24-year-old Eddie 9V is the Roy Orbison-looking, blues and rock and roll-playing new boy on the scene, and he is making one hell of a statement! Hailing from Atlanta, Georgia Eddie 9V — also known humbly as Brooks Mason — is taking his old school blues influence and giving the world a fresh take.
Recently signed with Ruf Records and on the cusp of releasing his sophomore album Little Black Flies, I caught up with the bluesman to chat signing to his dream label, keeping his second record ‘greasy’ and ‘distorted,’ the YouTube rabbit hole that defined his love of music, his ‘in your face’ live shows, and more.
You recently signed to Ruf Records, what’s that experience been like for you?
It’s been a dream of mine to be on a label in general. I typed out a letter on my old typewriter to the most important people when I was sending my CD demo out to labels. I knew that Ruf was one of the biggest in the world when it comes to blues. He liked the fact that I wrote him a written letter so he flew over to come listen to us. He saw our show and fell in love with the music.
Wow, that’s amazing that he just flew over to see you play. I think writing and sending something physical makes all the difference in this day and age. You’re an old school guy though, tell us about where this old school influence comes from in both your fashion sense and your music?
Even in middle school and high school I was always on YouTube watching 60s and 50s and 70s music, I kind of worked my way back. I started with Woodstock Hippie era but I just can’t pull off psychedelic clothing. I’m trying more so nowadays but I don’t know! I’ve always been more interested in the fashion and music they listened to back then. Everyone since I was about 11 has said I was an old soul. I even scared my mum when I was a kid because I told her I was reincarnated when I was six and it really creeped her out.
That’s so scary. They do say children are more in touch with their sixth sense. Now, you are about to release your second record this May. Talk me through the writing and recording process of the album. What can we expect to hear?
That’s a great question. Basically, we started the record a long time ago and I was doing all the instruments myself but I hit a roadblock really quickly and I had just been signed. I knew I had to do something cool with the next record. The thought that crossed my mind was if I want to do a good blues record, I need to do it live. I need to get the best musicians I can instead of me doing it. So, I called my buddies and said ‘I’m going to get a bunch of beers and a bunch of pizza’ and that’s really all you need to gather musicians, so they came over but the best part was I didn’t let me know we were recording, I just said ‘hey come over for a jam’ and it was right in the middle of nobody having gigs.
I had a few song ideas that I went back and we did some overdubs on but most of that record was all done live with a few mics and the best players I know around and everybody killed it. It was amazing, and going into it I didn’t know if it would be a keeper but from the first song we did, which is the second song on the album, it was the second take and we put it on the record, we didn’t stop to think of what the arrangement was, we just did it. That’s how most of my favorite blues records were done back in the day, they only had a day to make records!
100% That’s how you capture that authentic sound in my opinion, artists like The Teskey Brothers do that and it makes all the difference.
It’s funny you mention them because one of my new friends, I showed her some of my music, and the first thing she said was ‘Oh, my god. Have you ever heard the Teskey Brothers?!’ And since then about a month ago I’ve gone down the rabbit hole of listening to them.
That’s so ironic! And now back to the album, where does the name Little Black Flies come from?
99% of the songs I write I usually keep the demo working title, and man the song is about a year old since I created it but I came up with this little story about hearing ruckus upstairs in the above apartment and you have a thing for this girl and although it’s morbid the little black flies are the flies flying around you after you’ve been shot. ‘little black flies flying all around the kitchen’ it kind of gives the listener a taste of what it’s like after the crime scene — a visual.
It is very visceral. Is there a steady theme throughout the record? What was inspiring you?
I was really listening to a lot of Junior Wells, Muddy Waters live stuff, those old blues records were there was no BS; there was nothing! Everybody came into the room, they got their instruments, they got done with the songs and they didn’t sit there arguing about it for a week or whatever. There’s a famous quote from John Lee Hooker when he was recording the Hooker and Heat album with Canned Heat and he said, “It doesn’t take me no two days to do an album,’ and that really struck me. It was really a thing of like it would have to be a really bad mess up for us to have to go back and re-record the song. I wanted to keep the rawness and reality of it. I wanted people to hear some minor mess ups and us keep going. I wanted to keep it greasy, distorted, and put everything up as loud as we could and hope the mics capture it.
Love it. What’s your favorite song on the album?
I love “Little Black Flies.” I really think that’s something my brother who’s the bassist/producer, we have been making music together since we were 14/15 and I think that’s one of our best produced sounds based on what we were going for, but my favorite song on the album is the last one, the Muddy Waters tune You Don’t Have To Go. It’s kind of funny at that point in the session, I want to remind you this was a party/jam and we were professional in the fact that we knew we had to get it done and get some good sounds done but the reason why I like it is because I had a little too much Gin by the end and I couldn’t play guitar good enough but I could sing, at least get out the words, so I let my other guitar player Cody Matlock who’s amazing take the solo.
