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MASS – Louis St. August Interview: Discusses The “Sea Of Black” Album With Metal Odyssey!

Posted in christian rock, classic rock, Hard Rock, hard rock albums, Heavy Metal, heavy metal news, Music, rock music, rock music news with tags , , , , , , , on December 8, 2011 by Metal Odyssey

MASS & Louis St. August – If there is that one excellent album from 2010 that I was late in grasping my ears onto, that album is Sea Of Black from MASS. Louis St. August (vocalist) and his band wrote a complete album of songs with Sea Of Black, there is no question in my Metal mind about that. An all inspiring listen that encompasses me is Sea Of Black, song after song. Add the fact that this album Rocks so solidly for me, that I can’t resist telling the world that Sea Of Black is a must acquisition from 2010.

The Right Side and the title track are two heavy hitters on Sea Of Black that are tailor-made for an open-air festival, with both songs carrying an anthem vibe and own unique message of spirituality. All The Years Gone is my favorite song on this album. This song sparks my thoughts to drift in retrospect, as I think about my own life and personal moments. MASS essentially created an amazing album with Sea Of Black. I find this album’s decisive appeal in its walloping sound of later 80’s Arena Rock commingling with a Hard Rock sound of today.

Louis and his band sound so sharp and reclaimed on Sea Of Black that it’s downright infectious. I recently was afforded the opportunity to ask Louis some questions regarding this Sea Of Black album. Louis was amicable as always and here’s what he had to say:

Stone: What was the chemistry like with the band, as you wrote and recorded “Sea Of Black”?

Louis: The band was itching and ready to get started on a brand new MASS album since our last release (Crack Of Dawn) was well over three years ago and with some of those songs recorded at various places and times. So “Sea of Black” was a more of a complete album for us and a real back to how we like to record. Myself and Gene would get together a few times and just set some basic foundations like melodies and basic song structure. We would then take it down to band rehearsals and Michael and Joey would all add their ideas and we were on our way building Sea Of Black.

The band was tight and we knew exactly what we were going to do before we entered the studio. The chemistry was great and the band laid down all twelve basic tracks in just two days. Then we added additional guitar tracks, lead solos, Lead vocals and backup vocals wrapping up the recording part of it in a little more than three weeks time.

It has been a while since we recorded a full album in just one studio and it was perfect. A week later the tracks were flown to Sweden where Martin Kronlund mixed and mastered the album. Every time a song was mixed we would all listen and tweak it until it was to our liking! Thank god for today’s technology that we can now work with overseas producers.

Louis St. August – 2011

Stone: I personally feel “Sea Of Black” is the best Mass album in your catalog. Were you at any point, aiming to create the best Mass album ever or did you just let fate take control?

Louis: Obviously you always go in with the intentions of trying to create the best album you possible can and try to surpass the last release. But it really does come down to fate on how it will all end up sounding in the end. With Sea of Black we really wanted to get back to more of our roots and style and what MASS was all about with big Guitars, Big Drums, Big Vocals and Big Bass. A “MASSive” sound you might say. (Laughs). I think we achieved that and the great reception from our old fans, new fans and media proved it.

Stone: Your intro vocal scream on “The Right Side” reminds me of Ian Gillan’s vocal intro on “Highway Star”. Was this a deliberate salute to a classic vocal moment in Rock history or an original idea of yours?

Louis: (Laughs). Funny you said that I remember saying that to Gene in the studio that it sounded very “Ian Gillanish”. So I am keeping it in. I am honored to have any comparisons with such a great Rock Icon for he was one of my many vocal idols growing up. But actually the scream is sort of a little trademark I have done over the years. It started with our first album where I do a similar scream on “Watch her walk”, then on our “Take you Home” album on a song called “Want it Back” and there may be a few others too. (Laughs).

Stone: Where, what or who did you draw inspiration from when writing the lyrics and/or music for “Sea Of Black”?

Louis: Most of the lyrics I write are autobiographical something I have personally experienced in my life or have either seen on the news, read in a book or witness happening to a friend. Songs like “Falling From Grace”, “The Right Side” are about my personal beliefs in accepting God into my life and choosing the right path for me. A song like “Justify” was written about 911 and how I felt on that and “Thru The Rain” is about war itself.

On “Till We Meet Again” I simply just put myself in the shoes of an old friend who recently had lost his dear wife, soul mate, lover and friend and how I would react and feel if it were to happen to me. The song is dedicated to the lovely Kyle Sweet (Wife of Michael Sweet of Stryper) who sadly passed away from cancer whom we had the pleasure of knowing for a short time.

Stone: Is MASS stronger today than they have ever been as a band? Is the present day for MASS a “New Birth” part two?

Louis: Yes I believe we have persevered over the years and have finally come to a point where we have gained much attention and respect from the music industry on what we started here in Boston over 30 years ago. Now in our late 40’s we appreciate what we have accomplished, created and are very thankful for all our loyal fans that have stood by us over the years. For we are truly nothing without them!

It does feel like a New Birth part two in a way, with a great 2010 being one of our busiest years with 3 releases and 2011 with continued rise in album sales and with some great recorded live performances to boot. Who knows what the future holds? With that we look forward to recording our ninth album this winter and releasing it worldwide in 2012! So stay tuned MASS fans, the best is yet to come!

* For more info on MASS, click on the link below:

MASS – MASS ROCKS.COM

LONG LIVE MASS.

Stone.

