Flash back to 2012. This future auspOpper was walking to the train station following Lady GaGa’s ‘Born This Way Ball’. As we walked away from the venue, a boom box randomly appeared playing a catchy rock pop song, which we later discovered was called ‘So Contagious’. Next to the boom box were four ballsy yet earnest young guys passing out physical CD singles and fliers to their social media/next gig. We remember being suitably impressed by this marketing strategy, which we had never seen before and haven’t since, as well as by ‘So Contagious’.
Three years later that very same band, Masketta Fall, are on the verge of becoming the next big Australian music success story. Their single ‘Summertime Girls’ keeps getting radio play and they have recently supported The Vamps on tour, playing to their biggest crowds yet.
Brad got the chance to chat with Braden, Ben, Moli and Jamie about their humble beginnings, trying to pick up whist dressed like a 90 year old and the eternally great pop music of JoJo and Nick Lachey.
The band’s journey started at a mutual friend’s 16th birthday.
“Jamie here was doing what the cool kids do at a 16th and rocking out with his drum kit over the stereo,“ guitarist Ben reveals. “He introduced me to these guys and it happened pretty quickly. We started jamming out on Sunday afternoons.“
“It was funny because everyone’s having their first drink, girls kissing girls, and I’m in the shed with all the parents who were there playing drums to ACDC!” drummer Jamie adds. “Using your drum kit to mask your poor social skills,” singer Braden intercepts.
The band initially started out as a rock-punk hybrid, a far cry stylistically from what they are now.
“When we were growing up, the local music scene we were surrounded by was metal and more alternative music,” guitarist Moli explains. “As we got older, our tastes broadened and we started getting more into melody and I think musically that’s where we wanted to head.”
After a couple of years, however, the band decided to split up to pursue their post-school career paths. For Ben, who was studying a business degree, this was a critical crossroads.
“It was basically; ‘Am I going to work a corporate job or am I going to chase something that I’ve wanted to do since high school but I never really committed to?’” he recalls. “I think that only once you surround yourself with that decision can you make that decision.”
Consequently he called up Jamie to discuss giving music a proper go.
“I’ve got to give props to Ben for that one,“ Jamie declares. “He took me into the band room and showed me this song he was working on and I was like ‘Wow that is a whole new level to what we were doing previously’. That was the inspirational moment where we thought, ‘Let’s take another crack at this’.”
That song was ‘Without You’, which, like its opening lyrics suggested, brought the group back to square one. They hit the ground running, promoting their newly written material to anyone who would listen. They followed tours, such as the ‘Born This Way Ball’, nationally (“At very much a big expense to us!” Moli laughs), handing out promo CDs to create some momentum.
“Our philosophy has always been getting to the people, play live shows, promote to infinity and be real, not just be an online thing,” Moli explains.
That philosophy also included embracing a lighter sound, a move the band insist is authentic and not an indicator of selling out.
“We are a fun band and we wanted to write fun songs. It’s as simple as that,” Ben states categorically. “It’s just that when we started our music maybe wasn’t right for who we were as people and as a band.”
The band not only embraced a new sound but also decided that they’d need a little help in order to succeed.
“We’ve chased a record deal ever since we started the band because we knew that we needed it,” Moli tells us. “The thing is, when you’re an independent pop act, if you don’t have radio support or media then there’s really no way to get to those people without a record company to open those doors for us.
“Ben has been sending emails to record companies for three years straight trying to invite them down to shows. We got on a tour with American Authors last September and they finally saw us there. We shot them through ‘Summertime Girls’, they liked it and it happened pretty quickly from there to be honest.”
‘Summertime Girls’ is certainly a game changer for the band. Not only did it score the boys a record deal with Universal Music but also it is the band’s most feel good song yet.
“Writing that song was a butterfly moment for me,” Ben says. “We recorded it in May and for two months straight we would get in the car and crank up our own song, which is something we never do. Even before the record company came along we were going to invest a lot into ’Summertime Girls’, because we felt it was a song people needed to here and would do good things for us.”
The boys were certainly onto something, with the song seeing steady radio play over the last few months. The track also comes with an equally charming video clip that pushes a lighter image without being too clichéd.
“Our fans have really appreciated that we didn’t just go run on a beach,” Ben laughs. “I think the thing that brings our fans together is that we’re still us. Even if our music has taken a poppier direction, we still have the same thing about us that they’ve liked from day one. We’re creative in how we talk to them and the things that we do. “
Creativity isn’t always fun; the band spent two hours each day getting into their old man make up for the video, which made things slightly difficult for a love struck Ben.
“The worst part about the clip was looking like a 90-year-old man when I’m trying to pick up a 25-year-old nurse,” he laughs. (Moli and Braden both insist Ben was successful but Ben will only fess up to getting her number!)
Whilst things moved fast for the boys once Universal come onboard, it took years of hard work to get to where they are now.
“It’s literally all most of us have done full time for about three years now,” Moli admits. “Every single day. We don’t stop. Unless you’re going to make it your life, you won’t succeed. YouTube isn’t going to make you famous!”
That said, the band has amassed a staggering four million views on YouTube, but they’re realistic about their social media impact.
“The socials are good to keep the people interested in us for a long time but not to initially get them to become a fan,” Braden says. “For us, building the fan base has always been through playing live shows and doing that real life promo,” Moli explains further. “YouTube is a supplementary thing. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram… it all works together, but without the real life stuff, none of that would matter.”
As a special hidden treat for die-hard fans, the band has kept a number of their early punk-era videos as unlisted on their YouTube profile. These videos are quite surprising given the band’s current clean-cut image, but the boys are unapologetic about what fans might find online.
“Everyone’s got a history and it really adds to where we come from,” Moli clarifies.
“I think the biggest difference with us versus 5SOS or One Direction is that we don’t really have the pretense of being a perfect boyband because we’re not that,” Ben says. “We’re from the outer suburbs and we grew up quite alternative and it’s been a natural progression. We keep some of our videos unlisted just for new fans that search really deep and are stalking us like crazy. I know that they’re massively into us if they can find those videos!”
The band have evolved so much that when asked what their guilty pleasure pop favourites are, they declared that there was no such thing.
“You know that song ‘Leave’ by JoJo? I love that song,” Moli tells us as Ben starts singing the chorus. “I think my favourite pop song is ‘What’s Left Of Me’ by Nick Lachey. That’s a good song,” Braden laughs. “We will listen to top 40 all day everyday,” Moli adds.
As mentioned earlier, the boys recently toured with UK sensations The Vamps, in front of the biggest crowds they’ve played to yet.
“We’ve literally climbed the ladder of shows. We started out running shows for 50 kids,” Ben divulges. “It’s a big step up. The American Authors shows were like 500 kids, this is 5000 kids!” Jamie adds. “We’ve been doing this for a number of years now and we’re in a good spot to be doing this tour. It’s hugely exciting and we’re excited to get ‘Summertime Girls’ out to some new ears.”
After the tour the boys are due back in the studio to commence work on their first major label album.
“I think 2015 is a big year of songwriting for us and getting that material,” Ben reveals.
“We’re still pretty early into it,” Moli admits. “I’d say hopefully in the second half of this year there would be something out, whether it be an album or a long-ish EP.”
The group’s dream is to become a radio mainstay.
“Our ultimate goal is probably to constantly have a new song on the radio every two to three months,” Moli says. “We want to keep pushing out really high quality music that resonates with people.”
Summertime Girls is out now.