It's great to hear his optimism on current single 'Planet Sizes' as Mason sings about looking to the stars and finding the wonder we all had as children. Video: YouTube. It's a classic scene which sums up the enormous cult appeal of the band. People just saw the beards and the acoustic guitars and thought we're just a bunch of hippies sitting around smoking dope all day.
But we weren't. I loved their open ended and slightly shambolic take on songs. They seemed to have more in common with Beck's approach to music at the time than with the Britpop sounds dominating the UK scene. I knew we were amazing. Back then I had huge amounts of confidence about the group and the art we were doing, even though personally I was falling apart. That whole Britpop thing, to me it was just pathetic.
I think art has to keep moving forward at all times and these bands were living a dream they weren't entitled to. It didn't seem like anyone had much to say really. Of course it was fun, but I like my art to mean something. It needs to be real and something to be passionate about. That's what we did for four or five years. We blew all the money and ended up owing the label a huge amount of money.
It's good that the band left a strong artistic legacy, because Mason didn't take anything material away from the middling amount of commercial success they attained. That's just the way he likes it. You shouldn't be buying houses and sports cars, it's your duty as an artist to do the maximum and make it pure and beautiful. Listening to a Beta Band record, you probably don't think of them as a punk band. But Mason's ethos was always steeped in that anti-autthoritarian tradition. To me personally, The Beta Band was a punk band. We succeeded in some ways where the Sex Pistols failed.
The Sex Pistols signed and got the money and just left and what did they do? They only made one album, whereas we managed to keep getting money off the label and producing amazing things. I was banned from America. We were pretty hardcore. So I knew it had to happen there and then, untainted by corporate ugliness. The Beat Eclectic with Karen Leng is a show for the sonic adventurer in everyone. Hear the best in punk, indie, folk, post rock and more, plus interviews with music's most exciting tastemakers and innovators, Wednesday nights from 8pm.
Or listen again online. Features Music News Quizzes Lists. Thursday 24 March pm. Share Facebook Twitter Mail Whatsapp. Steve Mason reflects on how The Beta Band were "untainted by corporate ugliness". Steve Mason. Fri 14 Aug Thu 13 Aug Wed 12 Aug Tue 11 Aug