Interview: Mason Lowe

Mason Lowe is a power pop musician from Seattle. He is the drummer in the classic rock inspired band Bread & Butter and now he’s branching out and releasing his solo debut Morning People, which is coming out next month, on the 23rd of June. The album is definitely worth a listen if you’re a classic rock fan. If you can’t wait another month, he has a single out now called “Plastered”, which prominently features fuzz guitar. In the music video you can see a nod to Bo Diddley’s cigar box guitar, also known as The Twang Machine. I also love the 70s cabin aesthetic. Overall, if you’re a fan of musicians I’ve interviewed in the past like Pennan Brae and Jim Basnight, you’ll like Mason Lowe’s music. I was lucky to have gotten an advance copy of the album ahead of its release and I find it to be a fun, energetic album with a very 70s sound with lots of punchy guitar riffs and singalong moments. Definitely give his album and Bread & Butter a listen if you love music like Big Star, T Rex, The Beach Boys, The Who, and Badfinger.

We’re lucky to have Mason with us on the blog to talk about his music.

Angie Moon: How would you describe your music to a new listener?

Mason Lowe: I’d say that my songs get straight to the point, give up the goods pretty quick, and don’t stick around too long. Good, short songs that will reveal little secrets as you listen to them again and again.

Angie: How did you get into classic rock? 

Mason: I had a standard suburban West Coast relationship with classic rock as a kid. Riding around with my high school friends listening to Pink Floyd and the Who. Later on, I had a long obsession with the Beach Boys that never really ended. I’d be walking down the street singing lines from Smiley Smile and making my friends wonder if I was OK. 

Angie: What classic rock musicians and albums changed your life?

Mason: Funkadelic’s Maggot Brain (and their other records from the early 1970s) kinda tore the top of my head off. I love how the songs can be dense, loose, jazzy, and hard all at the same time. T. Rex Electric Warrior, too. I can remember the first time hearing “Mambo Sun” and looking at that perfect album cover and thinking, “Yep, that’s how you do it.”

Angie: What is the music scene like in Seattle?

Mason: It’s always changing! I don’t think it’s fully recovered from the pandemic. But more than one big scene, it’s really a bunch of smaller, more personal scenes and that’s pretty cool.

Angie: The opening track “Plastered” features fuzz guitar, what are your favourite fuzz guitar songs?

Mason: It’s hard to beat Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit in the Sky!” That whole album is superb, even if none of the other songs has that grinding, sputtering, fuzzy guitar. Being from the Pacific Northwest, I need to bring up the Sonics. “Like No Other Man” is a solid banger.

Angie: One of your biggest influences is power pop, what makes the genre special to you?

Mason: I like spacey ten-minute epics that unfold slowly and take you on a journey. But I love songs that hit you with something intriguing right away and keep your attention. Power pop delivers that in a way that few other genres do.

Angie: What are your favourite power pop songs?

Mason: These days, I’m really feeling “Driver’s Seat” by Sniff’n the Tears. My Bread & Butter bandmate was visiting with his daughter – she’s about 5 – and she asked me to play that song for her on YouTube. I was like “Okaaaaay” and pulled it up and as it played, she got a super serious look on her face and I could see how intensely the song was affecting her. What was going on in her little head?

Angie: How different would you say your solo music is from Bread and Butter?

Mason: Not too different! The main thing I learned from Bread & Butter was music can be fun. It’s weird that a Beach Boys nerd needs to be reminded to put “fun” in their music, but I’m a naturally serious guy. 

You’ll find weirder and more varied tones on my record. I love doing sonic experiments – which you can’t always do when three other people need to sign off on your idea. Alone, I could spend hours and hours getting sounds that might last just a few seconds. Listen to the organ solo after the first verse on “What Took You So Long.” That’s not an organ. I probably spent an entire day doing that. I shoulda just gone out and bought a frickin’ organ!

Angie: What was it like writing and recording Morning People?

Mason: Like a dream. I’m a little mystified at how fast the songs and recordings came together. I love being in the studio, but it’s also a lot of work: setting up the gear, writing the arrangement, re-writing the arrangement, doing take after take until it sounds good, scrapping the whole thing and starting over. But honestly, the hours just flew by. 

Angie: What was it like recording the music video for “Plastered”?

Mason: It was like meticulously creating a world where things kinda make sense if you squint your eyes… My girlfriend Zoë designed the set and the special effects, and we built the props together. My pals Shane (Bread & Butter) and Maria (Acapulco Lips) played the other musicians in the band so people wouldn’t have to look at my face non-stop. Sean Downey directed it and I loved how loose he was. “Why don’t you take this bunch of sticks and just throw them on the ground?”

Angie: What are your favourite songs on the album?

Mason: “Hanging Around” was the first song written for the album and it set the tone, so that has a soft spot in my heart. I also really love, “What Took You So Long,” because it combines my two great loves – being hard on myself and saying nice things about my girlfriend.

Angie: What are your goals for the year?

Mason: I put together a band of friends to play these songs live and promote the release. I would love to get invited to play a festival somewhere fun! I’m also hoping that some bands or musicians like what they hear enough to ask me to record or produce songs with them. I can do the alone-in-the-studio thing, but it’s way more fun with friends.

You can follow Mason on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Bandcamp, and his website.

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