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  • John Masino

    An interview with a Madison guitar legend
    by Tommy Rage
    October 2020

    In For The Night & Phase Of Change - photo by Meg Masino

    In For The Night & Phase Of Change
    photo by Meg Masino

    Decisions, decisions, decisions. Fear not, my indecisive music lovers. We have the answer to all your music needs from one of Madison’s most recognized and talented artists. John Masino, a worldly guitar legend has released two CD’s this year, each with a unique and bountiful batch of tunes that would fit any mood you are in.

    Masino released In for the Night this past spring. With support from fans and a Go-Fund-Me account, Masino wrote and composed an entire album, and was taken aback when fans began funding his new project with overwhelming support. “I really want to send a thank you on to all the people that supported the fundraiser, it really made it possible for me to do this album. I was really knocked-out by all the people that were interested, and who wanted to help. It made it so that I could get the album out; and actually, I’m nine songs into my next album with that help. I’m very thankful for all my friends and fans that helped me through the fundraiser, thank you very much.”

    It is through that fundraiser that Masino was able to finish In for the Night earlier this year and do so completely as a solo effort. Playing all the guitar tracks, vocals, bass, and drums, Masino’s multi-talented musical skills began years ago when he was a kid. “I’ve been playing for many years, since I was nine years old. I started playing on drums and switched over to guitar, when my brother handed-down to me a ‘62 Gibson SG when he went into the Navy. My father had bought me a cheap little drum set that we covered in blue fur. I had Ludwig Speed King peddles, and I had a thing called a Sizzle cymbal which we thought, back in those days, was the hottest thing ever. We played our first gig back in 5th grade at Badger School, and we played [some] original songs.” 

    It is that true musicianship and talent that went into recording In for the Night. “When we came into this whole pandemic thing, we were trying to do rehearsals online, which was a little difficult, and then it got to the point where we made a group decision that we were just gonna put things on hold. That really sent me into my home recording studio to seriously begin doing what I never had time to do for many years. So, pretty much, I recorded all the parts, I do everything ‘cause I am a drummer, I’m a bass player, I play keyboards and all sorts of guitar parts [laughter]”. 

    Combining his talents on all ten tracks, from the bluesy and laid back tempos of songs like “Sunset Horizon” and “Precious Ground”, to the old school guitar solos found on “Space Walk”, Masino pulled from his personal inspirations when creating the album’s first single “Love Lights”. “That song could be inspired by a Van Halen kind of riff. It was something that I was working on for about a year, and I just kept re-writing it and re-writing it, and finally I [found] a bridge part for it. Most of the tracks like that came together really fast once I sat down to record them. I had the song done in two or three days, but I’m constantly mixing and EQ’ing, editing the whole time. By the time I get to the final mix, everything is done before I take it to the mastering software.”

    Having so much material, Masino decided that a second album was needed, and thankfully he released that second album this year, thus saving all of us that dreadful dilemma on which album to buy this year. Thank God we have two albums from John Masino, for all my indecisive friends.

    Phase Of Change, Masino’s second CD, was released in October with ten energetic and hard rocking tracks. From the albums foot-tapping title track to the soft and quaint ballad “Remember”, Masino paints vivid pictures of his memoires and takes the listeners along through his own phase of change. “It’s funny the way I write a song, because it’s completely backwards”, explains Masino, “I start with the drums. I record the drums first, then I develop the guitar part. Once I have two or three guitar tracks, then I’ll record the bass part, move over to the synthesizer, and then might come back and do some lead solos. For this album, I got a new guitar processor, and I’m constantly re-mixing as I’m recording.”

    With so much material for both albums, In for the Night and Phase Of Change, Masino embraced the pandemic lockdown and wrote to his heart’s content. Being a well-known and respected stage performer, this was the first time in Masino’s life that he would not be out preforming for local music fans. Songs on Phase Of Change like “When The World Is Back Together” and “Kinetikos” speak to the times we are in, and world around us. “Kinetikos is an instrumental song having to do with kinetics. It’s funny about instrumental songs having a tittle, with no lyrics. This song has this kinetic energy, and that vibe has kind of a Joe Satriani vibe, and in my mind, I hear Lynch Mob and my cousin Donny’s band [Last Crack]. I definitely get a lot of musical messages and things just happen, and I relate to all these other things that you’ve heard. That song is kind of a guitarathon for me [laughter], I had a lot of fun recording that one.”

    Closing out Phase Of Change, Masino takes us back to an earlier time in his life. The last track, “Voodoo Child” is a sparkling rendition of a Hendrix classic that has a bit of history to Masino and his legendary guitar skills from years ago. “I went down to Memphis with my brother Chris. I competed at B.B. King’s club for the Jimi Hendrix Electric Guitar Competition. They picked out a random Hendrix song that night for you to play and they had a back-up band. There were about 17 of us, and they just picked a song and you had to be able to play it. For me they picked “Little Wing”. The guy who won it for the whole U.S. was an actual Jimi impersonator and he even played left-handed and did the splits. But I was the runner-up, and it was a great contest.” 

    With the current world in turmoil, the less chaos the better. Thus, the decision to go out and buy BOTH of John Masino’s albums is a no-brainer. From the relaxed ambiance of In for the Night to the dazzling display of being a guitar virtuoso, Phase Of Change highlights Masino’s talents twice around. Some decisions we may regret, but buying both of Masino’s albums is a decision you’ll be happy you made.

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