In a town driven by live music, most young bands jump onstage as soon as they have a set. Not so with Masonic. This Austin quintet spent a year perfecting the tasteful interplay between guitars and vintage keyboards that distinguishes them from the other trillion or so bands plying hook-laden pop rock.
The result can be heard in Masonic's perfectly equalized stage sound as well as their nine-song debut, Never Stood a Chance (Tight Spot). Released last year, the home-recorded album has garnered both critical acclaim and airplay on alt-rock indie 101X, Masonic's ability to supplement songs with moog, Farfisa, Vox and even a theremin enables them to play quick change and defy simple categorization.
Brothers Kevin (keyboards, guitar), John (guitar), and Brian Mason (drums) grew up in Oklahoma City. Kevin's best buddy, bassist Jason Westbrook, also came up in OKC and is considered an honorary Mason. "Kevin's like a brother to me," Westbrook quips. "I just didn't take baths with him." All they lacked was a singer. It just so happened that Westbrook was dating Lake Jackson native Jennifer Christen. Christen's vocal experience was in choir, not rock bands. "I'd only sung classical music where you have actual notes, so it was kind of hard at first," she recalls.
Christen's warm, unaffected delivery turned out to be the perfect counterpoint to Masonic's mixing bowl of psychedelia, New Wave, and collegiate pop overtones. Now all they needed was time to get comfortable. "Brian needed some time and Jennifer needed some time to get to know the songs," explains John, "and the better they got to know Jason and Jennifer, the better we got to know the songs."
"We're trying to explore all the possibilities," says Kevin. "We don't want to sound like every guitar pop band, so we try to throw all this stuff in. If you put a bunch of cool, simple parts together, it may end up sounding complex in the end, but it's not muddied down."