Interview with Morass Of Molasses aka the grooviest bass-free trio you’ll ever hear.

Written by Featured, Interview

Morass of Molasses might not be the fanciest and most hyped name on the Desertfest London bill this year, but they were nonetheless one of the most exciting acts of this edition. Mixing genres in a really creative and personal way, the Reading-based trio has a very strong sonic identity and we had the pleasure to spend some time with them shortly before they would kick everyone’s ass at the Black Heart. From natural disasters to songwriting and jokes about bass players, it’s all in there!

Thank you for joining us. Firstly, I would like to know what’s the best story you have to share about your band name. After all, “Morass of Molasses” is quite tricky to pronounce. What’s the best memory of misspelling or such that you can remember?

Bones (vocals and baritone guitar): I’ve got one for sure! We were playing in Scotland and someone called us “More ass for the lasses” which is a pretty good one! “We’ve also been called Molass of Molasses”, people just taking the last word and saying it twice, a lot of misinterpretations overall. Do you want to know where the name comes from?

Sure! I was about to ask anyway.

Bones: It is based on the Boston molasses disaster which happened on January the 15th of 1919 in Boston where they had these big vats of molasses stored. They had a very cold night and a very hot morning and the vats weren’t riveted together properly, they had millions of gallons of molasses in there and one vat exploded, sending a tidal wave of molasses to the city center of Boston. 20 people drowned in Molasses. When we started the band, I was like “that’s nuts!”. We were trying to find a band name and finding out what our songs would be about and I remember reading an article about it titled “Morass of Molasses mucks up Boston” and I was like “that’s our band name”! So it’s actually from an article and the first song we ever wrote was “Rotten Teeth” which is about drowning in molasses, so there you go!

You’re making the perfect transition for my next question. I saw in an old interview that you’d love for people to ask more about your lyrics. So outside of “Rotten Teeth”, where do you usually draw your inspiration from?

Phil (lead guitar): It has changed, hasn’t it?

Bones: “Oh yes it has! Because this is the first band that I’m fronting. I’ve been in loads of bands but I was a guitarist and then there was a singer. Obviously, these two guys (Raj and Phil) build songs but these songs are about things that I write about. So on our first EP, it started with this third-person perspective on natural disasters and historical events. “Rotten Teeth” is about the Boston incident, “Fear to Trade” is about the Passchendaele battle, “Ashtabula“ about the Ashtabula River railroad disaster and “Bear River” about the massacre of the same name. So that was the thing for the first EP. Next album I started to look at myths, I used lots of references to North Myths and Greek Myths, stuff like that. That was the next evolution. I’d say the first record where I started to write stuff about me was “The Ties That Bind” (2019) and I started to write songs about things that I experienced. As soon as I started to do that, I realized that from now on I could be more vulnerable. Once you start doing that, it gets easier and easier. Our last album is a lot more personal and the next one too. We already started working on it (we’re four songs in already) and the songwriting is evolving as I get braver and braver about how much of myself I can put out there. It started initially as “wow, not ready for that yet” and now it’s like “I just experienced something? I’m going to write a song about it.”

The songwriting is evolving as I get braver and braver about how much of myself I can put out there. It started initially as “wow, not ready for that yet” and now it’s like “I just experienced something? I’m going to write a song about it.– Bones Huse (Morass Of Molasses)

Following up on the lyrics topic, do you usually wait for the music to be done then write the lyrics or do you constantly write lyrics and pick up from what you have once a song is ready?

Bones: We don’t really have one single way to do it.

Phil: It seems to change with every album.

Raj (drums, vocals): Or every song!

Bones: I think the very first thing that happens with an album or a song for me personally is the general idea. It all starts with the idea. For “The Ties That Bind”, it has a dark forest theme and it was there before there was any song. I like thinking about the environment the songs exist in. And for “End All We Know”, it came from being written during the pandemic, right after Brexit. We actually wrote a song about Brexit. The songs live in an environment. That’s very important to me. 

What about the music? You guys seem to have absolutely no boundaries as to what you can do. Do you start from a bunch of riffs you have and see what crazy stuff could come next or is it more organic, you jam along and see from there?

Bones: It’s definitely more organic, we jam quite a lot to spark the initial ideas.

Raj: We also come from different musical backgrounds.

Bones: I’m originally a funk bass player, Raj is a funk drummer and Phil has a background in metal. Blues is the one thing we all shared. That’s why if you listen to our music, there’s a lot of blues in it because that’s the one thing that brought all of us together.”

Raj: Having these different backgrounds also makes it easier for us to go “oh what if we make this funkier or doomier.

Bones: A really interesting thing as well is that we are not afraid to shift within a song. We’ll literally have a rock bit then go to a heavy screaming bit. And people who have been listening to our band for a long time, they know that’s what we do. But people that have never seen us or listened to us before will go “wow okay oh they’re not heavy anymore, now they’re super heavy again” sometimes within the same song. I guess we do not think about it. Once you’ve done it long enough it becomes your sound. You have this paintbox that you paint with. Every time we write a song, any idea that anybody has we have to try. That’s the rule.

“I’m originally a funk bass player, Raj is a funk drummer and Phil has a background in metal. Blues is the one thing we all shared.– Bones Huse (Morass Of Molasses)

That allows for happy accidents…

Raj: Exactly!

Bones: You’d think that leads to conflicts but we’re pretty good at balancing it out. It all comes down to the fact that we have very good musical chemistry. It’s really nice. Most of our new songs are jams from the last soundchecks that evolved into songs. Sometimes someone will have an idea, the others don’t quite like it but we’ll try it and we all essentially trust each other enough that we know if it is working. Because when it is working and you get that satisfactory feeling, that’s what we want. None of us is in a position where our ideas would be so important to us that we don’t care if it’s good or not. We all have to be vibing with it for it to work.

Raj: My favorite moments are when one of us has an idea and we are not entirely sure if it’s going to work, we try it and it’s amazing. I love that feeling.

Last question. Since you do not have a bass player, do you have any jokes about bass players to share with us?

Bones: How many do you want? (laughs) The weird thing is that when people say “where’s your bass player?” I usually say “I am a bass player, I just don’t play bass”. Because originally that’s what I was. And the all-baritone split and guitar thing that I do just evolved over time. Now a lot more people are doing this, but when we started out it would freak out people, they thought we would play to backing tracks etc. They could not understand that I’m splitting the signal into two amps. Occasionally we have bass players asking us “can I join?” and we’re always like “Why”? Because, again, we have this musical chemistry so if you had an extra person you risk changing it. If we play a good show with a good sound engineer etc, it works just fine, we know we have all the bases covered. Ah ah, all the basses covered!

On that joke, we ended this short but fun and interesting interview with Morass of Molasses. The band would go on to play the most memorable show of the entire weekend. Legends.

New album “End All We Know” out now on Ripple Music.
Find Morass Of Molasses on Bandcamp, Facebook and Instagram.

Last modified: 23 June 2023