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Rock band Mason Hill: ‘We want to be a global touring machine’

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Up-and-coming Scottish quintet Mason Hill, who will soon be coming to Cambridge for the first time, is the first rock act to go top 20 with its debut album since Greta Van Fleet in 2018.

Rock band Mason Hill
Rock band Mason Hill

It is an incredible achievement for the band from Glasgow, which has not been able to play live – building a fanbase from town to town in the process – for more than a year. Now there will (hopefully) be the opportunity to catch the boys live in Cambridge when they undertake their first headline tour this autumn, stopping off at The Junction’s J2 on September 14.

Rock band Mason Hill
Rock band Mason Hill

The album, Against the Wall – mixed by acclaimed producer Chris Sheldon (Biffy Clyro, the Foo Fighters) – was released in March and hit number 19 on the UK album charts. It has received critical acclaim, with Metal Hammer proclaiming: “The music really does the talking. Powered by enough energy to light up the national grid!” Against the Wall also went to number one in the UK rock album chart.

With no live performances, the record’s innovative marketing campaign, run by both 7Hz Productions (ADA) and the band, involved a six-month fan-building initiative utilising social media platforms, streaming performances, virtual ‘in store’ launch events, dark ad audience building and strategic media takeover promotions. The subsequent positive reviews have also helped the group to build its following.

Rock band Mason Hill
Rock band Mason Hill

Mason Hill comprises Scott Taylor (lead vocals), James Bird (lead guitar), Marc Montgomery (guitar), Matthew Ward (bass) and Craig McFetridge (drums). We put some questions to James.

How are you, James? What have you been up to recently?

We’re doing great! We’ve just been trying to stay as active as we possibly can during this pandemic. We’ve been really hitting our social pages hard these last few months and tried to engage with our fans as much as possible.

Obviously we want things to go back to normal, as I’m sure everyone does, but we’ve definitely tried to take this situation and make the best of it. So if anyone reading this fancies it, do join us over on our social media pages: Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and the Mason Hill fans group on Facebook.

How has the lockdown period been for you personally and for the band? Were you able to get together as a band and write/rehearse?

Lockdown has been OK, I guess. It’s not ideal but what can you do really? It’s given us time to figure out how to do other things and open our eyes to becoming more engaging on social media with the fans of the band, so it’s definitely thrown up some positives.

Unfortunately we haven’t really been able to meet up as we are all spread across different parts of Glasgow, and Marc is actually in Edinburgh. Things look like they’re starting to ease though so we can get back into our rehearsals soon as I have been cooking up some great new material which will be here ready and waiting for whatever comes next for the band.

Have you missed performing live? How confident are you that the tour can go ahead in September?

Yeah, we have definitely missed performing live. Now that we have an album in our hands all we want to do is go and gig with it, but unfortunately we are still waiting for the green light on that. I think it’s going to make us and the fans way more up for being out, though.

Yeah, we’re pretty confident the tour will go ahead... There have been events held in other parts of the world successfully and, with the rapidly improving situation, I am confident come September we can finally get out there but hey we’ll see.

The tour covers 24 dates through September and into early October so it’s going to be a great way to blow away the cobwebs and let people hear the new album up close and personal.

Against the Wall has been really well received. I gather it was all recorded before the pandemic? Has the positive reaction surprised you or deep down did you feel you had something special?

Yeah, the recording was completed in January 2020 but it still needed to be mixed and mastered, of course. Chris Sheldon mixed the album during the first few months of lockdown so we all had plenty of time to focus on it.

To be absolutely honest, we have always believed in this band having something special. We are first and foremost big fans of music so we feel like although we are only a band with one album to our name, the experiences we’re having are leading us to unleashing that special something we’ve had burning inside us since we picked up our instruments at a young age.

In my view, it isn’t always that common to come across a band that is genuinely growing from grassroots, all working together for that same common goal to take this band as far as we possibly can. The passion is there and we are relentlessly working to try and take it all the way.

I understand it is the first debut album from a rock act to debut in the UK top 20 since Greta Van Fleet in 2018? Quite an achievement! It seems there are a lot of great young rock bands around at the moment?

It’s one of those amazing stats that you find out about after the album is released. I’m going to miss being able to say “debut album” because now I feel like we have an expectation and pressure to deliver the quality on the second album.

There are indeed many great new British rock acts doing really well at the moment and the scene is really thriving. The competition is healthy and all the bands are very respectful of each other, generally helping out where they can. We are part of a great rock community, fans and bands alike.

What have been some of your career highlights to date? What are some ambitions you hope to tick off the list?

I think the biggest so far is achieving number 19 on the UK official album charts and number one in the UK Rock & Metal charts. That can never be taken away and we are very proud of the achievement. Prior to that, I’ll always remember when we started selling out some venues.

What an amazing buzz we had doing it for the first time in our hometown of Glasgow at a venue called The Cathouse. It was so surreal to us. We’d like to go on tour some day with a favourite band of ours who has influenced us all these years – just being able to tour with some idols someday would be amazing.

Aside from that, our bucket list mainly consists of one solid goal which is to make Mason Hill a global touring machine so we can see the world.

Mason Hill is scheduled to appear at The Junction’s J2 on Tuesday, September 14. Tickets are £13.50 in advance. Support comes from Hollowstar and Empyre. Visit junction.co.uk. For more on the band, go to masonhillofficial.com.

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