Mass Gothic Interview: “It occurred to everyone that it might be jarring.”

Self-titled Debut Album Out Now Via Sub Pop.

Sometimes you’ve got to tear it up and start again. That’s the impetus behind Noel Heroux’s (formerly of Hooray for Earth) latest project Mass Gothic. Expectations and pressures had led to compromise and Heroux was not happy. The recording of Mass Gothic’s self-titled debut album, out February 5th via Sub Pop, allowed Heroux to abandon expectations, reject any compromise, and to return to the way he made music as a kid.

He spoke to us about this process, writing music that is “jarring”, and wandering around Manhattan in the dead of night.

Overblown: Thanks for talking to Overblown. You stated that in the end days of your previous band Hooray for Earth that you were ‘depressed’, ‘phoning it in’, and ‘derailed’ so you wanted to return to the beginning. More specifically, to your four track days. Has this process reinvigorated you? How so?

Noel Heroux: I don’t know if it invigorated me so much as it allowed me to just return to my natural state of working. Also having a sort of “reset” allowed me to let go of shitty expectations of the past.

O: How involved is your partner Jessica Zambri with Mass Gothic?

NH: Depends how you mean. She plays bass and keys in the live band and contributed a couple melodies and vocals to the album, On the flip, she’s so present in my every hour that you could say she’s responsible for the whole thing. I don’t think much about it.

O: After hearing ‘Nice Night’, I was really surprised how different, even jaunty, ‘Every Night You’ve Got To Save Me’ is. Was there an intention to throw people a curve ball with the release of the second track?

NH: Not very intentional but yeah it occurred to everyone that it might be jarring. I just rolled with it. I’m starting to understand that the musical details I tend to focus on are probably far more subtle to most listeners. I’ll hear two vastly different songs and connect them easily.

O: The video for ‘Every Night You’ve Got To Save Me’ was directed by Addison Post and documents a night out in Manhattan. How did that concept come about? What did you sing in the karaoke bar? Why choose that song?

NH: The concept and reasoning are so obvious from my perspective that I don’t even know what to say about it. We originally shot something much more grandiose but it felt way off for the song. The whole album leans heavily on my relationship with Jess so why stray.

mass gothic interview

O: The album art for Mass Gothic’s debut is quite evocative. Who created it? It looks to me like the representation of a troubled mind. What do you think of that interpretation?

NH: That’s certainly a fine interpretation. I shot some photos with Addison and sent a few to Chad VanGaalen to illustrate. He asked what I wanted, I basically was like “make me look like depression but also do whatever you want”. I find it funny. Also the layout by Dusty Summers was fun, there’s a hugely obvious reference there that I won’t go ahead and mention…please guess though.

O: What was your reaction to David Bowie’s death. Was he a big influence on you?

NH: I was deeply moved by how the whole thing played out, how he created this amazing “goodbye” artwork and then died immediately following its release.

O: You have a US tour on the way. Any plans to come to Europe at any stage?

NH: Would love to, have tentative plans.

O: February 5th is my Dad’s 63rd birthday. Should I give him your album as a present? Is it suitable? He likes John Denver.

NH: The album’s good for anyone but I’d get some backup Denver.

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