Massy Ferguson — “Off to See Rose”
Americana Highways brings you this premiere of Massy Ferguson’s song “Off to See Rose” from his forthcoming album Joe’s Meat and Grocery, due to be available on Feb 4. Joe’s Meat and Grocery was produced, recorded and mastered by Massy Ferguson at MARS Studios, Bothell, WA and Feveryear Mastermix, Vashon, WA. The song was written by Adam Monda and Ethan Anderson and Massy Ferguson.
The songwriting in the album, for example in “Off to See Rose,” showcases Massy Ferguson’s thoughtful and sorrowful Americana vibe. Their harmonious singing in multiple octaves and complex musical layers are a treat.
AH: What’s the background on this song, “Off to See Rose”?
Ethan Anderson: Like a lot of songs, it came out of nowhere. Adam and I were basically in the middle of nowhere, too. We did a writing session out at Lake Wenatchee at a cabin in the Cascade mountains and stayed up way to late and drank too much. The next morning Adam was out by the lake picking on some chords and had a few intriguing lines, one about “waiting for the breeze to pick up a seed.” He was kicking around the line “off to see Rose,” his niece, Rose, who had just been born. He wrote most of the song at that point and then I took it home and finished it.
I am a fan of Thoreau, George Bird Grinnell, Jack London — naturalistic writers — so I tried to take in the surroundings and take Adam’s lines and make something that leaned heavy on naturalistic elements: “sunset paints purples on the trees” “sitting there barefoot in the grass” etc
AH: What’s your rig set up when you play live?
Adam Monda: I usually play with a Fender Deluxe Reverb amp, although I do occasionally use my new Dr. Z MAZ Senior from time to time. I most always play my Telecaster although I do enjoy my Gibson ES-335, Guild Starfire, and Rickenbacker 381, oh and my trusty Stratocaster. I always prefer my Telecaster though, sounds great, and you could throw it down the stairs and it would be ready for the gig, I think I did that once. I use varying pedals depending on the situation (and my bank account). Mostly a Tube Screamer and MXR Mico Amp pedal, others include delay, chorus, and an overdrive I like called a Sweet Honey Overdrive by Mad Professor. I’m on my second of these after blowing one up in Spain a few years back.
AH: We noticed you played with Beth Bombara recently; how were those shows?
Ethan Anderson: Beth is so great. We actually were label-mates on At The Helm Records, an indie label in the UK, and started talking through that connection three or so years back. We were both going to be at AmericanaFest in Nashville this past Sept. and talked about not only playing shows together there but also sitting in on each other’s sets. We did just that and it was, in my humble opinion, pretty stellar. Sitting in with her felt pretty natural for MF because she’s also typically more of an electric guitar act with a full band and we are pretty loud for an Americana act — so we compliment each others’ sounds well. The shows were fun, especially our gig at the 5 Spot, and we even busted out a killer version of “Ohio” by Neil Young and rocked that together. We have a tour planned with Beth and her band for the spring too and we can’t wait.
AH: What acts have you enjoyed touring with the most? Is there an act you’d like to tour with in the future?
Ethan Anderson: We’ve toured with Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers probably more than any other act over the years, everywhere from Eugene, Oregon to Puerto Pinasco, Mexico and they, hands down, have the most enthusiastic and riotous fans we’ve ever played in front of. We’ve had some great times with RCPM. Really enjoyed a mini tour we did with Peter Bruntnell in the UK in 2019 and hope to do that again.
We opened for Son Volt a number of years back and I’d love to tour with them on a longer tour swing. Great band. I’ve always been a big Drive-By Truckers fan going way back and they’ve been so influential to me as a songwriter, I’d love to tour with them. I’ve never played or toured with Chuck Prophet but have been a big fan for a number of years, so him. If The Eels came calling with a tour offer, I wouldn’t turn them down. MF are huge Brandi Carlile fans so her, obviously. The Hold Steady. There’s a ton of people I’m forgetting.
Adam Monda: Don’t forget The Replacements!
Ethan Anderson: For sure, The Replacements
AH: Did you see the Beatles documentary “Get Back”? If so what was your reaction to it?
Adam Monda: I loved Get Back, I’m such a Beatles fan and it was awesome to get in the weeds with them. A deep dive. So much as a musician I can relate to that! Basically, they act like any other band in the rehearsal room. Fighting to get their songs noticed, squabbling, and real moments of magic. I say they are like any band in the rehearsal room *but* they just write better songs….. I had to figure out all the licks John was playing on “Get Back” and “I Got a Feeling,” totally rad. I watched it twice and was inspired to keep writing.
That’s the crazy thing with music, you just got to write. I’ve been lucky enough to write with Ethan for many years and it’s great to have a writing partner like that. Thats also, cool in the movie when they all seemed to be helping out each other’s songs with ideas. I think that’s when a band works best, working together on each other’s songs. Makes it more fun and probably better than doing it yourself. It just so amazing to see all of the writing talent Paul, George, John, and even Ringo had. It was also great to see that the songs didn’t all come easy, they had to work hard for them-respect! They rehearsed for hours and I believe that’s how you get out the good stuff. I was particularly interested to see Paul channel “Get Back” out of thin air….. amazing. It was inspiring because I do the same thing. I always show up to practice at least a half hour before the other guys and try to channel a new song every practice. Some of our best songs came that way. A good work ethic is key. Anyway, loved it. Now I can play the “Get Back” solo correctly… I had many versions to choose from.
AH: Can you give the readers some record recommendations of albums that you’re really into lately?
Ethan Anderson: I learned about Allison Russell from her set opening for Hayes Carll at AmericanaFest this year and have been digging her album from earlier this year, Outside Child. Been a big fan of American Aquarium since Wolves, a number of years back and highly recommend their latest Lamentations. I have been super into the new Arlo Parks record Collapsed in Sunbeams. Anything that Khruangbin plays on, I typically am into. Loved Leon Bridges Texas Sun. The couple of Beatles documentaries – Get Back and the Rick Rubin/Paul McCartney one, lately have me revisiting The Beatles records, especially The White Album.
Find more info on Massy Ferguson here: https://www.massyfergusonband.com