It’s been a while since Steve Mason hit the road.
The Edinburgh singer-songwriter estimates it to be around 18 months since he previously hauled himself up on stage.
He’s been spending his time productively since, brushing up his live skills – though he’s hard pressed to admit that he’s been to any gigs to motivate him instead of leaving the house.
“God, have I? Not really,” he chuckles when asked if any shows have inspired him in the intervening year-and-a-half.
“I just tend to sit at home and watch AC/DC performances which is always a very difficult thing to measure up against.”
He lets out a small, self-deprecating laugh. “Even if you can get a tenth of what they achieve, then you’re probably doing all right.”
The 44-year-old is returning with his fourth solo album under his own name, About the Light.
Written for the first time with outside help from his backing band, it brings an anthemic quality to the forefront, a sense of shared community that differs from his past work since heading his own way.
“I suppose I wanted to have a much more communal experience in the writing of it rather than it just being me sitting on my own, working and writing on my own,” he notes. “I’ve done an awful lot of that and I’m rather bored if it now.
“If you want to write something that’s uplifting and positive, you need to write it in an uplifting and positive environment, and I suppose that environment is really an environment with friends making music and working on these tracks and getting them to the point where they sound uplifting and positive. So that’s the real difference.
“I mean, it differs from the stuff in the band because the band was twenty odd years ago. But it differs from previous solo albums I guess because the group was much more involved.”
Did he approach the record with the concept of making it sound big? “Yeah, I think so. I mean, once you add in some female backing singers and a brass section, then you’re always going to get that depth which makes something sound an awful lot bigger that it would without it.
“I definitely wanted some power there for sure. But I guess that also comes from my vocal; I really tried to push myself this time, much more than I ever have before. I’d have to say, it’s definitely the biggest sounding record I’ve done.”
The former Beta Band singer has become a father in the intervening years, welcoming a daughter into his life, though he admits that she is yet to influence his craft in any particular way.
“By the time she was born, we were pretty close to finishing the recording and the songs had already been written. So I don’t know yet what effect it will have on material, I just don’t know. But I’ll probably know this time next year.”
He chuckles again. “I hope it doesn’t turn me into a wishy-washy, wet, chocolate-box kind of songwriter!”
He is relishing a return to the stage, dropping by Leeds’s Belgrave Music Hall on his run of shows in the coming weeks. Given it has been a while, he believes he will not anticipate any sense of
boredom, though he does admit that it is the sort of thing musicians have to combat in touring life.
“You can get into a four-week tour and your mind starts wandering while you’re performing.
“You could be thinking about a million different things while while you’re singing these songs and people don’t really realise that.
“But I’m pretty good at noticing what’s happening and pulling myself out of it because when that starts to happen to me, I feel like I’m really cheating the people that have come to see us.
“So you then try and go the extra mile.”
He pauses. “That doesn’t happen to me too often though because it’s a different venue every night, it’s a different crowd, a different city or a town.
“So that’s what makes it, and the crowd are always different; they always have a slightly different atmosphere and vibe and character to them.
“It hasn’t happened to me for a long time.”
With a near-clockwork three years between each solo release, any potential follow-up to About the Light will have to wait until 2022 at the earliest.
Mason’s in no hurry though, and nor does he have the itch to branch out into side project mode either.
“I don’t really have the time. I feel like I’m really on the cusp of something here so I need to focus all my energy on that, because it’s really important.
I’m either going to be working or bringing up my daughter so there won’t just be the team to mess around like that.”
Steve Mason plays the Belgrave Music Hall in Leeds tomorrow night (Friday, February 1).
Tickets have now sold out but you can still join the waiting list for returns by going to www.belgravemusichall.com