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Mass Gothic

When Bands and Plans Go Awry

Jun 21, 2016 Issue # 57 - M83 Photography by Wendy Lynch Redfern Bookmark and Share

“Breaking up the band was made a bit easier because I never really liked the name Hooray For Earth,” laughs Noel Heroux, the former frontman/main creative force behind said band. The NYC via Boston act released three albums and an EP from their inception in the late 2000s. Interpersonal band dynamics played a role as they typically do, and having their record company (Dovecote) go out of business sealed the deal. So Hooray For Earth called it a day. With a bunch of new songs written, Heroux, who’d been speaking with Sub Pop over the past few years, saw the perfect opportunity to keep going musically and signed with the ironic Seattle-based indie label under the moniker of Mass Gothic.

“It was originally intended I’d be ‘solo’ to some extent, but more so, meaning I could do whatever I wanted with it and nobody else would push opinions and put expectations on me,” says Heroux. “And it wasn’t just band members, it extended beyond that. But anyway, yes, I’m free now.”

And on his self-titled debut as Mass Gothic, Heroux indulges musical ideas that don’t necessarily cohere as a completed musical piece. They veer from the irresistible doo-wop of “Every Night You’ve Got to Save Me,” which finds Heroux duetting with his wife, Jessica Zambri of NYC act Zambri, to the sepulchral, palpable ambivalence of the downcast “Mind Is Probably.” But ultimately, the album’s a carnivalesque collection of 10 songs without a unifying theme.

“Nobody ever seems to be able to make heads or tails of what kind of music I make, which is interesting but honestly gets extremely boring to hear,” says a bemused Heroux. “I’m interested in toying with that. See if I can make it more exciting for myself at least,” he laughs.

“It wasn’t until after some real heavy self-analysis that I realized I was…dismissing my own emotions,” Heroux continues. “Then stuff came blasting up from the depths when I first opened the hatch. So there’s a record of what that sounds like. It feels like an exorcism. Now I can focus on some singular ideas a bit easier.”

And where things go is anyone’s guess, which is how Heroux wants it to be. He’s pleased with the creative freedom he’s granted himself, and recognizes that he can go in protean directions, not feeling as inhibited as he did in Hooray For Earth, and wanting to keep it that way. Although the live band includes two longtime Hooray For Earth contributors in Zambri, who plays bass and keys live, and longtime drummer Seth Kasper. “Mass Gothic is my life and the biggest part of my life is Jessica, so there it is,” Heroux says, who emphasizes his wife also did contribute vocal and melodic accompaniment on a couple of the album’s tracks. “There’s a designated live band in place including Seth who drums as though our minds are telepathically linked. But Jess may or may not dip in and out creatively. It’s not completely clear, but the point now is it doesn’t have to be. However it works, I’ll be keeping an eye on myself to make sure I’m challenged.”

[Note: This article originally appeared in Under the Radar’s May/June 2016 Issue, which is out now. This is its debut online.]


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