Some people have a calling, a purpose in life. For Mason Evans, that call came early. At 7 years old he started pestering his father for a drum set. As a child of music aficionados, he had the bug early, and growing up next door to Chris Layton of Stevie Ray Vaughn and Double Trouble (Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Storyville) only added fuel to the fire. His father is a painter and his mother a magazine producer, so by the time he hit 8, he had worn his parents down enough to give in.
“By my eighth Christmas, it was the only thing on my list. We had gone to the big, out of town family Christmas gathering and there were no drums under the tree. I tried hard to hide my disappointment. However, when we got home and I went to my room, I found a pristine ’82 Tama Superstar set up and ready to rock. I remember flying into my parent’s arms like it was yesterday.”
Evans’ father had traded Chris Layton a painting for that first set, and Mason began to learn the craft under Layton’s guiding hand.
“That fundamental blues background has always served me well. It helps me never lose sight of the groove.”
Evans chugged ahead, developing the blues rudiments until his teens, when he began to branch out.
“I started listening to Living Color, Metallica, Slayer, Faith No More, and Iron Maiden. I started to see how diverse the instrument really was and how far you could take the physicality and musicianship. From there I really started to begin crafting my own style.”
Evans began playing in various bands, seeking a blend of styles he could relate to and a group of people he connected with.
“Most of my early projects made no mark. I was young and undisciplined and really didn’t understand how much work being in a successful band is.”
In 2000, Evans joined Grunt in Austin, Texas, a vitriolic and offensive blend of metal, hardcore and prog that had a short but intense run. Billed as “Texas Brown Metal”, Grunt combined electric live shows with over the top aggression backed by thundering rhythm tracks, but also brought a volatile mix of personalities to the table. It was here that Evans first put his flag in the dirt.
“We all knew Grunt had a shelf life, but that was ok. We were good with making high energy, offensive music” said Evans.
After Grunt imploded from internal conflict, members of Grunt went on to form Dirtbox, the band that would eventually morph into Dead Earth Politics.
“Dirtbox allowed me to really start to develop more nuanced styles. I was maturing as a player (finally!) and had finally started to understand that I didn’t have to play with baseball bats for sticks at 250 bpm to get noticed. I figured out that the BAND Getting noticed for the music was more important than me getting noticed”.
As Dirtbox developed the band began to change lineups and add finesse to their music. It soon became apparent that it was time for a re branding, as they had grown beyond the bounds of Dirtbox. In 2005, Dead Earth Politics saw the first light of day.
“Dead Earth Politics emerged as the vehicle I had always tried to create. There were virtually no musical boundaries. If it sounded good, it was fair game, whether it was salsa, swing, blues or metal. I found myself surrounded by musicians that were better than me, a goal I had always sought to achieve, because I knew it was the best way to continue to grow as a musician personally.”
Beginning with local shows, then taking their message regional and national, Dead Earth Politics continues to churn out extremely well received and reviewed music. Their live shows became notoriously outstanding having a trade mark metal sound, but presented with a rock and roll ethic. After four releases, the latest “Men Become Gods” debuting in the CMJ top 40, Dead Earth Politics continues to skyrocket, being invited to share the stage with numerous high profile artists on major festivals.
Evans, however, stays grounded through it all.
“At the end of the day, it’s about the music, the fans and the relationships. It’s about making great art.”