Congratulations on your new album 'City Of Dis'. How have the reactions been so far?
Thank you. The reactions in the press and from fans have been mostly great. What's funny though is that this album is not new for us. We recorded it two years ago! It was released October 2003 in UK/Europe in on Monotreme Records (www.monotremerecords.com). Now, over a year later, it is finally seeing the light of day in North America through Crucial Blast (www.crucialblast.net). Right now we are recording our next album. It will be longer, more varied in style and heavier than 'Dis'.
For those who don't know you, what is The Mass about?
Our love of music. Us putting way too much personal time, effort and money into a project that does not pay us back. Making music without rules or commercial concern. Beating up people weaker than ourselves for kicks. No, wait.
Who writes the music?
All four of us contribute equally.
What does a 'The Mass' song need?
It needs to make us happy on some level.
How important is the lyrical part of The Mass?
I think it's very important.
What are the lyrics about?
I have no idea. Our singer Matt writes them.I don't think it matters. It's whatever you get from them that is important. I hate when people try to 'explain' the meaning of a song. People should take from it what they want. We don't print the lyrics, because we think it's much more fun to decipher your own words/phrases/meanings etc.
'City Of Dis' sounds direct and honest. How did you guys record it? All instruments at once? Or several takes?
The bass, drums and guitar are all live. There are some additional guitar overdubs, and the vocals and sax were recorded after everything else. We recorded to tape and did not do any digital editing. We're doing the same thing on the next release.
In my opinion the sax really adds something to the music. How do other people react to it?
Very well. I mean, as far as I know. I think it sets us apart from most other 'heavy' bands. And the fact that Matt can actually play the thing doesn't hurt either. Occasionally I hear from people who don't like it. But they are usually simpletons anyway.
Did you guys take musical studies or are you self taught? If so, what kind of studies?
Tom, Matthew and I are all basically self-taught on our instruments. You know, some guitar lessons when we were younger, that kind of thing. But Matt is a trained saxophonist. He is the only person in the band who has received classical training on an instrument, and studied much theory. He's been playing reed instruments for most of his life.
In the biography your music is described as art a few times. Are you great art lovers? If so. Please explain.
We are mostly into food and women. I guess that's art. I think Matthew likes art. He went to art school once, or something. I don't know. We like movies. Our friend Jon Wayshak is a badass artist. He's doing the next album cover, I think. Tom's girlfriend Bonnie is an amazing artist too. She drew our t-shirt design, and the sketches of our heads inside the CD. I'm really into Mexican food: tacos, tortas, burritos. Korean food is great too. What was the question?
Can you tell something about the scene (in Oakland, CA) you guys are in?
There's a great scene in the Bay Area. We've been playing a lot of fun shows at home recently. Our friend Scott Alcoholocaust is putting on some great shows at a bar downtown called the Golden Bull. That place is really fun. Oakland is also home to many warehouses that put on shows. They come and go frequently. In the past year or so we've played with the likes of The Fucking Champs, 400 Blows, Laudanum, Ludicra, Totimoshi, Lower Forty-Eight, Old Grandad. All great bands.
I can imagine your shows are quite intense. What is a live-show of The Mass about?
I'd like to think so. Our live show is getting better. We try to project a great amount of intensity onstage, but maintain control of our instruments and the music at the same time. It's not always so easy. Generally though, people seem to be in a state of shock when we play. They just kind of stare, but they can't pull themselves away. We take that as a good sign.
Any chance we can catch you guys in Europe in the near future?
We toured Europe last September with our friends and Monotreme label-mates, Lower Forty-Eight. It was fucking awesome. You Europeans sure know how to treat a touring band. We had a great time in Holland especially. One of our best shows was in a tiny village called Hattem (near Zwolle) at d'Olde Skoele. We also enjoyed Den Haag and Utrecht tremendously. We will be touring Europe again in September 2005, after the follow-up to “City of Dis” is released.
If you could pick a band/artist (dead or alive) to go on tour with who would it be? And why?
For me personally... at this point it would have to be Nomeansno. I am forever in awe of their accomplishments, dedication, style, experimentation, musical ability, originality, and kickass live show. Touring with Meshuggah would be killer, too.
What is you favourite song ever? And why?
I really can't answer that question. My favorite album might be 'Clandestine' by Entombed. For some reason it was the first record that made me feel like I had been cast into complete musical rage and despair. It's like a swarm of blades attacking relentlessly as you plummet into your own personal hell, where you will drown for all eternity. But you're pissed, so you shred on guitar. You gotta love that.
What will happen with The Mass in the future?
We'll probably keep getting fatter, dumber and uglier until, one by one, we all die sad, lonely deaths. In the interim we hope to continue creating and performing our music. And sampling the great cuisines of the world.
Any famous last words?
Buy “City of Dis”. Out now on Monotreme Records all over Europe. The follow-up (as yet untitled) will be out in September 2005. Buy that too. Then come see us on tour. Pick up a t-shirt, get us drunk, smoke us out, fuck our bass player.