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**INTERVIEW** Keeping things simple with hardcore heroes Massic

 

"It was all over a Pantera shirt," laughed Simon Russell-White, vocalist for Brisbane's hardcore heavyweights Massic on the early seeds of the band.
"It was 2015 and Chris (Butler, guitars) and I met at our kid's daycare and that developed into an idea to record songs. We'd previously been in another band together and we left that and Chris had a plethora of songs and threw me a couple and we went from there. We recorded a couple of songs - one that is on the album that just came out- and the other one is on the shelf (laughs)."

"That got the ball rolling," Butler interjected. "I've always been writing and writing and writing. I guess I have ever since I first got introduced to music, and I had been looking for a vocalist to work with locally and by chance ran into Simon and it grew from there."


That chance meeting led to the duo getting together to write some music, but in the early development of the band it was only ever intended to be a songwriting relationship with no initial thoughts to pursuing the project in the live arena.


"Chris had a lot of songs and he gave me a few and I have always worked best with just being given a song," Russell-White began. "With previous bands I've been with I have just gone away with songs and written over them and come back with it so we initially thought this would only be a studio thing and would just release albums."
"But eventually we met the right people who came along and we decided to turn it into what it is now," Butler added. "It was actually a really easy and natural progression for us."


For a band who initially held no desire to perform outside of the relative safety of the studio, Massic have built up a fearsome reputation as a live act, with Butler admitting once they decided to press ahead as a band they made it a mission statement to excel in front of a crowd.


"The nature of the songs just translates to playing live," he shrugged, "especially with Simon's intensity as a frontman. Just the nature of the music translates so much better when you get that wall of sound out there live in front of people and then just watch them feed off it."
"I've been in a number of bands," Russell-White continued. "I'm in my mid-thirties now and I thought if this is it - I saw Massic as a band that would never happen so now it has I just let it all out - and I thought if this is it, just let it go and it has been like that the entire time. With a lot of the bands I love and listen to there is a lot of conviction about their music and performances. When you go to the shows it is very abrasive and you never forget it. That's the aim for us. I want to be like that shit that I love so when you go to see our show it's like holy shit, I'm never gonna forget that. It's kind of like a challenge just seeing how far you can push it. You wanna break your body almost (laughs)."


With that in mind, Massic deliver a pulsating and energetic stage show that can only be likened to a massacre. It is a frenetic experience and one which the band agrees is at its best when the crowd becomes involved.


"I think the album launch is where I would like to see our performance level stay," Russell-White revealed. "Our music speaks for itself but..."
"I think it depends on the crowd," Butler took over. "With any band, the first thing is you have to be put in front of a crowd and any local band will know when you first start out that can be difficult because you don't get the opportunities just handed to you. I think moving forward those opportunities are going to progress. We've got Dead of Winter coming up and the album launch we did recently with The Black Swamp, Flaming Wreckage and Elephant, that was just well executed by every band and it's the old thing: if you can get one person moving and there's enough people there then they will follow suit. Everybody has that standoff approach like do we or don't we but if you just give them enough they'll get going and that's enough... To me that's the goal, to get people moving at a local show."

"As a band, we love what we do and the songs on the album are full on so they have to be full on live," Russell-White continued. "I've seen bands over the years - international bands I will say because Australian bands are different - but there have been times I've seen a band and you can tell they're just not into it. That's their thing - maybe they've had a massive tour - but you've got to hit it hard. You have to have the mindset of this literally could be the last show that we ever play. I'm probably a little bit morbid about the whole thing but to me every show could be it so I just go hard. You're playing with some great bands so you have to bring it every time."


While Massic could easily be pidgeon-holed as a hardcore outfit, there is also a multitude of layers to their sound. As much as the band places emphasis on their live performance, they also have a burning desire to ensure their sound is not simple to classify and as such have come up with a sound that while obviously paying homage to other acts is justifiably their own.

 

'Devolve'

 

"There's a groove element mixed with hardcore and punk," Russell- White surmised.
"One of my mates, when he saw the film clip for 'Devolve', summed it up pretty well," Butler added. "He said it was great throwback metal and I actually appreciated that. I have had a few people listen to the album who haven't been able to put us in any genre which is what we were looking for."
"Sonically and lyrically it has always been like a diary for me,"
Russell-White stepped in. "It is a way to purge and get shit out but it is something that I believe in as well and something I want to learn from. It's almost like a cheap counseling session (laughs). It's always been that way. I'm thirty-five and I've never stopped doing it and there's a reason for that. Now I'm on the best platform with this band and that's been the coolest part. The cooler it gets, the harder I go so to explain the sound I would probably say it leans more to the hardcore element for myself but there's a bit of a lot of different things going on in there."


Massic released their debut album Redshift earlier this month and Butler admits it is a relief to finally get their music out there for fans to appreciate.


"We've played those songs live for the best part of eighteen months," he said, "so they have been tested which is a little bit different to how the next release is going to be. We've played it live so it got a following and made sure people were into it, then we released it so I guess people in the local scene will be familiar with it but as it spreads further it will still be a debut album, as opposed to going in and writing and rehearsing and recording and releasing an album of songs nobody really knows. It has been a bucket list thing of mine ever since I can remember, to find guys as passionate as myself and release something and have something that is tangible. It might sound corny or cheesy but to me it's important and it is a bit of a legacy."
"We believe in it so much but it's just part one," Russell-White quipped. "I want it to keep going and going but it is ridiculously cool to have the album out there."


In the modern musical age where new material is being released at an almost untenable rate, newer bands are facing insurmountable odds to stand out against a saturated market. While other bands employ fancy gimmicks or launch massive campaigns in an attempt to rise to the top of the heap, Russell-White says Massic will live and die on the quality of their music, regardless of where they stand in the pecking order.


"We see things in a pretty simple way," he shrugged. "We really like what we do and we hope that translates through our music."
"When you listen to the music and the components of it it's not technically proficient," added Butler. "You listen to music these days that is so perfect and so many people are doing it like that but I like to think that we have more of that rawness and we are more stripped back. We're not trying to be anything except who we are and I hope that translates through to the listener."
"We like what we do and we push it forward and hopefully that makes a bit of difference,"
Russell-White concluded. "I wouldn't say... I'm definitely not in the trend of things personally, I just like stuff and I hope other people do too. I know that sounds really cliche but that's the way it is."


Kris Peters


For information on Massic's current tour promoting Redshift check out their facebook page https://www.facebook.com/massicband/

 

 

TOUR DATES

Thursday, April 5: Hamilton Station Hotel, Newcastle

Friday, April 6: The Valve Bar, Sydney

Saturday, April 7: The Basement, Canberra

Friday, April 20: The Musicman, Bendigo

Saturday, April 21: The Spotted Mallard, Melbourne

Friday, May 4: The Brightside, Brisbane

Saturday, May 5: Snooker World, Gold Coast

 

For all tickets and further details visit

www.facebook.com/pg/massicband/events 

 

 

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