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Single Review: Massive Ego - In Your Own Darkness


DAN NARKOSIS ABJECT TERROR REVIEW ALBUM ELEKTRO VOX

Massive Ego are back and with a STUNNING track that ticks all the boxes you could ever want. Like the feeling you get as the sun goes down on a beautiful long day in the sun with friends, or the satisfied sense of connection you feel leaving the club at 6am, this track feels like a welcome home for what is truly important in life.

 

Massive Ego Comeback Single Release Date: 21 June 2024 Label: Out Of Line Music

Massive Ego returns after a two-year hiatus with not only a new single ‘In Your Own Darkness’, but also a new line-up, new logo, dramatic re- style and an appetite to carry on where they left off previously. Many musicians suffered from the knock on effects of Covid-19, where tours were cancelled, and the fallout from the mess that the UK’s Brexit caused for the music industry, Marc Massive, the band’s singer since its inception in 1996, experienced a mental health breakdown. This necessitated an immediate withdrawal from all band activities and an overnight disappearance from the internet, which fuelled conspiracy theories. Two years on, after much personal mental health care and self-help growth, life took a turn for the better. The band announced a surprise return to the live stage at the Out Of Line Weekender in Berlin in May. The line-up included the return of original keyboard player Lloyd Price, whose remix of “I Idolize You” became a huge club success. His creative input was a defining element of the breakthrough album "Beautiful Suicide” with tracks like ‘Let Go’ and ‘Low Life’ able to pull at our emotions, emotive and passionate but leaving us on a positive. Lloyd comments:


“It’s been a long time coming, but it's great to be back in the Massive Ego team. I have always enjoyed working with Marc. We did some great stuff on Beautiful Suicide. The vibe in the band is totally different now. It's all very positive. The new track just came together so well with Porl adding to the sound. The vocal really influenced the lead synth line, which does hark back to those great earlier tracks. I think this new single stands up with some of the best work we did back in the day”

Joining the line-up and making up the foursome alongside Marc and Olly Frost, bringing a wealth of production experience, songwriting, and real guitar licks to the band’s sound for the first time is an ex-member of the goth band Rosetta Stone, Porl Young.


“I’m thrilled to become a part of Massive Ego, and to be able to bring some ‘80s- influenced post-punk guitar into the sound, along with some extra analogue synths and a little more organic approach to some of the production. “In Your Own Darkness” is a comeback single that I think truly shows what all of us bring to the band.”

A change of image for a band normally entails a change of clothes. For Marc Massive, it involved leaving behind a character he’d created and worn for over 25 years. Retiring his instantly recognisable trademark ‘Mickey Mouse’ hair buns, Marc decided it was time to part company with his ‘alter ego,’ bowing out in a suitably David Bowie leaving Ziggy Stardust style. Marc separated from his character, last seen languishing in a public photo booth outside the famous pier in Brighton, UK, in his 2023 short film Idol Lies. This film drew a line under the past while presenting the ‘real’ Marc Massive moving forward.

Lyrically the new single is a somewhat personal song, singer Marc Massive explains why


“reaching the very bottom as I did, I wasn’t even sure I’d ever write a song again, so when this track presented itself it felt extremely cathartic to write. I realised If I was to come back, I needed to do everything differently this time. And that meant leaving the past behind, and no longer feeling like I needed to hide behind the ‘wig and make-up' that I’d become known for, and ultimately became a prison of my own making”.

With one performance showcasing the new single under their belts to an appreciative audience at the Weekender, and a bigger live sound, the boys are keen to continue working towards a series of single releases, as well as an album and tour in 2025. Olly the band’s drummer suggests the future is looking bright


“Timeout has given us the chance to reflect, review and reset. This much-needed process has allowed us to welcome a new member with extensive industry experience, as well as reunite with an original member who played a crucial role in shaping the melodic sound of our first album, 'Beautiful Suicide,' on Out Of Line. Creating and performing new material has been incredibly rewarding and enjoyable, providing us with the opportunity to realign with our original vision for the band”.

L to R: Marc, Lloyd, Porl and Olly.

 

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Interview

Q. Two long years! It's wonderful to hear that M.E are back. Let's address the elephant in the room. What caused the sudden exit from music?

Marc: I had a breakdown. The new single addresses what that involved and the extent it affected me, but 4th February 2022 is not a date I wish to repeat. Having just lost our dog Squeaky, two more family deaths and a load of other dramas from outside sources I was in no fit state to carry on with the band which I’d been proactive with for nearly thirty years. Overnight I had to have the pressures removed, everything taken down offline, gigs cancelled, just disappearing and avoiding life. Those in my close circle know what I and Olly went through and what it took to get back to where we are now. On the positive side, it also reshaped my life from that point, changing every aspect of who and what I am. 


Q. Were there particular aspects about touring, making music, labels etc that added to the reasons for your original decision to stop?


