New York band Masterlast have recently unleashed their brand new debut album and after having heard it I simply had to hook up with guitar player Val Glauser in order to talk both about the album and the band itself.
Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Lars Chriss at Escapi Music Group for setting up the interview
Promo pictures provided by Escapi Music Group
Hi, let’s start off this interview right away with you telling me some necessary background about Masterlast..
I founded the band in New York in 2002 with my friend Lizza Hasan. I had written those great songs, I thought that Lizza would sound fantastic on them, and my instinct happened to be true.
We started writing more songs together, added the work of programmer C-Drike, and we realized that we had some real alchemy there, a truly unique and interesting sound. All this, with the collaboration of John Macaluso (Drums) and Will Valentine (Bass) lead to our first international deal with Escapi Music.
Masterlast is a pretty unusual name, why did you chose to call the band that and does it mean anything in particular?
Originally we wanted to call the band “Crowned”, but then Lizza thought of this name Masterlast. She felt it sounded good and powerful and coresponded to our identity, so we went along with it. To me putting the word Last and Master together means having no more masters, think for yourself and listen to your intuition.
Are the Masterlast members involved in any other projects/bands besides Masterlast? If so which projects/bands?
I always had my solo project as a singer/songwriter/guitarist,Lizza is in Mahavatar, and all the other musicians are creative in other projects. But our focus is definitely Masterlast.
You released an EP during 2004, what did media thought of it and is it avaliable today?
We had great reactions and reviews about our EP, it got us a lot of attention and we were signed on the basis of this record. I think there might be a few copies left on www.cdbaby.com
Have you played a lot live in the States? And have you done any international shows yet?
After we released the EP, everything went really fast. We just had time to play a few shows in New York, and next thing I know we were in L.A recording the album. All the musicians in Masterlast are experienced performers, so it was a blast from the first moment we stepped on stage. We had this incredibly magical show in New York, which was a revelation that the band was going to be a great live act. If you loved the record, wait ‘til you see the band on stage!!
Does the members in Masterlast have any musical idols that you are/have been influenced by?
Of course, but the influences are very different from one another, since we all grew up in different parts of the world and didn’t necessarily listen to the same music. My Idols when younger were ABBA, AC/DC and Prince. Lizza loves Alice In Chains, Morbid Angels and C-Drike is a NIN fan.
What’s the best thing with having a “mixed” band, with that I mean male and females in the same band?
Well, I must confess that I never thought about this too much. For me we’re just people, musicians you know. So I don’t know, really.
Why only one guitar player in the band?
Because the formula works well this way.
Let us talk about your debut album MASTERY OF SELF, how long did it take to write and record, who’s written the material?
As I mentioned earlier, I had a few songs ready from the beginning, then Lizza and I co-wrote the rest of the record. C-Drike contributed with his arrangements on computer, John and Will with their special way of playing. From beginning to end, the finished product must have taken two, two and a half years to be made.
What are the lyrics about? Have you written about any special topics in particular?
We definitely have some spiritual lyrics and try to convey a certain philosophy of life. Lizza’s a great Tarot Card reader, I used to do Astrology pretty seriously, and we share a common belief in the forces of the Universe. We are often singing about people learning how to trust their guts, think for themselves and love who they are. To me every major change on this planet can only be achieved by reaching out to masses through individuals. Change your microcosm first, basically. Being in a musical band is a great way to share your beliefs. But we also have the more usual lyrics about autobiographical, intense emotional experiences.
In which studio is the album recorded and who has produced it?
It was produced by Fabrizio Grossi. We recorded at Soul Asylum and Noize Factory Studios in Los Angeles. Then the record was mixed by Ronny Lahti and mastered by Björn Engelman in Sweden.
Why the title MASTERY OF SELF? What does the title mean?
It basically means master your demons. Most people have addictions that they need to get rid of, it’s often a matter of life or death, of stopping messing with your destiny so that you can be the best you can be. At the time of naming the record, Lizza and I were both going through one of those trial periods.
