown of personal relationships within the band the album recording was stopped and the band split. Unfinished bootlegs of the album were released on the internet.
After meeting and discussing a way forward Mark continued to work with John Squire and in 1999 they formed a new band. Duncan Baxter was brought in as vocalist and Ex Verve bass player Simon Jones joined the band shortly after. The band rehearsed and recorded at Johns house near Macclesfield and a mobile studio was brought in to begin recording a new album. As recording progressed due to personal reasons Mark left the band in 2000. Some of the tracks recorded throughout this period were used by John Squire on his solo album “Time changes everything” which also featured Mark’s drums on 4 tracks. Various tracks from the sessions surfaced over time on the internet.
Mark travelled back to London and formed a new band “The Shining” with Verve bass player Simon Jones, Verve guitarist and keyboardist Simon Tong, Dan Mcbean and Duncan Baxter. The band started rehearsing at a lock up under a railway track in Mile End East London. Once the band had an album together they were visited by legendary music manager Jazz Summers and Producer and Killing Joke bassist Youth. Jazz summers signed the band to his management label Big life management and the
band signed to Sony in 2001. Recording of the debut album took place at Sphere studios in Battersea and was produced by Youth. The album was then mixed by Tom Rothrock who had worked with bands such as The Foo Fighters, Beck, Moby and many others. The album was then released and the band began tours of the UK and Europe including Reading and Leeds, Steve Lamacq Radio1 live session, Glastonbury and a bleary eyed performance on breakfast TV show rise! The album received a mixed, lukewarm reception from the music press and with the demise of guitar bands, the history from the Verve and other issues within the band the Shining was dropped by Sony and disbanded shortly after.
After the demise of The Shining Mark worked as a session drummer for Jazz Summers and recorded and played live with many artists including, a Radio 2 session for Badly drawn boy, live shows for The Freelance Hellraiser, drum recording for an album by Jacknife Lee, Steve Lamacq live session with The Klaxons, a tour with new raver’s Shit disco and many other studio/live sessions. During this time mark also recorded tracks
for American singer songwriter Howie Day at Olympic studios. The release that was produced by Youth went Gold and Platinum. In 2005 Mark was asked by Jazz Summers to record drums for a new album for Post punk legends Gang of Four. The album was called “Return the Gift” and was a re-working of their classic albums Entertainment and Solid Gold. It also featured a side of remixes from various different artists and producers such as The Yeah Yeah Yeah’s, Dandy Warhols and others. The recording took place at Andy Gills studio. The album was released but without a credit to Mark who played drums on the entire album a fact not shared before recording. After recording the album Mark was asked to play some live shows with the band and was asked to join shortly after. Mark continued to
work with the band throughout 2006 alongside original bass player Dave Allen. In 2008 the band released an EP Second life which received great reviews from music press. The band began work on a new album and began recording tracks at Gills studio. It was during this time that original bass player Dave Allen decided to leave the band. At this point long time bass player for David Bowie Gail Ann Dorsey was brought in to temporarily replace Dave. She joined the band for shows in San Francisco, Los Angeles and performed with the band at Massive Attacks meltdown at the Royal
festival hall in 2008. As recording continued for the new album Gail was eventually replaced by Thomas Mcneice. The recording session and live tours continued and in Jan 2011 the new album “Content” was released. The album received much critical acclaim. Andrew Perry from the Telegraph newspaper, gave the album a 5-star rating and said it was "their best record since the Seventies”, Jon Pareles, awarded the album 4 stars
in the New York Times stating “the band have reclaimed, with a vengeance, their oldattack", Dan Wilcox of KCRW said: "Entertaining, scintillating and dangerous, the band has lost none of its explosive edge over the years” and Drowned in Sound said of the album “While the more obvious links to Gang Of Four's past and present remain, much of the credit for such a wholesome, heavy sound has to be laid at the feet of current rhythm section Tom McNeice and Mark Heaney, their driving force
incisive on Content's more potent moments, ensuring the more renowned talents of Hugo Burnham and David Allen are consigned to memory with consummate ease”.
