I recently interviewed Tessa from Masses, a Melbourne based band.
Let’s start at the beginning, how long have Masses been around and how did you come together?
Tessa: Masses officially began in January 2013, we played our first show in mid Feb I think, the week after we hastily recorded our demo tape in a home studio. The band initially began when James (who now does vocals but then also played guitar) and Ryan (our original drummer) were waiting around for members of another noisy punk band they were in. Mostly out of a shared love for Rudimentary Peni and Killing Joke, out of that came a 2 piece hard out anarcho band. Soon afterwards Christi (the original synth player) joined and shortly after I met James for the first time. I kept hassling him until he let me join the band to play bass, haha. As more members joined the sound changed from the initial hard and fast anarcho sound into a more post punk/goth vibe, but still sticking firmly to it’s anarcho punk roots.
Has the line-up changed at all? Who’s currently involved and what instruments do you play?
Tessa: James and myself are currently the only original members of Masses, he started off playing guitar and singing and now is just doing vocals when we perform live, I’ve always played bass. We’ve had a few drummers but currently Tom is our drummer, Sam has taken over playing lead guitar and Jen is our most recent addition, she plays synth and does vocals on some of our songs.
What influences you both personally and as a member of Masses?
Tessa: Of course a lot of 80’s bands like The Mob, Killing Joke and Xmal Deutschland are my obvious choices but honestly the band that got me most into the genre and that’s also one of my all time favourite bands is Spectres. I was travelling in 2011 and saw them play in Vancouver and they have been a huge influence musically on me ever since. In saying that, James writes pretty much all of the music for Masses and I know his initial and primary influences for the band were Rudimentary Peni, The Mob, Vex & Flux of Pink Indians.
Using only three words, how would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard Masses before?
Tessa: Punk for Goths… Or maybe Goth for Punks? Haha I don’t know 3 word descriptions are hard. James would say Anarcho-Post-Punk.
You’ve just finished your 7” tour around Australia where Masses played in Brisbane, Sydney, Perth as well as your home town of Melbourne. How do you feel you were received in each state and how did the shows compare?
Tessa: I had so much fun on the tour, I feel like we got to play with so many of my favourite bands in Australia. I felt really positive about every show we played. All of the shows had great turnouts and we had heaps of fun in every city, despite almost melting from the heat in Brisbane. The highlight for me personally was the Saturday night Perth show at 208, we played with Prag, Nervous Trend and Warthreat, 3 of the best bands in Australia at the moment I think, and the space was really cramped and wild to play. We definitely had a lot of variety of show lineups, like playing with Multiple Man, Occults and Bat Nouveau in Brisbane with much more of a goth vibe and then a pretty much completely grindcore bill at Blackwire in Sydney, but that’s what I loved about the tour we played heaps of mixed bill shows with most of Australia’s best bands from all different genres.
If Masses could play a show with five bands of your choice, who would you want to share the stage with?
Phill Calvert of The Birthday Party recorded and mixed the Horde Mentality EP. What was it like to work with Phill?
Tessa: Phill was amazing, he really put the fear of god in me and Ryan and made us improve 10 fold on our instruments after seeing us rehearse the first time we met. Recording with Phil improved us as musicians immensely, well speaking for myself at least. He was very professional but also a really lovely funny guy, recording in his Baptist Church turned home studio surrounded by Birthday Party, Boys Next Door & Psychedelic Furs paraphernalia was a bit of a fantasy come true. We really can’t thank Phill enough and hope to record again with him as soon as possible.
Are any of you currently involved in any other projects that you would like to mention?
Tessa: Nearly all members are involved in other musical projects, I play bass in a powerviolence band called Putkah, Sam the guitarist also plays guitar is a psychedelic rock band called the Ten Cent Pistols, Tom drums in another Melbourne punk band called Gentlemen and Jen sings in a cross coast (she lives in Melbourne, the rest of the band live in Perth) post punk band called Nervous Trend. I’m filling in on bass for Nervous Trend on their upcoming European tour in June/July.
What is next for Masses? Do you have plans to tour internationally in 2014?
Tessa: We have so many plans, but nothing is set in stone right now. We’re going to play Punkfest in New Zealand this year and following that a few shows in the North Island as well. Tentatively we have plans to reschedule our tour to South East Asia for January/February 2015. We originally had plans to go there in June this year but with the Indonesian general election and Ramadam overlapping our prospective dates, it became too much trouble to make it work in the end. We are going to start recording again in the coming months for future releases.
Thank you Tessa!
You can find out what Masses are up to next by 'liking' their Facebook page
You can download Horde Mentality from the Masses Bandcamp
Order physical copies of Horde Mentality 7" from
Blow Blood Records (AUS/NZ/SEA)
Rust and Machine Records (USA/EUR)
Interview by DJ Xerstorkitte