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Interview:  CHRIS GOSS (Masters of Reality)

Rock Stars...

Chris Goss, Masters of Reality

Masters Of Reality returned in August 2009 with a new album Pine / Cross Dover. The Sabbath influenced (and titled) stoner band have taken on a wide range of inputs for this album, with urban rhythms and John McLaughlin mixing with Beatles melodies and touches of Cream and Led Zeppelin too.

If anything the new album is more experimental, with a couple of winding instrumentals, of which the album's closing track ‘Alfalfa' runs at over 12 minutes.

The band have often had a roundabout of members coming and going, with mainstay vocalist/guitarist Chris Goss here joined by longtime drummer (and bassist) John Leamy. There are a host of guests, including members of Eagles Of Death Metal and Queens Of The Stone Age.

Albums are few and far between, something the label are happy with, as Goss is a busy man with a long list of production credits to his name.

Chris Goss, Masters of Reality

How are you enjoying your time in London?

I got in late last night, so far so good, apart from the £10 bottle of water I had to get at the hotel last night. I always forget, you need to be reminded. I got up to my room last night and I was thirsty and I thought "Oh Shit", I'm on the 17th floor, I've been travelling like crazy the last 4 days what am I gonna do.

My minibar wouldn't open, it's controlled by computer at the front desk, so I told them to sort it and I was waiting and waiting so then I phoned them to bring me up a bottle of water, still water, and it was nearly £10 or something like that, I can get a bottle of vodka for that.

Crazy, but [holding up items taken from the hotel] revenge (laughs). Water replaced cigarettes for me. I quit smoking a couple of years ago and I learned to keep a bottle of water with me all the time but the airports fucked that up. So there's periods where my water gets taken away and there's times where you don't have time to grab another, you get into town and it's late, you know, the water dilemma.

Some interesting rhythms on the new album. Was that intentional?

Oh yes, that's what we wanted. That was the plan, to make it a very rhythmic record. Yeah, absolutely, from the start.

What other influences have you taken on board for this album?

Everything in the stew man. It's almost become a subconscious thing at this point, there's so much in there, I don't know if it's a rip off anymore. There's been so much input and output over the years. You know when McCartney called his record Memory Almost Full, and I'm starting to relate to that. It's everything, right. I listen to everything to a fault. I tend to drool too much over too much so there's 30 something years of listening gone into that.

I thought "Work In The Silk" (a more dub bass number) was brave.

That's a little nod to Jah Wobble, really, yeah, I really miss his stuff. I hear he's living up in Manchester now. He was the bassist in Public Image and yeah, that's what it was.

What's the story behind "Alfalfa"? (12 minute track)

Chris A friend of mine, Mark Christian, who played guitar on a country record, last year, for two actresses; two pretty well known actresses, comedic actresses who did a country record. They asked me to produce it and Mark did a lot of guitar, he's a good picker, country Fender guitar picker, classic country playing, country swing. I had him come by and jam when we were cutting the drums for the album.

Mark, and Brendan McNichol, former guitarist with Queens Of The Stone Age and John my drummer and myself were at the studios, we were the four musicians who were there at that moment, and we just said let's jam, and that's what happened. No plan, that was it.

John (Leamy, longtime drummer)'s been with you for quite a while now hasn't he?

Oh yeah, we've been friends for over 20 years, and he's been playing in the band for nearly as long.

Do you still have a revolving door policy to the other musicians you work with?

Yeah, unfortunately yes. If I could afford to have Mike Garson, a good friend of mine, he's David Bowie's keyboard player, piano player extraordinaire, if I could afford to have Mike in the band full time he'd be a permanent member. I haven't asked him if he wants to do this tour yet, I don't want to insult him with the salary (laughs).

We're touring in October (2009) for a couple of weeks, and there are some people I would love to have in the band permanently, and if we could tour enough and be managed well enough to pay the people I wanted that would be wonderful. It's so few and far between at the moment that you never know when a little luck will happen. So we'll see.

What can fans expect from the tour?

Disappointment (laughs). A refund (laughs). If they expect disappointment and get disappointment then they won't be disappointed (laughs even more). Probably an emphasis on the new material but kind of a history of too, we have a lot of ground to cover, a lot of texture. That is basically my problem, in the next week or two, to put that together and get the members together and that will decide what it'll sound like, who's in the band, really, so we'll see. We'll see whether it's just loud guitar rock or something more crazy.

What other projects are you involved with at the moment? Do you still do a lot of production?

Always, let's see, just finished mixing a new record by Creature Of The Atom Brain, they're really cool, I'm always in a state of negotiation of the next thing or two, but nothing I can confirm or reveal, but I may be getting involved with some TV work I'm looking forward to, things like that, but the thing that's on my mind the most is this tour in October.

That pretty much overrides everything else at the moment. I really like to formulate what I'm about to do and how to do it, and with John, I'll be on the phone with him this weekend and kind of plan the assault. That's so prominent I can't think of anything else.

Chris Goss, Masters of Reality

How did the deal with label Mascot come about? Have you got a good relationship with them?

Oh yeah, Ed van Zijl (label boss) is very understanding of the artist point of view, to the point where I'm working on my record and he'll ask "How's the record coming on Chris?" and I'll say "I'm not finished yet, I'm running late", and he's like "That's OK, if you're happy with the record, I'm happy with the record".

And I believe he truly wants me to deliver a record that I'm pleased with. It doesn't get any better than that, it really doesn't. It's obvious not a major label that can give me a million dollars to do it but I like economics in music, it makes you work smarter, makes you work faster. If someone gives you a million dollars, you'll find a way to spend it and it's stupid. You should make fucking 50 records for a million dollars. So anyway, that's the Mascot story, we've been working together now for 11 years. And so far so good.