After the release of the album in 2011 the band embarked on a tour of North America, Australia (alongside Queens of the Stone Age and many others) and Europe. During this tour the band performed live on The Late show with David Letterman in NY, Later with Jools Holland, KCRW, KEXP, The old grey whistle test at 40 live session, XFM, Capital radio, Radio 1 live session and many other radio and TV stations. At the end of the 2011 tours original singer Jon King left the band. He was replaced by John Sterry. Reluctantly Mark continued to work with the band. The band continued to tour sporadically around Europe and in 2013 the band travelled to China and Japan. On returning from Asia recording started on a new album “What Happens next”. At this point due to decisions by management and Gill and the fact that no monies had ever been received for the album Content and the constant cutting of live fees and studio rates despite being a member of the band for 7 years Mark finally realised this situation would not change and left Gang of four in late 2013. In 2015 the new album “What happens next” was released. Mark’s drums were featured on this new album on tracks Broken Talk (ft Alison Mossheart), Englands in my bones (ft Alison Mossheart) and Graven image (ft Robbie Furze). The band continued to tour under the name Gang of Four until Andy Gills death on 1 February 2020.
After leaving Gang of Four Heaney began creating Film and TV music for production companies. He created many bespoke albums and works for companies such as De Wolfe music, Extreme, EMI, and he created music for the in store campaigns for Microsoft. His music is used on TV/radio worldwide. In 2014 Mark was asked to record drums for Japanese Guitarist Hotei Tomoyasu. The sessions took place and Assault and Battery studios in West London over 2 days. Drums from those sessions were used on 2 tracks, Barrel of my own gun and Sons of sorrow.
In 2016 Heaney recorded drums for an album which saw him working alongside producer/engineer Mark Howard. Mark Howard has worked with U2, Bob Dylan, Neil Young and many others. The album also featured artwork by Damon Hirst. Throughout his career Heaney has released music as a solo drumming artist. In 2010 he released his first solo drum album “Drum Room” which received glowing reviews from drum magazines. He followed up this album with a second release Origins in 2014 and Fortunes in 2017. Fortunes was a nominee for Best drum album of 2017 by
In 2018 Heaney created a solo studio/live project Drumscapes.The project features his live drums against ambient soundscapes and loops all created by him. Drumscapes vol 1 was released in 2018 followed closely by Vol 2 in 2019. Drumscapes Vol 1 was again nominated for Drum album of the year by Rhythm magazine. In October Heaney was featured in a centre spread in Rhythm magazine. He was interviewed and talked in depth about the making of Drumscapes Vol 1, he also appeared numerous times in Modern Drummer magazine. Heaney is now a solo drumming artist and has expressed no plans or a desire to return to a band situation. In 2020 he is due to release 3 new Drumscapes albums stating that the sound of these records will be a big departure from what he has created before. He now focuses on the use of tape and analog processing to create authentic grainy, low fi atmospheres and ambient sounds. Heavily influenced by the work of painter Francis Bacon Heany’s work focuses on expressing human existence and is a personal reflection of his own life and experiences.
"A muscular yet madly skilled player. Mindblowing". (Modern Drummer)
"Mark Heaney is a machine" (Time Out)
"Super Chops and More" (Marlbank)
"Groove by the bucketful" (London jazz News)
"One of the most Jaw Dropping players in the UK" (Rhythm Magazine)
"Might just be one of the most important drummers in the country" (Rhythm magazine)
"A serious player, throwing down Vinnie inspired "what the heck was that"? moments " (Mike Dawson Modern Drummer)
"A reflection of our times, both musically and technologically" (Percussive Arts Society)
"And then he started playing and jaws were literally seen to drop, Who’s Mark Heaney then...You’ll See" (Rhythm magazine)
"The Bonham-esque type capabilities of Mark Heaney" (NME )
"Sitting behind all this is dextrous drum basher Mark Heaney who is reminiscent of John Bonham in his hey day" (NME)
"A drummer of surgical precision" (Andy Gill-Gang of Four)