Centering on five towns situated in Kent, U.K., the Medway scene was born in the early '80s with a defiantly lo-fi take on '60s garage/beat, seasoned with a dash of classic rock & roll and lots of punk attitude. Arguably the scene's most famous son was the prolific Billy Childish, and alongside his Milkshakes/Headcoats and the Prisoners, the Masonics remained one of the most enduring and popular bands spawned from the Medway. Not only can Mickey Hampshire (guitar/vocals) and Bruce Brand (drums) boast service in a whole host of Medway bands (including the aforementioned Milkshakes and Headcoats), bassist John Gibbs' CV is equally impressive and includes time in the Wildebeests (another garage supergroup) and legendary Edinburgh timewarp beat merchants the Kaisers. There's no disputing the fact that the Masonics are U.K. garage royalty.
Fronted by Hampshire, who like his old Milkshake cohort Billy Childish is also a visual artist of some repute, the Masonics formed in 1991 and issued a steady stream of D.I.Y. beat releases over the ensuing years. Notable amongst their output was The Masonic Machine Turns You On (2002), produced by analog boffin and ex-Masonic Liam Watson at his Toerag Studio, and Outside Looking In (2005), which was also credited to regular collaborator and fellow Medway alumni Miss Ludella Black (the Delmonas/Thee Headcoatees). Released in 2011, In Your Night of Dreams and Other Foreboding Pleasures was issued by London retro label Dirty Water and showed no letup in the Masonics' primal garage assault, keeping the Medway spirit alive in the 2010s. ~ Matthew Garbutt