Northern powerhouses Massive Wagons have already released two previous albums and build up a rep for their energetic live shows. For their third album, Welcome To The World, they bring their northern no-nonsense attitude to rock to the masses. Photogroupie caught up with frontman Baz Mills to find out more.
PG: TELL ME A BIT ABOUT YOUR NEW ALBUM 'WELCOME TO THE WORLD'
BM: The title of the album comes from one of the tracks and I think it's actually one of the first songs we wrote for the album. It's not a conscious thing, but with a lot of my lyrics I write about what comes into my head. As the album has gone on it seems to be full of songs about bands struggling to make it. It almost comes across as bitter, but it's really not because it's hard work if you want to get somewhere and that song 'Welcome To The World' is about that. We wrote this album a bit differently from the last one. On the previous album, there were some songs that could have been on the first album and some new songs too, but all the songs for this album were written within a certain time frame. It's a real step up in what we've done.
PG: THERE'S A LOT OF DIFFERENT STYLES ON THE ALBUM, WERE YOU THINKING OF YOUR INFLUENCES WHEN YOU WERE WRITING?
BM: It's funny the influence thing, we just come up with songs we like, so we're not orientated by a rock and roll style. I like country music, metal, rock and roll, you can probably tell by the album. We just write good songs that we enjoy. We don't set out with a style, some people think we're a band struggling to find an identity, but that's our sound, that's what we do, we're Massive Wagons. I think our sound runs through, but because it's not as obvious they think we don't have a sound. You've got AOR tracks like Tokyo and Jodie, then you have things like Nails and The Day We Fell which is a bit Maiden. You've always got the influences there, I don't think bands directly call on them to write the songs, but you can't escape it, it's in you.
PG: THERE'S A GREAT TRACK 'TOKYO' ON YOUR ALBUM. IT'S REALLY CATCHY.
BM: That's why we released that one really. It's strange when you record because we write the songs and play them. When you play them you don't get to hear them yourself, you're always playing them. When you've recorded them you can soak them up, they come out totally different in the studio sometimes than you think they would. We couldn't pick a single before it's been recorded. That song is catchy, it's got hooks in it and it's a bit ironic.
PG: ANY PARTICULAR REASON FOR MENTIONING TOKYO, APART FROM THE JAPANESE LOVE OF METAL?
BM: All the bands that we love seemed to reference Tokyo at some point, UFO, Deep Purple. All these big bands had songs and albums named after Tokyo. It's a reoccurring theme with these big old bands. I just latched onto that.
PG: HOW DO YOU PUT ALL YOUR SONGS TOGETHER?
BM: I write all the lyrics, Adam our guitar player comes up with riffs and we get together and I record all his riffs on my phone and I sit and go through them. He'll have an idea how he wants a song to progress, he's the main man really, he'll then produce the songs as we practice them, I just come with the lyrics and a few ideas. We then put it all together with the band and they throw their ideas in and that's how we come up with it. We really work together, we disagree, but we don't argue, we're all on the same page.
PG: WHAT DID YOU SET OUT TO ACHIEVE WITH MAKING THIS ALBUM?
BM: We always set out to better our previous album, you like to think you'll achieve success and more fans and have more songs to play live, so we like to have new stuff to play to keep the fans interested. We sell albums to carry on the band so we can record again. They're the goals we have, to carry on recording, pick up fans, give people enjoyable nights and go on the road and join other bands and just have a great buzz.
PG: HOW DID YOU HELP FUND THE ALBUM?
BM: The first two albums were funded by gigging, we used to go out as a covers band too and play a lot of bikers bars. We used to throw a lot of our own stuff in as well. A lot of sets in these pubs are two-hour sets, so we'd play the music we love, and then some of our own too. We did biker rallies and they paid really well. That's how we funded the first two albums. We don't do this for a living yet, it would be nice one day, bit it's really hard work, all the money goes into the pot, nobody takes anything and it pays for everything, our gear, our van, and the recording. Then, this time, we decided to go for the Pledge campaign. I was unsure, I wanted to go down the hard work route again, but it does take its toll. Terri from our label talked us into it a bit more and it has been a great idea, it's really worked. It's amazing how people want to support you. Even if they can't always make it to gigs, the support is out there, no matter what people say. We did our target in 2 months and it ran for 6 months. We couldn't believe it.
