Mask of Judas on

Extreme Metal band MASK OF JUDAS are ready for a new release and ready for Germany. I talked to lead singer Jo Challen about the process of recording the new album, the UK-Tour and the Euroblast Festival Cologne.

Interview: Dennis Rowehl / Photo by courtesy of Mask of Judas – (c) by Emma Shamaya 2013 you released your EP „Axis“ … if I’m right a new album is in progress. Will it be an entire album and do you have a label yet?

Jo: Hello. You are indeed correct. Our album is in progress and I’m extremely excited about it! I feel it’s a massive step forward for us musically, a much more developed sound but with all of the vigour and relentlessness of our previous work. Ironically we haven’t held back in terms of being true to ourselves though. We’ve let go and delved into our minds to create something unique, using whichever weird things make pull on our heart strings and make us tick. So reflecting on our song writing I am really proud and feel it’s a huge creative development. We’re all really happy with the direction things are going and I can’t express how much I am in love with some of our new material and am desperate to show people! We have 10 new songs so far but want to build on that so we have some choice in terms of album tracks and get something as profound and punchy as possible. The guys just completed instrumental preproduction on the tracks so we’ve got so far and I’m about to tweak/add my parts. Which is great because I’m feeling inspired at the mo. But no we don’t have label backing, we haven’t really looked for it to be honest, we’re doing it ourselves. We’ve certainly grown and transformed as a band and definitely haven’t held back. We’ve just created what we really felt was musically moving and inspiring and interesting, without worrying about what is fashionable or considering any particular genre or ‘scenes’. I guess the album will be more unusual, more dynamic with some wild ideas and a larger variety of song profiles. The main writer has been Sam, with help and development from George and Jof (followed by lots of input from myself), whilst Reece has contributed two songs which he’s worked on alone and continues to add his input. This March you plan a UK tour …. are you already excited?

Jo: Yep we tour during the first week of March from the 1st to the 8th and play in Cardif, Bristol, Southampton, Brighton, Camden, Derby, Mansfield, Manchester. It’s our second UK headline tour and we’ve got support from Taken by The Tide and Valis Ablaze, who are both awesome bunches of guys. Yes I am extremely excited! As we are focussing on new material as much as possible I’m ridiculously busy trying to finalize vocal parts and strengthen my voice to endure the rigours of touring away from home. The guys are also busy tweaking lines and we’re perfecting the new material in the studio at least twice a week to get it is as tight as possible. Are there any plans for coming over to Germany?

Jo: We would love to come to Germany, in fact we’d love to do a European tour and it has been on the cards! It’s simply a case of finding someone who can book it for us. We have approached and been approached by a few agents but nothing has worked out as of yet, and the ones we use in the UK don’t stray much into Europe. But if you know anyone please let us know! What about the Euroblast Festival? You would definitely fit in!

Jo: We approached Euroblast last year but apparently did it too late in the day to get on it. I’m hoping that the new material will be a better demonstration of our live performance, and most festivals like something brand new, so we’ll try again with that. But thanks, I think we’d fit in too! Do you have any vocal coaches? I think you need a special technique, right?

Jo: I don’t have any vocal coaches for my harsh vocals. I had never seen anyone until recently when one of Sam’s student’s father’s offered me a few exchange lessons as he is an opera singer. I think his advise made me realise a few things about the development of my clean voice which I wouldn’t have realised without it, and gave me more of a focus on how to improve. I’ve never had any coaching for the growls though. I don’t look at vocal tutorials for them on YouTube, personally, although I’m sure there’s a lot of helpful info out there. I’ve acquired my technique through years of experimentation and practise with my own voice, and lots of live performance over the years. Whilst I’m open to other people’s knowledge and opinions, I personally prefer developing things alone in the studio rather than filtering through the copious information on YouTube. That’s just me though, I’m sure everyone works differently and I’d encourage anyone interested in singing of any ability to get coaching if they have the option. It’s something I’d like to do more of in the future. Jo, thanks so far and have fun touring and rocking the UK …

Jo: Thank you, hope we’ll meet at the Euroblast this year (smiling).