Who’s done the cover artwork? Does it symbolize anything and what do you think of it?
The artist is Alexandros, he came up with this circular logo that seemed to express the message of the album’s title, the search for completeness. The contrast with a basically yang energy in the music felt right, and we adopted it right away.
Do you have any favorite tracks on the album? If so which one(s) and why?
It’s different for everyone in the band, so I can only speak for myself, but I ACHE is my favorite, it’s a songwriting success and has been picked to be our single. RUN FAR FROM ME has great power and a melodic line on guitar that I love, and WAKE UP TODAY is a tower of energy.
Are you happy with the outcome of the album now that its out in the stores?
Well, a the time that I’m talking to you the album has been released a few days ago in Europe, so it’s too soon to say. So far we had very good reviews from the press, and great reactions from the fans on www.myspace.com.
In my opinion I think I think it’s quite hard to define what music you play but I’ll give it a try, you play a mix of agressive metal combined with tribal music as well as industrial metal, how would you like to describe what kind of music you play?
It’s an accurate description…
I always have this image that comes to my mind when I have to describe the band’s sound. It’s a metal band, lost on a desert island, jamming with a tribe of native and with aliens from space and their weird instruments, around a huge fire on the beach. Or more concretely, imagine ABBA, Alice in Chains and Nine Inch Nails all in the same band!
I think one can draw certain parallels between your singer Lizza Hasan and the lead singer in Arch Enemy Angela Gossow when it comes to their voices, what do you think of that and what does Lizza think of Angela’s way of singing?
Angela Gossow is a great singer, and I’m actually wearing an Arch Enemy T-Shirt right now! Lizza also likes Angela, here is what she had to say:
“As far as Angela overall singing style, I think I sing in a lower register and for the most part I don’t use effects on my voice. All power to bad-ass female vocalists, it’s so good to hear all these different metal godesses coming through! It would be awesome to organize an all female mega tour !!”
How come you chosed to sign on for Escapi Music and for how many albums are you signed for?
We have an option for 3 albums. Escapi was a great choice because we wanted to be signed by a powerful independent rather than by a major, so that we had a chance to develop a better, longer lasting relationship with the label.
Are you happy with your label regarding the promotion of the album or is there anything Escapi can do better?
Once again we’re just at the beginning of the promo for the album, so I have no real perspective on that yet. I’m sure Escapi is doing a great job though. We developed a very good relationship with them and they’re 100% behind the record.
Do you see any problems with Escapi Music being based in Sweden when you live in the US?
Not at all, since Escapi Music have offices in New York as well. Anyway, nowadays business is done a lot over the phone, or by email, even though I feel it’s always best to be meeting people face to face.
At the moment your album is released in Europe and soon as well in Canada and Japan, but it’s not going to be released in America until next year, why let the American market wait so long?
It’s label wizardry. We were informed by the label that the American release of the record will be February 20th 2007.
People in America will be able to buy the album on iTunes by November already though.
Have you read any reviews by the European media and what they thinks of the album?
Great reviews really. The press seems to be seduced by the mix of style, the uniqueness of the project. Hopefully the fans will feel the same way.
Is there any plans doing more live shows with Masterlast anytime soon?
We’re dying to be on tour as soon as possible and be in touch with our fans. We want to do things the right way though, and we’re currently looking for the Booking Agency that will provide us with the best opportunities.
When can we find the next album with Masterlast out in the stores?
The next album? Let us tour the world with this one already!
What’s the plans for Masterlast for the rest of the year and what’s going to happen during 2007 do you think?
We will be promoting the record in Europe until the American Release in 2007, then it will be tour, tour, tour, tour!!!
Thanks a lot for taking the time to answer my questions, is there anything you’d like to say to the readers and fans out there?
Thanks for your interesting questions, I hope your readers will enjoy the answers and that they will be curious and enjoy “Mastery of Self”. People can hear some songs that are featured on the album at www.myspace.com/masterlast or on our site www.masterlast.net
Read the review of the album here
More info about the band