ROBERT MASON INTERVIEW:
January 4, 2006
Few musicians have had such as interesting career as Robert Mason. From the Lynch Mob, to Cry Of Love, through Ozzy Osbourne, Robert Mason has a massive and varied discography. In 2004 he returned with one of the year’s greatest new bands, Big Cock, and an incredible debut album entitled Year Of The Cock.
SR: Your new band Big Cock is a return to melodic tongue-in-cheek hard rock, how did the band come together?
RM: Hold on; did you say “come together”? Well, David and I run in some of the same circles and have been friends for a few years. We had talked about doing something together for a while, and he had a bunch of song ideas that he’d recorded tracks for with another friend John Covington, who shares our twisted admiration for real rock and cocksure, sexually retarded lyrics, so the die was cast…
SR: What was the recording process of Year Of The Cock like?
RM: I guess I should say we scored some drugs, called up some of our favorite hookers & had them bring beer over, threw some mics on stands & it all just “came together”, but that would be the truth, which may incriminate certain members, so I’ll make something up. Here goes: David and John set up some mics in John’s concrete warehouse area of his custom bike shop and just went for it, “one take” style! When they had thunderous basic tracks, David went to town laying some solos over them in our Big Cock secret underground lair. All I remember is coming over every time I had a minute or 10 and screaming my ass off into a mic while David and our bud Steve, acting as engineer, suppressed their laughter while listening to the lyrics.
SR: The name Big Cock could have several different meanings, who thought up the name?
RM: That was Dave. We instantly all agreed that it had the swagger, balls, pomposity and attitude we needed to convey the idea. That and while dining in some Mexican restaurant deep in the heart of PHX, AZ, John and David saw this painting on the wall, bought it, and used it as our CD cover. Perfect.
SR: The album seems to be getting great reviews, how have sales been so far?
RM: It’s amazing how you can sell a CD these days and promote something that you know isn’t going to see the light of day on mainstream traditional radio formats. Technology has offered up many new avenues and the DIY ethic is alive and well! The CD is reaching so many who are tired of safe corporate mush and it’s spreading around the world quickly. Thank you all, very much!
SR: With Year Of The Cock doing so well, have you started writing new material or have any plans for a follow-up?
RM: Absolutely! We were pleased with the huge response to our initial release, meaning only one thing – the world not only needs, but also wants much more big cock, and we’re planning to record another full length CD early this year. You’ll just have to wait and see how it’ll measure up…lol.
SR: How hard is it to promote a hard rock band these days compared to the 80s heyday?
RM: Hell, it’s easier – The internet and emails get you to more places faster than any big label hype machine could in that era, as long as you’re willing to do the work and have something that people have been clamoring for. Find a market and expose yourself, that’s our credo.
SR: Are there any plans for Big Cock to tour?
RM: Initially we had no specific plan, but much interest has come up lately (all puns I guess), so who knows?
SR: You replaced Oni Logan in Lynch Mob, how did you hook up with George Lynch?
RM: We had mutual industry acquaintances who thought I should audition, I flew out to jam, and that was about it. That, and I was sick of NY winters.
SR: Was he as difficult to work with as Don Dokken lets on?
RM: Man, that’s like talking to the divorcee’ who says her ex husband is an ass! I bet he thinks she’s a bitch as well, you know? They still end up getting back together for some “old time sake” sex though, don’t they?! Well, sometimes…GL and I are like family – you love, hate, laugh, fight, etc.. but you always survive and wish each other well. He’s an amazing talent, period, and I’m a cocky jerk with a big mouth…
SR: How did you feel covering Dokken tunes on the REvolution album, and do you think Lynch Mob will record again?
RM: The REvolution recordings were fun; G had taken a different path and set an altered mood with darker tunings, arrangements, etc. and I had the unique opportunity to hang some balls and my own attitude on some of those classic songs I had grown up listening to. And I got paid for it – no better way to pay the bills.
SR: You also appeared on Cry Of Love’s underrated second album, how was it working with them?
RM: Those Southern gentlemen welcomed me into their world and became more brothers to me, ones I’m proud to have worked and toured with. Genuine, talented, and soulful players; that record is one I treasure having been involved with. COL fans are out there and they are loyal as hell. Proud is the best word I have to describe how I feel.
SR: It seemed that Lynch Mob and Cry Of Love faded into obscurity once you joined (due of course to changing musical tides), but for awhile did you wonder if you were bad luck?
