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

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Welcome to Doorstep Interview, where we find out more about the amazing bands and artists that we have right here in the north east. This time, Ally Morton returns to tell us about his post-punk band Massa Confusa and their role in the local DIY scene.

Tell us a bit about yourself. Who are you, where are you from?

I’m Ally Morton, I’m originally from Durham but I’ve lived in Newcastle since 2006 when I moved here to study Fine Art at Northumbria Uni. Somehow music has taken over my production as an artist at the moment, but you can still view my paintings online and I’m sure I’ll return to painting at some point in the future.

What inspired you to first start making music?

In my teens I was into punk but also became obsessed with Smashing Pumpkins. As they broke up in 2000 I really missed their era so had a lot of research to do, but what I love about them was their transformation over the years; the change in artwork, in sound, image each time to draw in a new audience and to keep things interesting for themselves. I’m not saying Massa Confusa will necessarily evolve in this way, but it definitely provided me with inspiration as to what is possible and opened up a whole new world of alternative rock bands for me to discover.

Who would you say are your biggest influences?

I’m into bands that are, or were, unique in sound, or who try to develop with each album. I have so many but aside from Smashing Pumpkins I would say Big Black, Deftones, Placebo, At The Drive-In, Pixies, and Siouxsie and the Banshees.

How would you describe your sound?

A rehash of 1980s drum-machine punk/ industrial, but with slightly poppier melodies, and the fuzz of 90s grunge.

Where do you see yourselves fitting into the local music scene?

A lot of our gigs are put on ourselves as Massa Confusa Presents with other local bands, so I guess anywhere we can! We tend to play with punk or rock bands, but we play with doom metal bands too. That is why I love the scene here, it is so diverse and bands are happy to play together regardless of genre. I sometimes feel it can seem a bit cliquey to newer, less established bands though, so we try to put on upcoming artists as much as possible, but this can be difficult as we only tend to put on a show once a month.

“Expect pounding electronic drums, intricate basslines, compressed vocals and discordant guitar”

Tell us a bit about your live performances. What can we expect from a gig by Massa Confusa?

Expect pounding electronic drums, intricate basslines, compressed vocals and discordant guitar, with interludes in between tuning changes from film/TV/YouTube. I don’t say a lot during my sets because I want to get through as many songs as possible, and, because we have over 30 in total, we never repeat a set list.

Can you tell us what gigs you have planned in the region in the near future?

We’re playing two Massa Confusa Presents shows in June. One is with The Smokin’ Coconuts and Casual Threats at Brewdog Newcastle Sunday June 14th; and the other is with Fingers Crossed from Leeds, Skull Puppies, and the debut of Nomihodai Wednesday 24th June at Empty Shop in Durham. Both gigs are free. We’re also playing the next Endless Window night on Friday June 26th at The Globe in Newcastle. It is a monthly club night that also features live bands. Check it out if you haven’t already!

What do you think has been your biggest achievement so far as a band?

I’d have to say  being mentioned in Drowned in Sound, playing Evolution Emerging Festival 2015, and playing London for the first time thanks to Babar Luck.

Have there been any major challenges so far in your musical career?

Breaking into the gig circuit felt like a major challenge. Our first gig was at the Head of Steam in Newcastle before they revamped the venue. It had zero promotion, and we were randomly put on with a ska band who came down from Scotland to play their set and leave. I’m a ska fan myself but was annoyed that they showed no support. That’s when I decided I wanted to be part of the DIY scene instead, where bands actually care about supporting each other and promo can be done as a group. I’m so happy to now have Massa Confusa Presents as an ongoing event now, and also lucky to have found and become part of the Nerd Hutch Collective too. They are great friends of mine and have the same motives as us.

What else have you got planned for the future?

We’re working on a new album, more cover songs and Massa Presents Compilation Volume 2.

Massa Confusa play alongside Fingers Crossed at Empty Shop, Durham on Wednesday 24th June.

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