While keeping up with an upcoming documentary about hired guns in the music industry, called (believe it or not) “Hired Gun“, I ran across this February 2016 article from LA Weekly. It reminded me of my 2008 Q&A with vocalist Robert Mason.
At the time, Robert had just performed on his third album with the Arizona-based quartet Big Cock. Alright, while not the most commercial name for a band (LOL!), they are a solid straight-ahead hard-rock band that is very worthy of your valuable time. This was also prior to Robert being recruited to take over as lead vocalist for Warrant.
Check it out:
Q: What makes Robert Mason such a “Bad Motherf***er?”
A: It just started as a song Dave ( Henzerling ) wrote. I sang it, it’s written in first person, so I became BMF. When it was tracked, I kinda remember the guys there just sitting, slack jawed, & staring. I guess I did a good job & the die was cast. After that, they just started calling me BMF, it’s part of my credit on BC CDs…
I don’t wanna seem too cocky…
Q: The writing for Big Cock songs is great. Do you think you’ll ever run out of double entendres?
A: Firstly, thanks! Dave is the huge force behind most of the BC songs, but even from the beginning I’ve chimed in, & we co-wrote a lot of the Motherload CD. We’ve moved on to “single entendre” LOL. Honestly, we don’t have to try very hard; when you’re laughing & having a good time with it, they practically write themselves.
Q: While on that topic, has Big Cock considered covering Whitesnake’s “Slide It In” or KISS’ “Lick It Up”? Wouldn’t they both have that raunchy Big Cock element to them?
A: I think we ( in BC ) try to write fun, smart, provocative lyrics. They are often overtly sexual, suggestive, and/or insanely pompous. True, other bands have done this, but perhaps not as unapologetically so. When we do a cover, ( She’s a Lady has been the only one so far ), we try to faithfully recreate but put our own stamp on it.
Q: You were practically on-board with Ratt at one point. What led up to that and why did it not come to be?
A: GL introduced me to Warren in ’91 , I’ve known Rob Crane since then as well. Bumped into them around NAMM 2000, got the call to jam, did a few times, hung out a bit with the guys & just decided that I didn’t want to be who they hired to sing before bringing Stephen back. I told them that ( and that I was already busy writing & recording with a new startup band anyway ) & Bob & Warren took it badly. Crane understood right away- we’re all fine now, and I understand their position, but it was the right thing for me to do. To me, that guys’ voice is a huge part of Ratt. To their credit they are all killer players & really good guys. Outside of Ratt I’d write, play, etc. with any of them!
Q: During that process, Bobby Blozter said you kick ass. Was that musically, or did you really have to kick his ass?
A: That’s a nice compliment. Blotz is a little intense perhaps, & I’ll say determined. That’s part of why he’s such a monster drummer. There was never any literal ass kicking. Funny question, though.
Q: What is it about Scottsdale Girls that make them song-worthy?
A: Have you listened to the song? It’s all right there for you.
Q: I’m sure you must have partied with “Wild” Mick Brown. What was that like?
A: I am not one of those who believe that the word “party” is a verb. I have seen, heard, & smelled Wild Mick in action, we have shared time in a bunch of cities & a few adult beverages. I haven’t ever “partied” in any other way with him or anyone else.
That said, he’s perhaps one of the most non stop fun guys to hang out with, & I have several memories I should keep to myself.
Q: We have heard you signed over your share of the Lynch Mob name. Can you explain the situation and what prompted you to make that choice?
A: Ant may have covered this; we both felt that we weren’t going to be involved with LM in the future, & GL could have it.
Q: What can you tell us about your motorcycle accident in 2003?
A: It sucked. It pretty much ruined riding for me, something I loved. My dusty beautiful Harley sits in my garage. Found out I have an unusually high threshold of pain; I feel it for sure, but my body didn’t shut down, I didn’t lose consciousness, etc. I remember every second of it, I was insanely fortunate to have recovered as I have & not to have been killed, lose a limb, etc. Super lucky! I don’t recommend it for anyone. Be safe out there, kids. Got back into muscle cars; I get the same visceral joy, & ya can’t get knocked off a car.