PG: HOW DO YOU PREPARE TO GO ON STAGE?
BM: A few lunges (laughs) I don't do anything, I get excited. Everyone's different, I get a little bit anxious, but not nervous. It does settle down once you've played a few bars or a song, you chill.
PG: I GUESS IT'S WHEN IT GETS OUT OF CONTROL AND YOU CAN'T DEAL WITH THAT FEELING THAT IT BECOMES A PROBLEM.
BM: That used to happen, I used to throw up, not every night but the odd gig. It was nothing to worry about, I don't know why you go on stage and it's the same as any other night.
PG: IT'S A MIX OF ADRENALIN AND ANXIETY THAT CAUSE THAT HORRIBLE FEELING,
BM: You build it up in your own head sometimes more than it needs to be.
PG: YOU'RE QUITE A DYNAMIC FRONTMAN, YOU HAVE THE RIGHT LEVEL OF AGGRESSION, YOU GIVE IT YOUR ALL.
BM: I haven't got an instrument, so the microphone's my instrument. You've got to go for it. I don't want to be forgotten about, good or bad I want people to go home thinking 'he put a lot into it.' I want it to be intense.
PG: YOU MENTIONED THAT THE BAND IS SADLY NOT A FULL-TIME THING YET, WHICH IS THE SAME FOR A LOT OF BANDS AT THE MOMENT, SO WHAT DO YOU DO FOR THE DAY JOB THEN?
BM: I'm a truck driver, and I get to drive the band around. I'm like Bruce Dickinson, only crapper.
PG: ELVIS WAS A TRUCK DRIVER.
BM: That's right, he was. Well if Elvis drove a truck that's good enough for me.
PG: THERE'S SOMETHING NICE ABOUT JUST DRIVING, YOU GET SPACE FOR YOUR OWN THOUGHTS.
BM: To be honest that's where I do most of my writing. If I ever had to do this for a living, I'd have to buy a truck to drive round just to write songs. Adam sometimes puts his riffs on a CD and I just drive down the motorway listening to them and thinking of ideas and thinking of lyrics. It's great, you've got all the time in the world.
PG: IS THAT WHERE YOUR NAME COMES FROM?
BM: Oh no. There was a barmaid in a local bar and she was well stacked, so to speak. And that's where that came from. Next question. (Laughs)
PG: ANY GUILTY MUSIC PLEASURES?
BM: I don't think any music is a guilty pleasure? I'm a big country and western fan, is that a guilty pleasure? Dolly Parton, she's a great singer, songwriter. All those old country songs are the most honest songs. When you've finished playing loud rock or metal and you're on a long journey home you stick on some country track and it's nice and easy to listen to. Johnny Cash, Alan Jackson and anybody else. We like Black Berry Smoke, Cadillac Three. Country music is getting really big again thanks to Bob Harris. It's brilliant now you've got young British country bands too.
PG: HOW DID YOU ALL MEET?
BM: We're all from the same little town. I think that's a good thing for us, we've all been friends, we've all drunk and knocked around together way before the band. When the band started, Carl was learning to play guitar and Adam was teaching him, we had another drummer at the time and he was learning to play drums and they were just jamming. They needed a singer so I came down to sing, I'd never sung a note in my life but I thought 'I'll have a go', that's how it started. Then we started learning covers, Sabbath, and AC/DC and played a few sets and then when you've done that for a bit you want to write your own songs and that's where we started.
PG: THAT COHESION KEEPS THE BAND TOGETHER DOESN'T IT?
BM: Definitely and people see that they can tell. People say 'you look like you're enjoying yourself so much on stage' and we are. We're all fans of the same bands, it sounds really cheesy and something out of a story but we are all best mates and we all like the same music and we are all totally on the same page. We have faith in each other. We wouldn't have been doing it this long if we didn't enjoy it.