Chris and Cage
There are a few reasons Greg and I started Weird Decibels; seeing Chris Masson on stage was one of the biggest. A truly dynamic singer; he fronted the rock band Cage in the late 90’s. Seeing him play live opened a door for me; he gave me confidence to pick up the mic and try it myself.
Thursday nights at the Martell were a highlight of our week. We’d grab a few Gold Beirs and watch local bands play. Cage were probably the best I saw. They were solid; tight as hell. Ewan is a fantastic drummer and he knitted with Warren on bass. Phil, took care of the guitar. Their music was frantic, aggressive and raw. While the trio played there was a front man who would pace around the stage and as he sang he would scream into the ground, kneeled over trying to get every ounce of young anger from his soul. He would rock back and forth as the music took a hold of him. He was intense and it felt as if he meant every word he sang, he was one of Falkirk’s greatest vocalists. He was Chris Masson.
As I left the Martell with my best mate Greg, I turned to him and said; lets start a band.
There was a cost to the late Thursday nights; we would have to go to school the next day and i guess it had an impact as we stumbled out of school towards Falkirk college to follow hopeless dreams. Chris and I were young and we were having a laugh.
Falkirk College and Firkins.
Chris and I attended Falkirk college in the late 90’s. He was in Cage and I was in Weird; both singers we had a lot in common. I believe he studied sports psychology (i could be wrong) and I was studying computers. Literally just staring at the screen if i’m honest. There were no mobiles then but we would meet in the busy corridors and arrange the weekend which would start on a Thursday at the Martell and end on Sunday morning as we were ushered out of Pennies. These weekends were an incredible time of hope for our bands and our futures.
Then came the day we got our bursary. Chris and I would laugh as we walked out of the college to the pub. We went to Firkins and with our new found wealth we would by some drinks and with our change we would fill the jukebox for the next few hours. Then we’d sit at a table by the window and watch the world go by. We would talk about music, women and anything else that a late teen would want to talk about. They were wonderful times. He was very supportive of our fledgling band. He would give me advice on where to send demos and how to handle gigs. I was unaware that Cage were coming to an end.
It was a gig in Cumbernauld town hall; we were on the bill with Cage. It was to be their last appearance. I truly thought that Chris would find another band and i think he tried different things. Cage came to an end and i was gutted. I thought they would be one of the first bands to break Falkirk; they had been signed to Baghdad Radio and put out a single on vinyl. I was amazed at that. Chris explained that they recorded the record at a studio called Split Level. He gave us the number. It was the greatest studio we ever set foot in.
Chris and I would continue to meet in Firkins and occasionally head out to Glasgow to listen to music. The weekends flew by and we had many, many laughs. he introduced me to a very attractive woman called Kirsty who would become my wife. We were a close knit bunch of friends who would often sit on the floor of Firkins before we would get on our unsteady feet and walk down to Pennies. Then we would dance to Rage Against the Machine, Nirvana and other bands of that era. Chris would try with all his might to get me to fall in love with Faith No More but I was too obsessed with Kurt Cobain. As my relationship with Kirsty developed I drifted away from Firkins and saw less of Chris. Every time I did meet him he was the same warm and softly spoken soul that he ever was.
One of Our Greatest Listeners
Everytime I met Chris he would ask what the next record was or when the next gig would be. When I told him he would be there supporting us and he bought our CD’s. He would tell me what he thought of our work and it was honest. I knew him as a singer so I really appreciated his encouragement. Weird Decibels might’ve been around longer but I always looked up to the frontman of Cage.
Weird Decibels had started a series of podcasts and we had arranged to get Chris to come down and sing some Cage songs with us backing him. Everyone was so excited by the event; we talked about it and we planned it but it never happened. I feel we had let Chris down because i knew he was really up for it; we were playing a lot of gigs at the time and the weeks and months went past. Talking about doing things is fine but doing is so important and we didn’t do it. Life has a funny way of punishing you for not doing the things you say you will.
I stared at the screen of my mobile when the message came through about Chris. Another of our friends taken to soon. I knew someday we would meet again and catch up but i got caught up in the normal life that surrounds me. Time is a funny thing; it takes things away from you. Now it has taken Chris.
Yet time gave me those days with Chris; we sat in our favourite bar and we played our tunes. We would sip our beer together, we would share our stories and our jokes, we would raise our glasses and clink them together then we would look out of the Firkins window and watch the workers go by and we would forget all about time.