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MASS – Louis St. August Interview: Reflecting On The 1985 “Do You Love Me” (Music Video) & “New Birth” Album

Posted in classic rock, Hard Rock, Heavy Metal, heavy metal albums, heavy metal videos, interviews, metal odyssey, Music, rock music, rock music news with tags , , , , , , , , on November 5, 2011 by Metal Odyssey

MASS – Louis St. August – It all started back in 1984, when MASS released their self-titled EP and garnered the widespread attention of radio stations, record companies and of course their new-found fans. In 1985, this Boston, Massachusetts originated band was signed to RCA Records and their first full-length album, New Birth, was released upon the Hard Rock and Heavy Metal world. New Birth catapulted MASS onto the Billboard charts and MTV came knocking on their door. The single released from New Birth was Do You Love Me and this song became a successful music video within the coveted MTV rotation.

Caught somewhere between the positive vibes of Stryper and their very own brand of melodic heaviness, coupled with credibility at every angle, MASS did exit the 80’s leaving behind 3 studio albums and their historic EP as a reminder of greater things to come. MASS was then, as they are now, a Heavy Metal band that glistens with accessibility without compromising their hard and heavy sound.

Louis St. August – 2011

MASS is still Rockin’ in 2011, their fifth full-length, Heavy Metal achievement and critically acclaimed Sea Of Black was released in 2010. With their best work existing in the present, reflecting on where it all began for MASS is something Louis St. August embraces and is understandably quite proud of. As the old saying goes, “times were different back then” and 1985 was no exception, as founding member and lead vocalist Louis St. August will reveal in this exclusive Metal Odyssey interview.

Stone: Do You Love Me is a memorable song from the New Birth album. What was the process of choosing this song for a music video?

Louis: It was solely RCA records idea of making and pushing the Do You love Me video first as we felt it was a poor representation of what the band was really about. We wanted to go with something a bit heavier like Too far Gone or Crying Alone. But the label insisted and thought a power ballad would open doors up for us and that radio would pick up the song a lot quicker. They told us the second video would be the heavier one which never did come to be.

Looking back at it now It’s kind of funny because the very first script the video production team wrote for the Do you love me video was actually turned down by RCA records because they felt it was too sexy and would get banned from MTV and other video stations. The script only calling for a Catholic girls school bus breaking down in some dark alley, when the girls all got out of the bus dressed up in their little catholic school dress’s knocked on our rehearsal door only to come in and start dancing seductively and falling in love with the song and band. Very mild and tamed I must say compared to the videos we see today. (Laughs). But that’s the early eighties for you.

Stone: Where was this video filmed?

Louis: The video was filmed in an abandoned warehouse in Manhattan, New York. It took two days to film it. (Film not video), that’s why it has that grainy look to it. I couldn’t believe it took 48 straight hours to film, only to have it edited down to a 3 minute and 20 second song. (Laughs). The video cost RCA records $50,000 something that would cost $5,000 to $8,000 today.

MASS – That Was Yesterday!

Stone: How difficult or easy was it to get Do You Love Me on MTV? How psyched were you guys to get that exposure?

Louis: It was not difficult at all with such a big label like RCA behind us. MTV execs were actually at the shooting of the video and approached our management at the time to see if they would agree to let MTV make the Do You Love Me video an exclusive premier for MTV. But our management said NO because they wanted to share it with the U68’s,V66’s video stations of the world. A big mistake in my eyes for we would have gained much more exposure had they agreed to this and received “heavy rotation” play instead of the “1ight rotation” we received on MTV.

We were very excited the first time it aired on MTV. Just like the first time you hear your song on the radio you never forget that feeling. After that it seemed like every time you put the TV on or the radio on you would hear your song. The phone never stopped ringing after that. And still hasn’t. (Laughs).

Stone: Were there any aggravating and/or funny moments you want to share while filming “Do You Love Me”?

Louis: We just simply had a blast making it, hanging with all the hired extras and crew. We even put our road manager (Gino) at the beginning of the video along with our stage manager (Laurie). We also included our manager & lawyer towards the end (carrying the food trays). Although it was extremely exhausting we were just running on pure adrenaline and tons of laughs and good times.

MASS – In The Present!

Stone: As you look back on the New Birth album now, what fond memories does it stir up?

Louis: There are so many but here are just a few for me. We all moved in to the studio in beautiful Bearsville New York. The whole band actually lived in a huge barn. Our equipment was set up downstairs in the living room while all our beds were upstairs in the loft. We would work with our producer Tony Platt (Led Zep /Cheap Trick, etc) during the day on preproduction stuff in the barn for two weeks before moving into the studio to start recording. When I had free time, I would ride my mountain bike through the beautiful town and hills, while enjoying the fresh air and star studied night skies.

During the evenings, the band would get together and hang with Joe Lynn Turner and his band mates and go out for dinner at various places. Joe and his band mates were there recording an album as well with producer (Roy Thomas Baker/Queen). We had a lot of fun and many a food fight at some of the top-notch restaurants in the area, where we would sometimes be asked to leave. (Laughs).

Our girlfriends, wives, would come down a few weekends during our 8 week stay and enjoy the surroundings as well as the music we were making. My wife at the time was pregnant with my first child so it was special for me when we decided to call the album New Birth.

* All Photos Courtesy/By Permission Of Louis St. August

* For more info on MASS, click on the link below:

MASS – MASS ROCKS.COM

LONG LIVE MASS.

Stone.

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