We were first introduced to Reece Mastin in 2011 when he was crowned the winner of X Factor Australia. Since then he has had multiple top 10 hits, toured the country countless times, released a documentary, appeared on the cover of magazines and became a bit of a poster bad-boy. But all of that has changed. In 2015 he left his major record label and took a bit of a break to focus on rediscovering who he is as an artist. He has now returned with a new musical project simply titled Mastin which is more rock focused and sounds genuine. His debut EP “Suitcase Of Stories” will be released on April 6 and the songs have an honest sound and approach to them that will leave you impressed. I recently chatted to Reece about the transition from being on a major record label to becoming an independent artist, how this creative process differed to his previous records and how he’s wanting to showcase this EP on his upcoming national tour. Check the chat out here;
TB: ”Suitcase Of Stories” is a bold collection of tracks that honestly hears you finding yourself as an artist. What was the creative process like for this project compared to your previous records?
RM: It was completely different. The set up is the same, I’m in there with my band and still approaching it in the same way recording wise. I did do this record with a guy called Ricky who is one of my friends and absolutely brilliant at what he does. I think with this record what we really wanted to do in the sense of musical integrity was tell the stories the way I want to tell them. I’m not so much worried about what people are going to think about it because I do honestly believe that it is a closer representation of where I wanna be and what I want to say and how I wanna say it. In that regard it’s quite different and also I got to play all my own instruments which has been a massive thing for me. I was shitting myself doing that but it’s come out alright.
TB: With this EP finally nearly in the world how do you want to evolve this project musically next?
RM: Consistency is a big thing for me. I have had a bit of time away which I did need for myself and it is a cliche saying that I needed to find myself musically but that is what I needed to do. With the type of music I’m making it’s a really close representation of who I am as a person. I’m not just making records to sell records anymore. I’m making records that I really want to do. Now I’m getting to the point where I am more on top of what is going on in my life personally and in the business side of things. I definitely don’t want to go away for 2 years again to figure out what I wanna do for the next one. It is almost here and I have a bunch of stuff in the bank ready to go out so we will be back in with Ricky soon. I just want to keep it going.
TB: ”Not The Man For You” has that epic classic rock feel to it. So what is your ultimate go-to classic rock track?
RM: I love Free. They have always been a favourite of mine so “Alright Now” from Free. I went through that 80’s era Aerosmith and Guns N Roses phase but it always comes back to the 70’s.
TB: Also I feel like the song “The Problem had a bit of a blues tone to it while “The One That Never Gets Away” has this kind of theatrical rock sound to it…
RM: It is a very guitar driven record. Like I said before I’m really pushing myself to play everything on the record so I wanted that to represent where I am now as an artist and a person and change it up a bit. I love Country music as well and theres guitars everywhere in Country music so I have a bit of that southern blues thing going on in “The Problem”. And the message in that song does tailor itself for that blues genre with the melancholic story of the girl being the problem. Where as for me “The One That Never Gets Away” is high energy rock n roll. That song was the one my manager and I based on the drive home and you can’t help but just speed. My manager is gonna hate me saying that *laughs*. I wanted everything to be different. Like “Tell Me All About It” is quite sombre and it’s pretty angry. I wanted to put in everywhere I have been the past couple of years, I wanted to open up a little more.
TB: Previously your pop-rock ballads have been fan favourites because of their raw vulnerability and I found that on this EP you were a bit more grittier with your delivery. Do you find it harder to write angsty songs or to write more vulnerably?
RM: I think emotionally for people in general it is easier to be angry and on the other end of the spectrum it’s also pretty easy to fall in love. So those two emotions weren’t too hard. Trying to tailor it and not push it too hard on the sex side of things was something I struggled with because I usually take it way too far. And again with “The Problem” when you want to put in some tongue and cheek in without coming across too bitter. So those two were a little bit more challenging. But I remember when I was doing “Tell Me All About It” I was in a really shit place when I wrote it but then when I was in the studio I was on top of the world. After I took the first take I said to the boys that I needed a minute to sit down and emotionally go back to when I was writing it on the kitchen floor. I think it’s really important to try capture those moments when you’re recording.
TB: In the lead up to the birth of this project were you nervous to how your long-term fans would react to this slight change in musical direction?
RM: Yeah that’s been a massive thing for this whole project. You have moments where you question if those people will like this and you want to be true to them because they’ve stuck by you this whole time. Like it’s been seven years now and I still have a bunch of the same fans who come out to all the gigs and I want to make them proud. But this is a record that not everyone is going to like and that is okay with me. I feel like those people that do like it will love it and will wait for the next record and come to the shows and that’s who I want to share this music with. Not that I don’t want everyone to like it because that would be great but realistically its not going to happen. Rock n roll isn’t the main genre around the world but for me it’s what I love and you have to be truly happy doing what you’re doing.
TB: You were welcomed into the music industry at a very young age. What do you think you learnt most about yourself from the whole post X Factor experience?
