With their performance last night with Revocation in Singapore, Mason are now officially an international band, with 8 more dates in Indonesia to complete their War Across Asia tour, in support of their debut album, Warhead. We managed to get the opportunity to sit down with the band to talk to them about their music and their passion.
Give us a brief background about Mason. How did the band come about in 2009?
Nonda (drums): Me and James (Jimmy, guitar and vocals) met back in 2007 and we started jamming together, we started writing I think, 2009. We had a few lineup changes here and there, and then we had the Warhead album lineup which was me, James, Steven (bass) and Chris (guitars). We parted ways with Chris just a couple of months ago, now Cam’s filling in for us on the guitars.
Jimmy: Cam from Party Vibez who are a Melbourne crossover-thrash band.
The band name, Mason, how did the name come about how does it relate to the music that you guys play?
Jimmy: We just came up with it man, that was that.
Steven: Sounded cool that it was one-word.
Jimmy: I have a family that were in a free-masonry, so it kinda related to me a little bit personally, but you know, that wasn’t the main reason and had nothing to do with it. Apart from that man, it’s a cool name and it sounds alright, so that’s that. Easy to remember.
Definitely. And the debut album Warhead was out last year, and it’s fast, intense and manages to retain that sense of catchiness. What are some of the influences that goes into the writing of the album.
Jimmy: Lots of different influences, like I mean, I’m very rock-influenced, like Van Halen, Kiss, and all these thrashier stuff comes from Nonda, it’s like Slayer, a little Metallica, Overkill. So it’s like a collaboration of a whole bunch of different genres just chucked into one algorithm. For Warhead, we were never afraid to show our influences, that was one think that we just did not give a fuck about, like we love certain bands and we’re not afraid to show that man. Because if it wasn’t for the Big 4, pretty much, and some German bands like Kreator and Destruction and Sodom and a lot of bands like that, then we wouldn’t exist. You know? It’s got to start somewhere and that’s where our influences come from, and it really shows man. So on the first album, we’re very Big 4-oriented and a lot of like old 70s, 80s rock ‘n’ roll. And also death metal, definitely like some Cannibal Corpse and shit. Behemoth, big fans of Behemoth.
Steven: And there’s lots of groovy stuff elements in there, so a lot of Pantera comes through from there.
Nonda: It’s a mixture of everything, pretty much.
And what’s the songwriting process like?
Jimmy: The first album, because when we started writing it was just me and Nonda, and we couldn’t find anyone to join our band you know, because a lot of musicians were kinda half-arsed and didn’t really want to commit to a full time band, touring band. So we thought were not gonna wait for other people to join, and we wanted to not waste time and started writing albums. I mean, Nonda and I wrote Warhead the whole album.
Nonda: Pretty much the whole album. Former members helped, definitely. Ryan Butler (former guitars) helped with 3 songs, but majority was me and James.
Jimmy: It was just a collaboration between me and Nonda, pretty much. He wrote all the lyrics, lyrically he wrote everything because I was never the vocalist and a Melbourne band Harlott, very cool band, you should definitely check out, was the vocals at the time and he left before we recorded the album and he didn’t want to write lyrics so Nonda wrote all the lyrics. And then he left before we recorded the album, so we’re in a position where we didn’t know what to do with the vocalist so I thought fuck it, I’ll just do it. I was just a guitar player, we didn’t want to bring anyone in that we don’t know and we have to get to know and that whole fucking sort of thing. Everyone was down for it, and I recorded the album vocally like 3 months after, and that was it man, and that was pretty much what happened.
So doing vocals and guitars, was it very different from just playing the guitar?
Jimmy: Absolutely man. I was always a guitar-player that liked to run around and headbang and fuckin’ do everything. Very, very crowd, I love the crowd, I love people and now it’s different because I’m stuck to a microphone. I have to sing. Took a little bit of time to get used to but I guess that’s what I’m supposed to do so. My father was a vocalist, my mother was a vocalist, classical piano, so it’s in my blood. Took a little bit of time to get used to but it’s good fun.
Nonda, lyrically, where do you draw influences from?
Nonda: With Warhead it’s pretty much whatever came into my head, haha.
Were there any particular events that inspired the lyrics?
Nonda: On the album there’s a few horror-oriented sort of stuff.
Jimmy: 80s horror, we’re big 80s horror fans.
Nonda: There’s obviously, I wrote songs like Ultimate Betrayal about one of the fight at work. Then you got songs like Wretched Soul that are just about, like a psychological thing where the guys killing people doesn’t realise doing it until he wakes up, so it’s like black-outs. So it’s just varied man, there’s a lot of everyday life sort of stuff, and fancy sort of stuff so it’s all mixed. Pretty much whatever came into my head.
And you guys have a video for the title track, Warhead.
Jimmy: Yeah, my girlfriend did that.
It was a nicely done video.
Steven: Yeah, she filmed the whole thing, edited the whole thing, did pretty much 100% of all the stuff.
What was the process of making the film like?
