Mass. Hysteria
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Mass. Hysteria

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The best kept secret in music

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Mass Hysteria -- Waiting For the Day (Primary Voltage)

This Boston band is not your average traditional ska/reggae band their style melds ska with a number of other types of music such as rock n roll. There is also a heavy Latin style found in a lot of their songs which is found in the power of the rhythm section. The album opens up with "Please Please Please" the song starts off with a interesting 10 second guitar part and then the rest of the rhythm section kicks in. This catchy number features dualing vocals of Alex Stern (rhythm guitar, vocals) and Rachel Eliot (alto sax, vocals). Their voices work good alone and together, creating finely tuned harmonies. "Overboard" opens up with a powerful horn line supplied by Rachel, Matt Giorgio (trumpet), Chris Wright (trombone), and Sam (alto sax, also lead vocals/backing vocals). Jeffrey Pierce from Westbound Train plays keyboards on this album and this case he demonstrates his stuff on this mid tempo number. The next track MH busts out old school reggae during "Tension" and Jake (lead guitar) and Alex play some interesting guitar parts on this track. The bass definately blazes in this song thanks to some excellent playing done by Danny O'Neil. Also the heavy hand percussion on the track is done by Damien Ariaga. Mass Hysteria is really hard to classify in some cases you could call them a traditional ska band but they have a lot of interesting breakdowns and bridges that are in the same vein of the Rolling Stones. Their singing style is also very interesting their harmonies are really strong. Rachael, who does most of the singing, has a very powerful voice the only band that comes even close to somewhat catergorizing her style would be a more reggae influenced Radiation Kings.

MH busts out reggae riddim on "Lupercallia" which begins with some strong drum fills by Eli Kessler. Eli drives MH throughout this album he is a very powerful drummer and it shows throughout the album. He goes into all different styles and he shines on bridges where he can mix it up, but is able to lay the reggae beat perfectly. Alex busts out a smooth 60's styled guitar solo on this track as well. "I Beg, I Plead" has MH busting out the Latin rhythm the song has a very fast pasted rhythm to it as well. The dualing vocals on this track really make it stand out and this is my favorite track on the album. The keyboard play accented notes which follows the melody line and the harmonies on this song are amazing. "Close to Home" begins with hand drums and is greeted by the booming bassline. The vocals on this song have a very soulful sound to them another the lyrics seem to be a sad hopeless love song. Eli keeps the beat with some varied flavor of drum rolls and fills on the beginning of "MCW" which sounds amazing with Rachael and Alex's voices hovering above. The horns supply powerful moments in the song filling any open spaces in the song. They have a few min solos in this song. I must say the Matt and Chris are two of the most loudest horn players I have seen. After seeing them place twice each club full of people they did not need mics but they could blast a horn solo whenver and always played at the perfect volume.

The album ends on the slow grooving untitled number the horns play a slow melody below Rachel's powerful full voice. The lead guitar parts really stand out on this number a lot. I wish more bands would put a fraction into writing songs as much as it seems MH puts into theres. I think what I like most about this band is how varied their songs and their execution is great but I am amazed at their songwriting the most. So if you want to hear what Boston has to offer these days besides Westbound Train, then you need to hear this band.
- Bobby Babson


MASS. HYSTERIA
Waiting For The Day
[11 songs; Primary Voltage Records]

I don't know if you've ever been in, let's say a not-so-great mood, and tried to listen to ska music. It's a lot like waking up from one of those intense Caligula type sex dreams to find your grandmother and grandfather walking out of the shower naked. Which is to say, this is a pretty good record, reminds me of No Doubt somewhat, and I'm sure this band is destined for greatness and glory. But to be more specific, writing music like this, music with no real depth of emotion that careens along merrily at one tempo, is enough, today, to make me set my fucking head on fire. Then in comes the sax solo. My God, what is with people? Mass. Hysteria strikes me as the over-privileged children buying up all those Clash records now that Joe Strummer is dead-more accurately, the lowest form of artist, mere regurgitators treading water in a sea of preconceived and outdated expression. Which is to say, this is a pretty good record. (Jesse Thomas)
- Jesse Thomas


The following is an interview with Alex of Mass Hysteria, New Reggae Revue and Checkered Cabs, done via e-mail, about a week before they appear at The Middle East in Cambridge (Boston), MA in support of The Pietasters. Check out more info on Mass Hysteria at: http://www.mass-hysteria.net

Niff: You've been in a variety of ska acts.. what were they & how did you start getting into all of it?

