As you know we try to recommend you the bands which music we really appreciate. That's why we invite you to the interview with the leader one of the best german band called Masons Arms. It's good time to look at their work because they're going to release their new album soon. We look forward to this record, because the previous album 'Gepack' we listened to non-stop admiring really nice brass section.
Hot Shot Wear: I read somewhere that main inspration for Masons Arms music are the tunes from jamaica I mean reggae and ska from ’60. Which band had the biggest influence on you? It was jamaican music from the beginning?
Hanno Schattow: Masons Arms was founded as a skapunk band. So my early days are influenced by classic skapunk heroes like the Bosstones, Operation Ivy, a little bit Rancid, Less Than Jake.
But I listened also to some music from the Toasters, The Pietasters and Liberator from Sweden.
That was from 1995 - 2005
From that point I was more into roots reggae and a little bit of dancehall
And I wanted to know, what kind of music was there in Jamaica from the beginning. The early days...foundation artists. I REALLY liked the sound of these old records. It was much better, warmer, deeper than modern roots or dancehall.
I'm not into dancehall anymore. Especially that kind of homophobic lyrics and "ghetto atittude" is not my kind of writing lyrics
Right now I'm listening a big mix of old foundation artists but also new stuff. Keyser Soze, The Expanders...of course the Aggrolites. I like the new stuff Jimmy Cliff did.
Hot Shot Wear: If you mentioned about lyrics, who in Masons Arms is responsible for these. And who composes the music?
Hanno Schattow: I write all the lyrics and most parts of the music. I'm into producing music for a couple of years. So I got the opportunity to play a lot of instruments, make horn arrangements and have an idea, how the final song should sound like.
I made our last record "Gepackt" together with the famous german Reggaeartist Dr. Ring Ding and his former bass player from the Senior Allstars Andre Meyer. Andre was working for a german reggae label called "Rootdown Records" and he told me A LOT of things about producing, recording and mixing reggae and ska.
Hot Shot Wear: Many of German ska reggae bands (as far as i know) sings in English but not Masons Arms. Maybe Im wrong but probably You would be ‘in different place’ as a band right now only if You would sing in English. Why did You choose to write lyrisc in German?
Hanno Schattow: Yeah...german lyrics aren't THAT good to become famous. Hehehehe
For me it was a decision very early in our history. My first lyrics in 1998 were in german. My english wasn't that good so I couldn't express myself very well in english.
We had a singer in our skapunk years who wrote only english lyrics.
But I'm not that good with english. And I don't wanna write just "typical" radiosong-themes in my lyrics.
Of course...you can hide behind english lyrics as a german reggaeband, but I wanna be recognized by the music AND the lyrics of Masons Arms.
I don't think, that we're doing songs with english lyrics into the future. Maybe some cover for our liveset, but we are a german reggaeband and we're singing in german the last 10 years.
Hot Shot Wear: You say ‘Gepackt’ was co-produced by Richie Alexander and Andre Meyer how did your cooperation proceed?
Hanno Schattow: I built a record studio together with Andre Meyer the last 2 months. We're partners right now and this is THE BEST THING happened for me. I learned so much about recording from Andre and I still get a lot of tricks and know-how from him.
Richie was helping Masons Arms to get recognized. He made a featuring on our last record and opened many doors for us.
We played a show together a couple of weeks ago with his old school skaband "El Bosso & The Ping Pongs".
We're still in touch, but he has a lot of projects, bands and work to do. So I'm not that close to Richie like to Andre Meyer. Andre lives in Cologne like I do so the oppotunity to drink a beer together is much bigger.
I made a lot of parts of the recording and mixing of "Gepackt". But as it came to a mixdown or recording vocals we asked Andre Meyer to do this. I was not sure, that I can handle this by myself. Andre learned all that shit and I just visited a couple of courses for recording things.
But I like recording and mixing very much so I wanna to get deeper into this. We fortunately had the chance to get into a big rehearsel room, because our percussion player had his drumset there.
It was a big place with a seperate controll room. We moved there 1-2 years ago. From that point we wanna build our own studio just because we wanna make recordings on our own in a relaxed atmosphere
And I was still in touch with Andre Meyer. So I convinced our partner to give Andre a chance and right know, we're completly happy to work together!
Andre has a lot of outboard gear and we're doing a mixture of classic recording with GOOD microphones and old shit and working on the other side with a digital audio workstation (DAW).
Right now we're doing our next record in our own studio. I will mix all songs, but I'll still asking Andre to check my mixes and maybe doing some additional work like a dub remix or working with me during the vocal recordings.
Hot Shot Wear: We know that you cooperate as well with Rocking Records. In our opinion the main founder of this label has a great taste of music, what is visible in Rocking Records’ catalogue.
Hanno Schattow: We were really lucky to get on that Rocking Records Train...
Olly gives us the chance to play with a lot of international bands like the Skatalites, Keyser Soze, Leo & The Lineup, The Beatdown and so on...he also built a bridge to Allen Wright from Godown Believing. Allen made a lot for Jaya The Cat and so we played about 8-10 shows together with Jaya the last couple of years.
