Mason back in the air again

Steve Mason. Photo: PA Photo/Handout.
Steve Mason. Photo: PA Photo/Handout.

Steve Mason’s getting ready to go to Australia. Just for the day. “Apparently I was the only man for the job,” the Fife-born musician says, with a shake of the head, fully aware how ridiculous it is to fly Down Under for one show.

“It’s been weighing on my mind, but I’ve never been there before, so maybe it’ll be great,” he adds.

It’s strange he never made it over to Australia before. Mason was, if you’re not up on your late 1990s cult folktronica, part of the Beta Band.

They were the kind of band that elicited rapturous praise from fellow musicians and serious music fans, yet never quite crossed over to the mainstream, although their three albums did chart at numbers 18, 13 and 18 respectively. Since the band broke up in 2004, Mason has busied himself with other projects. There was the continuation of his work under the moniker King Biscuit Time, which started between gaps in the Beta Band’s schedule, and then electronic album Pleasure Pressure Point under the name Black Affair.

“It’s been a weird few years for me since the Beta Band finished,” he says. “There have been different projects and then a monumental mental breakdown that led me to not want to make any music for a while.

“The first thing I did when I was better was Black Affair, which is a good album, I think, but was universally hated by my fans.”

He says his first solo album as Steve Mason, 2010’s Boys Outside, was like starting over, and that he was lucky he managed to write it.

There was a time after the Beta Band when he was working on a building site, so he doesn’t seem to take anything for granted.

“I am very grateful that people still want to hear my music, so yes, I have been enjoying it a lot more this time than when I was in the Beta Band. I’m in the headspace where that’s possible.