RM: Oh, that’s funny as hell, let me write that down…actually I spread a joke around years ago that if you wanted your band to break up, all you had to do was hire me as your second singer LMAO!!! I’ve chosen bands based upon where I was in life at the time and the way the music affected me, not whether the band itself or the style was a flavor of the month that would make me a pile of cash. That’s like winning the lottery, and if you chase that throwing all else aside, it’s a pretty hollow existence IMNSHO.
SR: People may not realize that you accompanied Ozzy Osbourne singing backup, what tours did you work with Ozzy?
RM: Sharon called and hired me to sing live with Ozz based on recommendations from several industry folk we knew in common. He hated to use samples, etc., anything fake, but loved the backing vox he had tracked on his recordings and wanted the fans to hear those songs the way he did in his head, and we had a great blend live. He’s a powerful singer and an icon and hero to me. Both he and Sharon welcomed me in like family, and I love them for that. I toured in ’95-’96, right up to the point when I had to record with Cry Of Love.
SR: How much of your voice did the audience actually hear?
RM: I was mixed in live, just like backgrounds should be, just under his lead vox.
SR: While Sharon Osbourne may have treated you great, do you think she went too far with the Ozzfest/Iron Maiden/egg incident?
RM: I wasn’t there, didn’t hear nor see any of the dialogue and action that resulted in said incident, so I reserve judgment and specific comment. Sharon is above all both a loving, fiercely protecting wife, mom, and powerful business force. Why the hell would anyone want to invoke such wrath? Discuss tour issues in a professional private manner, not onstage over a mic to an audience who just want to be entertained. Isn’t that the smart way and the unwritten rule as I was taught? That said, I’ve worked and hung out with Bruce, who was always a funny, nice guy in my experience… And what the hell does my opinion really matter lol?!
SR: For awhile it seemed like you were going to be a member of Ratt, what happened?
RM: I’ve known Warren as long as George, and love his playing style. Stephen had left them in a bad spot (I was told). I’m buds with Rob Crane, and I ran into them in LA. I jammed a few times, talked about it, but never felt comfortable with replacing their singer. It just didn’t fit right with me. The press and fans got a hold of it and it was blown out of proportion. I know Bob and Warren wanted me to do it and were pissed/offended that I wouldn’t, but they got Jizzy who is a great, intense performer and I feel the right guy, and I hope they’re over it and we can all get along. Hey DiMar – call me, dude! I’d write and do a record with that guy outside the context of Ratt any day.
SR: Do you think with only two original members that they should even be using the name Ratt?
RM: They’re grown men and should do what they think is right. Nuff said.
SR: James Byrd once said that you were “one of the easiest vocalists to get-on with I’ve ever worked with”, do you pride yourself on not being the typical ego-driven rock frontman?
RM: Hey, isn’t this a Big Cock interview??! JB is again a huge talent and truly great guy to write, record and hang with. We were thrown together by Mike Varney and I had a great time working with James. I think ol’ Byrd was instrumental in hooking me on caffeine…Seattle and coffee, you know the drill.
SR: What other albums have you appeared on?
RM: I won’t say; I did countless early/mid 90’s sessions, getting paid to sing backgrounds, play “Song Dr.”, and “ghost” some lead vocalists, coaching them to do their best along with amazing producers in legendary studios. A wonderful experience for me, and great pay!
SR: Do you ever wish that some of the bands you have joined would have had more longevity?
RM: Duh. Seriously, sure, but I take my hand the way it’s dealt, work my ass off, and keep going. I kind of like the title “journeyman musician”.
SR: Do you have any musical regrets?
RM: Not having done that Christmas record yet…ooh, maybe “a Big Cock Christmas”!?
SR: How much of a part has drugs and alcohol played in your career?
RM: Personally – Drugs: Never. Ask anyone. Saw early on how many careers were shortened, ruined, etc. by them and decided “not for me!” Alcohol: I have a drink now and then, but it’s never been a detriment. I have, however, been affected directly by band members, etc. drug/alcohol issues, and I have no patience for that.
SR: What can we expect in the future from Robert Mason?
RM: I’m just out to work, create, and be happy, and if I can in turn inspire & please others then it will all be worthwhile. I love my job; there’s no better way to have it. Thanks to all!
Thanks to Robert Mason