I recently had the good fortune to catch up with Baz Mills, vocalist of band-of-the-moment, Massive Wagons. Grab yourself a brew, put your feet up and have a right good read …
Queen of Rock – How did you decide on the band name?
Baz Mills – Haha, the classic, age-old band name question. Ay, well firstly I can categorically confirm it’s nowt to do with wagons big or small! A lot of the early band meets, including the session from whenst this whole band idea originated, were held at our local, the Station Hotel in their back room drinking hole, and said hole had a rather (there’s no way of saying this without sounding crass) ‘well formed’ young lady serving the drinks, if you catch my drift, it was our code name for her. Rather childish, I realise but there you go, she is a good friend of ours and digs the fact, you really don’t wanna hear the other options we had!
QoR – If you were introducing someone to your music, which two tracks would you pick and why?
BM – Hmmm, tough one. I think it would have to be something classic and something new; I think the first track would be ‘Fight The System‘ – it really was the bands signature tune for a long time, seemed to be a real crowd fave too. We just kick up a notch when playing it live, and I think when we wrote it, we knew then we had something going with the band, it’s a real milestone track. Secondly I’d say ‘Back To The Stack‘, we wrote it for the late, great Rick Parfitt; the news of his death was a real kick in the spuds, he was an icon, still is. We felt he’s given us enough great times over the years so the least we could do is write a song in his memory; we released it and it’s absolutely been the most successful track we’ve put out, every penny goes to the Teenage Cancer Trust, it was picked up by Planet Rock and embraced by the hardcore Quo fans. We simply couldn’t have asked for more.
QoR – What’s your favourite track to perform live?
BM – Haha, I’ve a few! ‘Fight The System‘ and ‘Black Witch‘ have always been faves of mine live, but currently I’d say ‘Back To The Stack‘ or ‘Fe Fi‘, both are really fun to go bananas to. I’ve a feeling some of these brand new ones will become favourites – we’ve written a song called ‘China Plates‘ which I love rehearsing.
QoR – Do you have a favourite venue or city that feels like ‘home’?
BM – Anywhere at all with a good stage and good sound, and as long as whoever is there is enjoying it, then it’s all I care about. As for cities, we amazingly seem to have been taken to the heart of a lot of places, but for me personally, I couldn’t separate Glasgow, Edinburgh, Manchester or Belfast, guaranteed party time in any of those places!
QoR – How did the Lancaster Library gig come to fruition?
BM – Lancaster is our home city, we haven’t done anything there for quite a while now. There is a mega rock boozer there [which is] aptly named ‘The Pub’ and we have played dozens of gigs there over the years. I think all rock bands have a kind of spiritual home, well that’s ours, but we wanted to play a homecoming gig on a larger scale; Lancaster has a rich history in rock gigs, the University back in the day had Queen, Slade and The Clash, but sadly the great hall gigs are no more. I mean, we didn’t want to put anything on of that scale, but just wanted to kick things up the arse a bit and try bring some big riff music back to the heart of Lancaster. There is a lack of medium-sized venues so we had to try and be clever, harder than you might think for us that! We remembered gigs being held there years ago – Adele, believe it or not played there – but they’ve never had a rock band apparently or associated rockers, beer or volume. Let’s hope we don’t wreck the joint, that could go down in local history for totally the wrong reasons, haha. We’ve got Motorhead’s Roadcrew ale and Cloven Hoof rum on board so it’s set to be a top night, I reckon.
QoR – How much did you manage to raise from releasing ‘Back To The Stack‘ and how did you decide which charity to support?
BM – It’s still ticking up nicely, it’s somewhere between £500 – £1,000, I think. We wanna make the donation at a nice round number, but yeah, massive, massive love and thanks to everyone who has bought it so far, it means a lot. The charity was a fairly easy decision for us really, apart from the obvious rock music connection they have with Noel Gallagher, Roger Daltrey and the shows they put on, which I’m a big fan of, for me the words ‘cancer in children’ sealed it, a no brainer for me; I’m a new dad so it really hit home.
QoR – How is album number four coming along? What’s your writing process or rituals?
BM – Album four is absolutely going great guns; personally I love song writing, it’s just been flowing, we have just about an album’s worth now, bar maybe a song but we are writing hard, so it won’t be long. We’ve booked the first studio session too, so it’s full steam ahead. We did think at the start of album four is there any pressure on us, ‘Welcome To The World’ did really well for us, it was received really well by our amazing fan base, so we thought, what do we do now? The answer is just keep on doing the same!
