The recording project today known as “Gnostic Gorilla” has its roots in an earlier project known as “The Lonely Ghost Project”. When Dean Mason was a wee lad, he and his band mates from the London, Ontario area recorded a single written entirely by Dean Mason titled: “Dark Hallway” (“Golgotha” on the B-side) and was released as a 45 rpm by Mason’s indie label “Lonely Ghost Productions”. That was the beginning of what would eventually be the present day project known as “Gnostic Gorilla”.
Years later, in 2001, Dean Mason began investigating the possibility of pursuing a new musical project and he named it “The Lonely Ghost Project”, taking the name of his indie ‘label’ and using it as the name of the project. Unfortunately, Mason was not in the best of health and was battling deep depression and addiction. The bizarre thing about this short period was that very little music was actually recorded but a strange series of photo sessions in Mason’s basement produced some ‘comic book’ like images, with Mason donning a mask and bowler hat as part of the so called stage persona. Gary Numan said in an email to Mason in 2001 that he liked the image—“looks a bit like the Green Hornet character” he said.
Numan also suggested that Mason offer up his lyric writing abilities to artists who struggle with that aspect of song writing. Very little was pursued during this era and Dean Mason focused eventually on recovery and career.
In 2002, Mason dabbled a bit with some recording but again, chose instead to focus on his career and his recovery. That said, Mason had a column with an online zine with “Stickman Comics” that featured interviews with various artists, both indie and established. Mason did interviews/reviews of artists like Type O Negative, Helix, Nash the Slash, Gary Numan, Gene Simmons as well as with many indie artists looking for a bit of exposure. (in fact that was his focus) Some of Mason’s interviews became a part of a book by Jeff Wagner, “Soul on Fire: The Life and Music of Peter Steele”. Mason also had a brief career doing interviews for “Toronto Goth”. One of those interviews was with Ade Fenton and also Johnny Kelly of Type O Negative.
In 2011, Dean Mason decided it was time to experiment once again with writing/recording music. More or less, it all started off as mere ‘hobby’ and focused mostly on recording instrumentals. For some strange reason, Mason feared he didn’t have what it takes anymore to write lyrics. However, Mason took a chance and wrote/recorded “Requiem for the Prophet of Doom” which was a tribute to Peter Steele of Type O Negative who passed away a year or so earlier. Mason began releasing some of his work through CD Baby using the project name “The Lonely Ghost Project” and “Dean Mason of the Lonely Ghost Project”.
In 2012, Mason began writing/recording in earnest and on his days off from his regular career, that’s all he did. One of the first and most powerful tracks of that time frame was “Nietzsche’s Cyborg ” which would later become a part of the sure to be classic album “St. Basil’s Asylum”. The song is about the inner struggle and murmurings of the German philosopher, Nietzsche. The song also looks at the fickle side of human nature as well as the reality of being victims of a certain elitism that exists in the modern world: the song is sort of an attack on ‘hero worship ‘. “Nietzsche’s Cyborg ” has elements of Pink Floyd meets Kraftwerk meets Korn.
Between 2013 and 2015, Dean Mason wrote and recorded many tracks, some of these being instrumentals. Within this period, Mason made a decision to change the name of his project to “Gnostic Gorilla” instead of “The Lonely Ghost Project” because there is a US band called “The Lonely Ghost Parade” and Mason wanted to avoid any confusion with that act. “Gnostic Gorilla” was originally the name of one of Mason’s songs later renamed “Eye for a Lie” which would be a part of “The Secularization of Robotics”. (released in 2016 on LGP-ONE) “Gnostic Gorilla” is NOT about Gnosticism per se. The idea is a merging of concepts The Garden of Eden and Evolution. “Gnostic” is used in the literal sense of the word—to know or knowledge. “Gorilla” is a symbol is a great ape…a reference to evolution.
Mason used the name LGP-ONE as the name of the so called ‘indie’ label for the purpose of releasing material. Obviously “LGP-ONE” stands for Lonely Ghost Project.
In Autumn of 2015, Dean Mason decided to release his first album called “St. Basil’s Asylum”. (later rereleased by Cleopatra Records) That album was a venture in a creative process borne out of a very deep personal struggle both in a personal sense but also as it related to his professional life. (cannot obviously elaborate) The album addresses mental health issues in general, including deep depression, and other issues. More or less, it’s a dark album—not in the sense that it glorifies ‘evil’ but rather explores the darkest struggles of the human condition. Some of the songs discuss the big questions of a more spiritual nature.
