1.For those that have never heard of you before, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your musical project?
I’m a progressive metal music maker from the Yukon, Canada. I used to write music, and have played in several bands in the early 2000s, but then stepped away from music for about 14 or 15 years after getting sidetracked by life, work, and other responsibilities.
I started this new project (simply titled - Rick Massie) in 2017, since I felt a draw back to the magic of music, it truly felt like it was missing from my life. Over the years since I had last played guitar or written music, I’d come to love many types of music, not just metal. So I went into this new project with a fresh approach - I knew that I wanted to take elements of all the music I loved, regardless of genre, and build songs and stories using those as my inspiration.
Lyrically, almost all of my music is about finding light and hope within the darkness. Within that, there are themes of love, loss, sadness, and unity.
Overall, the music generally leans to the darker side, but definitely has healthy doses of positive and uplifting or epic moments thrown in when they fit.
2.Recently you have released a full length, can you tell us a little bit more about the musical style that you went for on the recording?
For my new album, “Guided to an Imperfect Light”, it’s very similar to the majority of my music, I guess you could call it my “sound”. You’ll end up finding long songs that go through many changes and genres within each song. What starts out as doom metal may morph into progressive metal, hard rock, classical, and pop. I’ve gotten old enough to stop worrying about whether something sounds dark enough or metal enough. It just needs to sound good, and needs to work for the song.
I’ve been told that this album has something for everyone, no matter what type of music you listen to. I guess that’s probably fairly close to accurate. Sure, there are some genres you won’t really hear on this one, but it covers a fairly broad spectrum I think.
When I look back and compare this new one to my first album, however, I noticed that you’ll find a few more catchy parts than on my first album. Of course, I don’t really ever follow the usual verse-chorus-verse formula, but for this album I’ve found a way to bring back some of the important parts for a sort of a “chorus” type effect. For example, in Counting the Stars, the synth-driven section near the middle “feels” like a chorus, and sure enough, it comes back again right at the end of the song. And for Need, a similar thing happens, though the second time around it uses different chords and different melodies, so it feels familiar, yet different at the same time.
3.What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects you have explored so far with the music?
All of my songs focus on the idea of finding light amidst the darkness. With that in mind, there are still a few areas within that theme that I’ve explored. For example, the idea of fear, and the search for safety. And mental health, and taking the time you need to decompress and become your best self.
I’ve also touched on topics such as love, unity, and equality, with the idea that even in these dark times, we can embrace these ideals to help make the world better.
All in all, the lyrics tend to mix well with the music - there’s a lot of darkness, but there’s always moments of hope, love and joy trying to overcome that darkness.
4.How would you describe the metal scene in the Yukon Territory of Canada, where you reside?
We’ve got a very, very small metal scene here. There have been some incredible metal bands here over the years, but the live metal scene feels like it’s dropped to just a few shows a year at most. However, just in terms of music, there are some amazing artists who are active right now - just check out The Animal Warfare Act or Jesse Berezan. Incredible stuff.
I’ve also stumbled across a few Yukon artists I’d never even heard of by browsing Bandcamp. I’m not even sure who those people are, so there’s probably more Yukon metal than I even know about, from acts who self-release with little to no promotion.
5.Can you tell us a little bit more about the artwork that is presented on the new album cover?
I was so excited for the artwork for this album. It took a while, but I worked up the nerve to reach out to Priska Wettstein. I’ve loved Priska’s work for years, and always thought it would fit so well with some of my music.
Initially, I had an image in mind, one that was already published and available for sale. But when I reached out, Priska, to my surprise, was a metal fan and was also excited to work on some art for me. So instead of choosing an existing image, I sent Priska the unfinished album and let her use it as a soundtrack to create some new images. And in the end, what she came up with was beyond incredible. I absolutely love the artwork, and I don’t think anything could have suited the music better than the one she created.
You can check out more of her amazing work at 8 Ravens Studio
6.With this project you record everything by yourself, are you open to working with other musicians or do you prefer working by yourself?
I love working as a solo project, since I can take my time and work on things at my own pace. There are no stresses from trying to manage schedules of other people, and I get full control over the vision. Which is somewhat important to me, since the music I create doesn’t really fit into any particular genre or template. It wouldn’t work out too well if I had someone telling me to do a traditional verse-chorus-verse structure throughout the album, because that’s completely different than what I want to create. So in many ways, working solo is perfect for me.
