Masqued – Disguise the DarkSunday, 31st December 2017
Dead Rhetoric: Where do you see the major differences in advancing the efforts and popularity of the band today versus much of the work of previous bands say ten or twenty years ago?
DuBose: There’s just not enough of… back when I moved into Houston in the early 90’s, I was 20 years old. I joined Z-Lot-Z and we were playing to crowds of 300-500 people every time we played. It’s just not like that anymore. When we play around here, it’s difficult to get a good local or regional following – there’s not a lot of people that really go out to see that style of music anymore. Which is a shame, but then before we didn’t have anything to push. Now we have an album to push, once we get on a few shows and do some more interviews like this people will start hearing our music a little bit more, it’s going to start fixing itself.
It’s just not even close to what it was 20 years ago, at least in Houston. I can say the same thing for Dallas, San Antonio, Lafayette, New Orleans, Baton Rouge. Those were Z-Lot-Z’s running grounds- we would hit all the same spots that Lillian Axe and Zebra would hit. The crowds were killer, and now they are not there. It’s a lot harder to get a good show booked and get a decent crowd out- unless you can jump on a national show and get lucky. You have to know people, and people that will put you on these shows – once people start seeing you, they realize you have something. We have a couple of those lined up soon- we haven’t done a formal CD release party yet. We do plan on doing that in the near future.
Houston is so huge, people from the northern part of the city won’t drive to the south – it’s huge. It takes an hour to go from one place to another- the clubs are spread out all across the city. We have a group of fans that will follow us everywhere we go- but we want to hit some areas with other bands that have a little following so we can start gaining a few more fans. We played with Day of Reckoning, Rusty Cooley’s new band- they are pretty much straight on death metal, it was a different crowd but we gained some new fans. It’s all about being able to play in front of new people- once we get that, they will start coming out on a regional level. Our goals are (broader) than that – we are looking to go to Atlanta, Europe, etc. We know our music doesn’t sell well around here- that’s why ProgPower does so well, once a year. If ProgPower was taken on tour, it would never be as good as it is. That’s why he never did it, and people have offered Glenn the chance to do it, but he’s said, ‘hell no’, and I don’t blame him. Even the 70,000 Tons of Metal cruises, they wouldn’t work if they happened more often. This isn’t Europe – I haven’t played there, but Eric has, Jon has, and Drew has.
Dead Rhetoric: Do you think there are reasons why festivals have taken off in Europe compared to America?
DuBose: The distances are huge- in Europe they aren’t trendy there. They grow up with what they love and they don’t ever change. Here to me it’s like processed cheese. Whatever MTV or Netflix tells you to watch, or Live Nation pushes, that’s what everybody likes. If you take a song off of our album that has a really good melody- “Hypnotized” for example- we base them around the melody. If you can’t walk out singing it, you don’t have a song. You have to walk out with something stuck in your head- and that’s what the people in Europe get. They don’t listen to the ‘man’ all the time.
Dead Rhetoric: Many of the members of Masqued also have other side or tribute bands which probably help get out other creative endeavors and also supplement income. How are things prioritized when it comes to these multiple bands?
DuBose: Masqued is the number one priority, but we still do those other shows simply to keep our chops up and have fun plus make a buck. There are other musicians in town- I’m doing a Whitesnake tribute right now. Our drummer is Scott Misner from Axe, we really enjoy doing that. It’s Eric, Adam and I that have side things – Steffany has spot appearances where she does some things. I do it because I get to jam with my friends. Masqued is not the easiest stuff to play- Jon keeps me on my toes. I have to think about everything I’m doing- so doing a Whitesnake tribute band is fun.
Dead Rhetoric: What are your top three albums when it comes to heavy metal- and what are your favorite concert memories personally through the years?
DuBose: Do I have to go in order? Because I don’t know if I have a number one. I’ll group two albums into one spot- Queensrÿche’s Rage for Order and Operation:Mindcrime. To me, those two albums together changed my life. That would probably be number one- I’d also say Black Sabbath- Heaven and Hell is another one. Now you are going to make me pick between Iron Maiden and Dream Theater, aren’t you? Powerslave and Images and Words – so there’s five for you. Without saying, 2112 would also be in there- as a bass player, Geddy Lee is up there along with Steve Harris. Crimson Glory- Transcendence was an album was over the top for me back in the day. I had a long talk with Jon Drenning about that- we were covering “Painted Skies” when I was 18-19 years old, no one else knew what we were doing. How can you not mention Savatage and Jon Oliva in this stuff.
Dead Rhetoric: What types of hobbies or passions do the members of Masqued like to engage in when they have the free time to do so?
