Formed from the ashes of legendary Medway band, The Milkshakes, the equally effervescent The Masonics will be bringing their fuzzed-soaked sounds to this year’s Bedlam Breakout festival. Touring last year with The 188.8.131.52’s (reviewed here) and having just released two dazzling EP’s, The Midlands Rocks decided it was time to catch up with Mickey Hampshire (vocals/guitar) and Bruce Brand (drums/backing vocals) for a (slightly) irreverent chat.
Can you give me a summary of your musical lineage and the forming of The Masonics? Was there a love of one band/artist that brought you together?
Mick: We were punks at college who loved rhythm and beat.
Bruce: Chuck, Bo and the Kinks spring to mind, also Johnny Moped and the (early) Damned. Those influences were apparent when Mickey originally formed the Milkshakes back in the late ’70s. And Mud, of course (although we dropped ‘Tiger Feet’ quite early on).
The Masonics were born from the Medway scene which has birthed loads of great bands. What makes it so fertile?
Mick: I can only think of a couple.
Bruce: Probably something in the water, which it’s not only famous for, but named after. Either that or boredom, coupled with the fact that there were loads of local music-friendly pubs and venues back in the ’70s and ’80s – not so much now, of course. Those were the days, etc…
However, it doesn’t seem to generate the same attention and have the same kudos as comparable scenes that were born in Sheffield and Manchester. Does that bother you?
Mick: What comparable scene?
Bruce: Where? We never really took much notice of ‘other scenes’. It’s not a competition, y’know! Plus, the local racketeers weren’t exactly doing stuff that was hugely popular on a national scale.
Last year you toured with the 184.108.40.206’s. How was it? Is there one of the five dates that stands out as particularly memorable?
Mick: Great and Birmingham because we meet the nice Bedlam people there.
Bruce: The tour was good fun and they were so nice to play with. Also, having Lee Grimshaw (of Spinout Nuggets infamy) driving and helping out was a bonus. All the shows were good, but I always enjoy playing the Night Owl in Brum and I like the Old Woollen in Leeds too.
It’s an exciting time for the band with two cover EP’s being released simultaneously. What was the idea behind releasing both on the same day? I wonder why you opted for two EPs rather than an album… so how do the two releases complement each other?
Mick: Because so many people have two record players these days.
Bruce: They’re inspired by those sets of old classic R’n’R EPs by the likes of Eddie C & Little Richard at al. Eight tracks make for two brill EPs, but not quite enough for an album – they’d barely reach the hole in the middle! Similarly, four singles wouldn’t be quite so cost-effective – ask any hedge fund manager.
The tracks on the EPs have all been in your live set at one time or another. How does it feel to get them down on vinyl. Do you think you captured that live magic?
Mick: It feels good.
Bruce: It’s been on the cards for yonks, so we’re relieved to have finally got them off our chests – and now we never have to play them again! Whether they’re anywhere near as good as we played them live really depends how well we played them live.
You’ll be appearing at this year’s Bedlam Breakout festival. How did that come about?
Mick: The nice Bedlam people asked us when we played Birmingham.
Bruce: The what? is it heavy metal? I’m not playing it unless you say it’s heavy metal.
How do you think you’ll fit in on a predominantly psychobilly bill? Any qualms about appearing amidst these scary ’billy bands?
Mick: Scary! no one told us that.
Bruce: Yah! We grew up terrifying the blinkin’ flip out of those soppy Psychos back in the Milkshakes days. What can possibly go wrong? As long as we remember our knuckle dusters it’ll all be fine…
Any other bands you want to check out on the day? (I recommend The Broadway Twisters)
Mick: The Broadway Twisters, The Turnpikes and Jock Tartan’s Rocking Turnips.
Bruce: The who? I’d planned to have an early night.
Finally, what are your plans for 2023? Can we expect a headline tour?
Mick: Watch this space.
Bruce: Watch that space.
- The Masonics play Bedlam Breakout on Sunday 12th March. Tickets from here.
- The Masonics Facebook
- Lookin’ For The Masonics and Talkin’ About The Masonics are released via Spunout Nuggets and are available now (from here).