Band of the Week: Red Mass - Rolling Stone
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Band of the Week: Red Mass

A ‘living entity’ that can range in size from three to sixteen people

WHO: Anybody at anytime: Red Mass is, in the words of its ringleader Roy Vucino (aka “Choyce), a “living entity” that can range in size from three to sixteen people on stage. On record, the number balloons as Vucino, a vet of Montreal’s garage-rock scene, puts into practice Red Mass’s founding manifesto of “a total liberation of creativity.” Meaning? “I’d say over 50-60 people have played with on record,” Vucino muses. “If they collaborate then they’re part of the band.”

SOUNDS LIKE: As you might expect from a Canadian group that at times could field not only a hockey team but an entire ten-team tournament, Red Mass’s music is all over the map. Across over two dozen slapdash releases — ranging from 7″ singles to handmade CD-Rs — the band has experimented with improvised heavy metal, instrumental electro and even the hardcore punk of Vucino’s youth. But on their most “traditional” release, last year’s self-titled seven song EP, Red Mass puts a dream-pop spin on garage-rock rave-ups. “Weird Mess” tears down the sock-hop with a Hammond organ and Vucino’s faux-cockney accent, while the hard-charging “Party Till I Die” rides a surf-rock wave to hedonistic heaven. “We’re trying to have a core rock and roll group in the center of the collective,” Vucino says. “Music is an escape so you might as well push that and create a universe.”

THE POSTAL SERVICE: Vucino’s desire to collaborate is taking Red Mass well outside of Montreal. “I send out tracks to different people in order to get out of our safety blanket,” he says. “There are currently people working on Red Mass music in California, some in New York, some in Turkey. It’s hard to keep track of who’s doing what but I’d say 90 percent of the time it works.” Red Mass fandom isn’t passive, either: Vucino is inundated with unsolicited suggestions, hooks and even “hip-hop beats” — all of which he endeavors to use. “In this day and age I don’t want to be a guy who’s like ‘I’ve heard everything,'” he explains. “There’s always stuff you haven’t heard. Eclectic potpourris of sound. We want the palette to be very varied.”

A QUÉBÉCOIS ARKESTRA: While visa issues and scheduling have kept Red Mass’s touring group to a minimum, Vucino takes inspiration from the over-the-top theatrics of some of his heroes, Sun Ra, Otis Redding and James Brown among them. “They were true entertainers,” he says. “They sweated and lived the show, giving their all. That’s important to me. We want to be a gospel revue but without the morals. We’re not here to preach what’s right or wrong. We want to open the door to different ideas about creating.”

CANADIAN CLIMAX: As for the future? “We want to experiment but not be experimental,” Vucino says. While there’s no end in sight to the steady stream of DIY releases, he does expect Red Mass to record a more traditional LP in the near future. “We want to archive and leave a mark with what we’re doing now,” he says. “We want it to be a living orgasm — er, organism! Or orgasm, I guess. Why not?”


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