Last month Cardiff quartet Masts made our list of “50 Bands to Watch in 2016”, and with the forthcoming release of their debut album, ‘Adversaries’, we think we’ve made the right decision.
Four years removed from their ‘Palindromes’ EP, Masts return with a focused collection of genre-bending songs that blur the lines between punk, post-hardcore and emo with tremendous results. Over the course of eleven songs, the four-piece showcase a set of melody-centric and guitar-driven songs that are thoroughly delivered with passion.
With the release of ‘Adversaries’ getting nearer, we recently spoke to vocalist/guitarist Tom Watkins to find out why its taken Masts four years to release the album, their influences and more.
AH: Your new album ‘Adversaries’ is released in just a matter of weeks. It’s been nearly 4 years since the release of the ‘Palindromes’ EP. Why the long gap between releases?
Tom: We recorded 8 tracks in the summer of 2014 with our old drummer, and they didn’t really turn out the way we wanted. After he left and Phil (Smith) joined we thought we may as well re-record those 8 songs as well as a few more, so we ended up with 16 in total I think. We then narrowed them down to 11 for the album. So with all that, work, travelling and life in general, it just took some time.
AH: How vital was it to give yourself time to write a record you wanted to make? I guess it’s a case of you only get one chance to leave a first impression.
Tom: We wanted to get something out in 2014 to coincide with a tour, and I think we probably did rush it a bit – we just put the tracks on USBs and sold them at the shows, so it was all a bit slapped together. But then when we decided to re-record, we just took more time with it as we weren’t aiming at a specific time for a release and it sounds a lot better for it.
AH: In comparison to the ‘Palindromes’ EP what has changed in terms of sound on ‘Adversaries’?
Tom: I think some of the songs on the album were written pretty soon after we released ‘Palindromes’, and some shortly before we recorded the album, so there’s a relatively big timeframe – I like to think it’s cohesive though, and that there’s a noticeable natural and consistent progression.
AH: After having the record on repeat for a few hours, I get the impression that your influences are a melting pot of post-hardcore, punk and turn of the millennium emo. How would you describe yourself to new listeners?
Tom: Pretty much that! For me bands like Get Up Kids, Braid, Bluetip, At the Drive-In, and …Trail of Dead. They’re the bands I got into when I first started getting into alternative music I think are apparent influences on the record, as well as turn of the Millennium UK bands; Kids Near Water, Stapleton and Spy versus Spy. Or I would say post hardcore/punk on holiday with Superchunk in the 90s.
AH: You’ve releases a couple of songs from the album so far. How has the feedback been so far?
Tom: The record has had some really nice reviews so far. People have responded really well and are in to it. I’m excited for them to listen to the whole album and hope they are too.
AH: I hear also you’ve made a video for ‘A Man Ambivalence’. What is the video about?
Tom: The song is about getting a perspective on decisions and choices that people make. Our mate Fuzz filmed the video and it follows someone having to make a choice, as well as a jigsaw, so it fits nicely with the song.
AH: The release of the album will include by a run of UK shows. How would you sum up a typical Masts show?
Tom: For me playing shows gives you such a great feeling of freedom, honesty and real contentment. It’s hard to describe, but those feelings are always there, whether you’re playing to a room full of people or just one person. I like to think that comes across when we play, and if people connect with that and are into what they’re hearing, then that’s perfect!
‘Adversaries’ by Masts is released on February 19th through Jealous Lovers Club.
Words by Sêan Reid (@SeanReid86)