FOREWORD: Masters Of Reality frontman Chris Goss informally inspired the entire stoner rock movement of the late ‘90s. I met Goss at a cordial dinner ’97 party at some small Manhattan eatery prior to this interview – which was conducted over the phone due to a horrendous accident blocking the Washington Bridge.
At the schmoozing dinner party were many High Times and Smug Magazine pals. As the smoke cleared and after Goss performed acoustically, I got to speak to the semi-legendary metal head about his muse. He was as nice as could be to everyone on hand. This article originally appeared in Cover Magazine.
After playing a refreshing one-hour acoustic set at tiny East Village eatery, Old Devil Moon, hefty Masters OF Reality singer-guitarist Chris Goss recalled how he used to practice six-string by studying Led Zeppelin’s nimble acoustical arrangements. Influenced by British rock guitarists such as Jimmy Page and Ray Davies, Goss also credits Blues masters Freddie King and Howlin’ Wolf for additional inspiration.
Without succumbing to demonic heavy metal pretensions or bad hair band atrocities, Masters Of Reality make trebly, blackened hard rock that reclaims the territory Cream and Ten Years After conquered in the late ‘60s.
Goss claims, “The British rockers skewed the Blues with strong, Gothicized beats and a big bottom end. They slowed down blues riffs, lowered them an octave, and stripped down the songs to emphasize the low end, creating a Hammer of the Gods atmosphere.”
After an eponymous ’88 debut and its belated ’93 follow-up, Sunrise On The Sufferbus, the eclectic The Ballad Of Jody Frosty went unreleased in ’95 (due to amicably resolved record label politics).
“We compacted an hour-and-a-half show into a palatable 50-minute disc that cuts to the chase. There are no weird drawn-out moments on it,” Goss maintains. “And we decided to record at Johnny Depp’s Viper Room because it was a small room we felt good playing in. Depp’s partner, booking agent Sal Jenko’s a cool guy who respects bands that play there.”
Goss interestingly compares the loud, brazen guitar savagery of ‘60s Brit-rock with the spitfire assertiveness that Seattle grunge bands thrived on during the early ‘90s.
Coincidentally, Goss played with legendary Cream drummer, Ginger Baker, on Sufferbus. And he harmonizes with grunge-pop idol, Scott Weiland, formerly of Stone Temple Pilots, on the beautifully pale ballad, “Jindalee, Jindalie” (originally penned for Jody Frosty).
“Working with Ginger was such a privilege and a positive experience. We clicked so wonderfully. Making rock and roll records is a great way to make a living.”