We sat down with Oxford mathcore trio MASIRO, who have been captivating listeners with their own blend of math-prog-metal since the tail end of 2011. Although influenced by everyone from Meshuggah and Primus, through to Mars Volta, MASIRO bear their own markings, evidenced in the shape of their brand new EP, Geodesics, which is out on Friday 7th September.
What is the full band line-up, who plays what?
Chris Pethers – Drums, Chris Hutchinson-Mogg – Bass Guitar, Mike Bannard – Guitar and other noises on the records – drones, synths etc. On this record we also feature Charlie Cruickshank on Saxophone and Lee Riley on drones.
How and when did the band form? Tell us anything interesting about your hometown.
The band started to form at the end of 2011 when Chris P and Mike started jamming together. Chris’ band Dr. Slaggleberry had split and Mike had moved to Oxford and was looking to get a band off the ground, after various dabbles and failed attempts elsewhere. Mike put an ad on the Nightshift magazine forums Chris started sharing all the mathy-metal goodness he was in to! We eventually called ourselves Masiro and gigged as a two-piece for about a year, then started trying to get bass players involved. Chris HM had seen the band play, and we all knew each other a little from other bands, so eventually answered the call! We didn’t grow up together so don’t share a hometown. Mike grew up in Bournemouth, where the live music scene seemed to be dying, hence moving to Oxford. Chris P’s hometown is technically Chinnor, where it’s all pretty local with pub open mic nights, and Chris HM had lived in Oxford for years, which has a thriving scene and lots more people!
When and how did the band really start gelling and solidifying?
When Chris HM joined around 2013ish, he added some bass parts to tracks that had otherwise already been written, which filled out the sound more. But it was when we actually started working on new ideas together that things really started to click. The rhythm section started to find its own groove, with more space for guitar to vary and take different paths. Our first record together as a three-piece was Technocologist Unknown. Looking back, even that sounds quite fragmented to us at times, like we were still trying to solidify a sound. After playing those tracks live for a while and working on new ideas, which have now been recorded as Geodesics, the sound has become more straightforward in some ways – a bit more to the point!
Who are your musical influences?
Chris P definitely leans towards a love of mathy-metal type stuff – Behold the Arctopus, Dysrhythmia, Meshuggah for eg. Mike takes influence more from post-rock / hardcore type bands – Fugazi, Russian Circles, Don Cabellero, Mogwai etc. Chris HM has a more funk influence – Primus, Parliament Funkadelic, Herbie Hancock. Inevitably our tastes have aligned in the time we’ve spent together too, and we share a lot of love for the same bands growing up – At the Drive In and the Mars Volta for eg. The Chris’ shared love of Primus is a match made in heaven! (although they disagree on the best records).
Where did the name of band come from?
Probably a similar story to most bands – we had a shortlist of names / ideas from various places. We then had to pick one for our first gig! The word Masiro comes from the book The Shadow of the Sun, by Ryszard Kapuscinski. It’s from an African dialect, and literally it means something like “burial place”, although it also carries with it meanings of mystery and the unknown. Or an epic feeling that’s hard to put into words. It also just looked nice written down! In hindsight perhaps it was unwise to use an unusual word. Most people’s reaction when they ask your band name is “What?”. So you then have to spell it.
In your opinion, how is your band different from all the other bands out there?
One the one hand it will always be unique, because every person and musician is different and has their own sound. Therefore we have our own sound by default. Our musical choices, preferences, limitations, sub-conscious patterns all contribute to the sound of the band. As well as the instruments and gear we use of course. On the other hand we are not that different! There are plenty of great 3-piece bands making heavy instrumental music that, to someone unfamiliar with the bands and genre, might say we sound similar. So it’s good to feel part of a scene where fans are really digging the music you’re making, and leaving a unique impression within it.
If a deaf person were to ask you to describe the sound of your music, how would you describe it?
Trying to describe it is futile – the sound it what it is. It’s Zappa’s famous “dancing about architecture” situation. Inevitably reviewers try their best and compare you to other bands that have similarities, which is all you can do really. There’s a language and communication happening in the music which doesn’t translate into words. Having said that, here’s an attempt: We use drums, guitars and sometimes other instruments and electronic manipulation, to create loud, powerful, weighty rhythms and frequencies that groove, build, drop and feel like they reach beyond ourselves and create their own entity. We think it sounds fun and dynamic, sometimes entering territories of epic-ness and making us pull guitar faces and stand in atypical stances.
Where can we find your social media sites?