In Wayne's Words:
I was born in the land of the Mountain. Taranaki. Dominating every day apart from when it played hide and seek with the people of New Plymouth, still does. Raised on the adage "when you can see the mountain it's about to rain, when you can't, it's raining." Thunderstorms, big weather, strong things.
Moved to Rotorua when I was seven, went to Sunset Road Primary School. I guess it got its name because you could drive straight down the road into the setting sun. Had a great two years there. Jumped off the garage holding onto an umbrella; stuck three wise men onto a felt board at Sunday School; road my bike; had dirt fights; tried to kill each other with shanghais; shot an arrow straight up so high into the sky, lost sight of it - ran in all directions in total panic.
Ended up in Upper Hutt with a copy of The Crickets 45 single "That'll Be the Day" and some 78's of Winifred Attwell "Let's Have a Party". Saw my first rock band at the local church variety show, sandwiched between a magician and a poetry recital - both components of the popular song. Listened to the radio late at night under the blankets so my parents wouldn't know what time I went to sleep, started my own weather station in the corner of the bedroom but mainly dreamed of playing music in a band, like the one I'd seen down at the hall.
My break at college came when I joined the school dance band on piano, sure it wasn't really rock and roll, but there is only so much you can do on a cello and two beaten up guitars at lunchtime doing Kingston Trio numbers. But boy did we have commitment.
In the next four years that band became the Fourmyula known right across New Zealand, records in the charts, touring and serious fun had by all. I started writing songs about this time because Sandra McGregor dropped me, but you get that!
After being in London for three and a half years - where I had such great luck to meet the Beatles who were recording at Abbey Road studios at the same time we were -I came home to ride a motorcycle around New Zealand, wind blowing through my long hair, insects smashing into my face but couldn't help getting tangled up with another band - Rockinghorse - in 1973.
Lived in the Wairarapa in a house you had to row across a river to get to. Even in the darkest of nights after gigs rowing across a flooded river by feel and sometimes no moon and very few stars. I got to know what it was like to kiss the earth on the other side when I arrived safely!
I shifted into Wellington in 1980, played in covers bands in local pubs, formed an original band "Two Armed Men" in 1983 with Ross Burge on Drums and Jonathan Crayford on Bass (yes on Bass not Piano!). A brilliant dangerous band with a bar so high it was almost daunting but material written then still remains some of my most original work.
Put my love of traditional country music into practice when I co-founded The Warratahs in 1986 which became an eight year stint travelling throughout New Zealand.
Left in 1994 and formed the Fallen Angels, except they didn't know that then! Returned to the mountain and recorded "Between Frames" in a artist friend's studio in Taranaki. Started playing gigs with Clinton Brown (Bass), Richard Te One (Drums) and Gary Taylor (Guitar and Keyboards). Greg Turner (Guitar and Keyboards) joined in 1996.
Recorded "Same Boy" in Auckland in 2000 at Steve Garden's studio in Auckland. About every three weeks I travelled on the Northerner overnight train to Auckland and experienced the lonliness of Waiouru station at 2pm in the morning. Stayed for about four days and returned on same train.
"Insanity, Madness and the Band" prevailed. Gary Taylor left in 2003 and here we are today slashing our way through the undergrowth, laughing ourselves to sanity and diving head first into the future.
Wayne Mason - Bio
Wayne Mason is one of New Zealand's finest and most respected songwriters. With a musical history spanning forty years of commitment to the New Zealand music scene, Mason continues to write songs that stand the test of time. Mason was a founding member of "The Fourmyula", one of New Zealand's most successful pop bands - renowned for breaking the tradition of recording covers and making a stand to write and record their own original material.
"The policy of releasing cover versions denied many bands the chance to express themselves throughout the 60's...if anyone can claim a major role towards homegrown compositions, it was the Fourmyula, who cracked the New Zealand Hit Parade on nine occasions, and in 1969 a Fourmyula song featured on every chart of the year. They were huge, they were talented, they wrote all but one of their dozen releases." John Dix, Stranded in Paradise
While recording and touring in England in 1970 , Mason's song "Nature" reached number one back in New Zealand and that same year he was awarded the APRA Silver Scroll. He has been a finalist on two other occasions for "Rain from a Blue Sky" and "Tightrope".