Q: Some of your projects include Magnum, Gem’s Edge, Flashback, The Pact, Adrian Dodz/Silent Witness, Lynch Mob, Cry Of Love, Alive and Big Cock. How do you approach each project?
A: It’s funny. Everyone has baby pictures, a first band, etc. but if you end up doing anything where you draw attention to yourself, get some sort of notoriety, etc, it all comes out. By the way it was the “Pack”…
Cover bands when you are just starting out are a good way to develop what I call “stage/touring maturity”, where one learns to roll with punches, build strength, character, chops, etc.. Some of those bands you listed were just that, others never really were bands (projects with demos that were shelved but later certain members realizing they could make a few bucks using my name & later accomplishments to make a few bucks).
I have been fortunate to get involved with some amazing players, & have tried to bring out different things in myself each time. LM was my first big budget barbecue, taught me many things, and COL was a not so big budget major label pet project of Josh Sarubin ( A&R Columbia at the time, a great man BTW ) and I am fiercely proud of my performances on that record. I was the resident Yankee among some real Southern gentlemen who kicked serious ass as players. I tried to bring out my hidden “Otis Redding, Tina Turner (the cool, old Tina)” vibe. That’s closer to who I really was at the time than any other thing I’ve done.
Q: Level with us, which drummer was it that woke up in the satellite dish on the roof of the Hilton?
A: Who is Mick Brown? ( Had to put that in form of a Q, LOL )
Q: You’ve been on tour with Ozzy. What’s your best Ozzy story? What’s your best Sharon story? Were you brave enough to try to grab a beer from Zakk’s stash when he wasn’t looking?
A: The Ozzy thing is one whole great story. Sitting at home, Sharon calls, I fly to Europe, start touring, get to harmonize with OO, be in a band with Geezer, my bro Randy Castillo ( miss you, man ) , John Sinclair, My Huckleberry Mike Inez, the bass monster Robert Trujillo, & my coffee obsessed bud Joe Holmes. Be a part of an arena filling band. Come back to the states, tour there, play Japan, make great money, get treated like a prince by everyone. Great times. The Alamo Dome, Budokan, Prague Sport Halle, Donington- what’s not to love?
Zakk & I know each other from the good ol’ Jersey days…that guy is a huge talent & always a bro. Any beer we’ve had together was offered freely.
Q: Who were some of your early influences for getting into your line of work? Who still influences you to this day?
A: My Dad, Elvis, Tom Jones, Frank Sinatra, The Platters, Sam Cooke, Dion, Otis Redding, Tony Bennett, Johnny Mathis, The Beatles, Kiss, Robert Plant, Bruce Springsteen ( spent time in Jersey after all ) ,Glenn Hughes, Paul Rodgers, Steve Marriott, Freddie Mercury, Steve Walsh, Lou Gramm, Ozz, Rob Halford. Tried to put them in some sort of Chronology…
They all still do it for me.
Q: What is your most outrageous story from being on the road with George Lynch?
A: The whole LM time was a rollercoaster ride of great & bad times. It could all be categorized as outrageous perhaps.
Q: What are the 3 ‘high points’ in your career so far?
A: I have so many I cannot pick three but here goes in no particular order:
1.Using the Robin Zander intro speech from Cheap Trick Live at Budokan ( the whole “this is a song off our new album”, etc…) onstage at Budokan during Ozzy sound check to an empty room, then later telling Robin Zander that story when COL opened for them ( all the CT guys were so cool to me ).
2.Walking with Sharon, my girlfriend & Doc McGhee off stage left & getting to watch Kiss play Donington ( after our killer Ozzy set ) & seeing Paul Stanley fix his lipstick in a mirror offstage while Ace played his guitar smoking solo. It was my last Ozz show. Funny, I had to fly back to the states the next morning to start the COL record & sat next to Gene Simmons on the plane, getting a 7 hour music industry & business lecture from the man! To his credit he always remembers me, knows everything I’ve done & offers sage advice.
3. Flying to AZ on a whim, auditioning with LM, running out of songs we all knew, & improv jamming over song ideas that would become the next LM record.
