We caught up with Steve Mason following the release of his new album Boys Outside; to find out a little more about the man behind The Beta Band, King Biscuit Time and Black Affair.
Hi Steve – thanks for chatting to us today. How are you?
I’m fine thanks. Heroes never die, they just re-load.
I remember a point with King Biscuit Time when it seemed you were ready to throw in the towel – but you returned with Black Affair and now you are back under your own moniker. Can you give us a potted history of how we got to where you are today?
KBT album came out. Tour was arranged. I went mental and had a breakdown. Then felt a bit better. Then met a girl and fell in love. She turned out to be a sociopath, so I dumped her. Then wrote the Black Affair album whilst having weekly counselling and hypnotherapy for depression. Album came out 2 years after I finished it. I toured it, to mass indifference. Then felt alot better. Started writing and recording songs again, which turned into this album.
And you are releasing under your own name now?
I wrote all these songs and play all the instruments. Its a co-production with Richard X, which is the first album I’ve co-produced since 2000.
How did the two of you come to work together?
He came to see Black Affair and it spiralled into a full blown relationship from there. He believed in the songs – the album would not exist in the way it does if it were not for him.
The Beta Band stuff is over ten years old now. The music industry has undergone such transformations in that time – how have the changes affected you?
The changes have affected everyone from the exec’s at the majors to the small bands playing their first shows. People are being very careful with there money because they don’t know when they are going to see any more. I think in the end the changes will be a good thing for art and music, but we still have a long way to go yet. I still don’t quite understand how people expect to still have high quality music, film and TV but not pay for enjoying it. I understand they don’t WANT to pay! But I don’t see how they expect this situation to last.
The Execs at majors are fine, they will move on to where the money is – but the artists, managers, producers, studio owners still have to eat and pay rent. And that’s where its hitting hardest. The film industry is also in the same situation. Life will carry on, of course, music will always be made, as will film, but until it all works itself out – tough times.
So, do you think in ten years time things the industry will completely unrecognizable from where it is today?
It already is! The power brokers of yesterday have had the carpet swept from under them. All because they didn’t take the internet seriously.
Do you think the internet makes it easier for a band starting now than it was ten years ago?
If they can afford equipment and a rehearsal space then it’s a lot easier. They can reach millions of people all over the planet without ever leaving the rehearsal room. Bands can build their own profile now. They can say as much or as little as they like and have full control. People still ask me who they should send their demo’s too! Can you believe that? I say, get off your arses and make it happen yourself. Let the industry come to you. Take control.
I’m loving the new album, how would you describe it?
And do you hear influences in music released today from your previous work?
Not really, but then I mostly listen to hospital radio and they don’t keep so up to date with the young ‘uns.
So, is there much recently released that have you enjoyed?
The XX and Bat for Lashes.
Of all the bands and projects you’ve worked on which do you have the happiest memories of and why?
Probably KBT. It was pure, political and had great tunes. But, this is shaping quite nice as well. I always look forward.
There’s been a large amount of re-invention and shifting of direction in your work – do you get easily bored or are you motivated to always push the envelope?
Both really. I always try and avoid repeating myself but at the same time having a consistency running through everything. There is so much music I want to make, but often resources (like cash) hold me back. But then, I think that should be normal for every artist. I’m constantly surprised by other musicians lack of imagination, but I suppose that’s where I step in!
Where can we come and see you play live?
Greenman, Glastonbury, Electric Picnic and Bestival. There will be random warm up shows in between these and a full tour later in the year.
Thanks for your time today Steve, how does the rest of 2010 look for you?
My pleasure. It looks great, come along for the ride.
Boys Outside is out now and If you want to catch him live full details of his appearances are as follows:
12 Parklife Festival, Manchester
25 Glastonbury Festival (Park Stage)
24 Truck Festival, Abingdon
25 The Applecart Festival, Shoreditch Park, London
13 Summer Sundae, Leicester
20 Green Man Festival, Brecon Beacons
4 Electric Picnic Festival, Ireland
11 Bestival, Isle of Wight