Masters of Reality - Chaos In The Desert
And if it ain't chaos, it's certainly another looped take on time and space. First of all, Chris Goss IS Masters Of Reality, having recorded with a bunch of folk through the years, including Ginger Baker for '92's Sunrise On The Sufferbus. More chaos ensues when you notice that this is a band with three very, very different studio albums (as well as one out-of-print live spread), launched to a perplexed public in '88, '92 and '00, with the live album in '97 and the '88 album again in '90 (different cover art, different label) and soon in '01 (through Rhino, with bonus tracks), the '92 album again in '00, and the '00 album (Welcome To The Western Lodge, which caused our chat with the man to happen), again in '01, i.e. first time in America, through Spitfire.
And if that isn't enough time travel for ya, Chris is putting the finishing touches on the next Masters Of Reality album, blessed with the cheeky title (for now?), McMusic, featuring such enigmatic ditties as 'High Noon Amsterdam', 'Third Man On The Moon' and 'Scattergoria'.
"I guess it's as simple as I did what I feel like doing," offers Chris on the lush crush of the current Western Lodge album. "I wanted to do something different, yet I don't know how different it is. Looking back at my own stuff, it's just kind of... they matched the mood of when the record was made. We called the album Welcome To The Western Lodge as sort of a welcome mat for people to step on before you get into the album, because it's a strange little record."
Have there been other artists on the home playlist that might have pushed you in this direction? "Probably, although I don't know if it's pushing. I've been a big David Bowie fan all my life. His ability to switch gears from record to record, probably especially during the '70s where he could jump from Diamond Dogs to Station To Station to Low to Heroes, just doing these dark, moody records, which I enjoyed and still do. I listened to Diamond Dogs quite a bit before I did Western Lodge."
And what about a production philosophy? "Blare (laughs). I don't know, I think the songs all sound different from each other. It's maybe a little pissed off."
Chris, of course, is also an in-demand producer with the stoner rock elite. "It's kind of a long story," explains Goss. "I had an operating studio in Palm Springs for a number of years and I just moved out to Joshua Tree. So for the time being I'm doing records by renting houses for different records. So right now I have a studio that gets moved around Joshua Tree. Western Lodge was done about two years ago. Since then I've produced Queens Of The Stone Age and Unida and I'm finishing up a new Masters Of Reality album now. I'm also working on the new Desert Sessions record simultaneously with the solo album from Josh from Queens Of The Stone Age. The new Masters will be out in Europe in the fall."
Chris characterizes McMusic as "rock, with no white boys rapping on it, which is something you won't hear on a Masters Of Reality record. It's a rock 'n' roll record." Heavier and more straightforward than Western Lodge? "Probably. I know I've had a lot of fun singing this new record as far as vocal harmonies go. I just felt free to take it wherever I want to vocally. And I could stack harmonies for days in the studio, I love to do that, yeah, probably a lot more intricate vocal work."
Any philosophy behind having different players on all of your records, or would you like to keep a standard band at some point?
"Actually I'd love to keep a standard band but it's hard to do with the schedule. There are spaces between Masters Of Reality records and any musician that I get on with would have to be available when I'm ready to do one. This particular one I'm working on now, actually for the first time, all of my friends who I love to play with are not out on tour, so there are all kinds of guest appearances on the new record, Queens Of The Stone Age, Screaming Trees, A Perfect Circle, some friends from The Flys. There are probably about 10 or 12 guests on it, and that's a first. This is the first time I'm doing a record that I had some people around who wanted to jam and be involved in it. Usually they're on tour."
"With Masters Of Reality, I'd like to get records out quicker and I think I am now," offers Goss in closing. "But as far as making other records, I mean, I'm in the studio constantly so in terms of the general pace of making records, yeah, I'm making enough records. To me, both situations are the same creative process. I enjoy them just as much. I get asked that quite a bit. I love to make rock 'n' roll records and I have a chance to do it with bands I enjoy, which is actually the only bands I work with. I don't go out and solicit work. I don't go hang out backstage in L.A. and look for bands to produce. A lot of musicians who want to work with me, find me. If they like what I do and they want some of the principles that I apply to music, that's great. It's the same thing, whether I'm doing a Masters record or working with another band, I consider it like going into the Biosphere for a few months with someone, like an expedition. The doors get closed and the windows get shut and you come out with a record and yeah, it's a gas."