Hard to pick only 3; Doing Letterman show with Ozz, mixing COL @ Electric Lady ( used to hang there when I was much younger ) with Mike Fraser. I could do this all day.
Q: Your band (Big Cock) has a real raunchy AC/DC vibe to a lot of songs. One of your prior bands (Cry Of Love) has been called essential listening for fans Of Bad Company and Free. How do you feel about the comparisons and was the 70s rock scene the sound you were going for?
A: I love the 70’s as a time for music. I was growing up & so many songs are indelibly stuck in my brain. I don’t think it was so calculated in COL, rather just a product of our favorite influences. Ask Audley I suppose…
We try to make the BC stuff fun, provocative, etc., & that late 70’s early 80’s music format is what moves us to do that. Dave writes those riffs, that’s the way John Covington hits drums, & I just scream & emote. Why look too far into it?
Q: Arizona has been your home for some time now. Like your fellow Mobster Anthony Esposito, you come from the New York city area. What are your favorite parts of the places you have called home?
A: The culture in NYC, concerts & games in all those stadiums, food in Chinatown & Little Italy, walking around Manhattan on beautiful summer days and snowy nights. Summers at the Jersey Shore…
AZ has the most resort like weather, amazing sunsets, I really like the long Autumn after the hot Summer.
Q: George is known to work out a bit. When you worked with George on REvolution was it Jamba Juice or the other juice?
A: I work out a lot but to stay flexible & thin, not get big. I had neither type of juice; I have no idea what GL was into LOL.
Q: At what point did you get involved with the REvolution project? What was your take on giving a new spin to those songs?
A: I was called by GL to come sing on a couple of songs work for hire style as part of his solo CD. After doing that one day, I returned to the studio and was asked to sing the rest of the songs in lieu of having other singers, was offered the rest of the singer budget, & was in. I knew Ant was going to do it as well & that was a huge part of it for me. No Mick, but it was fun to revisit those LM songs, & try my hand at the Dokken stuff. I believe I was quoted as saying I was given the opportunity to ” hang some testicles ” on the old Dokken songs LOL! I don’t sing inherently like Don, & wanted to see what those songs would sound like with more blues, darkness, grit, etc that I could offer.
Q: Ozzy Osbourne, Don Dokken and Glenn Hughes get into a cage match. Who wins?
A: Ozz is a legend, so he deserves reverence. Glenn is an amazing talent & has my undying love & respect as a friend, influence & vocalist. Perhaps Don should get out of that particular cage so he doesn’t get hurt….kidding, Don. Don’t wig out on me in some subsequent interview…you know I like you.
Q: Along the same lines: you, Alice Cooper and Macabre Ent get in a hot rod race. Who wins?
A: OK; Mr. Macabre has a fast car & balls of steel, I’m the lightest guy & have a fast, light car & a focus for racing, but Alice has the most money so he can buy the fastest car! It’s Alice by a mile. He’ll like that answer BTW!
Q: In an interview, George has said he feels you are great on stage but that he didn’t think “you had a great creative mind for original lyrics”. How do you feel about that?
A: I know my main first strength has always been my ability to sing in studio and live, not disappointing in either job, & sell a song to an audience so they believe it whether I wrote it or not. In LM at first I had less writing experience than the others & that showed. I was a little withdrawn & shy about it but did contribute more than I believe I’ve been given credit for. Not bitching at all, mind you. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. I do have a strong sense of melody & am quite a wordsmith, in fact. It is one of my goals to become a better writer. For me it depends upon chemistry between writers; initially I didn’t feel that with LM. I don’t fancy myself Paul McCartney or Pete Townsend as a solo writer guy…
Q: In addition to being a vocalist, you also play guitar and piano. How did you transition into the different musical instruments?
