Waitrose & Partners Weekend Issue 617

55 22 SEPTEMBER 2022 “We’d thought about LA a few times, but we’d never been brave enough,” says Mark (above, with wife Emma) of his family’s big move. “We always found excuses not to do it. But this time, I was on a big break from Take That tours, and the kids were the right age for an adventure. So it felt like the right time. And the dogs are happy here.” He isn’t the rst Take That-er to make the journey to La-La Land, of course. “Rob [Williams] is out here, and Gaz [Barlow] is here at the moment,” he says. “I see them quite a bit, which is nice.” And the ’tache…? “I had a beard for a while, then I shaved everything o – and it just didn’t feel right,” explains Mark. “So I grew the moustache back. But no one knew I had it, because I was wearing masks for two years!” L A S T O R I E S ‘Somehow I felt like I was able to put everything into this record. It’s my whole life, shrunk into 45minutes’ laughsMark. “Like I said before, I don’t know howmany records I’ve got left inme, whether that’s Take That or my own records.” So there won’t be a big fanfare and a press conference – but Take That might gracefully retire at some point? “Yeah,” he says – but not any time soon. “I don’t think we’ll ever get tired of performing, and I’mhappy to keep doing that in whatever form it takes. I’ve enjoyed the learning – the life learning, the craft learning,” he adds of his three decades in the business. “One of the things I really wanted to do was take all that experience and put it into something. I don’t knowwhether it’s because I hadmore time, or it was the environment I was in, but I somehow felt I was able to put everything into this record. My whole life, shrunk into 45minutes.” It’s a life that’s included some well-documented spokes in the wheel, from the turn-of-the century wilderness years, to his admission in 2010 that he’d cheated on his wife with at least 10 women (he said alcohol addiction was partly to blame, and checked into rehab). Two years later, it was revealed that the remainingmembers of Take That had funnelledmillions into a tax-avoidance scheme. For some reason, though, people didn’t seem to hold it against him in the way they did with Gary Barlow. Maybe it’s just impossible to staymad at someone with that face. Weekend asksMark how he thinks he’s perceived by the British public today but, in lieu of an answer, he reels o a long list of people – his mum, his dad, his brother and sister, his nan, his former retail colleagues and his art teacher, Mrs Proctor – he thinks helped furnish himwith his basic values. One thing he’s certain about, though, is that he’s never really had a plan. “Still, to this day, I have no idea what I’m doing,” he grins. “I’ve no idea what I’mdoing in London today, or how I got here. But I feel grateful for everything. The main thing I’mgrateful for is to have been on this planet for 50 years and experienced what I have…To havemy beautiful family, and gorgeous children who are growing up… and who now find their dad really embarrassing.” Gary Barlow has spoken of how the career slump that followed Take That’s first split taught himnever to take success for granted. DoesMark feel the same? “I don’t think I took it for granted the first time round,” he reflects. “Coming frommy background, I’ve been grateful since day one, really. I’m thankful that I learned how to breakdance and spin onme ’ead when I was about 10. That turned out to be a really good career choice.” Land of Dreams is out tomorrow (23 September) on BMG . Mark tours the UK in October – tickets from gigsandtours.com Photography: Guy Aroch, markoweno cial/Instagram

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