Mastersystem: Under the Influence

As new band Mastersystem get ready to unleash their debut album Dance Music on the world, the band talk us through the records that have influenced them

Feature by Mastersystem | 04 Apr 2018

When we saw Mastersystem pop up on the poster for this year's Electric Fields festival, our interest was piqued. New band? Old band we can't find anywhere online? All-day Sonic the Hedgehog marathon on the big screen? Turns out we were right to go digging, as Mastersystem is the new project from two pairs of prominent indie brothers – Justin Lockey of Editors, James Lockey of Minor Victories, and Grant and Scott Hutchison of Frightened Rabbit. With their debut album coming quickly after their announcement as a band, the Lockeys and the Hutchisons talk us through the albums that have influenced their sound as Mastersystem.

Idlewild – Hope Is Important
[Food Records, 1998]
With the vocals on Dance Music, I finally got to tap into the feeling I got from listening to early Idlewild songs in my late teens and early 20s. This one has the perfect balance of madness and melody for me, and that’s kinda what I was going for on a lot of the Mastersystem tracks. [Scott Hutchison]

Sorority Noise – You’re Not As _____ As You Think
[Triple Crown Records, 2017]
This is a more recent one, but I was listening to it a lot when I was writing the lyrics and melody for the album and I think it influenced my direction quite a lot. This is as 'emo' as I’m prepared to go. Right on the brink, but I love the reckless abandon I can hear on this album, while still being intelligent and thoughtful. [Scott Hutchison] 

The Wedding Present – Bizarro
[RCA, 1989]
For most, if not all, the bass parts will in some way have been influenced by Keith Gregory, the original bass player of The Wedding Present. Growing up with an art college student older brother who owned and dominated the only hi-fi system in the house, we were raised and exposed to a healthy dose of this record so it's thoroughly ingrained on the brain (as is the whole back catalogue, stopping at Hit Parade 2).

You can hear the influence across the whole record, some of the guitar parts, fuzzy bends, and the bass certainly come from having that record on all the time from the age of 13 onwards. Listen to Crushed, Bewitched and on the US version Don’t Talk, Just Kiss. [James Lockey]

Idlewild – 100 Broken Windows
[Food Records, 2000]
Ashamedly I was proper late to the party with this record. I know Justin hammered it years ago but for me it's only in the last couple of years that I have started hammering it, making up for all those years. My kids are really into this record too! Idea Track, Roseability and Listen to What You've Got are all firm family favourites. [James Lockey] 

The Posies – Frosting on the Beater
[DGC Records, 1993]
Aside from the fuckload of other bands around at the time, this album by The Posies (a truly criminally underrated band for me!) is the one – aside from In Utero by Nirvana – I keep coming back to time and time again... I think the main point that sets it aside from most of the output of Seattle, etc in the early/mid-90s is its melody/harmony and just fucking actual good songs. Everything on this record just stacks up so well – and the music or the grungy aesthetic never tips the balance over the melody and harmony. Basically you could strip away all the distortion and there would still be a set of fucking great songs. Solar Sister is a beaut slice of power pop – and the album ending Coming Right Along is just guitars and vocals but sounds so fucking heavy. Basically it’s a fucking great record. [Justin Lockey]

Nirvana – In Utero
[DGC Records, 1993]
When I was recording the drums for Dance Music with James he told me to channel my inner Grohl. Obviously this could mean any number of outcomes, but for me In Utero was the Dave I decided to try and bring to life! Although, I've read the band didn't love the eventual sound on that album [but] I think the drums sound absolutely incredible and the power and rawness of what Dave Grohl does on these tracks is something that I keep going back to listen to and figure out what he's doing that's so different. I think the secret is... nothing. He's just playing and playing really hard. So that's what I did. It's been a while since I've played in this way with just guitar, bass and vocals so it was nice to strip it back that way and just hit stuff without worrying too much. [Grant Hutchison]

Hundred Reasons – Ideas Above Our Station
[Columbia Records, 2002]
I listened to this album a whole lot in high school and my band, the wonderfully named Uncle Jesus, actually played Silver at every village hall in the Borders. It's an album that just sounds like a bunch of folk who didn't really know what they were doing, or wanted to achieve other than just play some rock songs and make people jump up and down. None of them really looked like rock stars either which I think is so much better than the faux rock look so many people try and do to add some kind of weight to their weak pish rock band in an attempt to appear genuine. I listened back to this record recently and I still think it stands up, and although they were essentially a one album outfit, at least they made that one record really fucking good! [Grant Hutchison]

Dance Music is released on 6 Apr via Physical Education Recordings; Mastersystem play The Art School, Glasgow, 27 Apr; Electric Fields, Drumlanrig Castle, 30 Aug-1 Sep