A: Some of my earliest memories are singing harmony with my Dad & Mom. I could sing in key, a capella, etc at an unusually early age, before I could read or know any theory. Piano/keys first when I was quite young, then guitar when I thought keys weren’t cool. My ear was better than my wish to pursue advanced theory so I started learning from records. Who have been your inspirations within each area? Piano; Elton John. Guitar; Pete Townsend, Paul Kossoff, Jimmy Page, Joe Walsh, Ace Frehley. How do you rate your guitar playing? I can be a solid rhythm player, I always hide behind that “gee, for a singer he can play guitar pretty well” thing! I’ve always been in bands with amazing guitarists so it’s easy to take a back seat or not play at all.
Q: What is the most memorable gig you’ve worked?
A: They’re all memorable in some way; if not, I’ve wasted my time.
Q: Being friends with Glenn Hughes, who was very close to Kevin DuBrow, how did Kevin’s passing affect you?
A: I thought Kevin was a good guy who fell victim to his demons. I knew he loved Steve Marriott as I do, & I respect the mark he made on early 80’s rock. He’s missed.
Q: What can you tell us about some of the session work and song doctoring you have done over the years?
A: I’ve been hired to come in, assist, write, sing, ghost-sing, coach, & save the day a few times. I work fast & get paid, sometimes without written credit on the CD. That’s all I will say.
Q: Are there any musicians that you’d still like to work with?
A: Of course. Those who will work with me.
Q: What’s your take on the direction the music industry will go in the future? Will bands have to make all their money from touring and merch? How has the Internet affected your projects?
A: How should I know, it’s anyones’ guess, & I suppose BC would be virtually unknown if not for the internet.
Q: How do you feel about the downloads and file-sharing?
A: Artists should be paid for their art. Everybody steals though…it’s the eternal struggle.
Q: Let’s say you were in a room with Oni Logan and Don Dokken. Who would have the best stories about touring with George?
A: I have some, but I’m sure not as many as the other guys. Oni may have a bunch of good ones, but he may have forgotten many of them LOL. Don will have hundreds, but many may be embellished a bit to make him seem cooler, more important, and yet still the victim. LMAO!
Q: What’s the most outrageous thing you’ve asked for on a tour rider?
Q: George is known to be notoriously cheap. Did he ever buy a meal for the crew, then charge admission from everyone to get back on the tour bus?
A: Oh that’s funny. I’ll have to use that one.
Q: In addition to Big Cock, you are also vocalist and 2nd guitarist in Alive. How do you make time for it all?
A: I think there are 4 of me…the Alive thing was just a short term all fun project to play some of our favorite 60’s / 70’s songs live that fell victim to our collective busy schedules. Most fun though…BC is what I do to take my pompous & tongue in cheek sides out for a stroll.
Q: It’s been suggested that George gave you an ESP Sunburst Tiger. If so, how did that transpire? Did you beat him in an arm-wrestling match for it?
A: Uh, not true, any of it.
Q: Macabre Ent says George Lynch still owes him an ESP M1 Tiger that was promised. Does George still owe you anything?
A: Don’t think so. Nothing I care to collect.
Q: If you had time on your schedule and George Lynch called you up to work his tour, what would you think and would you do it?
A: Don’t think so, no. We like listening to each others’ CDs now.
Q: What was your largest music-related check and how did you blow it?
A: Don’t remember the amount. I didn’t blow it at all.
Q: A lot of Big Cock’s new CD “Motherload” was recorded in your house. How do you feel Pro-Tools has affected the music industry?
A: Well, that’s a huge question. For me, with some good gear and a laptop, I could track vocals in my living room!
Q: How do you keep your voice in shape?
A: Warm up, warm down, pace myself, don’t belt, use proper technique & rest enough. I get regular checkups from my best bro & rock Doc Jeff Mckenna.
Q: Best Lynch Mob drummer? Best Mob bassist?
A: Mick. Ant. Please, people; is this even a question? No direct offense to any others, but c’mon.
Q: What’s a revelation about being part of the Lynch organization that you’ve never shared with anyone before?
A: Probably the one I still won’t share.
Q: Finally, what can we be expecting to see from Robert Mason over the next year?
A: I’m usually as surprised as everyone, so we’ll just have to wait and see.
I sincerely appreciate & humbly thank everyone who digs what I do. I don’t want to stop just yet…