Marc: Our label Out Of Line was hugely supportive once they realised to what extent my mental health had been affected by music issues and those associated pressures. Cancelling contracts for shows you’re booked to do is not something an artist wants but when life takes a turn for the worse, they were there to deal with the fall-out, cover the costs and still have my back and be as supportive and encouraging as they could be. Before the breakdown, the pressures from the pandemic and the possibility of not being able to function as a band as a result of Brexit was taking it's toll. Ultimately as the founder, it was down to me to keep the Massive Ego ship afloat as nobody else was as invested in it as I was and if the camaraderie isn’t there then it’s never going to work.


Q. What were the most important or useful things that you found helped you back to a return?


Marc: I had 18 months or so of therapy. I discovered the world of ‘self-help’ books. I discovered a spirituality not based around religion which I’m still anti, but Oracle divination card readings, and the presence of spirit in my life, looking out for me and helping me make wiser choices. Sounds all very ‘hippy, new aged’ rubbish I agree, but for me, I found a connection and the signs were there. In my case ‘the Universe really was trying to tell me something’! 22 22. Meditation is now in my morning ritual, I’m able to block out the negative chit-chat we all have in our mind and regulate anxiety much better than I have in the past. Being a sufferer of panic and anxiety issues for most of my adult life hasn’t been easy, but with the new tools I’ve got, I’m able to keep it at arm's length. I read more books in a year than I’d ever managed in my whole life previously. Lots of biographies of musicians, artists and filmmakers which helped reignite my creative passion. You must read ‘The Artists Way’ by Julia Cameron, truly life-changing and as a result, I’ve practised daily ‘morning pages’ since the breakdown. Finally running…I’ve never been sporty, but realising I can actually run a couple of km without passing out has changed me. I actually love the treadmill a couple of times a week to keep those demons at bay. Being able to share that ‘couch to 5k’ journey on my Instagram kept me motivated. Then I set the goal of getting fitter in time for a return to performing. Getting Lloyd and Porl back on board after the false start gave me the kick I needed to start writing songs again, and it gave me a reason to stay motivated and positive. Unfinished business. Olly has been the one solid factor in getting me back here, without him I wouldn’t be writing this.


Q. Having the band back was somewhat teased hearing you do some fabulous tracks with the likes of Dead Lights and one of my favourite tracks of the year - 'What's Gone Before' by Simon Carter. Were you approached to do these or reached out yourself and either way what made you choose these artists? 

Marc: I’d just started writing new songs for the band, of which I’d got 4 or 5 to a reasonable stage of development. I tested the water for a return to music with the ‘Idol Lies’ EP and short film that helped exorcise some demons for me, working with a musician from Hungary, Richard Olah. Once that was out I started getting really kind offers for collaborations. These two tracks came around at the same time. Simon Carter provided a backing track and asked me to write something, that happened really quickly and ‘What’s Gone Before’ almost wrote itself. It was cool to be working with a trance beat for a change, and zero pressure or expectation. That led to the boys from Dead Lights getting in touch and asking me to lend a vocal to a demo they had. Knowing those boys have a visual flair for the weird and wonderful and sharing a similar DNA, it did feel strange doing a video with them whilst not adopting the ‘look’ I was known for, but at the same time, it was cathartic to leave the old me behind and work a fresh vibe with fresh people. I’m always open to providing a vocal for the right track or writing a song. There’s another collaboration coming later in the year that I’m super excited about, lyrically and visually.


Q. What were your favourite parts about working with those artists?


Marc: Fresh ideas, no pressures, no drama or negativity, creativity at the core.


Q. There's factual info if one looks hard enough in to the career history of yourself and your bandmates but if each of you could summarise your entire musical history in to a paragraph or two that would be great. I mean not in facts but in your emotional and spiritual journey over the years and what has brought you to this point.


Marc. Stepping off the National Express coach from Middlesbrough in 1987, into the adventure that was London as a naive and innocent 18-year-old, to working with people I’d previously only seen in magazines, who helped me discover my abilities and creative soul and shaped who I am now.  Being able to lose my inhibitions, drown out the anxious noisy chatter and present myself as something I didn’t think in my wildest dreams I could ever be or do.


Q. So the press bio I've included mentions you leaving behind the ‘Mickey Mouse’ imagery and changing things up after the release of Idol Lies. So tell us a bit more about what made you change things up, and what direction you hope the new change brings, please?


Marc: I was tired of him, and others are doing that ‘look’ thing so much better. After 20 years of having an ‘alter ego,’ it was time for a fresh start, especially after everything I’d just been through. The ‘gimmick’ wasn’t really cutting it and I think it put the band into a ‘novelty’ category that wasn’t serving us or the songs anymore. The visual was overriding the songs at the heart of it in my mind. Plus it was taking the fun out of performing, especially when you have to spend 2 hours in make-up before a show, half an hour straight after maintaining the look before you can go and meet fans and have a good time, and then often another 90 minutes taking it all off back at the hotel. As the new single says ‘’I no longer feel the need to hide’' and stepping out for the first time at the recent Out Of Line Weekender show, naked without those trappings, was a revelation. It felt very symbolic of turning over a new leaf.