Our last 7inch "Fuß nach vorn" was released by Olly Will on Rocking Records and I'm preparing the next full length release of Masons Arms also with Olly.
He's a very kind person and he's doing a lot for Masons Arms and the ska scene in Europe, although it is not possible to earn much money in this music subcultre.
Hot Shot Wear: Hot Shot Wear feels the same about him. Olli is doing great job and he is realy nice and helpful person.
So when Mason Arms will relise new record? It took a whille form ‘Gepackt’ relise.
Hanno Schattow: We finished the song writing right now. We're hitting our studio from May 2015 into fall, Mixing and giving the mastering to Manfred Schulz, who did several mastering jobs for the Moon Invaders. Manfred mastered our last record and is one of our Friends.
We wanna release the next Album Winter 2015/2016
We're working at the sound of the Band pretty much. You can check this by hearing our two teasers we released. "Fuß nach vorn" and the instrumental tune "Früher war alles besser"
We wanna Sound more like a live band. "Gepackt" was a really big and high quality recording. Right now, I'm more into making a little rough sounding record
Hot Shot Wear: How you told earlier, it is difficult to earn Money in this musical subculture. From the Polish perspective The german ska reggae seems to be huge and strong, Planty of bands, gigs and festivals…always many fans there…
Hanno Schattow: There is a pretty nice ska and reggae massive here in Germany. We have great Festivals like the famous THIS IS SKA in Rosslau and the guys from this festivalcrew are also booking lots of other nice venues for shows or festivals. Dynamite Ska Festival for example or the Ruhrpott Ska Explosion. There is also a nice festival here in Cologne called FREEDOM SOUNDS which was founded three years ago. The FREEDOM SOUNDS Crew are booking sometimes a little bit of other mixtures on their festival.
MASONS ARMS played there the last 2 years. This year I'm helping the crew and take care about some artists there.
But there are also a lot of shows especially here in the area of cologne, where not so many people are showing up for a single concert.
At the end of the day...Ska is music Out of a small scene for the small scene. Familiy business.
Hot Shot Wear: Which of summer reggae festivals in germany is worth of command for ska fans from Europe.
Hanno Schattow: DEFINITLY This Is Ska in Rosslau. But there is also a very nice place in the middle of germany called REDUIT. Hermann Junglas is there one of the bookers and making not that Big festivals like in Rosslau, but I even like Hermann, his booking and the people there the most. His festival is called RIVERSIDE STOMP.
If you're more into Reggae, Roots or Rap/Pop I'd recommend Summerjam Festival here im Cologne. VERY big. I like the venue and the family Charakter in Rosslau much more...
But there are lots of dancehall artists and the biggest roots reggae bands at the Summerjam.
Hot Shot Wear: And what plans does the Masons Arms have for the summer? Some shows on the festivals? Where people can see Masons Arms in next few months?
Hanno Schattow: We will play maybe a couple of shows together with our Label mates from Keyser Soze
And we really wanna play a couple of Shows in Poland, easter parts of Germany...
We make some collaboration together with Jaya The Cat. Played a lot of shows together in Germany and the nethetlands
We're doing a show together with jaya at easter holidays
Hitting some small festivals and playing some shows in the Summer season
But we're really focussed doing a good and descent Job in the studio.
Hot Shot Wear: Derick Morgan and Doreen Shaffer are going to play at the This is Ska festiwal. If you could play a gig with any jamiacan artist who it would be?
Hanno Schattow: Doreen Shafer. We already played with her a couple of shows as her support. She is so damn nice, a very kind lady.
We played with her and the Moon Invaders and with her and the Skatalites
Hot Shot Wear: At the End I wanted to ask why You choose that name ‘Masons Arms’ for the band?
Hanno Schattow: We made our first ever rehearsal schedule in a pub in York, England. Our bass Player Mike and I were there on a school trip. That was in 1995. And the name of this Place was MASONS ARMS
So we decided to take the Name of the pub where the Band was founded as the bandname.
But there are SO MANY pubs in England with this name...just type masons arms into Google or youtube
We don't think, that it is a catchy name
We had a lot of discussion before the release of gepackt for changing the bandname
But in the end...we stayed at this Name. Bad habbit. Hehehehehe
Hot Shot Wear: I thought that You are a bunch of masons who use reggae to spread new world order vision
Hanno Schattow: YEAH! Lets take the world and make it a REGGAE WONDERLAND!!!! Mmmuuuuuharrharrharrharr
Hot Shot Wear: Please, share with us Hanno with your favorite jamaican tunes.
1.) The Expanders - Top Shelf
2.) Soul Radics - Banzai
3.) Ring Ding Skavaganza - Can't Stop
4.) Alpheus - Rudie No More
5.) The Kingstonians - The Clip
6.) Alton Ellis - So Much Love
7.) Bitty McLean - Your Heart
8.) Green Room Rockers - Confession
9.) The Black Seeds - Good People
10.) Jimmy Cliff - One More