Mason Hill – Mason Hill EP Running Time: 18:02 Release Date – December 2015 Independent Review by Beth Jones 9.5 / 10
Hailing from Glasgow, Scotland, Mason Hill are, in my opinion, one of the most exciting new bands to hit the scene in a very long time. Their classic heavy rock style, combined with their talent and professionalism on stage give them the full package. Their debut EP is just a brief snippet of their skills and a very tasty bite of what is to come.
Showing off a range of their musical styles very succinctly, the four tracks on the EP develop through the chunky, toe tapping riffs of ‘Survive’ to the classic power Ballad of ‘Where I Belong’, visiting the influences of Country, AOR and classic heavy metal along the way. Their chunky riffs, driven bass, intricate guitar solos and tight drum fills give the EP a real pace and snap. But for me, the thing that makes it is the vocal range of Scott Taylor – this man has some pipes!!! Back that up with some great harmonies and it all comes together to form a very neat, but very exciting little package that definitely leaves you wanting more!
My feature track would have to be ‘Where I Belong’. This track for me is the classic ‘lighters in the air’ song that finishes off a gig perfectly and leaves you welling up with tears of joy. Starting acoustically with just Scott’s vocals and a beautiful guitar line provided by James Bird, the song floats into full band mode with a skillfully understated Rhythm section provided by Craig McFetridge on percussion and Matthew Ward on bass. It is lilting and melancholy and has the feel of a Pink Floyd epic of yesteryear, especially with the guitar solo, which I think would impress the great Mr Gilmour himself. The song gathers intensity throughout, building to its climax of defined rhythms, power vocals and twiddly solos working in perfect harmony and it is almost a shame when it finishes! Every time I listen to this track I notice something new. It makes me smile, it makes me cry, and it makes me want to listen to more – I simply cannot wait for the album and I will be first in the queue to buy it!
My only criticism, and the reason why the score is just off a perfect 10 is because the third track, ‘Now You See Me’ fades out at the end. This is one of my biggest bug bares in music – BOYS YOU ARE MORE TALENTED THAN THAT, THINK OF A WAY TO FINISH IT!!!! But seeing as this was one of their earliest recordings, and they are a new band, I will let them off for now – just don’t do it again!!!
That aside though, this is an exciting first EP from a very exciting young band. I am excited, and I am rarely excited by anything, so that is an achievement!
Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to do adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities
Those of you who have read my previous reviews will have guessed that I quite like Mason Hill!! So, it was my immense pleasure to be able to do an interview with them recently, and although finding time to do a face to face proved pretty much impossible, the guys were more than happy to answer my questions via the medium of email, with Matthew Ward, their Bass player and face puller extraordinaire, being the group spokesman – and here are the results.
Your performance at Rockwich absolutely blew me away in a way that no band has in a long time! I was instantly a fan. For the people that haven’t yet heard about you, tell us all about who you are and what you do?
Thanks a lot! We really enjoyed that show. For anyone that hasn’t heard of us we are a hard rock band based in Glasgow. We have been touring/gigging in our current line-up since February of 2016, but some of the songs have been played live for a few years before that. James and Scott started writing together when they were still in high school, but I would say once the line-up was completed and the EP was released is when we really hit the ground running and started to aim bigger! The best way to hear us (or any band for that matter) is on the live stage; we work really hard to bring the most exciting show we can to any crowd we play for.
You have a very classic American Rock sound – Who are your main influences? Who inspired you most to get up and say, ‘That is what I want to do!’?
The main influences are different for every member. That “Mason Hill sound” starts with the riff master, James, who seems to listen to everything. Obviously a lot of classic rock shapes the sound, but we try and bring a modern sound to all of the tracks as well. We are all big fans of Alter Bridge and Black Stone Cherry etc, but our average travel playlist ranges anywhere between Metallica and Bruno Mars (maybe shouldn’t admit that one!) depending who is controlling the songs. As for who inspired me to want to get up on stage, it would have to be watching Flea from The Red Hot Chilli Peppers. After watching him play at 12 years old, I knew I wanted to pick up the bass and play in a band.
You came down to Welsh Wales in December, to Porthcawl, and to the awesome Tivoli venue, Buckley, which we were at – was this your first trip to Wales?
