For as much as serendipity plays a role in success, longevity really boils down to action.
Mark McGrath quite literally never stops or slows down. In fact, he only increases the pace over time. At six-years-old, he found his calling and first love. Sitting at the breakfast table, he cut out a free vinyl 45 of The Jackson Five’s “ABC” from the back of an Alpha-Bits cereal box. “That was the Pandora’s Box,” he recalls. “I realized music can transport you to places and make you dream. I always say, ‘I’m a fan first and a musician second’.”
In 1988, he co-founded Sugar Ray with lead guitarist Rodney Sheppard. The music reflected a shared eclectic palette. He goes on, “We had the heavy stuff, because I love Slayer. We had the falsetto, because I love Curtis Mayfield!”
Over the next three decades, the multiplatinum chart-topping pop institution sold 10 million records, notched four top 10 songs, posted up hundreds of millions of streams, and sold millions of tickets. Among many highlights, the group served up the triple-platinum 14:59 powered by era-defining hits such as “Every Morning,” “Someday,” and “Falls Apart.” They upheld this hot streak with their self-titled album, which became their first ever Top 10 debut on the Billboard Top 200 and boasted “When It’s Over.” He has also graced the covers of Rolling Stone, Spin, and Teen People and even popped up in the penultimate episode of The Office.
Plus, Mark has worked as a songwriter on tracks with everyone from producer Harry Fraud to Action Bronson. In 2019, he notably joined forces with Emerson Hart of Tonic and Kevin Griffin of Better Than Ezra to form the super group Ezra Ray Hart. Mark also spent a decade-plus performing as part of Camp Freddy—the blockbuster covers jam co-founded by Dave Navarro and Billy Morrison. In the wake of Camp Freddy’s 2014 dissolution, he went on to launch Royal Machines with Navarro and Morrison. Royal Machines welcomed the likes of Ozzy Osbourne, Post Malone, and countless other to the party at sold out gigs.
Outside of his myriad musical endeavors, Mark’s Imdb page seemingly scrolls on forever through dozens of television programs, awards ceremonies, and reality shows. Quietly becoming inescapable, he notably co-hosted EXTRA from 2004 until 2008 and hosted cultural staples such as The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, NBC’s Radio Music Awards, MTV’s Rock N’ Jock, the World Music Awards, The CW’s The Pussycat Dolls Present, and Don’t Forget The Lyrics! Plus, he starred in the first American season of Celebrity Big Brother, tying for third place. Flexing in a different way altogether, he emerged victorious a whopping three times on VH1’s Rock & Roll Jeopardy. Meanwhile, other appearances span American Idol, The Celebrity Apprentice, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and more. As an actor, he has graced the silver screen multiple times, including Scooby-Doo, Sharknado 2: The Second One, Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!, and Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser. Not to mention, he leads his own SiriusXM show Mark McGrath’s 120 on ‘90s on 9.
Ultimately, he always makes his presence known with an instantly recognizable wicked wit and sharp smile.
“My whole career is a series of serendipitous events that are not of my doing,” he says. “I fell into television. I guess the skill is within me, but I really worked to curate it. TV is very subtle. Just raising an eyebrow is enough to emote. Whereas when I’m on stage, I’m jumping around all over the place and sweating. I’m proud I learned how to host in front of people. At the same time, it just fed the music. I’ll never stop performing. There’s no retirement plan, because I have the best job in the world. I’ll die playing ‘Fly’ three times a night at Denny’s in Barstow, if I have to,” he promises with a laugh.
With more music from Sugar Ray on the horizon and other surprises in store, Mark continues to look forward.
“I’m essentially a dad who happens to be in a band,” he leaves off. “It’s the greatest gig, man. I’m still riding on the journey. You just never know where life will take you. The way I see it is we’re about a year away from a Sugar Ray shirt being at Urban Outfitters and making me cool again,” he chuckles.