Interview Steve Mason: Bold, Brassy And Bombastic

Mason tells Martin Mcelroy about his collaborations, the ‘puppet government’, and his move back to London.

Beta Band founding member Steve Mason has been releasing solo material for quite a long while now, under the monikers King Biscuit Time and Black Affair. Now, however, he’s signed to Domino for his new record ‘Boys Outside’, a ten-track album produced by Richard X and Mason himself which is due out on 3rd May.

Here, he tells Martin Mcelroy about his past collaborations, the States’ ‘puppet government’, and his move back to London.

You’ve been known to collaborate with artists such as Jimmy Edgar in the past, do you enjoy collaborating and are there any on the new album?
There’s no collabs on this record, but I do enjoy that yes. Maybe not a whole album but a couple of tracks. I always learn something working with other people. Me and Jimmy Edgar have a vague plan to do something else in the future, it’s just keeping your ego in check is the problem. But that gets easier as the years limp by.

One of the themes running through your last KBT album was politics, what are some of the themes on the new album and are you still interested in making people aware of the political situation that surrounds them?
There is one very overtly political track on the album called ‘Yesterday’. The song is asking people to take action against their government and the ruling class before its to late. Before we talk about Freedom as something we used to have. There’s no clever ideas about how to do that, just march on Whitehall with petrol bombs and level it to the ground, then rebuild our political system from the ground up. I believe in democracy, I wouldnt replace it, but we don’t have a true democracy in this country anymore. We have a puppet government who represent the Banks and Oil companies and are essentially against the people and against democracy.

If you were to describe your latest album in five words…
Bold, Brassy, Ballsy, Bombastic, and Belligerent.

You’ve got a history of including everything from hip hop to folk in your music, what musical influences are present on your latest album?
Just for the record, I loath folk music. Always have, and I do not own ANYTHING you would describe as folk music! I don’t know what music influenced me on this record, my mind is a sponge that takes everything in and filters through it the patented Mason Filter. What comes out the other end rarely bares any resemblance to what went in. But I was pretty into Janet Jackson’s ‘Discipline’ album when I was writing the backing tracks. Whatever that means! I just wanted an album where you could not see the join between the modern style backing track and the acoustic led song. Which, to be honest is probably all I have ever tried to do.

Your last project, Black Affair, was much more electronic than your usual work. Was this something you’d wanted to produce for a long time?
I suppose for me it was revisiting the music of my youth. I wanted to do something with absolutely no resemblance to the BB. A re-invention, to enable me to come full circle and start again. Which I did.

I imagine working in London with a producer is a massive change from producing your own stuff and living in Fife, how has it affected the way you work?
It’s affected the way I live! I moved back to London a few months ago and I’m setting up my own studio here. Living back in Fife was great, for a while, but you know what they say about people who live on peninsula’s…

I really love the video for your new single. How did it come about?
Quite boring really! Just hooked up with John Majors Daughters, who directed it, and explained the lyrics to them. They explained in detail the look, feel and how the actors would be etc. We all understood what we were trying to achieve. I love it.

Speaking of videos, do you think you’ll ever produce more like the extras on the Beta Band DVD from a few years ago? Chalk And Cheese being a particular fave of mine.
Well, Chalk and Cheese came from a daft conversation me and John had about 70’s british cop shows. Then he decided to make it into a trailer! I can’t imagine making things like that anymore really. Me and Pete Rankin (Old Jock Radio) have made our fair share of daftness in film form, but really you need the right people around you to inspire that level of stupidity!

I’m sure you’re asked this a lot but do you think the Beta Band will ever reform for an album or even just a one-off gig?
Yeah, were doing a one off gig round your mums house in 5 days time. She’s producing the new album. Nice lady.

Great! Once your new album’s in the bag, will you be touring it?
Yes, festivals first then some touring when the leaves begin to fall to the earth.

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