DuBose: Myself, Drew, and Jon are all committed family men. I have two daughters and a beautiful wife. Jon has a couple of children, Drew as well- we love to spend times with our families. We will go to other shows to support our friends in the local scene. Eric has a girlfriend now, but he’s all about guitar – all about playing. He’s going to make it and make a living doing this until he dies. Adam plays in seven bands- but there’s a shortage of keyboard players around here. As long as the priority is on Masqued, he can do what he wants. We call him the tone master, he has every sound on the face of the earth. Not to mention being a great keyboardist. Steffany as well is a great mom. I’m a big sports fan! I’ve been waiting for the Houston Astros to win the World Series my whole life. Since there was no national sports team in Louisiana back then, my dad would drive us out to Houston and we grew up Astros fans.
We all have our little things that we focus on. For me it’s mostly family, I have two beautiful girls. When those kids come, it’s a whole different ball game.
Dead Rhetoric: Were you or anyone you know personally effected by the effects of Hurricane Harvey in Houston this past summer? Do you believe the media coverage was accurate to the situation at hand?
DuBose: Yes and yes. Personally, we were forced to leave our home and out of the house- the week before ProgPower this happened. I didn’t know if I was going to make it to Atlanta or not- we were able to get back into the house the night before. The water got up in our garage, so we had to throw some stuff away- but it didn’t get into our house. It was biblical. I had never seen anything like it in my life- the media coverage was pretty accurate. My cousin… she’s living with us, she lost everything. Her car was fully submerged, 100% underwater. They had to rescue her via boat, she was on the second story of her house. Everything you saw on the news was pretty accurate- from what I could see, there were still areas of Houston that were dry, and weren’t flooded. I had to find a way to get back to work, and all of my equipment from work was in the car in the driveway that was under water. I had to pull the car up sideways against the garage and literally waded through waist deep water for four blocks- threw all my stuff in trash bags, grabbed one guitar I had forgotten, and a couple of neighbors got us back to our truck.
When my kids started getting scared, we needed to get out. My next-door neighbor is handicapped, and I wanted to make sure he got out too. It was nothing to laugh about, a lot of people lost a lot of stuff. They are still dealing with it, and will be for a long time. I won’t say it was as bad as Katrina, that was on a totally different scale. Being from Louisiana, I was close to that situation too. Katrina made people leave New Orleans and never want to come back, people thought there wasn’t going to be a city there. Here, we have the infrastructure and are high enough above sea level to deal with this. The problem was, the storm dropped so much water in such a quick time, it filled the reservoirs, and they had to do controlled releases from there. It would go and flow out to the channel, but more water from the north would come in and fill our neighborhood up. It was a cycle like that for five days, it would go down and come back up. It was something else.
Dead Rhetoric: Where would you like to see Masqued develop over the next three to five years? How does the band balance out the regular job versus musician lifestyle – as well as maintaining family/friend/significant other relationships?
DuBose: Within the next three to five years I am hoping to have two or three more albums out. We have seven songs into album two, the first album was nine tracks and the next one I want to be a longer release. We may go with ten songs or eleven with a bonus track. We aren’t twenty anymore, we can’t drop everything to go tour- unless they offer us the money, which we all know isn’t going to happen. I’m very lucky, we have our significant others who support us in what we do. She knew she was marrying a musician and the pitfalls that come with it. We’ve been married for 20 years, my kids know, they come out to the shows. They are 10 and 12, so some shows they come out to. They are up in the front, wanting to be Steffany. They are growing up right.
Dead Rhetoric: Do you believe that’s the key to a revival of metal – to get into the youth market and expose them to this music?
DuBose: Absolutely, without a doubt. So many kids these days are stuck to the television, iPods, computers- they don’t go anywhere and do anything. We didn’t have all that when we were growing up. We would go to shows- that’s how I met musicians. I was 13-15 and going out to watch bands play. The kids, unless it’s a huge artist that’s playing The Summit, the Woodlands, the Toyota Center- the kids don’t go out. That needs to change somehow, I don’t know if it will. With the way social media is, there has to be some way to get people out of the house. I remember the days of flyering cars at Iron Maiden concerts – every car would have a Z-Lot-Z flyer on it.
Dead Rhetoric: What’s the game plan for Masqued over the next six to twelve months? Will there be more videos from The Light in the Dark – and has work already begun on the follow-up effort?
DuBose: I would say having a second album out in 2018 – we hope to have it completed by mid to late 2018, if not early. In the near future, doing as many live shows as we can, with as many different bands around town and in Dallas and San Antonio as well. Hopefully the album gets out and speaks for itself, internationally. The reviews we have so far have been stellar- we will take the good with the bad. Keeping our nose to the grindstone. The bottom line is, if we aren’t happy with what we are doing, no one is going to be happy. If we can walk out of the rehearsal studio we are at with a smile on our face, then we know we are doing the right thing. I’d want to be able to play for my friends and family in Lafayette, there’s another band on our label called Foundry. Everybody seems to be pumped about the album- I’d like to get out to Los Angeles too and do a couple of shows.
We have to work around family and work. If we have enough time to plan ahead, this is stuff that is doable.
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