Spotlight Band: MASS
I recently had a chat with frontman Louis St. August about the current state of MASS.
Interviewed by: Roger Scales
Let’s talk about the new album – “Sea Of Black” (2010). Some of these tracks have been in the live MASS set for a few years. Is there a special satisfaction that you get as an artist when you have songs that have been around for awhile and for one reason or another got passed over when it came to the recording process only to finally make the grade and get recorded?
Yeah I think they are all great. We have been feeling the pressure from some of the fans when we started to write for this record that there were songs that they wanted added to this release. We had to take that into consideration because we’d be nowhere without our fans input. We knew they were great songs but they needed a chance to be exposed to the MASSES. We are very satisfied with the results and we hope the fans will be as well.
Mike Palumbo departed the band in 2005, two years prior to the release of “Crack Of Dawn” (2007), yet his presence and playing was still felt on it. Were his contributions to “Sea Of Black” just as significant as COD or even more so?
Gene and I wrote about 80% of the songs on “Sea Of Black”. I write the lyrics and all the melodies, Mike and Joey combined probably cover about 20%. Mike would often come up with an idea, a riff or a structure. Maybe even change the format of a song a little bit so he certainly stepped up big during the recording this time around. When he does come up with something it’s usually pretty solid and very often we use it. We love hearing his input. Mike essentially was the bass player on COD and Lou (Spagnola) came in at the very end and finished up the last two songs.
There have been a lot of ups and downs in your career. You signed a very lucrative deal with A&M Records only to have that record shelved then you get dropped by the label. You get new life with RCA, release “New Birth” (1985) have a hit single with “Do You Love Me?” only to be dropped again. Then Enigma picks you up and Michael Sweet of Stryper produces your record “Voices In The Night” (1989) and on the day you are scheduled to start to shoot your first video the label goes bankrupt leaving you without a contract. What made you keep going when most bands would have given up?
The love of music and a strong desire to keep growing as a unit. We were never a band that was interested in financial success (of course it wouldn’t hurt!) so we just started playing locally, writing songs and continued to build a strong fan base. We just kept hoping something would happen and something would eventually break out. We are moving forward even today. No time to look behind, just keep looking ahead.
Speaking of that A&M record from 1982 (the band was known at that time by its original name of Axis) is there any chance your song “Fighter” will ever see the light of day?
We have been approached by Retrospect Records to release both Fighter and the original MASS EP from 1984. Timing is the key factor here. They will both see the light of day but the band is trying to decide what would be the best time to release them.
MASS played Rocklahoma in both 2008 and 2009. The first year you played the band survived a very horrific natural disaster. Let’s recall that first Rocklahoma weekend for those who have not heard about this amazing journey.
On the way to the gig a tornado touched down. We actually had to pull off to the side of the road. When we finally arrived at the festival grounds we saw that both side stages had completely collapsed. We were stunned. Folks were running around going crazy and it was amazing no one was killed. We were scheduled to play on one of those side stages and easily could have been on stage when that tornado touched down so we were very lucky. Now last year in 2009 the heat during the day was up to 101 or 102 and that’s not counting on stage with the lights and gear it felt like 120! By the time we hit the stage at 12:30am the crowd was pretty dead from the heat. But we still played like it was the middle of the day!
Now what about your live appearances coming up in May and June?
We will be performing live on WAAF on May 30. We will be playing unplugged doing tracks from Sea Of Black, talking about the record and maybe giving away tickets to our record release party set for June 4 at the Regent Theater in Arlington MA. We are also playing the M3 festival in Columbia MD on June 19th. Also on the bill are The Scorpions, Cinderella and others. The great thing about this festival is its only one day so the burnout factor is low.
MASS has played with many big name acts over the years. Is there anyone you think the band would love to play on the same bill with but never have?
Aerosmith or The Who come to mind. If the original Guns N Roses ever got back together I want on that bill for sure!
Are there any plans for a live MASS DVD? Maybe a live package with different promos and clips both now and then?
We have thought about it at length. We may actually film the Regent Theatre gig in its entirety. We have talked to some local cable outlets about coming in with multiple camera angles with the thought of a possible DVD package of some sort. We do have a Best Ones CD (2001) that was a greatest hits package from our earlier albums and now Escape. We may want to release another “Best of” CD possibly with live tracks or demos or acoustic tracks.
What is your final message to the MASS fans?
The band really appreciates your support through the years. We are still riding the wave and look to rock with you for years to come!
For all the latest on the band visit www.MassRocks.com