Vocals, Guitar, Production
Guitar, Vocals, Production, Mixing
Bass, Vocals, Production, Mastering
George Van Renselar
Synths, Vocals, Production
A melodic earful of guitars, synths, samples, and affecting four-part harmonies; lyrical disdain and proper songwriting; masses.
Formed in Leeds in autumn 2014, masses. are a collective of professional music producers who have spent years perfecting the production of modern pop, rock and electronic music. All the while becoming increasingly exasperated with the sterile, vacuous nature of the records filling the charts.
The band have a clear vision musically, looking to combine British alternative rock with elements of trip-hop and electronica, drawing from the likes of Radiohead, Massive Attack and Pink Floyd.
Lyrically the group steer clear of well-trodden paths and look delve into the darker corners of the human condition looking at themes of doubt, loss, fear and confusion.
Their music production and sound engineering backgrounds provide a rock solid base on which the slick live show has been built, with live sound quality being a premium rather than an afterthought. The aim is to set a new benchmark for bringing pristine studio sound into the live experience, to guarantee a great show.
2015 brought 3 singles and an EP from masses. with singles “Dive”, “Waiting” and “In Circles” receiving radio play around the UK and on the BBC stations. The band also toured around the UK supporting the likes of Sundara Karma, Vitamin, Man Made, King No-One and Glass Caves.
LATEST RELEASE: twelve|twelve (Album Project)
Building on the success of their debut EP “I Couldn’t Be Happier” the band embarked on an ambitious twelve-month release project twelve|twelve throughout 2016… Releasing a new track on the 1st of each month throughout the year.
“We already have a number of tracks that are pretty much there in terms of songwriting, but the idea is to produce the record on the fly and then release it as we go” stated frontman Cain Cookson at the start of the project. “It’s not like we already have this sat in our back pocket and we’re drip feeding it out. The whole point of this is to see how we develop over a 12 month period and document the best of it on record”
The band have a clear vision musically, looking to combine British alternative rock with elements of trip-hop, drawing from the likes of Radiohead, Massive Attack and Pink Floyd.
Where previous releases by the band have been entirely self-produced, this time they have the assistance of producer and Embrace/Talk to Angels keyboardist Mickey Dale. A step that has allowed them to focus more fully on the songwriting this time around.
“We’re all record producers, which is great is some ways but have you ever sat with 3 other people and argued about a snare drum sound for 2 hours? Because I have and it’s exhausting! This time we thought let’s let someone else worry about that and we’ll concentrate on that killer chorus!”
LAST RELEASE: In Circles (Single)
“With this song, the aim was to create a great radio single that would sum up our ethos as a band, while providing a catchy singalong chorus that we hope can open us up to a whole new audience. Originally this song was going to be on the previous EP, but we wanted to save it until we were on a roll, for maximum impact. On the surface, it’s a great indie alt-pop song with guitars and a nice melody, but if you listen closely you’ll hear a whole world of complexity blossoming out… in the lyrics, in the rhythms, in the layers of vocals and guitars and percussion and synths. This song took 3 solid months work to perfect, and we couldn’t be happier now it’s ready for everyone!” Keep your eyes peeled for a “Making of In Circles” blog post coming soon, breaking the song down in depth.
PREVIOUSLY: I Couldn’t Be Happier (EP)
“We wanted this record, our debut, to showcase what we’re about as a band… to be a taste of things to come but not to give away the whole show I suppose. We knew the first record would only get a limited audience but we wanted to make a strong start and not release anything half-hearted, so we spent countless hours from December to February trying different vocal harmonies, guitar tones, synth ambience etc, trying to make the biggest impact we could from just 3 songs. It resulted in a record with eclectic influences, over the course of three tracks drawing in sounds from many different genres, but hopefully tying it all together with that “masses” sound.” Much more in-depth explanations on songwriting processes etc can be found on our blog.
- “TWELVE|TWELVE” – Monthly Singles ” – Released 1st Jan 2016 to 1st Dec 2016 – Digital Download
- “IN CIRCLES” – Single (+ B-side “Sleep”)” – To Be Released 30th August 2015 – Digital Download
- “I COULDN’T BE HAPPIER” – 3 Track EP” – Released 20th Feb 2015 – Digital Download or Limited Edition CD
- “WAITING” – Single” – Released 27th Jan 2015 – Digital Download
- “DIVE” – Promo Single ” – Released 8th Nov 2014 – Digital Download
- “Full of dark, deprived of hope mood, exaggerated exquisite guitar chords, keys and magic backing vocals… pop music has long been so powerful and touching. ”
– “Cold Shoulder” Single Review, GigIslands
- “Some very unique rock from Leeds five piece masses… “Waiting” is a melodic rock anthem with a guitar heart and electro tinged soul. ”
– “Waiting” Single Review, Diamond Deposits
- “With catchy lyrics and a hypnotising sound from the guitars and keys, those of us who’d braved the early morning hours were grateful… I particularly enjoyed their songs ‘Waiting’ and ‘Circles’, as well as the song they concluded with, ending with a powerful instrumental which crashed into the night. ”
– Gig Review, Browse Magazine
- “AUDIO INTERVIEW WITH masses. (Streaming on Soundcloud)”
– Podcast, Nineties Boy
A DIY Band
Every song released by masses to date has been entirely self-produced… written, recorded and mixed behind the walls of Peak Studios, where all the members are resident composers, producers and sound engineers, with only occasional advice and “outside ears” from other producers and friends.
masses has a unique open-door policy when it comes to their internal workings as a band. The ins and outs of day-to-day happenings are described in full and frank detail on their blogs, often in a warts-and-all account. The hope is that this information will be helpful to younger bands who are just starting out and might benefit from the years of combined music industry experience from the members of masses.
Lots of masses songs are the results of experiments with different concepts… i.e. 4 simultaneous and intertwined lead vocals showing a split personality and indecision, or having only 1 chord throughout and hence being an exercise in dynamics, or maybe ever-shifting time signatures around a looped riff, etc. The songs released to date give a taster of these interesting musical ideas, but they only scratch the surface of what is to come.
masses like to plan far into the future and write records well ahead of time… with 9 songs released to date, they currently have enough rough material for the next 2 records, and are busy honing them in rehearsals and in the studio, deliberately building in a progression of their sound over the next months and years.