RM: I guess the biggest learning curve would’ve been leaving Sony. That was obviously a very hard decision. I had a really good break which was very good for me and I had a very good relationship with Dennis (the head of Sony Music Australia) and he knew what I wanted to do. We had a really long chat about it and when I left I feel like I was on very solid ground with everyone so it felt right. However I learnt through that experience that with those big record companies you are kept in the dark a little bit with what’s going on and I think that was the biggest thing for me. I was looking at it like I need to wrap my head around it all and do it myself. It did put me in a spiral for a few years because I felt helpless and like I couldn’t do anything. Where as now I have a good group of people around me and I’ve sorted a lot of things out in my private life which has created some space in my mind to be able to actually focus on everything now. Like I still fuck up every now and then but I feel like I’m getting to a better place where I feel on top of everything in the business side of things. No one really sees what goes on in the music industry and it seems like such a fantasy kind of job to have which it is because we all get to do what we love. But at the same time if you don’t run it right then you milsewell go work somewhere else too. It’s really hard to make money in this industry and keep a life going. I get a lot of blokes come up to me at bars going “it’s your shout, your loaded” and I’m like “mate, *laughs* I guarantee you make more money than I do”.
TB: Did the transition from being on a major label and being on the cover of magazines, headlining arenas and theatres to going fully independent take a bit of getting used to or was it a welcomed breath of fresh air?
RM: Both. It’s taken heaps to get used to. I think it’s only been the past year that I’ve got used to it and am genuinely happy with where I am. It’s a massive change not just in music but also in my livelihood, how I live, where I am and what I’m doing. I’m not in magazines anymore as “Reece Mastin” I’m now in magazines doing things as a normal bloke and I have control over that. It’s definitely different and hard to get used to but now that I have it’s made it a lot easier. Getting to that place was a lot harder because of how young I am and I look at kids going through what I did and I’m like “fuck man”. Like they are getting a massive opportunity but you can’t help but be scared for them.
TB: Your upcoming tour will see you playing some of your most intimate shows yet. So with this new sound what is going to be most important thing for you for these new shows?
RM: I was saying to the band when we went into rehearsals that I don’t want to treat it like a gig. Like over the last couple of years I’ve been playing a lot of gigs where as now I want to make it a show and bit more of a spectacle. I want to tell the stories of what’s been going on because I think they are really important. I love going to shows like that where you can sit and listen to someone honestly speak about whats going on. It feels real. We’ve picked the venues carefully. We wanna play those smaller rooms so we can create that experience. I wanna create those memories where you can look back at going to that gig in a couple weeks or months time and remember things vividly and feel a particular way.
TB: Are there any old songs from you previous project that you want to re-imagine in this new live show?
RM: Yes definitely. Theres some songs that we haven’t played in ages that suit this new project and theres some of the fan favourites that we will put a new spin on. I have seven years of material to play so we will change it up and have some fun with the new band.
TB: So lets play a little game when you answer these questions with the first thing that comes to mind…
RM: This could be dangerous *laughs*
TB: My guilty pleasure song is…
RM: “Raining Men” *laughs*. I actually did a James Bond cover of it recently and it was so bad ass. I listen to it all the time *laughs*.
TB: The emoji the best describes me is…
RM: The shakka’s one. I use it all the time when I don’t know what to send back to someone.
TB: Most people think I….
RM: Drink too much
TB: Is that true though *laughs*
RM: *Laughs* yeah look, bits and pieces. Its all denial isn’t it.
TB: If I could have any superpower it would be…
RM: To fly! Cause then I wouldn’t have to spend so much on airfares.
TB: If I could form a supergroup with any other band or artist it would be…
RM: Eminem! Only because I love him and I would love to do a rap-rock group with him. Kinda like RUN-DMC vibes.
Mastin’s debut EP “Suitcase Of Stories” will be released on April 6. You can pre-order it now from ITUNES.
SUITCASE OF STORIES TOUR DATES:
Sat April 7 – The Basement, Sydney
Fri April 13 – Saloon Bar, Launceston
Sat April 14 – Waratah Hotel, Hobart
Fri April 20 – Shoalhaven Bowls Club, NSW
Sat April 21 – Waves, Wollongong
Sun April 29 – Fowlers, Adelaide
Thur May 3 – Lismore Workers Club, Lismore
Fri May 4 – Surfers Paradise Live, Gold Coast
Sat May 5 – The Brightside, Brisbane
Sun May 6 – Sol Bar, Maroochydore
Thur May 10 – Transit Bar, Canberra
Sat May 19 – Winton Supercars, VIC
Fri May 25 – Grand Hotel, Mornington
Sun May 27 – Max Watts, Melbourne
Fri June 15 – The Grand Central Hotel Midland, Perth
Sat June 16 – The Charles Hotel, Perth
Thur July 12 – The Loft, Warrnambool
Fri July 13 – The Workers Club, Geelong
Sat Jul 14 – SS&A Club, Albury