Mason is never far from his guitar or piano and has been a major player and songwriter with other successful New Zealand bands including "Rockinghorse" and "The Warratahs". Mason's song "Hands of my Heart", written prior to The Warratahs, became their first top twenty hit. It's a song he still plays with his current band The Fallen Angels giving it a fast and furious boogie woogie twist. Mason is without doubt one of New Zealand's foremost boogie woogie piano players, audiences are captivated by his frenzied hand movements as he produces a powerful piano performance.
After leaving The Warratahs in 1994, Mason decided it was time to pursue a solo career. He had been involved in bands since the sixties, contributing to over twenty five albums and singles. His songs were covered by other artists both nationally and internationally - it was time to be upfront and personal with his own songs and his own shows.
In 1995 he released "Between Frames" an album produced and engineered by Nigel Stone with long time friends and musical buddies Ross Burge (Mutton Birds)on drums and Clinton Brown (Rockinghorse, Warratahs) on bass.
"Between Frames" received plenty of critical acclaim and Mason was touring again under his own name. It was time to come out from behind the comfortable place of a well known band and introduce "Wayne Mason".
"Between Frames...a world class songwriter album. We all knew Mason could write melodies, we all knew he could play, but how many of us knew about that wonderfully rich, yet suitably road-weary voice, or that rare poetic ability to somehow make the everyday things seem really important." Real Groove
In 1997 Mason headed to Europe, Britain and Ireland and soon realised how eagerly European audiences engaged and enjoyed his songs and was often asked back for encores. They were particularly aware how the sentiment of his songs transcended cultural and geographical boundaries. If there was a ‘language' barrier, audiences always understood his songs; songs from the heart. His live performance is passionate and powerful, intimate and intense, impossible to ignore. Lyrics that get under the skin and melodies that won't leave you alone.
In 2000 Mason started recording his second album, "Same Boy". For a few days each month, Mason would travel on the Overlander train to Auckland to spend time with Steve Garden (engineer/drums) and Clinton Brown (producer/bass) at Steve's recording studio - "The Garden Shed".
They had all shared time together in the band "Rockinghorse" and were having a great time being back together again. What emerged after some months, were 11 songs written from different times in Mason's life, from his travels overseas, to observations on life, people and relationships. Mason decided to include "Nature" and "Turn Your Back on the Wind" , songs he wrote when with The Fourmyula. It was also a great privilege for Mason to have Sharon O'Neill feature on the hauntingly beautiful first track "Cold Wind Bay" and "All She Ever Wanted". Also the wonderful voices of Kim Willougby, Jackie Clarke and Callie Blood can be heard on "Back from Over There" and "This Fire".
"Mason's lyrics trace so clearly the geography of the heartland as well as the heart; the melodies themselves feel elemental, as ageless as a sou'wester, as permanent as the hills." Nick Bollinger
"If there ever was any doubts about Mason's status as one of the most gifted New Zealand troubadours, songs such as "Cold Wind Bay" and "Same Boy" will erase them. Kiwi albums don't come much better." The Evening Post
"Wayne Mason has a mainline to the heart and heartland...his new album Same Boy (Jayrem) finds him again on typically excellent form. Mason explores local, yet universal images and symbols of land, sea and sky.....a lovely album best considered late in the evening, or a warm afternoon, or when the highway unfurls beyond the windshield. Same boy, but a national treasure." Graham Reid NZ Herald
In 2001 Mason's song "Nature" once again hit the spotlight when it was voted the number one song for the past 75 years by members of APRA (Australasian Performance Rights Association).
In 2002 Mason was recognised on the Queens Birthday Honours list and became a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the Music Industry.
"His list of firsts and all-round accomplishments on the Kiwi rock scene must have guaranteed him a place in the Kiwi Hall of fame, surely." Gary Steele
Although great commercial success has eluded him, Mason remains a major New Zealand songwriter, dedicated to his craft and passion regardless of his lack of public recognition. Mason also contributes to the NZ Music Commission as a Music Mentor and has worked with a number of students helping them through the beginning stages of song writing. 2008, a new year and a new album with "Sense Got Out" being released in March/April.
Mason's third album under his own name and his first with his band "The Fallen Angels". The title song "Sense Got Out" was a finalist in the prestigious US based International Songwriting Competition (ISC) in 2006, judged by some of the world's top musicians.
"Sense Got Out" is a collection of great tunes infused with the darker lyric and Mason says this album has some of his best work yet. A keen observer of life and relationships, Mason doesn't hold back with a lyrical intensity that reflects his song writing craft that he continues to shape and sharpen with plenty to observe in the everyday of his relationships with people and landscapes, both inside and out.