INTERVIEW: Mastersystem | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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“Uncomplicated, loud and super melodic,” is how Justin Lockey describes the sound of Mastersystem, his new project which combines musicians from Frightened Rabbit, Editors and Minor Victories, and he really hits the nail on the head. Debut album Dance Music is the supergroup’s “loud melodic ball of fuzz shared between friends and relatives”.

The band was formed by two sets of brothers: Frightened Rabbit frontman Scott Hutchinson and drummer Grant, with Editors guitarist Justin Lockey and his brother and Minor Victories bandmate, James, both North East natives. The idea came together over a weekend in Berlin back in 2016: “The only thing we knew up front was that we wanted it to not be a fussy or highly detailed record, and we definitely wanted it to have weight and a heaviness.” The hope was that they could create a record that had less pressure than their other projects. “There’s an innocence and really warm gratifying feeling just smashing a load of chords and melodies together really quick without overthinking it. You lose that sometimes along the way when you’re in the album/tour/album cycle, something which all of our other bands are deep in.”

whilst trying to avoid expectations, Mastersystem ultimately surpass them all

Their debut single, Notes On A Life Not Quite Lived, hints to the authentic blend of the sounds on the album. Guitar and drums seep into Hutchinson’s stunningly melancholic vocals, “not quite floating and not quite sinking”. During the chorus, the drums become louder and the tone heavier and faster: the sound is gritty and full. Tracks like Peaks & Troughs & Graves and Old Team mimics this set-up; mixing stripped melodics with visceral and loud choruses. It’s clear that the guys are using this unpressured record to let loose and not overthink, as Justin agrees. “This whole thing has been a really simple and enjoyable thing to create every step along the way. I think that’s just the general manifesto of the record, just to keep it simple and loud.”

This effortless collaboration of sounds is sure to come into its own on stage, and the band perform at The Cluny on Thursday 26th April. “It’s such an uncomplicated album that I think it will translate really easily over to live performance.” It’s where we’ll get to see these artists unrestrained and just enjoying being in a band, as Justin puts it “you wanted to be in when you were younger”.

Mastersystem’s music is somehow effortless, yet the density of the lyrics make you want to sit back and contemplate. It’s simple yet intense, and the epitome of a unique and remarkably distinctive sound; whilst trying to avoid expectations, Mastersystem ultimately surpass them all.

Mastersystem’s Dance Music is out now. The band play The Cluny, Newcastle on Thursday 26th April.

 

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