Chris Goss and Masters of Reality are a mystery. Nothing about them really figures. They are certainly not a household name, yet for over a decade they have amassed a cult following of fans and provided the world with releases that have all been met with an almost embarrassing outpouring of critical acclaim.
The LA Weekly described the Masters as "the best hard rock band around today. Period."
"The band is poised beautifully between guitar thuggery of vintage Black Sabbath and the harmonies of the Beatles," writes the San Francisco Chronicle.
The band's first effort, the self-titled "Masters of Reality" (also known to fans as "The Blue Garden",a tribute to both the song and drummer John Leamy's painting), was met with immediate recognition around the World. Produced by Rick Rubin, this was the first hard rock album on the Def American label. A cut from the album was featured in the Steven Seagal action flick "Marked for Death."
In 1994, the Masters follow-up album, "Sunrise on the Sufferbus," which featured a virtuoso performance by ex-Cream/Blind Faith drummer Ginger Baker, put a single, "She Got Me (When She Got Her Dress On)" into Billboard's top ten playlist.
The 1997 release of "How High the Moon....Live at the Viper Room" was recorded on the spur of the moment at Johnny Depp's famed Sunset Strip nightclub. This intimate setting gives fans a glimpse of the Masters at their most amazing. It's been described as "the show we all wish we were at." One of the evening’s many high points was Chris Goss being joined onstage by Stone Temple Pilots frontman Scott Weiland on "Jindalee, Jindalie."
In the interim, Chris Goss, the band's founder, frontman, guitarist, songwriter, and producer has kept busy with his visionary work behind the board.
His production is given much of the credit for making Kyuss into the desert-rock legends they are today. "I saw them and I liked them a lot," Goss says humbly of his affiliation in a recent interview.
He has produced or performed on soundtracks including "Marked for Death", "Tank Girl", "Strange Days", and "Disturbing Behavior." There is even a Masters performance on a "Ren and Stimpy" episode.
Goss has done production for Scott Weiland on the Magnificent Bastards and Stone Temple Pilots, Ian Astbury, Josh Homme, Russell Crowe (LA Confidential), and many others.
Goss produced one of 1999’s top debut albums with The Flys "Holiday Man" featuring the top ten single "Got You Where I Want You" at his Palm Springs Studio, Monkey Studios.
In 1999 they released the album “Welcome to the Western Lodge”, the first one for Brownhouse Recordings. The album received great critical acclaim and showed a little more of an experimental side of the band. Songs like Moriah, The Great Spelunker and Take A Shot At The Clown are classic Masters of Reality songs.
In September 2001, Masters of Reality released “Deep in the Hole”. For this album Chris has made a trip back towards the masterful “The Blue Garden” album, blending bluesy stoner rock with some fabulous guitar riffs and solos. The album features guest appearances by Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age), Mark Lanegan (Screaming Trees/Queens of the Stone Age), Troy van Leeuwen (A Perfect Circle), Dave Catching and Mathias Schneeberger (The Earthlings), Nick Lucero (The Flys) and Brendon McNichol.
The groove is solid, the melodies are deadly and the voice is magic.
In December 2001 the Masters of Reality did a short (sold out) tour across Europe with the following line up:
Chris Goss (gtr/vox), John Leamy (dr), Josh Homme (gtr) and Nick Oliveri (bs) (both of Queens of the Stone Age).
For those who missed the magic live or just want to experience it again, the “Flak & Flight” live album is a valuable treasure with its 60 minutes of steaming stoner rock. It features such Masters Classics as ’Blue Garden’, ‘John Brown’ and ‘100 Years’, ‘Third Man on the Moon’, Why the Fly’ and ‘High Noon Amsterdam’ (featuring Mark Lanegan) as well as the Ramones cover ‘Cretin Hop’.
Since then, Chris has been keeping a busy schedule both as producer and musician. The list of artists Chris has been lending his talents to reads as an impressive who’s who in the current most creative rock scene: Nebula, Mark Lanegan, Melissa Auf Der Maur, The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster, Roxy Saint etc.
Still, now is the right time to get back and unfold another chapter in the Chris Goss / Masters of Reality saga. And yet once more we are in for something very special. “Give Us Barabbas” (Brownhouse, 2004) is a collection of material spanning the best part of 20 years. Recorded both as Chris Goss and Masters Of Reality, the new album focuses more on the acoustic and psychedelic side of Chris’s output. Most of the songs have never been previously released and in a way stand as unpolished gems waiting to be discovered.
Highlights include “The Desert Song” recorded with legendary line-up comprising of Googe (Bass) and Ginger Baker (drums). ‘Two of the best musicians I have ever worked with’ says Chris (and what an informed opinion his is). And “Brownhouse on a green road” a song Chris has worked on and off for years with drummer extraordinaire Vic Indrizzo (now in Macy Gray, Liz Phair and Willie Nelson bands).
‘Above all, it is a happy occasion to release all these songs together’ says Chris. ‘I can’t help but feel blessed with the quality of musicians I have been working with’. And “Give Us Barabbas” is also a celebration of these talents.
Upcoming plans? Masters Of Reality do not tour often but they do enjoy a quick round every two or three years, so, it seems fitting to expect the band to come and visit very soon. Yet once more you know you don’t want to miss this.