So no chance of you putting out a Chinese Democracy then?

Laughs. What a coop man. Unbelievable man. No record should take that long. If ever there was much ado about nothing. I haven't even heard the record, he (Axl) took the curiosity out of it, it took so long.

You expect the Wagner Ring Trilogy out of it, it took 12 years, and not using Brian May's parts, you know, forget it, he blew it. How long until, I mean, do you think the phone call's already been made from Axl to Slash? I think, you watch, he spent $12million making Chinese Democracy, Geffen isn't going to give him another fucking penny. So, unless he gets that band together again...

Singer needs the band, the band needs the singer....

Voila! And there you go, the ultimate exposure of what it's all about (Laughs) and then the announcement's made "Guess what they're back together" now there's a fucking surprise (Laughs). Prediction...

Who else would you like to work with?

Maybe about 10 years ago I would have said Cher, but that would have been in porn movies, ah let's see, I would love to work with an old hero of mine, Jon Anderson, lead singer of Yes. I'm going to see him play Saturday night. I just love his voice so much. I could listen to him recite the phone book.

He talks about when, on stage he was talking about when he was younger in his home town, I think it's near the Scottish border because he has a very strange accent, and the way he says Bingo, like his band would play his local church or school and in between sets they'd play Bingo.

I could just listen to him speak and I'm fascinated by the tone of his voice and I've been fascinated by the tone of his singing since I was 10 years old. And still to this day I just love to hear him sing. So I go see his solo stuff too. Yes is touring without him right now, with a stand-in, so much for that, I'm going to see the real thing.

Who else did you grow up listening to?

Everybody. I was actually reading today that Gordon Waller from Peter & Gordon died, and I was able to grow up in an era to catch the Beatles and see them on Ed Sullivan to right now liking Lady Gaga, that's a lot of ground, it's 40 something years, and of enjoying anti-pop music too.

Trying to find a sense of humour, or intentions of a lot of people, their delivery, everything. A lot of things people expect I like, like I never bought a Hawkwind album, you can't like everything or buy everything. I don't get too obscure, well I do in my own prog fusion world, like 70s Yes, 70s King Crimson with Bill Bruford...

Do you go back to that first King Crimson album?

Yes I have it sure, probably the best use of Mellotron ever, even before I heard Space Oddity, Rick Wakeman played the Mellotron on that for David Bowie, so yeah that first Crimson album was pretty incredible.

What was the first record you bought?

The first single was I Should Have Known Better / A Hard Day's Night, with the gloss picture sleeve, and the first album was Out Of Our Heads, The Rolling Stones, with Satisfaction.

The single I bought because, I was in a go-kart, you know a homemade cart to roll down a hill, and the wheels flew off, and it flipped, I flew off the go-kart and landed on my elbows.

I had to go to hospital to get the stones taken out of my elbow and on the way home it was like "you were so brave, we'll stop and buy you a Beatles record" and that's how I got that, then my aunt for my birthday took me to a record store and said I could have six 45s or one album, ‘cause there were 12 songs on an album, so I got Out Of Our Heads by Rolling Stones. I was six or seven years old or something like that, and brain damaged ever since. I love the cover especially with Brian Jones, those bangs right in his eyes, that's how I wanted to be, that was it right there.

What was the last record you bought?

That's funny because I can't remember. I tell you what it's going to be, it's going to be the new Marilyn Manson CD, I haven't heard it yet. I'm good friends with him, you think he would send it to me, I nearly worked on it.

But anyway, the last one I actually bought, they're an Algerian band, how do you pronounce it? It's something like (then spells out) t i m a r e m or something like that, it sounds like Algerian blues. North African rocking rhythm with a guy who plays electro guitar with his fingers it's really simple but that's the last record I bought. Shit and I can't ever remember how to fuckin' say it.

What fact about you would most surprise your fans?

That I'm really lazy and I like chocolate milk. I prefer ice cold chocolate milk to beer, by far. Very rock'n'roll (laughs). Nothing too drastic I suppose.

What are your main interests outside of music?

Errrm. I'm a fan of media. Or media analysis, like demographics. Watching particular words get popular, slogans, Like in the last few years the word ‘journey', especially in Los Angeles, but the word ‘journey' in reality shows, you know, like "I want to thank you for this wonderful journey", you talk about this journey that a movie does for you.

And catch phrases like that are really stupid. And what's amazing is how you can start them yourself and watch them, next thing you know you see them on TV.

The entertainment world is a very small world. There's 200 people who control Hollywood, you know, writers and producers, a few hundred media executives, they hear a word or a phrase...

I made comments that ended up on Seinfeld before, for instance remember when Saturday Night Live and Dan Ackroyd did a skit about Juliet Childs, where he cuts himself and there's blood going everywhere, well about 2 weeks before that I was in a bar in New York City, in 1976, I was just a kid, doing my Juliet Childs impersonation, and Dan Ackroyd and John Belushi were 3 feet away, and 2 weeks later Dan is on Saturday Night Live doing my impersonation.

So I watch that, watch things like that start. Like Madonna talking about her spiritual journey, her three week spiritual journey. That's it, in general, watching civilisation fall apart and crumble. Like John Lydon is funny, it's all falling to bits gloriously.

Message for your fans?

Ha Ha. Message for my fans? Turn off the TV.


Interview © July 2009 Joe Geesin

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