The Scotsman Sessions #229: Mason Hill

Welcome to the award-winning Scotsman Sessions. With performing arts activity curtailed for the foreseeable future, we are commissioning a series of short video performances from artists all around the country and releasing them on, with introductions from our critics. Here, Glasgow band Mason Hill perform a stripped-back version of their song DNA

From Mogwai to The Snuts, it’s been a year of chart triumph for Scottish bands – including Glasgow melodic rock five-piece Mason Hill. In March they reached the top 20 with their debut album Against the Wall, which also went to number one in the UK Rock Chart, making them the first British band to top that chart with their debut since Royal Blood.

“It felt amazing,” reflects guitarist James Bird of the achievement. “It was a huge relief because we were so worried about what it would mean for our debut album to come out without us being able to gig. We thought it would be difficult and nobody would see or hear it, but to our delight it did great.”

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Of the trick to staying visible without being able to get on stage in front of an audience, Bird explains: “We just did our best to be as active as possible on social media, constantly promoting to our fans and encouraging them to get behind us amidst the situation we’re all living through. People power can be a powerful tool which proved to be the case on this occasion.

“We handle our own social media pages for the band,” he adds, “but never have we had to be so vigorous with it. It almost felt like a full-time job to ensure we stayed on top of everything and reply to everyone who gets involved with our pages.”

Like most bands taking a proactive approach to promotion during lockdown, Mason Hill harnessed the power of video sessions and livestreams. Their cover of the Foo Fighters’ song Best of You proved so popular among fans that it’s been given its own release. “This was a very big part of our digital and viral campaign,” says Bird, “a lot of people seemed to enjoy it and request it to be released, so we thought we would make it available on streaming services.”

For their Scotsman Session, Mason Hill decided to do a stripped-back version of one of their own tracks called DNA. “We chose the special acoustic version of DNA because the full electric version is a hard, heavy, in your face tune and we did not expect it to sound so cool stripped down with acoustics,” says Bird. “It was one of our favourite singles off the debut album.”

By September, Mason Hill hope to be back to doing what they do best – gigging hard. “We are so excited to have announced a total of 24 headline shows, three of which are in Scotland,” says Bird. “We loved it before but now I think we and everyone who attends are going to love it even more. We don’t always know what we’ve got until it’s gone, so we’re super excited for the day we get to start gigging once again. I think it will be the same experience but times ten, if that makes sense. People are going to be buzzing to be at a live show now more than ever.”

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