INTERVIEW: Tommy M & The Mastersounds

Tonight’s show at Dicey Riley’s will mark the last Tommy M and the Mastersounds performance for six months, as they are taking time off to record their debut album. The eight-piece reggae/funk act will also farewell saxophonist Ngaire East, as she departs to the Northern Territory for a working holiday.

2012 has certainly been a busy year for the Mastersounds – from a wild road trip to Katoomba to an already successful recording process at Sony Studios in recent weeks. The unique blend of influences to their music and the different personalities within the band has resulted in a number of achievements since their beginnings in 2010. With six band competition wins under their belt and the release of their EP ‘Pineapple’ in 2011, Tommy M and the Mastersounds has had a significant influence within the Wollongong music scene.

Radar caught up with both Evan Kerr (keys/vocals) and Ngaire (tenor sax) who gave an insight into the band’s recent endeavours and their plans for the future.

Tell us about the recording process at Sony studios recently? 
E: Our drummer, Joe Mungovan, scored us some recording time at Sony studios a few weeks ago, thanks to this Talent Development Project that he’s involved in. It gave us a chance to use some really nice equipment and the whole process was super easy, I think we got a lot done. Everything’s sweet when you’re looked after.

What were some of the highlights of your recent tour? 
E: Katoomba was fun. I certainly had too much fun. I nearly crashed the car twice on the way back at 7am in the morning – mad drifting ‘skillz’.

How do you manage to record and tour efficiently with a large number of people? 
E: It’s a challenge, of course, to organise eight people into rehearsing, playing shows, recording etc. But because we’re all good friends anyway, we’re always in contact. We also like the same things as each other (more or less), so it’s been okay getting everyone together in the same place at the right time.

When the band first began in 2010 did you ever think it would have gained such a wide following and reception in Wollongong today?
E: No, hell no. I assumed we would fit snugly into some sort of niche of listeners – but I realise now that the Conservatorium of music is just around the corner, most of us have been there at least for a while, and the horn players seem to like this kind of stuff  – myself included. Plus everyone from Kiama knows Joe, Evan B, Ngaire and the Masterboys from Kiama High, so I guess they’re also supporting their mates.

With this last show at Dicey Riley’s with Ngaire – what will you all miss about performing with her?
E: It’s gonna suck, but it’s also gonna rule, if you know what I mean. I think we’ll change a little bit without a female member around – I’ll probably shower less. We’re gonna miss the feeling of the whole group being together, and I think that would happen if any of us went away for a long time.

What future plans are in store for Tommy M? 
E: More recording, more material, maybe a big fancy do sometime in the future but you’ll see it when it happens.

Some of your favourite local acts at the moment?
E: Oh man, I’m loving A Cat Named Kesey right now. Thomas Covenant go hard and it makes me also. Jack Reilly’s gonna come out with some good stuff real soon, so watch out for that. To be honest with you, I used to leave Wollongong if I wanted to watch live music, but now it’s quite the opposite. And it’s a good thing.

Ngaire, what are some of your highlights from the past two years of performing with the boys?
N: Highlights with the boys would be winning the Mercury Bluescope Band Comp last year ($15000). We worked very hard for it and it was the perfect kick start to our musical career and gave us the confidence/exposure that we needed. Also our six hour road trip in May out to Mudgee to play our first wedding. We had no idea what to expect in regards to the travelling, the performance, audience, atmosphere and looking back on it now – it was the best fun I’ve had with those boys as a band. We got lost, got fines, got drunk, played music to an amazing bunch of ridiculously happy people for hours, partied so, so hard and suffered severely on the drive home the day after, but it was 100% worth it.

What will you miss about performing with Tommy M and the Mastersounds while you’re away?
N: Everything – being up on stage with them and watching people lose themselves dancing to our music, then looking back at the boys and watching them grinning, singing and dancing, and loving it as much as the people in front of us – most of the time (laughs). I’ve also met so many amazing musicians through playing gigs together, hanging out at practise, mucking around and – believe it or not – having to put up with all their extremely stereotypical male personalities. I love them all like my brothers and sharing the music and performing with them is like a massive bonus. Between the seven of them they’ve taught me a crazy amount about performing, writing and enjoying music and I can’t thank them enough! The band is the best thing that’s ever happened to me! So they better take me back when I return.

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