We will be down in Wales a few times in the coming months. It won’t be our first time; we played last year at Hard Rock Hell after winning the Highway to Hell competition. We opened up the main stage on Friday to a near full room. That show was one of the highlights of last year’s shows so we are really excited to get back to Wales and party with the crazy Welsh fans again.
Your gig in Porthcawl was at Planet Rockstock – how much were you looking forward to sharing the stage with the likes of Bernie Marsden, Joanne Shaw Taylor and Thunder?!
The line-up to this year’s festival was amazing, it’s always a pleasure to share a bill with artists you’ve grown up admiring and being influenced by. The great thing about these festivals is the fact they are letting the new kids on the block like ourselves on the bill and show people, the fans, what we have to offer.
You had a series of gigs in the lead up to Christmas – was this a build up to the release of your first album? Do you have a release date yet for that?
The tour was just an end of year run in celebration of the release of the first video, and to end the year on a high with some great shows. The album is on its way! We promise! Everyone’s demoing their respective parts. There are lots of really cool things happening in the background on the lead up that will make the wait for the debut worth it. We should have it out in either the second or third quarter of next year we hope.
I think you will be huge – Where would you like to see yourselves in five years?
In 5 years’ time we all really hope to be doing this on a full time and international scale. The growth of the band over the past year has been great, so we are all working towards the same goal of bringing the best quality music we can to our fans and really stretching further afield.
The ever-growing festival circuit is already shaping up to be great next year – are you on the bill for any yet?
The answer, there is… there is no answer. We have lots planned for next year, the album is the main priority, but we will certainly take some time out for shows and festivals. Nothing we can announce at the moment. But keep your eyes peeled. (NB Since we did this interview, Mason Hill have been announced for the main stage at Amplified festival in July – a fact about which I am majorly stoked! Beth)
You all have an awesome stage presence, and that for me is what makes you stand out from the crowd, but who is in charge?! Who is the ‘dad’ of the group – the one who makes sure everyone has their stuff, and tells everyone where to stand, etc!?
Me!! I am the boss of everyone…(not true) The live show is quite a spontaneous thing. There’s no one telling us where to move etc, we just have a great on stage chemistry. Off stage the most organised person has to be James! Unless he has had a few to many shandies!!!
You are signed to Frontiers – an amazing label to be with for such a young band – how did that come about?
Our management ‘Shock City’ proposed the idea to us initially. Our plans were for a second EP. But our management were confident we had the tracks to shop us to Frontiers. It worked, so I guess they were right! They are a great label with great bands on the roster, so it’s a privilege to work with them.
If you could be main support for any band in the world right now, who would that be?
I think in terms of an ideal pairing of bands , it would be the likes of Black Stone Cherry or Shinedown. In terms of dream band to support, for me it would be a band like Iron Maiden or Kiss, just so I could watch Eddie fighting the band from backstage every night.
What has been your favourite, or most memorable gig to date?
To date it has to the headline show in August at the Glasgow Garage. We have played some amazing shows this year like the Boardie Takeover at Download, but there is always something special about playing a venue in your hometown and getting that kind of response.
Do you have a wish list of venues you would love to play?
One of my Bucket list venues is actually on this tour. We play Glasgow Barrowlands, which I have wanted to play since I saw my first show there when I was 13. That will be a special night for sure. Having said that, I would not turn down a show in Madison Square Garden or Wembley Stadium either!
Is music now your full-time job, or are you all still gainfully employed in other professions?
I wouldn’t use the word gainfully to describe my employment, but yes music is the main priority but other work pays the bills. We aim to remedy that over the next couple of years however.
What’s worse – Fangirls or Facebook trolls?!
I’ll let you know when I have some fan girls!! Applications are open!!
And finally, completely unrelated to music, but none the less a valid and well debated argument – The Jaffa Cake – cake or biscuit?!
A question that has haunted Britain for some time. But it’s a cake. It’s in the name. Biscuits crunch Jaffa cakes do not. End of argument.
Once again, I would like to say a huge thanks to Matt, and all the Mason Hill boys, for taking the time to provide me with the answers to my questions, although you are wrong on the Jaffa cake front, but I will let that go, seeing as I would also like to apply for the position of Mason Hill Fan girl #1 – I feel I have all the correct qualities for the position in equal measures!
I for one really can’t wait to see more of these guys as often as possible. Check them out anywhere you can. Here are some useful links for you to get you started:
Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this interview, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to do adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities