Categories
Interviews MiloMc

Interview with Steve Mason aka King Biscuit Time

Note: this was before Mason returned with his Black Affair project.

Steve Mason aka King Biscuit Time has spoken openly of how he struggled
with depression during the eight years the Beta Band were together.
However, chatting to him prior to the release of his stunning new album
Black Gold, it seemed as if his current situation was more
conducive to a healthy state of mind; “Every now and then I have a bad
week but other than that it’s all good. I lived in London for about 10
years and a couple of years ago I moved back to Fife and have been
living here ever since in a tiny village.

“Before I suffered
from mental illness I used to spend a lot of time on my own so I needed
to get away from everything and everybody and learn to deal with my own
company again. But the problem with a tiny fishing village is that
there’s nothing here. You can go for two or three days without seeing
anyone at all – there’s no cinemas, decent food or women! So I’m going
to move to Edinburgh as soon as I can ‘cos I’m bored out of my mind.”

The
proximity of a certain diseased swan aside, it seemed that the Fife air
was doing Mason a world of good. The album, on which he played and
produced everything himself, is crisply modern but also has an organic,
acoustic feel along with the jittering beats, and dubby synths and
melodica you would expect from the main songwriter of the Beta Band.
Below, he talked the Skinny through some of the key tracks on the
album:

C I AM 15
The first single confounded some critics
with its combination of Top Cat’s overtly political closing rant and
Mason’s more obtuse lyrics. “I sometimes think my lyrics are a little
bit too open to interpretation so with this album I’ve tried to make
things a bit more obvious. But there’s quite a childlike mentality with
the general public, who are being pampered and treated like morons a
lot of the time. Even on something like the 80s quiz show Bullseye, the
questions were really fucking challenging compared to what you get now!”

IMPOSSIBLE RIDE
“This
is about an eight year relationship I had with a girl that finally
ended at almost exactly the same time as the Beta Band ended, around
Dec 2004, and I started going out with her just before the band started
so those two things were in total parallel the whole time.”

KWANG CHO
“I
wanted to make the chorus as uplifting as possible. It’s about being up
here in this tiny village on your own and realising that there’s only
so long you can sit around the place and feel sad about things, you
eventually have to come alive again.”

ALL OVER YOU
“This is
about a girl I met after the eight year relationship who I had a two or
three month relationship with and it was like falling in love again,
but at the same time I knew it would be a short term thing so it was
like we were packing a whole relationship into a very short time.”

WHERE YOU WALK
“An
out and out love song to the girl I had the eight year relationship
with. It’s about waking up and turning round to look at this girl and
hoping every day that I’m going to wake up beside her, and when you
open your eyes and she’s there it’s just an overwhelming sense of
relief. At that time there was still a lot of darkness in my life and
she was the constant light that I’d look for.”

PAPERHEAD
The
stand out track on the album which cheekily references 80s saxophone
anthem Baker Street. “The predominant sound on this was made using an
old cruddy keyboard, which I’m not into using for the hilarious lo-fi
effect, but because I loved the sound. I can’t remember what the
setting was, probably vibraphone or something like that.”

RISING SON
“There’s
a part of the film ‘1984’ starring John Hurt where they get out of the
city and go to the fields. Rising Son’s about that, it’s about the
state of this country and the situation we’re living in. I was
imagining, as with ‘1984’, when these things that are happening now
reach their logical conclusion and we really do actually live in a
police state, running off to the country and finding that little bit of
space.”

The Skinny also spoke briefly to Mason about the label
he has set up with Alan McGee, No Style (of which he said “I haven’t
got a fucking clue about any of that”) and his forthcoming tour which
he seemed positive about, mentioning that this time round he would be
joined by a live drummer.

However a couple of weeks after
speaking to Mason he appears to have had a dramatic change of heart
about returning to the music industry, posting the following message on
his myspace page; “Peace to you all. I’m out of here. It’s been amazing
but I’ve had enough. The mountain beat me. and sadly you too/that don’t
mean you should give up. It just wasn’t me. Over and out. Steve xxxx”.

At
the time of going to press, even his PR company are non the wiser as to
his reasons for quitting, having been unable to contact him. His tour
has now been cancelled and will not be rescheduled, although the album
will still be released as planned. Perhaps Mason has sunk into
depression again or has decided that touring posed too great a risk to
his mental health. All we can hope for is that he’s safe and well, and
that one day we might hear from him again, because he and his sublimely
original music will otherwise be sadly missed.

Published in The Skinny, May 2006

By Milo

Freelance writer and content creator.

Leave a Reply