Q. Which three bands have been most important to you over the years? In a life-changing way.


Marc: Number one, Duran Duran for inspiration and everything and for asking me to be part of their Anniversary. Dead Or Alive for going against the grain and Blutengel for taking us under their wing and helping us find a new audience after years of being in a pop wilderness.


Porl: The Cure and Nine Inch Nails. Japan were a huge inspiration, but just a bit too young to have been able to appreciate them properly when they were still together (feels good to say that lol). Eurythmics. Definitely. Love Is A Stranger video on The Tube. Androgyny, synths, great pop song, but dark, and more DIY than most punk - a synth, drum machine, mic and 8-track tape.


Olly: Growing up, artists that grabbed my attention were those whose visual presence was as strong as their sound. We lived near the BBC, I’d hang out outside the Top of the Pops studios, the theatre where Wogan interviewed the 80’s excess, and the pop stars that interested me used the recording studio on our road. Eurythmics, Adam and the Ants, Frankie Goes to Hollywood and the New Romantic movement began to shape me. As a teen, The Smiths, R.E.M, Sinead O’Conner and Dead Can Dance became my soundtrack. I started clubbing at 15 when Acid House and rave culture were being clamped down upon and dance music entered the mainstream. Underworld, Faithless and Reactive impacted me. Musically and socially. My interest in electronic, experimental, less mainstream music and subculture grew, influenced me creatively.

Q. Which three bands do each of you feel are going the right way to be 'the next big thing’?


Marc: Modern Men from France. Their recent Antifrance track is sounding new to me. XTR Human his anger is compelling, and Matte Black are hot.


Porl: Promenade Cinema - lovely dark electro-pop from Beverley. The Bellwether Syndicate - William Faith’s current band from Chicago. Gorgeous goth rock with pop sensibilities. Traitrs - from Toronto - lovely melancholy synth and guitar and one of the most hard-working bands. All these choices are coloured heavily by them being not only really good imo but really genuinely beautiful people!


Q. With this single release, does this mean there are plans for more releases in the near future?


Marc: I hope so. This single feels like the best thing the band has done to date. Commercial, radio-friendly, and guitars! The video is sexy. There are about 4 or 5 tracks that are shaping up nicely. There should hopefully be some shows next year.


Q. How do you feel about the trend of bands releasing the majority of an album as singles before the release of the actual album?


Marc: It’s a new necessary evil with these days of streaming and keeping your Spotify numbers up sadly. The expectation that there should be a fully formed video experience with each release every few months isn’t practical or achievable given there’s no money in music. Our newest video cost £700, the most we’ve ever spent on a video, but it was only that cheap because we all worked on it, pulled in favours and made it ourselves. We can’t afford directors and video production companies. Low Fi,  D.I.Y all the way. I’m a fan of hard copy, old school in that I like to present music with a printed visual that helps tell the story contained in the lyrics. I think we’ll do singles, but I hope they add up to a special album release at the end of it. I’ve already worked out the album cover.


Q. Has the journey you must have all been on the last couple of years given you any words of wisdom or advice you'd like to share?


Marc: Keep some mystique back by not baring your soul on social media or washing your dirty linen in public. Be professional, on time, put the effort in and don’t give up your dream even if it takes 20 years to achieve.


Q. Anything you'd like to say to your fans?


Marc: Thanks for hanging around and don’t believe everything you’re told


 

Review

This single goes in quite a few different directions, starting off with a seemingly light hearted and quirky twang to the introduction which drops gently in to a much darker and smoother opening verse from Marc. A retro twanged guitar still keeps the light vibe of the intro going. At 0:53 however the track submerges you fully in to the warm embrace of dark electronic audio that feels nourishing for the ears and soul. It does what dark electronic does best, it gets you swaying and brooding. Lyrically I love the chorus so much. Having gone through (and am still going through) mental health issues of my own, this track hits home..

So dance in your own darkness My destiny alone is mine to decide My spirit is helping me stay alive Because I no longer feel the need to hide

The sound in headphones is all encompassing, joyful and inspirational like a war song, even within its melancholy and clear felt pain. This to me is an instant Synthpop classic. Then again most of Massive Ego's song have always been of such calibre, quality, and of course - always memorable. There is a second addition to this release, a 'Night Version' and oooooh yes.. It takes that honey smooth darkness and enriches it just that bit more, reducing the guitar twangs and remixing some of the vocals and loops in to something a little more decadent, adding a little more dance to the macabre of the electronic dark. It also throws in a bit more of the sweeping electronic ambience synths too! So you know what that now makes this right? A beautiful, beautiful piece that NEEDS to be played in the Gothic clubs of the world!

Conclusion

'In You Own Darkness' is a stunning return for Massive Ego with everything you could want from a Goth electronic track and with the 'Night Version' this is A dance floor track made for lovers, for anguish sufferers, for those who are healing, for those who have healed, for those in despair, those finding the silver linings of joy wherever they can, and of course those who find beauty in the darkness. A poignant and relatable anthem for mental health and personal struggles. Massive Ego have made it crystal clear indeed that their beautifully entertaining talent is still very much alive and well.

A huge heartfelt welcome back, kings of the dark music underworld.


Thank you!

 

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