Off The Bat’ is the debut EP from Liverpool’s own Mason Owens. A songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from the L13 area of North Liverpool. He is signed to Liverpool based independent label Nifty Records who will be releasing his debut EP in November 2020.
His music is unique and hard to define; influencess include John Martyn, Sublime, Shack, Pink Floyd, Tenacious D, Johnny Cash and The Beatles amongst his influences, He therefore takes from a myriad of sources to create his own distinct, guitar laden sound.
Writing from personal experience, his lyrics often infuse humour and the surreal, to convey his candid subject matter. Though his songs are steeped with regional character and his vocals delivered with a native Scouse twang, his themes, such as the realities of working-class life, personal hardships and relationships, and substance induced escapism, are universal and instantly relatable.
Though Mason has been playing guitar and writing music since his early teens, as well as playing bass in several bands including Rats and Eva and The Primeras, he has only been performing as a solo artist since November 2018.
He sees music as a force for positive change, citing his personal experience of undergoing a music course with prison based ‘In House Records’ whilst incarcerated at HMP Elmley as testament to this. Writing songs about his situation provided him with a positive focus and allowed him to grow as both an artist and a person, leading him away from a potentially destructive path.
In the short time he has been performing as a solo artist (with his first ever show being to fellow inmates in HMP Elmley), he has attracted the attention of many in his home city, playing a host of notable events (listed below), securing a record a deal and releasing several singles.
Mason’s sound is hard to pigeonhole. And His debut EP reflects this with each of the four tracks having its own idiosyncratic style and character. From the rock inspired ‘Simmer Down’ to the blues orientated ‘Black Coffee’, the tracks featured on Off The Bat have an air of familiarity but still manage sound like something entirely new
So, I interviewed the man himself about the early years and the new Ep;
What music did you first hear and connect with?
2 CDs come to mind – I remember being in the house as a child, around 3 years old ; the Beatles ‘1’ album and Elephant by The White Stripes. I used to play air guitar on a wooden spoon.
And did you go to local gigs, and do you recall any stand out gigs?
I’d been to a few gigs but nothing special enough to stick in my memory. I can’t recall what I had for breakfast this morning though to be honest.
Are you constantly thinking about writing, or is it more mechanical and you think, now it’s time to write a song?
I’m always thinking about writing but the best songs find their way to you. You can’t force it out.
Do you work on the music separately from the lyrics, or do they flow together?
Usually I get the music first and then add lyrics but it varies from song to song.
Your lyrics capture the realities of working-class life; personal hardships and relationships are recognisable to many, do you feel all subjects can be tackled within lyrics, or do you keep anything back ?
I think anything can be expressed through music. For me, it’s the greatest art form.
Your time in HMP Elmley and the music course within; was this a life changing moment for many reasons?
Of course, they threw me on a wing with all types of seedy cats and very violent individuals and I had to live with them for a while. It took me massively out of my comfort zone. It has changed my outlook on life and taught me not to take things for granted. All experiences can be used to your advantage, good and bad. I think going through hard times betters you as an individual.
To go from there, singles, the new Ep and a recording for the first time in a studio, must be exciting , how did you find the studio experience and watching your work progress into the EP ?
I’ve recorded in studios before just not as a solo artist. It was a great experience to record my own tunes with a boss band – including Andy Ashton (Silent-K) on bass and my brother Jacob on drums. We worked with a brilliant producer, Steve Powell, whose worked with loads of artists I admire including Mick Head (Shack). Like a lot of artists, I have a habit of scrutinising and reassessing my work when it’s done. I’m my own biggest critic and, listening to it now, there’s maybe a few things I’d change, but I might think differently again in the future! I’m trying something a bit new with some of the tracks on this EP which is partly reflected in it’s title ‘Off The Bat’. Hopefully there is a bit of something for everyone on there and people take to it. If not, it’s one of them. I’ve got a shed load of tunes there and I’m already thinking about what to put out next!
Liverpool, is an inspiration to many, can you sum up why?
Best city in the world innit? Inspiration flows through the streets
And finally, what next for Mason Owens?
A cup of coffee and some toast!
Thank you to Mason and Nifty records
‘Off The Bat will be released through Nifty Records and available on all major platforms on 04/12/2020’
Follow Mason Owens on twitter @masonowensmusic