Jimmy: The process, it was, pretty easy man. The day was, I’ll get to that. But it was like a friend of ours, collects war memorabilia, like real tanks, like fuckin’ real army tanks that have been in world wars and shit, and Australian wars. So we called him up, and said, hey man, can we use your army tanks and trucks? He’s like fuckin’ hell, come down, and we’ll work it out man. And then we got some hired extras to come in, so army people like re-enactors they came in and acted out scenes and did explosions and shit. We went down and it was like maybe an hour away from where we all sort of live, it was a day-shoot for about 8 hours. It was fuckin’ crazy to have real army tanks in Australian war history in our video clip, which was pretty much based around war and the after effects on people that come out of war and it fucks them up.
Nonda: Post traumatic stress disorder.
Jimmy: It’s a serious thing man, and people go fuckin’ crazy after wars. Governments, they don’t cater for that sort of thing you know, it’s just so easy to fuckin’ put people in war. Put thousands of people of their people, in fuckin’ wars, and then afterwards they com e out they are not gonna be the same. People don’t really think about that sort of thing and that’s a touchy subject for me. But I mean, doing the video was good fun, like showing Australians, a lot of Australian bands they kinda Americanise their video clips, and we didn’t wanna do that. We wanted to be very Australian, very authentic and I think that came through, so it was cool man. My girlfriend she edited the whole thing, she filmed it. Very cool.
It was a very nicely done video.
Jimmy: Put a little storyline to it, and kinda cool. So hope you all enjoyed it.
I understand that the upcoming tour in Indonesia will be the longest one that the band has had in a row.
Steven: We’re playing 8 in a row, which is the most we’ve played in a row. We’ve played a tour with Harlott where we played, how many shows, let me think…
Jimmy: It’s like 12 shows but in Australia it’s a weekend thing, like you can only play shows on weekend otherwise no one will come out. This is definitely the most consecutive shows we’ve played, like 8 shows in a row. Our first time overseas as well.
Steven: As of tonight, we’re officially an international band, which feels pretty good I must say.
So what can fans expect from the upcoming shows?
Cam (guitars): I know how to play the songs properly, hahaha! That’s a plus.
[Ed’s note: The Singapore show was the first show that guitarist Cam from Party Vibez joins the band onstage.]
Jimmy: What can Indonesian fans expect? Energy man, energy. Lots of drinking, lots of partying, and fuckin’ just hanging out man. I mean, dude, we’re from fuckin’ the suburbs. This is like across the road, across the water, extended family man. We fuckin’ love everyone so it’s good times.
The album has been out for just over a year, any plans for a new release soon?
Steven: We’re started writing already, we’ve got like 2 and a bit songs.
Nonda: There’s riffs.
Steven: Lots of riffs and maybe 2 and half songs sort of done.
Jimmy: I mean it’s one of those things that like to take their time and write a good song, rather than just you know.
Steven: We don’t wanna rush things out and make an album with 4 good songs and then 6 filler songs, where everyone is like 4 songs, and I’ll listen to these 2 songs and skip these 2 songs, etc. You don’t want that to happen. We want the whole album to be awesome songs so we take our time.
Jimmy: If no one in the band likes a riff or if all 4 of us aren’t like, that’s amazing, that’s so good, then we don’t keep it. If we’re all looking at each other and there’s electricity in the room, then we keep it. Otherwise we fuckin’ throw it out. Because if we don’t feel it, then no one else will. We know what’s good. And we know what’s bad. And a lot of you guys do as well, so you guys keep us on our feet. [laughs]
The current lineup (including Cam), will it be a permanent lineup?
Jimmy: Touring-wise, yes, but probably not permanent, unless we give Cam a million dollars hahaha, and some suck-offs.
Cam: Hahahah, many suck-offs.
Jimmy: He’s got his own band you know, he’s got his own thing going on and they fuckin’ rule Melbourne man. Party Vibez, one of the best fuckin’ bands in Melbourne. I advise everyone who read this interview to check these motherfuckers out, because they’re one of the loosest band, coolest dudes.
Cam: Looose. Hahaha.
Jimmy: So make sure you emphasise Party Vibez, one of the best fuckin’ things to come out of Melbourne I tell you right now. So in terms of another guitarist, we’re auditioning other people after this tour, soon as we get back home we have a whole bunch of people we have to go through and we’ll decide then.
Steven: As soon as we get home, it’s gonna be auditioning of new guitars, and writing. Gonna try and hopefully try to get an album out next year. That’s the goal.
Another last messages to fans?
Jimmy: Thank you guys so fuckin’ much for fuckin’ listening to our music and watching our videos and coming out to these shows. Cos if it wasn’t for every one of those people buying our merch and listening to our music, then we wouldn’t fuckin’ be here, we wouldn’t exist.
Steven: There’s no point of us doing what we do if the people don’t come and enjoy it. We want other people to enjoy it. One of the best things I experienced was when we went to Wild Wild Wet (Singapore’s water theme park), I was sitting at the cafeteria and there was a girl that came up and wanted a photo, she was looking really shy and it felt really good. Just, the look on her face, when she was asking us for a photo, I remember having that same look myself when like I got to meet Kreator or I saw Mike Amott from Arch Enemy. I remember that feeling, and seeing that feeling on her, made me feel really good and that’s amazing to see on other people.
Jimmy: So thank you all the fans, we fuckin’ love you. Let’s go smoke some cigarettes and do bad things!