I let the band shine on it and everybody let lose, and I love it as the ending song because it was the end of the first session and as soon as we got done with it you can hear bottle caps hit the floor and you can hear me say something like ‘alright let’s go get some drinks and let’s listen to it’. My main goal for the record is to make people feel like they’re in the room with us tracking and I had some people over on that session so I hope that it sounded the way they heard it that night in front of them.
Amazing. How did the process of making this album differ to the last because I read you recorded your last record with your brother in a trailer?
100% correct. We ended up moving out into the middle of Georgia in the country on our grandparents’ dairy farm, and we had a little double wide trailer. And it was a blessing and a curse. It was two hours to get to any gig, but at the same time we didn’t have to worry about neighbors or anything; we could just crank up our amps and smash the hell out of drums. We were able to experiment with sounds and everything. It was an amazing experience. I still miss the sound.
I went back the other day, and I’m going to release a video soon about going back into the trailer and explaining where we recorded everything. But it’s fallen in now. It was moldy when we were living there, but it’s a proper hazard now. Stuff is falling in. There’s a bunch of animals living in it, but it was definitely the vibe for a while. I do miss that trailer. It had carpet on the floors so it was really acoustically treated in a way.
Nice. Speaking of family, where did your love of blues and soul begin? Are your parents musical?
My parents do not play music at all. My dad is a legendary air guitar player. No one was musical in our family except for our great grandmother who played music in the church. I never had a church background. I wish I could’ve jammed with her, but who knows — she might have thought I was playing the Devil’s music. My uncle played guitar just well enough for us to play at family get-togethers, and that’s where we had our first ‘shows’ playing in front of the family.
I started out a normal kid in the mid 2000s, and it was when I heard Howlin Wolf for the first time… I’ll never forget it; I was 14, and YouTube was the main catalyst for finding blues and soul. And I just started binging Howlin Wolf, Sonny Boy Williamson, and all these guys. And my goal has always been to get as close as I can to that. I would sit there all day trying to get a tone like Albert King. I had a semi successful indie band and I toured with them, but I always told myself I was going to come back and do blues. Because blues is my real passion. It’s my favorite music to play. When I was playing indie music, it always felt like I was trying to chase that indie-pop dragon hoping that one song was going to get a million listens on Spotify or whatever, but the blues feels more homely.
Our stories are so similar. I heard Lenny on YouTube when I was 14 and that was it for me, my love affair with the blues began. So where does the name Eddie 9V come from? I know you started out just using your name Brooks Mason.
The short answer is when we were on the road with the indie band we’d be on the road for weeks and weeks and on long car rides we’d have to entertain each other. So we used to do Chicago mob impressions and my name was always Eddie, and it came down to me trying to form my identity and my sound. I felt like the world has enough ‘such and such name blues band.’ And its funny because the label and so many people were saying you have to do The Brooks Mason Blues Band but I still had a gut feeling; I wanted to cross the line of just being a blues artist, kind of like The Teskey Brothers I want to be in the soul, the blues, the roots… I didn’t want to hard label myself as a ‘blues band.’ So, I came up with Eddie 9V because as musicians we are always dealing with 9volt batteries and it just stuck; it rolls off the tongue and it’s kind of like an alter ego, if you will.
That’s what I was thinking. An alter ego, and a cool one at that. So after a year in lockdown you’re finally performing again. What’s that been like? And how would you describe your live shows?
It’s basically one of the hardest things to do as an artist, to make your cd sound good live. But that’s one of the easiest things for us since we went into the studio and did what we do at a live show so it’s easy for us to go and play the way we sound on the record. Except for the horns it’s really hard to find a horn section to do shows. It’s funny because we never stopped playing during the pandemic. We even played legendary club Blind Willie’s, if you’re ever in Atlanta you should check it out it’s like a New Orleans Blues bar. That was our home bar. We played there once every month even during the pandemic and we packed out as much as we could with capacity but our live shows are very energetic, loud and in your face, everybody shines in their instrument, I won’t solo every song for five minutes I want to change up the vibe and I want people to sit back and enjoy it. I don’t want to be too overpowering either.
A lot of guitarists can get a little self-indulgent but I like that you allow the band to shine. What’s next for Eddie 9V?
We’ll be putting out a few singles: “Little Black Flies” and “She’s Got Some Money,” but honestly the rest of the year I’m already working on the next record, I have a three record deal with Ruf and the big thing in the works is that I’m planning on moving to Germany next year. I really want to hit the European blues market it’s so huge. I want to hit it really hard and the beginning of next year we have a huge tour planned across all the European countries, but I’ll probably be going over there before the end of this year to put my foot in the water. My main goal is to play and I’m just ready to hit the road. I want to be the guy that the musicians and the fans like. I want to play. I want to make people smile. I want people to come to the show and feel like they’re seeing some old school blues at a juke joint.