Freaks and misfits, rejoice! The Others are reforming – and maybe now Dominic Masters will be recognised for the genius he is.
I met up with Dominic Masters for sushi a couple of weeks ago. It was a brilliant night out and it reminded me how enigmatic the Others frontman is.
I'm convinced Masters is a genius, although in what area I can't be sure. Sometimes I think he would be great as a television personality, but I always end up coming back to his recorded material with the Others. The band's Alternative TV-inspired punk rattle has always been underrated and under-appreciated.
The good news is that Masters feels he has unfinished business with his band. So 2009 has thrown up yet another musical surprise: the return of the Others. They would never admit it (at least not publicly), but journalists were always obsessed with the band, thanks in no small part to Masters's charisma. Soon after the Others announced their return, I ran into an NME journalist who was adamant that if the band had broken up after their debut album and admitted the whole thing was a gimmick, it would have been a classic pop culture event in the grand tradition of the Great Rock'n'Roll Swindle or Bill Drummond's The Manual (How to Have a Number One Hit the Easy Way). But it wasn't a ruse. The Others and Dominic Masters were far too "4 real" for gimmicks.
Masters is a brilliant salesperson and marketer, who gives great copy, whether it's regarding drug use, the nature of sexuality or the internal workings of the music industry. His regular guerrilla gigging was a stroke of genius (especially the one on the London Underground train), as was the band's openness with their fans (Dominic's phone would ring all the time; he got thousands of calls a day).
Masters is one of the biggest characters I've ever met: a total hedonist, both musically and in person. But the freaky media personality of "Dominic Masters – spokesperson for the Libertines generation" threatened to overshadow "Dominic Masters – singer in an ace post-punk band". And so, when the debut album didn't go Top 10, the press had their knives sharpened and they wielded them. NME ran a Whatever Happened to Dominic Masters-style piece, portraying him as a drug casualty. Whatever, I'm proud of the Others and Masters. His frankness about his permissive lifestyle scared and shook up more than a few people (including Q magazine, a victory!) but appealed to a lot of confused kids.
I have fond memories of the Others during the summer of 2004. To fully experience the band, you had to see them live. Master's songs struck a chord with the kids (with explosions of class war such as This Is for the Poor), meaning that the band's fanbase soon grew into a weird, dispossessed family roaming the country. Masters was an East End urchin Dylan to Pete Doherty's Woody Guthrie.
For Masters, there was never any difference between being in a band and being in the audience. And by exhibiting his freak flag he became a pied piper for weirdos – the anxious and the bullied who followed him around, telephoned and texted him constantly and became frequent overnight guests at his house. The Others were a celebration of life's misfits, and, hey, isn't that what rock'n'roll is about? I've got to say – welcome back, the Others, you have been missed.
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