It took former Miracle Legion singer Mark Mulcahy eight years to release a follow-up to his 2005 album, “In Pursuit of Your Happiness,” a hiatus that, by the end of it, had started to affect his psyche.
“When you do something for a long time and then you don’t do it, it starts to make your mind whacked out,” Mulcahy says. “Even if it’s riding a bike or playing baseball: If you deny your mind, it starts to get angry at you.”
Mulcahy had every reason to take leave from music, though: In 2008, his wife died, leaving him to care for their twin 3-year-old daughters. While he still released the occasional single during the break, his priorities had shifted — he couldn’t tour and be a stay-at-home dad.
“I really didn’t feel too comfortable going anywhere,” he says.
Since the release of his fourth solo album, last June’s “Dear Mark J Mulcahy, I Love You,” the singer has slowly inched his way back into the music business, hitting the road for a few days here and there.
“They don’t really know what’s going on,” Mulcahy says of his now 8-year-old girls, who stay with Grandma or friends when he’s on tour. “It’s amazing that you have these great things like Skype and FaceTime where you can see each other and talk.”
Though fans of his work — including Thom Yorke, Michael Stipe and The National — banded together to raise money for Mulcahy by covering his songs for a 2009 tribute album, “Ciao My Shining Star,” he knew he had to get back to music eventually: “It’s what I do to earn a living,” he says.
Recording was more comfortable to him than touring, even if it was just as gradual: “I spent a lot of time preparing to do it,” he says.
Though it took only 11 days to record “Dear Mark” in the studio, the process spanned an entire year. Mulcahy would start work on a song, set a date to record, send a demo to the musicians he tapped from the Northampton, Mass., music scene near his home, then cut it in just one day. After repeating the process every month or so for a year, he had an 11-song album.
Much like his work with Miracle Legion, a jangly, ’80s guitar-rock band in the vein of R.E.M., and with Polaris, the house band for the ’90s Nickelodeon series “The Adventures of Pete & Pete,” “Dear Mark” is full of clever, sometimes nonsensical wordplay, clean guitars and distinctive melodies.
Considering what had gone on in Mulcahy’s life since his last album, it’s a fun listen — and a funny one, too. Take this passage from “Hustle”: “The first time is the worst time/ The next time is the time before the third time/ And so on, and so on.”
“I really had a lot of fun writing those lyrics because most of them are just made up,” he says. “I wanted to write an album that wasn’t about me, so that’s what you get, I guess. If it’s not about me, it might be funny. If it’s about me, maybe it’ll be sad.”
From 1993 to 1996, Mark Mulcahy fronted Polaris, a band that existed solely to make music for Nickelodeon’s “The Adventures of Pete & Pete,” a quirky kids show about two brothers (played by Danny Tamberelli, right, and Michael C. Maronna, far right) with the same name. Mulcahy wrote four songs each season (collected in a soundtrack album), including the catchy, nonsensical theme song “Hey Sandy.” In 2012, Polaris played its first concert at a “Pete & Pete” reunion in L.A.
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