By Peter Lindblad
If nothing else, the satirical Fox TV hit musical-comedy series “Glee” has made glee clubs popular again.
One of the stars of “Glee” is Mark Salling, who plays the bad boy Noah “Puck” Puckerman. A singer-songwriter in his own right who received his musical training at the Los Angeles Music Academy, Salling, originally from Dallas, released his debut album Smoke Signals under the pseudonym Jericho in 2007. He recorded and produced the album at an in-home studio by himself. Salling, whose tastes run the gamut from jazz to hip hop to country and grunge, is currrently working on another album in addition to his acting career.
Having also appeared in the movie “Children Of The Corn IV: The Gathering” with Karen Black and a young Naomi Watts and the TV show “Walker, Texas Ranger,” Salling provides an insider’s look at “Glee” and his music in this interview.
What is your background?
Mark Salling: Well, I grew up taking piano lessons starting at a young age, and [then] I kinda picked up the guitar. That led to wanting to write and perform, and I came out to Los Angeles to attend a music school [and] graduated from there. [I] started teaching guitar lessons and recording my own music, and playing with other bands as a guitar player and writing and writing and writing. That’s kind of where I’m at.
What kind of direction, musically, did you go in?
MS: Well, actually, I like to explore all different genres that kind of tie in with my own personalized sound. The Smoke Signals record has a little bit of metal, rock, jazz, some country … everything, really, on it. But it’s still a common sound.
Were these influences you had around the house growing up?
MS: I was kind of an adolescent around the grunge period, and that was an influence on me. I’ve gone through every phase. I’ve gone through a country phase, a rap phase, a jazz phase … when I went to music school, they have you listen to all these nerdy guitar players. So really everything has influenced me.
How did you come to join “Glee”?
MS: Well, I was teaching guitar lessons for five years, and … I was getting nowhere trying to get into the music scene in Los Angeles. It’s pretty difficult to do unless you have a following already.
On the recommendation of a few of my clients actually, they told me to check out this casting Web site that was always looking for people who could sing or play guitar. That led to me seeking representation, and I reached out to about 150 managers and agents, One manager actually gave me a chance and called me; then he referred me to an agent, who submitted me for “Glee” in the office the day I met her. So it was very, very sudden and quick. I didn’t even really think I’d be getting into the acting business, but you know, it worked out, being a musical TV show. And they were looking for people who were not the kind [you’d find through the] conventional casting process. So I got lucky.