Interview with Dominic Masters - The Others

It’s damp, chilly Monday evening in Derby. I’ve been sitting in the front bar of tonight’s venue for a good few drinks with friends when I get a call… the band are here, finally. A few moments later Dominic Masters, frontman with Libertines favoured London based band ‘The Others’, walks in and greets me with a warm handshake. We decide to take the interview into the back, to the bands dressing room, a place that could well be described as ‘cosy’ with walls that are covered in the scrawl of hundreds of other bands that have been here. We take a seat around a small round table. Dominic is slim and a little pale and his hair sits unorganised on his head, a look many try for but fail. (Dominic’s is a natural look.) He wears trousers, a T-shirt, a zip up jacket and what I would call an ‘old man’ jacket. What I mean is a tweedish (?) suit jacket. He crosses his legs and wedges his elbows on his knee. He has the outward appearance of a quiet shy young man. When he begins to talk he is anything but; he speaks in a lively, animated fashion and answers any and all questions thrown at him. Today he comes across as every inch the gentleman; later on he will cringe desperately as one on the young ladies in the room takes the top off a bottle with her teeth.
The Others formed about two and half years ago in “ a bit of a strange scenario”. Dominic had broken up with his wife and spent a year partying to “ try and forget everything”. Dominic tells us how people began questioning him about what exactly it was that he did, so he told them he was in a band. This worked for a while, until people actually wanted to see this band of his. “I just kept saying ‘ oh…. We don’t play very much’. Dominic picked ‘The Others’ the name randomly, when he was put on the spot in a club one night. One of his friends was calling his bluff, and Dominic called his friends and then this friend of Dominic turned out to be good friends with the club owner who said that they would put the others on in about two weeks. Well done Dominic, he’d booked a gig for a band that didn’t exist and had two weeks to sort it all out. Dominic desperately wanted to save face and not let his friends down. To solve his problem Dominic called up his friend from his first band, a guitarist called James, a guy he hadn’t seen for over a year. Oddly enough James agreed to play this gig with Dominic, the best sort or friends a person can have apparently. In agreeing to this ‘one off’ gig James also roped in a friend of his, a session drummer from Brighton, who also agreed to a ‘one off’ gig. In the space of two weeks and a few hurried rehearsals Dominic wrote six songs, and all was tight and ready in time for this ‘one off’ gig. This ‘one off’ gig attracted quite a large audience as the band had quite a few friends around London. The gig was a success and they were asked to play again “and we just carried on from there”. “We spent a good year doing about one gig a week, going through the stages”. At the end of the first year “ we were going through a bit of a difficult patch, we’d done a whole year and hadn’t got anywhere and (it) wasn’t going too well and we were all a bit scared”. That is until Dom’s friend Emily “ a lovely girl” got her friend Alan McGee to go see a Babyshambles gig. This gig had The Others as support, which came about because Dominic is good friends with Peter Doherty. At the end of this one gig Alan McGee signed both Babyshambles and The Others and has “looked after” them ever since. This ‘looking after’ resulted in The Others recently signing to the Mercury Vertigo Records label, still under McGee’s management “ I wouldn’t leave Alan McGee… ever…he has just made my career”, for £135,000.
At this point in the interview the noise from the sound check going on next door becomes unbearably loud, not for the last time in this interview. “Fuckin’ drummers, who would have ‘em?” laughs Dominic, his accent sounding scarily like Johnny Rotten at his peak.
This is The Others’ second UK tour, in support of their second single ‘Stan Bowles’, the first tour was in support of ‘This is For the Poor’. At this point in the interview the tour manager appears and organises the guest list for the evening. Dominic adds at least ten names… but more of this later. Guest list sorted we get back to the interview, and we’re talking about why The Others play other cities than the big ones, such as Manchester, Glasgow and Birmingham. Dominic tells us that on his first tour they went to places like “Taunton, Somerset, I went to Shrewsbury… fuckin Shrewsbury”. He says that they are places that a touring band “shouldn’t really go to” meaning that a touring band should go to the big places, where they sell the most records. Dominic goes on to explain that when you play a big city on any night you will be up against three or four bands, but when you play smaller places more people are likely to come just to check you out. “ I know that there are lots of our 853 Kamikaze Stage Divers …members that are scattered across the country, they’re not all just contained in big cities, and that life exists outside of Manchester, London and Birmingham.”
On the subject of success Dominic is “very, very proud… its such a nice feeling. I had a job ‘til January” he talks about how he had a 9-5 job up until January and had to fit in the partying around that. Now it is his job to party, and he’s very grateful “ you couldn’t have anything better”. Suddenly Dominic leans right in until his lips are touching the Dictaphone, not just because it’s old and he needs to be heard, he is about to make a very serious point. “ All I know… if I don’t sell forty thousands records from my album I will get dropped” and he says this in a way that is so serious and so sad. He almost sounds like a naughty five-year-old that has been told to behave, else he’ll have his toys taken away. You can almost hear sorrow in his voice, its as if he has worked so hard just be given a chance and now he’s got that chance he has to work even harder to make it happen, it almost doesn’t seem fair. He says it’s the same with all the big record companies “ they don’t see you as a band they see you as a product”. “Believe me I think we’ll be one of the one in ten bands that gets a second album, coz we work so hard to look after all the kids, and get free guest lists.” He then goes on to talk about the exceptional closeness of the fan band relationship. “ my room each night is supposed to be for me and my roadie normally sleeps about seven to eleven.” “I don’t understand why bands don’t party with fans… it just seems obvious” he laughs. This coming from a man who has given his personal mobile number out to all the fans as well as putting it on the bands website, just so the kids can feel in contact with the band.  It does take its toll though “I’m fucked, absolutely tired, I tell ya.”.
We talk about the so called London movement, Dominic says that its community spirit came about as a reaction to how hard it was to get any recognition from record companies. All the bands stuck together, “ drank together, did drugs together, partied together” and this is where the sense of community came from. Dominic says it’s a good thing, as now he is experiencing a level of success he is able to help out smaller bands in the same way as The Libertines helped him out at the beginning of his career. Regarding current British music he says it’s a “post punk, punk movement” this is because everything comes in stages, “Brit-pop was a reflection of 60’s music” and now bands are revisiting the sound of the punk movement in the 70’s. He also says that the London movement isn’t all about bands from London, its bands that go to London to get heard as this is where all the big companies and reps are based. It makes sense.
How would you like to be remembered? “For being a nice man… I hope”. As for the future “ I would like to open an 853 kamikaze stage diving divisional pub chain… I ain’t joking” He says this is because a lot of the kids that come to the shows are underage and if they had a venue of their own this wouldn’t be a problem. A venue of his own where anything could go. He then goes on to talk about where he would put his 853 chain of pubs… “ I’m in love with Wakefield at the moment, so we’d have one there…”.
“ I would be called ‘Equality Man’, for social equality. My powers would be to make everyone equal” he talks about equality between races and genders and sexuality. He speaks of a system whereby all the money would be regrouped and distributed equally. What a nice man. He ends by saying, “ I think this is probably the longest interview we’ve ever had.” Which could be down to the endless interruptions from sound checks, due the number of questions or maybe down to the fact that Dominic always gives long, thoughtful answers, never just a short rehearsed brush off. With this man you get the real deal.  And his message to the kids? “ Keep it real on the streets”.

(c) 2004 Laura Smith