Mac Aladdin

Sunday 14 August 2011, by Cécile Desbrun

Mac Aladdin is credited for playing guitars or mandolin on all of Tori’s records since Scarlet’s Walk. His identity provoked a heated debate among the fans as it was clear it was only a pseudonym — Aladdin being a reference to Aladdin Sane by David Bowie, one of Tori’s favorite records. Some people thought it was actually Tori playing samples on keyboards and pretending it was guitars — after all, didn’t she sang in "Northern Lad" "I guess you go too far/when pianos try to be guitars"? Other ones argued that it might be a fake identity for Tori’s husband and sound engineer Mark Hawley, who’s also a musician and plays drums and guitars.

During interviews, Tori seemed to have fun creating an aura of mystery around this elusive guitar player. "Mac is a kind of ’recluse’, all his life is based on his guitar," she thus told Recording Musicien in March 2005. "That’s why his work is so good. (...) I listen to Mac’s parts and then I ask the questions. Like in ’Sweet the Sting’, in which the intro is really strong. We had to find a gimmick that would have worked well with the B3 on the verse. So we listened and listened to the song searching for this gimmick. When we found it, Mac played it or let’s say he interpreted it, that’s how he works. At this stage I leave, because when I’m here Mac starts getting nervous. It’s not that I’m arrogant or demanding. Mac is a musician really much more meticulous than me. But as a composer I have ideas of sounds. The work Mac does is really hard because he has to insert his guitar between the drum, the bass, the piano and the hammond. So we give him a lot of time to develop his ideas. For him all the space available is already taken. He needs a lot of patience and it’s really frustrating, it’s using."

Finally, at the beginning of the American Doll Posse World Tour, while guitarist Dan Phelps was probably working on Tori’s repertoire, Mark played the guitar instead and Tori introduced him as... Mac Aladdin, putting an end to speculations. However, he was still credited under the name of Mac Aladdin on Abnormally Attracted to Sin and Midwinter Graces and neither Tori nor him ever commented on that point. In the credits, Tori always thanks "Mac Aladdin and his very cool Dad". Mark’s father died in 1999, and Tori’s husband was devastated by this loss. The singer had a very deep respect for her father-in-law, so this is more than probably a nod to him.

Mark and Tori always made a point of keeping their relationship as private as possible and one could argue that they never commented on the fact that Mark was playing guitars on her records because they were married and that some people could have had a wrong opinion on his playing because of that mere fact.