The songs have just flowed out, it’s a bit of a different vibe maybe, not too different, the songs are again totally individual, all have the Wagons’ stamp and big hooks in them, personally I couldn’t be happier with them; we’ve definitely matured as writers, musically and lyrically, we are just buzzing to get it released. The process is fairly straight forward for us, we are lucky as we are all totally on the same page musically, all have a wide range of tastes and all appreciate great songs. The lads all have their input, everything’s open to negotiation, we all get on well and nothing’s precious; we all respect each other’s opinion and try ideas out even if we maybe at first don’t think the same way, getting along is the key, if you can work well together you’ve cracked it.
QoR – Do you have any plans to re-release your debut album?
BM – Absolutely! The day draws ever closer, it’s being remastered as we speak – old skool Wagons! Heavy and down-tuned. It’s a very raw album, and very much a band [who are] at the start of things, but I’m immensely proud of it, we are here now because of that album, a huge chunk of our fan base have never heard those songs so it will be great to hear people’s reaction, good or bad, haha.
QoR – Who has been your biggest influence in the music world?
BM – Cor blimey, that is a question and a half! I’m influenced hugely by all sorts! From the obvious AC/DC, Airbourne, UFO, etc, to country music, Dolly, Cash, Jennings, right through to hip hop – NWA, Cube, Wu Tang, Cypress Hill, I dig the lot! Good songs are good songs and good lyrics are the same. Currently though the biggest influence has to be Ginger Wildheart; lyrically, he is the main man, his lyrics say so much with so many words but they never ever seem over blown or complicated, not a wasted word. At the moment I’d defo say Ginger – his ‘The Year of the Fanclub’ album is one of my all time faves.
QoR – If you could collaborate with anyone, who would you choose and why?
BM – Hmmm, any of the above. I think maybe a woman, to be honest, I love the ballsy rock men/women collars; Ike and Tina, Meatloaf and Cher … ‘Dead Ringer For Love‘ is unreal, maybe a cover of that with someone, any takers? Haha.
QoR – What are you listening to at the moment and can you recommend any new music?
BM – Got the last Tequila Mockingbird album in at the moment and that is absolutely rockin! A new band called Marble Parlour from Wales are also epic – look out for them! I’m always listening to Pearl Jam too, it never stops with them at the mo. The new music scene is alive as hell, it maybe is underground, but it’s thriving [with] so much talent; Mason Hill, King Lot, Bigfoot, Empyre, Lupus Dei … the list goes on and on and on, I’d really urge folk to get on Facebook and just search these bands out, it doesn’t take long to find them and look at the bands, you won’t be disappointed.
QoR – You’ve been at this game for nearly ten years – what advice would you give to bands that are just starting out?
BM – Advice, ay, I could probably write pages on the subject, largely non-sensical boring rubbish, haha. If I had to impart a few key pearls of my wisdom though – make sure you’re enjoying what you’re doing, do what you wanna do and not what you think you should be doing, or what other bands are doing. Good songs are good songs whatever the genre, style, etc, if you’re writing good songs and you’re enjoying it then you’re halfway there. Don’t focus on other bands and what they are doing, what success they are having; I can guarantee behind Facebook they are never far away from what you’re doing even if it seems that way, stressing about other bands will make you bitter and not enjoy band life. Remember your band mates are your mates! Open yourself to others opinions and don’t get offended if people don’t like your ideas, fall outs and arguments will kill your band dead.
Listen to all genres of music, ideas, vibes, sounds, styles, it’s all the same notes! Be creative. Be one of the good guys, be nice to people, even if you maybe think someone didn’t deserve it, if they are an ass, chances are they will fail or are failing already, be cool, be sound and don’t let shit bother you. Work hard! If you wanna do this, then graft, nothing worth having ever came easy. We played 300 plus gigs in the first three years, all with full time jobs, maybe doesn’t sound a lot to some but it was hard work, but now we have an amazing, rock-solid reliable fan base, absolutely priceless that. Make sure you are awesome live!! Lastly, I’d say if you’re writing lyrics and the next line comes too easy to you, then don’t use it, haha, use the third or fourth ‘cos you’ve had to think hard for it.
QoR – What do you see as the biggest barrier to moving forward in the music business?
BM – Haha, money!
QoR – You’ve got plenty of gigs coming up – which are you most looking forward to and why?
BM – We love playing live, we totally dig everything about it so I’d say all of them, they will all kick ass in their own way, they are always different. The Lancaster gig has been a big challenge so to see that go ahead will be a huge deal for us, we’ve had to organise the whole thing from beer to bins and it’s been an experience – a great one, mind. Apart from that, obviously the HRH awards is a biggy and then Planet Rock’s Rockstock!! Big stages, big sound, what’s not to like, haha, it’s a great way to round out the year.
QoR – So much awesome! Anything else you would like to say?
BM – Just thank you over and over to everyone who’s been involved with this band; from people downloading a track, to reviewers, the fans, photographers, radio folk … all just a massive thank you and much love and respect for assisting with what we do. Rock on and long may it continue!