In January of 2018, Cleopatra Records offered to rerelease “St. Basil’s Asylum”, which is the first album by Gnostic Gorilla. The track listing is slightly different from the original release on LGP-ONE. “August Priest” and “Cirque Nosferatu” were added to the track listing and some other tracks were removed and will be released by Cleopatra Records as ‘bonus tracks’ later on after a the album has been in circulation for a while.
Dean Mason of Gnostic Gorilla has a few other releases: some are more industrial and dark wave while one album is quite ‘80’s New Wave/Gothic retro.
In June of 2018, Cleopatra Records also offered to rerelease “Synthetic Apocalypse” at a later date. For now we focus on “St. Basil’s Asylum”.
Most of the music by Gnostic Gorilla is dark and unique and even at times quite surreal and weird. Dean Mason is of the opinion that there are enough people doing ‘pop songs’ or ‘main stream’ music, and so he prefers a more ‘underground’ feel to his music. Some people will see the music as Goth, others as Dark Wave and still others who will be unsure what to label it. Categories are essential in some ways but a true artist won’t allow himself/herself to be boxed in to a specific category.
Gnostic Gorilla is inspired by such artists as Gary Numan, Peter Murphy, Japan (David Sylvian) Skinny Puppy, Ministry, Type O Negative, Sabbath, and the list is enormous. A very special mention must be made of the importance of Jim Morrison as a major influence, especially as it relates to writing lyrics. Few people know that the first time the term ‘Gothic’ was used, was in a review about The Doors way back in the late 60’s.
And Now: The Interview
IPM: What inspired you to write music like you do?
I’d have to say that at first, it was my admiration for the music of Gary Numan that inspired me to write music way back as a wee lad. But in more recent years what inspires me to write music is the human struggle. I write about that which is dark but not in the sense of promoting ‘evil’ but looking at those aspects of life that are difficult to look at. Some of my music borders, as far as lyrics are concerned on psychedelic.
IPM: Tell us about the other members of the band, and of your chemistry.
Gnostic Gorilla is more or less a one man outfit. A bit like Nash the Slash. However I (Dean Mason) have worked with other artists on different projects, some of them other than Gnostic Gorilla. Most notably, the very talented Damla Bozkurt of Turkey. She is an amazing violinist and she appears in two of my albums. See, when I started writing and recording music, it was as a hobby or better yet a need to express myself artistically. Never really thought it would go much further. But somehow, one thing led to the other and I was making a small niche for myself in the underground world if you will and then got signed by Cleopatra for two albums. One album still to be released.
IPM: What are or were some of the challenges for you in producing while keeping true to your vision of your music.
To be honest, the biggest challenge is myself. I don’t know how many times I’ve said, “ok, enough of this. Screw it. I’m done with this. I’ve got no more ideas.” I struggle with what is called atypical depression and it creeps up on me like a dark fog and just makes me feel totally negative about everything and nothing makes sense. I listen to my music and think, what a bunch of crap. It’s the nature of this kind of depression and it’s just the way it is. Sometimes it actually helps however, with song writing, but other times I just don’t see the point. I realize that’s not a technical answer to a possible technical question but here we are. It’s what came to mind so I went with it cuz… I’m special. (laughs)
IPM: Tell us about some of your recent projects.
Yes, there is one album in particular that is hopefully going to be released in the summer by Cleopatra Records, tentatively called “Shaman Rave”. We are in the process of looking at how and when. So more on that later. But also, there are several releases in the “best of” type deal with KL-Dark Records and Nowhere Now Records. More on that as well, soon.
IPM: Where do you see your music going, where would you like to be in the near future, goals, dreams and passions?
Good Lord. I have no clue. I know that’s a lame answer but it’s true. I get the impression that my music has the potential to become a sort of underground Gothic/Industrial/Alternative pseudo-classic but who knows. It’s very difficult to judge these things. I hope to collaborate with other artists as well. (already have) I hope to get my own cereal brand…hahahahahaha. No but seriously …one day at a time.
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