Being a great musician and a well-known producer are two things which perfectly describe Chris Goss, the man behind the legendary US outfit Masters Of Reality. Chris made a short trip to the UK in order to promote his latest release "Bring Us Barabas" and to explain to me exactly what "total gass" really means.
Hi Chris. What
brings you here to Britain? What are you currently up to?
Chris: Flying around
Europe, talking about my new record, and along with that it also brings in
a lot of other musicians that I work with, and their new records. So, talking
about Rock nRoll music really in a rush, looking for weed wherever
I go (laughs). Im sorry (laughs).
Yes, thats a
new record coming out on April 26 in Europe. Its a lot of material
that Ive been compiling for years and years that I think I had a hard
time fitting in on any other of the Masters Of Reality records. Its
a compilation mostly based on acoustic guitar, but its not soft acoustic
music. Not music that someone would imagine listening to in a coffeehouse,
its kind of orchestrated.
So its not
only stuff from the Masters Of Reality era that were going to listen
Chris: Correct, yeah!
I call some of this Masters Of Reality out of respect for the people who
played on it, cause they cut the tracks at the time they were cutting Masters
Of Reality tracks, you know what I mean? They were doing it for that purpose,
and for me to just call them Chris Goss wouldnt have been right, so
its Masters Of Reality/Chris Goss and in a homage to friends who played
in that record and I really respect musically. Thats it really.
Which were your
feelings when you started recording this album?
one track on this album, the last track, silly little track that was done
twenty years ago in a four-track cassette, and thats the exact same
version that I put on the album, not re-mixed or anything, but there it is!
There are four more
songs, which came out of four-track cassette recordings, and other songs
that I spent a fortune on recording and re-recording over the years. Its
really hard to tell the difference between the really cheap ones and the
really expensive ones thats just to show you that expense has nothing
to do with quality really. Well, sometimes on airplanes it does
Which would you
say were the highlights and the lowpoints of your career?
Chris: Oh, Highlights
and lowpoints! I actually try to forget the lowpoints. I kind of hit myself
in the head with the frying pan, I kick myself down, meaning that I probably
dont over analyze and stress out maybe as much as I should about certain
things, and one of those things is music. I'm not stressed about music at
As far as the lowpoints
go...not touring enough for the album that Ginger Baker played on "Sunrise
On The Suffer Bus", is my biggest regret. Ginger didnt want to tour
any more, and I thought: well, if hes not going to tour, then Im
not going to put one in the position of having to be Ginger Baker. A lot
of people are going to be expecting to see Ginger and him not being there.
So I didnt have the balls to do that. Thats my only regret in
the music business I believe, all the rest has been fine.
You get dealt a hand
when you play cards in any profession, and how you play them.... life is
a very long poker game, and Im fine with parts that Ive won so
far, Im still on the game.
Would you say that
Ginger Baker is a difficult person to work with? Most of the people I told
that I would be interviewing you asked me to ask that question on
Chris: No, not difficult
to work with...difficult to deal with! Work was no problem, making music
with him was an incredible joy. He is a brilliant, god-gifted musician, so
yeah thats no sweat. We can make grooves forever, sit in a room and
write songs forever. It was the day to day stuff.
When he joined my band
he was fifty-three years old and at the time I think I was thirty! He
didnt want to do meet and greets on a radio station before opening
for Alice in Chains or Soundgarden. It was insulting to him to have a kid
in the front row with a Megadeth T-shirt throwing a bottle at him, waiting
for Alice in Chains to come on stage.
Some of the idiots
who didnt know what was going on. Of course I can understand why he
didnt want to do that. It not difficult to understand him really, he
gets frustrated with stupidity and so I do. We always backed each others
action: If he got pissed by something, I would too, If I did he would too.
If I said "Im not riding in that car" hed said "neither am I",
he was like a good partner to get into a fight with, and so when Ginger made
a stand I usually back his action also. I didnt have any problems with
Ginger really, there were moments where he was a miserable nut, but theres
moments that Im a miserable nut too, so whatever!
The new album is
called "Give us Barabas". What made you choose this title for the
Chris: Ever since
I was a kid, I thought that it was really funny that the crowd chose Barabas
over Jesus. Its like O.J.Simpson being found not guilty, like letting
the wrong guy walk. Thats how I found the irony of it and the typical
stupidity of life. That saying stuck on me from the very first time I heard
I was raised a Catholic,
so the crucifixion was very intriguing and sexy to me. If you are raised
as a Catholic boy, there is something very mysterious and forbidding feeling
about the whole thing. So that saying just reminds me of modern times,
nothings changed, I think thats all Im saying. Theres
really nothing changed, just the same fucked-up world!
This album covers
a ten-year musical period, during which you must have written hundreds of
songs, knowing you as an artist. What made you choose those specific
Chris: On this album?
The acoustic guitar was the basis for most of them. These songs never actually
fit with the other records. Some of these songs are almost happy, but I also
wrote depressing stuff probably melancholic is the right word to describe
them. I like that side of things. I once spoke to Alicia Aftermar and the
very first conversation I ever had with her when she wanted me to work with
her was that her two favorite bands were Kyuss and The Smiths.
I understood that
completely because theyre two of my favorite bands and if you think
about it, Kyuss is a Metal band and The Smiths are like gay poetry (laughs),
but its not like that. I think that theres a melancholic vibe
running through Kyuss and the way Johnny Marr plays guitar...there was
swirlingness to it I think that Kyuss had too. The similarities where you
get like plug in whats wild and what isnt. I guess it all boils
down to Smecks taste, thats all. I tend to get along with the
weirdoes like myself.