Alex: I'll list them Chronologically:
a. The Skatapults. This was my first band, that I started six years ago at the age of 14. For some reason, even though we had very little exposure to traditional ska, our sound leaned much more towards the Jamaican vibe than you would expect. One review said: "The Specials meets Bob Marley." We were horrible, but we were the best of friends.
b. Take 5. I started filling in for this band when I was just about to graduate high school. It was my first real taste of what the ska scene had to offer,and I was able to open up for bands that I never thought I would open for. The confidence I gained in my ability to fill in for band has
proved very valuble today.
c. Mass. Hysteria, no doubt a full explanation of this band's exploits will come up later in the interview.
d. Checkered Cabs. This is a whole other interview...
e. The New Reggae Revue, more on this later as well.
I got into ska about eight years ago, when I was twelve years old. At this time, The Boston Globe included a special music section every Friday, which contained a chart of what 25 pop albums were doing well locally. One friday, at the very bottom of this chart, was a band called, "The Mighty Mighty Bosstones." For some reason, I was very curious about this band, and I went out and purchased, Devil's Night Out. I didn't know how to describe the style of the music, but this album instantly became my favorite. One of the counselors at my summer camp informed me that this music was called "ska," and I immediately went out and bought as much ska as I could on an adolescent budget. Gradually, it was the Jamaican based music having the greatest impact on me. The rest, as they say, is history...

Niff: What bands are you currently playing with & what do you play in them?

Alex:
a. Mass. Hysteria, Guitar and Vocals.
b. The New Reggae Revue, Guitar.
c. Checkered Cabs, Guitar.

Niff: You've mentioned that Mass Hysteria is your main gig.. what's going on
currently with the band?

Alex: Mass. Hysteria is really starting to hit its stride. We are devoting most of our time to writing songs in preparation for an upcoming full-length. We are also doing a few awesome local and regional shows in the coming months. In addition, we are all concentrating on become great individual musicians, so we can add as much to the creative process as possible. Our main goal right now, is to work out the kinks, and go from being a good band, to being a great band.

Niff: How & when did the band get together?

Alex: My younger brother, Mark, put the band together in the Spring of 1999. I was to make a 4-track recording of the band in May of that year, but one of the horn players had not shown up. Instead of sitting there, I ended up practicing with the group, and it just kind of stuck. We've basically overhauled our horn section since than, but the nucleus of the group remains completely intact.

Niff: You just came out with a new ep.. tell me about that..

Alex: It's essentially a 3 song sampler, called No Cabaret License (a reference to a ridiculous NYC law that bans dancing in certain venues). It was all recorded live(save for the vocals) at WMBR in Cambridge, Mass. The idea was to make a very warm, traditional sounding record. We will probably employ this technique again at some point in the future, but our full-length is going to sound completely different. We love experimenting with different sounds, and No Cabaret License is the successful product of one of those experiments. We will soon be providing some outtakes from those sessions on our website (http://www.mass-hysteria.net)

Niff: Tell me a bit about the New Reggae Revue.. who's in it, what are you
playing, how did you all get together, website, etc?

Alex: The New Reggae Revue is the instrumental brainchild of my good friend, Matt Mason. It includes members of Mass. Hysteria, Take 5, The Checkered Cabs, and guest musicians from other bands such as The Stubborn All Stars, Skavoovie, Westbound Train, and the Insteps, to name a few. After Take 5 broke up, and he moved to Brooklyn, Matt decided that he wanted to keep
playing with his old friends. It's a great time, and the music is very open ended. When we are on stage, we truly don't know what is going to happen next, which leaves the door wide open for improvisation (and the occasional musical mishap, which sometimes works to our advantage). There is a very skeletal webpage up (http://www.thenewreggaerevue.com)

Niff: The typical/off-the-wall questions:
- What do you think a - Niff


Discography

2001 - Mass. Hysteria "No Cabaret License" EP

Dec. 2002 - Mass. Hysteria "Waiting for the Day" LP [PVR VOLT003]

May 2003 - "Still Standing" Compilation [Jump Up/Megalith JUMPMEG050]

June 2003 - "Your New Favorite CD Summer 2003" Compilation [PVR VOLT005]

Summer 2003 - Mass. Hysteria "Dub/Electronica Remixes" [PVR Promo-only release]

Fall 2003 - Spitshine Records DVD Compilation

Fall 2003 - Girls Go Ska Vol. 2

Fall 2003 - Spitshine Records Dub Compilation

Radio Airplay on 75+ CMJ-reporting stations.

For audio sample, visit www.primaryvoltage.com.

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

In a town jaded by over-exposure to ska-core, Mass. Hysteria stand a world apart – presenting a fresh blend of reggae beats, jazz arrangements, and pop songwriting & harmonies.

Mass. Hysteria are led by the dynamic harmonies of vocalist Rachel Eliot and vocalist / guitarist / songwriter Alex Stern. The band’s cinematic horn charts are delivered by Chris Wright (trombone), Matt Giorgio (trumpet), and Sam Orleans (saxophone). But it’s the reggae-schooled rhythm sections of Danny O’Neil (bass) and Eli Kessler (drums) which gives Mass Hysteria its trademark Jamaican sound.

“Waiting for the Day” is Mass. Hysteria’s second studio release, following the success of their debut E.P. “No Cabaret License” (Bovine Records, 2000). Based in Brookline Massachusetts, Mass. Hysteria has built its reputation by playing with some of the biggest names in the ska and reggae scenes, in gigs across the northeast U.S.