However… with that said, I really do want to work with others in a different way. I don’t want a band, but I would love to have some other musicians add instruments, melodies, leads, and harmonies on some of my songs. I’ve met a lot of talented people over the years, and I’ve been thinking about reaching out to secure some guests for some upcoming songs. I have very particular soundscapes in mind when I write my songs, and I know there are quite a few people out there who would fit perfectly into some of the different songs and sections.
7.Do you also have any experience playing in other bands or musical projects?
Not recently. The last band I played in was in 2004, and I actually gave up playing all instruments from about 2004 to 2017. I only picked the guitar back up in 2017, with the intent to write an album.
Prior to 2004, I’d played in quite a few bands - Wars of Winter, The Sacred Innocent, Archaeon, did some session work for Eclipse Eternal, and even played in cover bands playing rock classics in small bars in Newfoundland. I learned so much from those years, and without the experience form those years, I’d never have been able to just pick up the guitar and write several albums worth of music after such a long break. To be completely transparent, the writing was easy, but getting usable takes was not so easy. I’m still not even close to as good at guitar as I was back in 2004, but luckily the only deadlines I have are self-imposed, so I can do as many takes as I need until I get a song right.
8.Currently you are unsigned, are you looking for a label or have received any interest?
I’m not actively looking for a label, mostly because I tend to enjoy spending more time on the musical side of things, not so much on the business side of things. So I basically just keep making music, but don’t spend any time reaching out to labels who might be interested in getting my music out. On the surface level, I’d definitely say I’d like to be on a label, but it would have to be a good fit. And I’m not sure how receptive most labels would be to my music - I’ve spoken to playlist creators, and more often than not, my music doesn’t work for their content needs, since it covers so much ground, but doesn’t really fit nicely into any particular genre.
However, if any labels are interested in multi-genre metal/rock, I’m definitely open to a conversation!
9.On a worldwide level how has the reaction been to your album by fans of metal and hard music?
The reaction has been amazing. It’s everything I hoped for and more. Everything I’ve heard has been positive, even beyond what I could have expected. I think my biggest hurdle right now is getting the music into the ears of more people. I think that there is a certain audience that gets intrigued by something labelled as “prog/doom/black/death/symphonic/rock/electronic”, so those people are probably the ones to check it out, and they probably like it because it’s so varied. However, not being able to properly label or describe the music probably keeps a lot of people from checking it out at all, which is a tough obstacle for me.
But overall, it’s been incredible to see so many people from so many countries all over the world reviewing, buying, and commenting on my music. It’s very humbling, and I truly appreciate all the support, no matter which form it comes in.
10.Where do you see yourself heading into as a musician during the future?
I honestly expect I’ll keep doing more of the same. I know what I like, and I know the type of music I want to hear. I definitely can’t imagine myself starting to write pop hits, or standard song structures. But with that said, I can see myself starting to integrate more, and different, influences into my music. I’ve been listening to a lot of different and non-metal music, and I fully expect I’ll keep finding tricks and techniques I want to try in my songwriting or production. So in the end, I guess that’s what I expect for my future; to keep learning, and to keep experimenting to create the songs I want to hear.
11.What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?
The biggest influences on my songwriting would have to be Devin Townsend, Opeth, Vintersorg, Sentenced, Paradise Lost, Edge of Sanity and Yes. Most of these bands are the influences that guided me when I was younger, in my previous bands, before my long break from guitar and songwriting. Devin Townsend is a relatively new influence, and was definitely the inspiration to begin writing songs again.
Devin Townsend was key in one major way - I recall writing a few “happy” sounding riffs back in my younger years, but I could never find a way to fit them into a song. After finally discovering Devin Townsend, I learned how a songwriter could integrate “happy” riffs with the darker material. And that was so important. Because I knew I didn’t want to write music that was just “dark” anymore. I needed a way to acknowledge the darkness, but also to show the light. Fun fact: one of those “happy” riffs I wrote years ago will finally make it into a song on my next album.
In terms of listening, my playlist has been filled with Ghost, The Darkness, and Marianas Trench. I’ve also been listening to quite a lot of Witnesses and Egor Lappo. And of course, Devin Townsend always works his way into my listening on a regular basis.
I don’t expect that my future music will sound like any of these in particular, but I’m sure certain elements of each will influence and show up in at least some parts of some songs.
12.Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?
Thank you for taking the time to do this interview. I really appreciate the support. I’m just a middle-aged dad making strange music, and the support of publications like yours really help get the word out.
My final thoughts are the words from the motto I live by, so graciously gifted by Bill and Ted. “Be excellent to each other”.
YouTube Music: https://music.youtube.com/channel/UCSW42VyKh5XxvtVn_y-2Qtg?feature=share
Apple Music: https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/1486053559
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