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Mass appealing once more

Posted by Scott McLennan  June 7, 2013 09:25 AM

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Mass, from left, Joey "Vee" Vadala, Michael Palumbo, Louis St. August, and Gene D'Itria. The band is playing a benefit for Boston Marathon bombing victims on Sunday.

Please, it's no longer referred to as "hair metal."

"Melodic rock," is now the preferred term, says Louis St. August, singer for the band Mass.

No matter what we call it, what we're talking about is that sound born in the 1980s, when rock grew slick and showy. Bands were getting power ballads on the radio and playing screaming guitar solos in concert. MTV helped stoke the visual flash that was once the domain of a few bands, such as Kiss.

The Boston band Mass was in the thick of it, releasing "New Birth" on RCA Records in 1985 and landing a hit with "Do You Love Me." In 1988, Mass released "Voices in the Night," an album produced by Stryper's Michael Sweet that earned the band a Boston Music Award nomination for best metal album.

It was nothing but a good time; what could go wrong?

"Grunge killed melodic rock," St. August says. "It wiped out everything in America."

But not in Europe and Japan, where Mass kept its record deals and audiences and was able to ride out the storm before interest back home rekindled, restoring careers for the likes of Cinderella and L.A, Guns.

"Things really picked up four or five years ago after Rocklahoma started. When that festival was drawing 50,000 people a day, promoters realized there is an audience for this music," St. August says, referring to the Oklahoma music fest that started in 2007 and featured Poison, Ratt, and Twisted Sister as headliners.

Mass will be playing similar festivals in Colorado and Nebraska in October, as well as supporting L.A. Guns at a show in September (the band's schedule is online at www.massrocks.com).

"People were missing this music," he says. And without tweaking what it has been doing all along_ two ballads per album; a couple of mid-tempo songs, a couple of "pedal to the metal" guitar blowouts_ Mass is readying its seventh album for release next year.

"We all come from individual places in terms of what we like. We all grew up liking different kinds of music," St. August says of working with guitarist Gene D'Irtia, bassist Michael Palumbo, and drummer Joey "Vee" Vadala. "We're not heavy metal and we're not light metal either. Some of the metal today just sounds like screaming. Our era focuses on melody and lyrics."

Mass is headlining a benefit for victims of the Boston Marathon bombing on Sunday, June 9, at the Hard Rock Cafe in Boston The show begins at 2 p.m. and in addition to Mass features the ChickZ, Amanda McCarthy, Linda Veins, Aaron Norcross Jr. and the Old Dogs, Dookie Houser, the Joe Hart Band, GrandEvolution, Elizabeth Mitchell, and other guests. Tickets are $15 with proceeds going to America's Fund, a charity that supports members of the armed services and established a special fund for victims of the bombing.

Here's a Mass flashback to when MTV used to play music videos:


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About the author

Scott McLennan is a Boston Globe music correspondent and previously wrote a music and entertainment column for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette for 15 years. After seeing the band Boston in the Boston Garden as a teenager he never looked back and eventually figured out how to be a professional fan. Scott is very good at writing in the dark. This blog is an ongoing discussion about music happening in and around Boston. Scott will be leading the trek across genres looking for new releases and hot shows as well as just checking in with the people who make Boston such a great place to listen. More »
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