● You’ve got an original alternative sound, well-done man! Tell me more about your solo music career and when did it all start.

Justin Br: Thank you so much, Mena! The entire process started for me in the year 1999. That’s when I began playing guitar and writing original songs. I started out as a solo artist writing primarily rock songs and instrumental guitar songs. As the years went on, I played with numerous original and cover bands, but I have also still consistently remained a solo artist. I draw from a large number of very talented artists and bands as my musical influences…some of which are Garth Brooks, Eddie Van Halen, Jason Becker, John Petrucci of Dream Theater, and Synyster Gates of Avenged Sevenfold. My own guitar playing is very much a blend of Eddie Van Halen, John Petrucci, and Synyster Gates influences with my own nuances thrown in. If you asked me to describe my playing, I would say that it is a very bluesy, yet technical, “shred-style” of the guitar. In addition to using my actual name, Justin Bruce, I also use the moniker (i.e.name) “Shame the Masses” as a sort of stage name to release music under as well. I feel like this adds some mystery or secrecy to certain songs. I tend to use my real name for the lighter rock songs and the name “Shame the Masses” for the much heavier rock or metal songs. I have written so many original songs myself, so back in around September of 2019, Bryant Sutton and I started talking about the idea of collaborating together on a project to see what kind of lyrics came out. Bryant and I have been old friends for over 20 years and he has a ton of life experience and interesting stories. He says that he isn’t an actual musician, but he has an incredible ability to put together creative song lyrics that come from a very interesting place and are very relatable for listeners. This collaborative project quickly went from “let’s see what kind of songs we might write together” to “man, this is HUGE!” The first lyrics he came back with ended up becoming ‘One More Good Time’, and he then wrote ‘Punk Enough to Die Young”.

 

● Although you have got an original output in “One More Good Time,” I noticed several alternative influences. Tell me more about the songwriting process of the track.

Bryant Sutton: So, my lyrics for ‘One More Good Time’ actually come from the perspective of a person who isn’t a musician. I think in pop culture references and everything is filtered through an “ADHD blender”. The first verse was intended to be like Motley Crue – ‘Smoking in the Boys Room’ fun. Then, I started watching Pink Floyd – ‘The Wall’and The Wizard of Oz and it all just got out of hand…It drug me into a darker place. The second verse is a mashup of Guns N’ Roses – ‘Mr. Brownstone’ and The Long Kiss Goodnight references. I won’t even discuss the origins of the third verse. [Laughs]

Justin: For the music itself, the acoustic chord progression that I developed for the verses has a real easygoing feel to it, which is then directly contrasted by the heaviness of the power chords in the chorus and also offset by the bluesy guitar fills. See, this whole song is telling the story of a middle-aged man who is tormented by the downward spiral of addictions, mental anguish, and heartbreak over lost love and the crazy things that happened to him when he was younger. He is at a crossroads where he has to choose…continue down this path of a downward spiral or pick yourself up and improve your life. I wanted the music to reflect that inner turmoil. Back and forth between acoustic verses where he’s thinking about life and heavy, rocking choruses where he’s freaking out not knowing which way to go. I am really happy with the way the track turned out.

● I was impressed by the vocal line in your cover of ‘The Dance,’ tell your fans more about the song’s topic.

Justin: So along with all of my numerous rock music influences, my singing is actually influenced a lot by the country artist Garth Brooks. I have always loved Garth’s music and I have been told that my voice is similar to his. Because I love his music and as a sort of tribute, I have done covers of his songs ‘The Thunder Rolls’ and ‘The Dance’. What I did differently though, as a rock artist, was to cover the songs in a more rock-oriented format. The topic of ‘The Dance’ is essential that none of us knows what the future holds. We are not guaranteed a future or a future with our loved ones. We may not still have love with a person, but we have memories of happy times with them. I stayed pretty “close to home” with the cover of ‘The Dance’, but my version of ‘The Thunder Rolls’ is much more a rock version than Garth’s original song. 

● ‘Mini Dress Princess’ and ‘Shame the Masses’ music videos are stunning, still, it’s almost a year since you released a music video, are you aiming to release one soon?

Justin: Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed the videos for ‘Mini Dress Princess’ and the song ‘Shame the Masses’, (not to be confused with my artist name “Shame the Masses”). Yes, it has been a while since I have released a music video. We actually have very big plans for the near future regarding music videos. We have a string of new songs coming that will also feature music videos, so yes, definitely some cool music videos coming before long.

 

● So this means that both of these 2021 original singles [‘One More Good Time’ and ‘Punk Enough to Die Young’] are part of an upcoming album?

Justin: Yes, most definitely! So the first song released was ‘Punk Enough to Die Young’ in June and then ‘One More Good Time’ in July. These are both parts of a larger work.

Bryant: There will be a full album worth of songs that covers “lifetime”. Unlike concept albums, the songs can all completely stand alone as singles though. Not to be pretentious or cryptic, but they come from a different place…than most music.There will be videos and other media.

Justin: It’s “deep”. We are going to see how far down the rabbit hole we can go.

 

● Although you are making great progress perfectly by going solo, are you planning to add members to your project band someday?

Justin: That is a really great question. It has been several years since I have been out touring on the road. Since 2019, I have been really heavily focused on the studio with a few other projects and especially now with this latest undertaking that we are working on. Bryant and I have developed a number of songs that we are recording. Of course, COVID had a big impact on live shows and touring for a while, but my view is that at the conclusion of recording this studio project, we might turn our focus onto putting together a live band to finally get back out and play some of these songs in a live setting. We will see how things play out.

● I noticed there’s a variety of the topics that you discuss through your music but what subjects interest you more to talk about?

Justin: I have always had a deep interest in philosophy, religion, metaphysics, world cultures, poetry and literature, astronomy and space, as well as basically discussing how topics such as those might be conveyed through music to listeners. I like “deep” music. Music that is complex and makes you really think about what you are listening to. That’s actually what led me into branching out into other instruments besides the guitar. Each instrument brings the sound of its native culture into the music itself. There is SO MUCH emotion and information in music…you are speaking to a listener’s soul with the music that you create. Almost every single song I write myself or collaborate on with someone ends up being a much “deeper” song than it may seem at face value. We talked about the deep meaning of ‘One More Good Time’, but ‘Punk Enough to Die Young’ and the song ‘Shame the Masses’ come from really deep places too. If you haven’t had the chance to really check those songs out yet, please do so! At face value, they are arena-shaking rock songs, but lyrically, there is a lot of deep meaning there!

 

● Finally, the COVID effect still threatens our live music scene, tell me your fans about your promotional plans in 2021.

Justin: Well, certainly each new single of this project that we release will be heavily promoted individually, and then at the conclusion of the entire album, there will be a massive promotion to support everything that we want to do with this.

Bryant: We will get videos for many of these songs out and our fans will actually be a part of this project. The goal is to bring live music back and incorporate what we’ve learned while in quarantine to connect with our fans wherever they are. There will be some tie-ins that no band has done before. All of it for the purpose of putting the fun back into rock music.

Justin: I feel like the rock music genre is going to make a big return to the main stage in terms of popularity, just as it was back in the rock music heyday of the 1960s, 70s, and 80s and we want to be a major player in that resurgence. We are still in the relatively early stages of what we want to accomplish. There are still some very big things coming!!! Please stay tuned for updates from us because there will be a lot coming!!! Thank you so much for taking the time for this interview Mena!!! 

Justin Bruce on FacebookInstagramTwitterYouTubeSpotify, and Bandcamp.

 

Mena Ezzat

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