Mass Lines is an up and coming band from Great Britain who has a big sound and a lot to say about current affairs in their country. Hailing from Canterbury, Kent, these working-class boys draw inspiration from both societal and political issues in which it has become hard for the “average Joe” to maintain a decent living standard. But it isn’t all serious business for these dudes. Mass Lines is a band in the forefront of the UK’s blossoming DIY scene and know how to have a good time and blowout your eardrums while doing it! Their latest noise-punk LP, Personality Cult proves that from beginning to end. I reached out to the band to get a little more info on Personality Cult, as well as insight as to what their band is all about, and even what their favorite beers are.
For anyone who hasn’t yet had the pleasure of listening to Personality Cult, could you give us a haiku that describes the experience they are in for.
Six songs for the punx
Booty-shaking garage rock
Sorry, no refunds
How did Mass Lines come to be? What is the inspiration for the band’s name?
Some of us were working in the same bar and living in a house we struggled to afford and Mass Lines presented itself as a positive way to channel those frustrations. We came across The Mass Line in an article about Marxism. It means deriving the wants and needs of the masses then feeding it back to them as a political line, although people have assumed our name is associated with religion or drugs. Naming your band is the least fun part of being in a band.
Where do you draw inspiration from, be it other bands, people, media, etc?
Musically, all the obvious reference points like Fugazi, Hot Snakes, and Cloak/Dagger. The guitars and drums try to ride a line between urgency and swagger. Lyrically, it’s about the state of affairs in the UK – which is becoming an increasingly troublesome place to live unless you are rich. Which we aren’t.
We think so too. It was done by Chris White – one half of the WeThreeClub graphic design team who we’re big fans of. We didn’t give him much to go on – just the songs and the title. We had faith in his skills but the end result far exceeded our expectations. We’ve since learned he struggled to come up with imagery, but whatever he did worked. I’m pretty sure we’ve sold a fair few records just because of the artwork. People should check out the WeThreeClub website.
Personality Cult was released on dual labels, Hot Salvation and Rip This Joint. How did the relationships and the joint collab come about?
They’re both long-time friends who were kind enough to help us out. Hot Salvation (George, Nat and Mark) have championed our various projects for years, so it was a no-brainer when they asked to release Personality Cult. They’ve already put out the Cosmic Thoughts LP and have some really exciting punk and post-punk releases lined up. We’re in good company. The same is true for Rip This Joint, who are based in London and have released bands such as Death Pedals and Dead Arms. We were fans who later became friends. Both labels are trying to build something in their respective communities and it feels good to be a part of that. Also, pressing vinyl is pretty expensive and couldn’t have funded Personality Cult if it wasn’t for the support of both labels.
Looks like you have your album up in a few shops. What are your thoughts on vinyl vs other mediums like CDs or tapes (the latter, which seem to be making a comeback)?
I prefer it. Vinyl feels like the complete article whereas CDs feel a little disposal. Maybe it has something to do with being able to admire the artwork, pour over the liner notes and remove the record from its various layers of packaging before synching it up on the turntable. It’s immersive. As for tapes, I’m not convinced, although you could argue they share some of those qualities.
I have talked with a couple bands from the UK and DIY is constantly brought up. DIY scenes, labels, shows. How did the DIY scene come to fruition and what is it all about in your opinion?
Our scene (in South East UK) is in rude health. There are a lot of good bands and artists who are working together and supporting each other. Those involved seem to put progress over profit, which is good to see. It has been building for a few years and it seems we’re really reaping the benefits right now. We’re not too well versed in UK DIY, but there seem to be a lot of interesting things going on around the country, particularly in the north.
It’s great. The quality of bands in and around Canterbury is really high right now and rivals anywhere else in the country. We’ve got everything from post-punk to disco-tinged electronica. People should go and check out Sans Pareil, Cosmic Thoughts, Ray Gun, Negative Space, Harrowed, Brassica, Alocasia Garden, Weak Nerves, Land Speed and, from a little further afield, Death Pedals. The quality and variety seems to be attracting interesting bands from other corners of the UK. It certainly makes for diverse and interesting shows. As for the UK overall? We haven’t managed to go too far yet, but we’re hoping to change that in the near future.
I should also mention that Hot Salvation, our label, also functions as a record shop in a nearby town called Folkestone. It’s acted as a bit of a hub for the various bands’ output.
What has been your biggest disaster live?
We supported The Pop Group recently and learned they are awful humans (apart from one kind guitar player). The singer made some jibe about our clothes before we’d even entered the venue and then they refused to move their drum kit from the stage, suggesting we set ours up on the floor. Naturally, we moved their drums. This resulted in being cold shouldered by their crew who told us we were in trouble… trouble which never materialised. The gig itself was great though, not that The Pop Group would have known. They chose to stay in a backstage area. I don’t think we’ve had any real live disasters, though. It’s going to all go wrong at the next show, isn’t it?
Biggest live success?
Our Personality Cult launch show was pretty special. The place was packed out, people were really receptive and we played well. Chris put on the show, and we put Sans Pareil and Ray Gun on the line-up which really brought it together. We also managed to raise a bunch of money for a local homeless charity.
Top 3 favorite beers. Go.
Anything cheap and dirty. At the moment, we are a bit obsessed with Galahad which costs 50p (78 cents) a can, Red Stripe, and Buckfast which is actually a tonic wine but definitely fuel for all the local punks. Jack, our drummer, has been travelling the world and says Australian beers Cricketers Arms and Fat Yak are great too. We’ll take his word for it.
Best late-night, street food drunken snack?
Tom’s partial to chicken wings.
Mass Lines world takeover? Or world peace?
Neither, do your own thing world. We’d rather be in a dimly-lit basement making a racket. But if we had to choose, it would be world peace. Obviously.
I had nothing to offer anyone but my own confusion.