Theres a bunch
of weirdoes that I work with all the time, and we make what I call "out of
whack" Rock records. Thats what I do. When people want an "out of whack"
weird Rock record, they call me, and I take an "out of whack" amount of money
to do it, and Im glad to be there. Its cool.
Since you mentioned
the fact that you have worked with many different artists, I need to ask:
Which album that you produced brought you most satisfaction and
Chris: Oh man, there
are too many...I have fun with most of the records I do, when theres
isnt any fun involved then I dont even want to mention them.
I dont like misery in the studio. If the studio is dark, misery is
allover the place or some member of the band is a prick it destroys my fun
and makes me not to want to do this anymore. "Blues For The Red Sun" total
fucking gassed me, so did the Alicia Aftermar record: total gassed, 80s
Beeline Matchbox Disaster", the record I just finished: total gassed. It
doesnt get any more fun than that. It was the easiest thing that Ive
ever done, really.
So thats what
Im looking: Rock nRoll should be easy. It should be easy to listen
to, it should be easy to make, or else if I wanted to be miserable I would
have worked in a marketing company, to have some short of a boss telling
me what to do. When you work with artists who are misery addicts, and there
are a lot of them in the music business: junkies and misery addicts, I
internalize it towards myself. Im actually getting physically ill when
I work with people like that, I cant do it anymore. I dont have
time. Id rather sit home with my wife rather that sitting in a studio
with some asshole.
The albums that I
previously mentioned were all stand out as been total fun to me. Another
artist that Im working now with is Roxy Saint, an electro-class Punk
girl. She will be in London in the next couple of months. Its a total
gass working with her too. If its like a party in the studio, usually
the record sells. The records that are fun to make, are the records that
sold the most in my history.
would you most like to be remembered by and why?
Chris: I have no idea.
I really dont.
Given that the
first Master Of Reality album was such a hit, why do you think that the band
never took the next step up in popularity terms?
Chris: For exactly
the reason that was my major regret, was not touring after Ginger left the
band. If I had toured to support "Sunrise On The Suffer Bus", the record
he played on it would have sold. The single was on the top five in the States,
we were right for success and thats when he told "Im not opening
for Alice in Chains, or going out on tour anymore", on the fucking tour bus.
And I said: "you know man, I dont blame you, I really dont fucking
If I was 53 years old
I wouldnt be in a tour bus opening for somebody with like "hey dude,
you Rock". Ginger Baker touring America with that kind of atmosphere around
him...no, no I wouldnt do it either. Hes royalty, and we
werent. The band itself was up and coming, and we werent rich,
and we were struggling. He had already done struggling, so he didnt
have the patience to hang in there and neither did I. So I was like "Yeah,
youre right, fuck them", and that was my biggest mistake ever. Thats
why Masters Of Reality never really made it in the mainstream, that moment
Do you think that
it was for the good after all these years?
Chris: I dont
know man. That was the way I played the hand. You cant predict what
would have happened. If I continued touring without him and gotten another
drummer too, maybe I would have made a lot of money, or maybe not. You
cant go back in time and predict what the results would have been.
In the meantime, Im
really happy to be alive, I dont buy the dead Rock Star legend thing
any more. I think that Iggy Pop has proved Neil Young completely wrong:
Its not better to "burn out than to fade away". Iggy is fucking Rock
and looks really good. Im happy to have Iggy around, Im happy
to have Jimmy Page. Being dead does not enhance your legend anymore, lets
get rid of that bullshit once and for all. How great would it be to have
a grey-haired Jim Morrison sitting there right now. Id rather have
D.D.Ramone alive today, talking to me. Fuck Sid Vicious man, hes dead,
hes gone! Dont worship his death celebrate his life whatever
little that was since he was only a kid. The winner survives.
I think that its
wonderful to have Jimmy Page fifty years old, how fucking great is that!
One of the guys who crossed the abyss: Keith. I thing that its a miracle
the fact that this man is alive, and its wonderful to have him here.
I dont think that if these people were dead we would be any better
of. Thats my attitude now, probably because Im getting old. I
fucking paid my dues and I want to hang around and enjoy myself. I dont
know what exactly that means, aye drinking Scotch and looking outside my
window. Life is really, really short...seventy years...big deal. Ill
hang in another thirty!
Which kind of music
would you play in order to fulfill any musical ambitions left?
Chris: Loud, psychedelic
music is where my love is, usually impov too. I like what happens by accident.
Jamming: Jimmy Hendrix making feedback, thats where I want to be. I
want to be in front of that Marshall stack...its like chemotherapy
standing in front of that...making noise, that my dream, and the uglier the
better as far as Im concerned.
What do you enjoy
doing in your spare time?
Chris: One of the
things the wisdom of age brings is to have other interests. I know a lot
of Rock stars that all they think about is to be Rock stars: Their next record,
the way they look, the next interview...that think like Pop culture is me
and Im Pop culture. I personally find satisfaction in distracting myself
I collect art pottery
from the mid-century. I get as excited about a vase, as I do about a song.
I like collecting art and decor items, I like my animals and I also like
nature. I try, its hard to be an artist sometimes, to get satisfaction
out of superficial things, but I do. You want to make me happy? Just tell
me where I can get a good cheeseburger. At the end of the day Im a
very simple minded person.
Any other records
coming out soon?
Chris: Yeah, Ill
start this record in June with Twiggy Ramirez. We have a band called "Snowballs".
Whenever we get together we write four or five songs. Its really easy
and Im really looking forward to that. Hes a great musician
Any message to
Chris: The message
is in the music, it really is. Listen to the record if you like me and god
Thank you for your
time Chris, all the best.
Chris: Thank you,
you too, man.
Interview © 2004