Masked Intruder are a band of convicts from Wisconsin. They’re known for their poppy, catchy hooks and sunny songs of love, life and crime in and out of the Big House, as well as for their color coordination. Each member, Blue, Red, Yellow and Green, has matching shoes, instruments and ski masks. And while their true identity may never be known, even by them, they’ve gathered an impressive following for a band so recently released from incarceration. They’re about to hit the road with Strung Out, which includes a cross Canada run. I gave Blue a call in an undisclosed location to discuss the tour, the fans and, of course, prison.
Interview By Dustin Griffin
Masked Intruder is currently on tour for tour dates – www.fatwreck.com/tour/single_artist/106
Are you surprised you’ve been able to maintain your anonymity as long as you have?
Blue: I don’t know about surprised. I feel fortunate. It’s an important part of, you know, not going back to prison. The ski mask helps. I would highly recommend it to anyone trying to stay out of prison, wear a ski mask. Or some other kind of mask. Slipknot had those other ones. They were kind of stupid looking though.
Yeah, they were. Has anyone ever tried to pull your masks off while on stage
Blue: On stage? No. We have had somebody go for the mask before at a festival and we had to put ‘em down, you know. You can’t just let that sort of thing happen.
No, of course, of course. Your music could best be described as outlaw pop punk. Do you think you’ve found a niche in the punk rock music scene? Do you ever plan on singing about anything else besides love and crime?
Blue: You know, you gotta write what you know. I do think we’ve found a niche in the scene. It’s a fun thing that we’ve got going. I mean it’d be really weird if we changed things up and were like ‘alright, check it out, we’re just gonna write about our snacks now.’ You know granola, or whatever. It wouldn’t really make any sense.
Blue: Plus, you know, love and crime are two of the main topics for music anyways. I feel like 80% of songs are love songs, you know?
Touché. And legend has it the band formed in prison?
Blue: Yes we did. I mean we didn’t have all the instruments and everything that we do now. It could be very difficult to get like a blue guitar in prison. A lot of times to get stuff in prison, someone’s gotta smuggle it in a sort of cavity. It would be difficult to fit like a guitar up there, you know.
But yeah we were able to get it together. And luckily Red, he was instrumental in helping us get things inside the prison yard. But in prison, there’s not a lot of pop punk bands.
So Red has an enormous cavity is what you’re trying to say. Good for smuggling.
Blue: Well, that’s not exactly…I wouldn’t say…don’t quote me on that.
Ok I won’t. How did the other inmates respond to your particularly sugary songs of love and debauchery?
Blue: I think that a lot of dudes, a lot of tough guys, they enjoy love songs. But they don’t want people to know it, so they would just secretly enjoy our music. Maybe. Or maybe not. Now that I think of it, maybe they weren’t big fans. Because there’s a lot of pillow fights that go on in prison.
Blue: Yeah and sometimes if you don’t like a dude, he might put some quarters in there, in the pillow case. And if it hits you on the head, it’s gonna hurt. So there was a lot of quarters in pillow cases for us. Prison was basically like high school. A lot of hazing. And a lot of the dudes in there are just mean jock type dudes. So we’re happy to be out. We’re not trying go back. To prison or to high school.
Good call on both. On a more serious note, you’re hitting the road with Strung Out. Making a few Canadian stops. Is this your first tour of Canada?
Blue: It’s not our first tour of Canada, but it is just our second time in western Canada. We’ve mostly spent time in Toronto and Montreal. We did get to go to Vancouver one time before and had a lovely time, so we’re really looking forward to it. We love Canada.
You guys are sandwiched between La Armada, which is a very heavy screamo type band and Strung Out, which is a very melodic, but also heavy punk band. How do you plan to win over the crowd with your more poppy doo-wop inspired hooks?
Blue: Well our show has a fun, inviting element to it. So we basically get out there and get people involved. A good time is a good time. We put on a pretty fun show and the people that go out to see Strung Out, they appreciate that. I’ll tell you what else, Strung Out is a pretty melodic band, and the people that are into that and the Fat Wreck type bands, even if they listen to hardcore or whatever, are probably into the more poppy stuff too. And maybe the dudes will want to buy a record. And maybe the gals will want to hold hands, or make out with us. That would be good too.
Ok cool. I’ll let everybody know that that’s what you’re looking for. Have you seen an influx of kids coming to the shows in candy colored ski masks lately?
Blue: We do get kids coming to the shows in ski masks. Not a ton of them. It depends on the city. Some places more than others, people like to dress up and come to the show. Which is fine with us. If people want to look like weirdos out there, that’s awesome.
Do you see many Masked Intruder tattoos?
Blue: Oh yeah. There’s actually a whole movement of Masked Intruder tattoos out there. So we always try to retweet or reinstagram or whatever, when we see them. So it’s awesome to see people doing that. And actual good looking tattoos too, not just the prison ones. (@maskedintruder1 & #maskedintruder)
You know, There’s a horror themed pop punk band from Calgary called The Browns that also wear ski masks when they play, but theirs are all black. They release records about every fifteen years or so. Were you aware of these guys and do you think there will be a fight at your Calgary stop? A battle of the masks so to speak?
Blue: Yeah I don’t know. I have to be honest, when we started we were not aware of them, but we became aware. Once you’re in a band with ski masks, everyone has to tell you about every other band that’s ever been that wears ski masks of course. So The Browns is one and there was a band even longer ago than that called The Rip Offs. But The Browns have some cool stuff so hopefully they don’t come with too much animosity towards us, but you know, if they come looking for a fight, they won’t like what they get.
You could also go the other way and collaborate. Do a massive ski mask album.
Blue: Yeah. Or maybe just collaborate on a bank robbery. I don’t know if they go in for that sort of stuff.
I’ve been to a few of their shows and they’re not very well behaved, so I’m sure they’d be into it. You guys have received a lot of love right off the bat with this band, which goes beyond ‘oh look, guys in colorful ski masks.’ People love your songs, they love the hooks. Were you surprised at the positive reaction so quickly?
Blue: Absolutely. We had no idea what to expect and we try to take advantage of the opportunity every chance we get. But I think you hit it right on the nose. At the end of the day it comes down to people liking the songs and everything. And we didn’t know we were doing that. We were just doing what we were doing and we were just happy and surprised that people responded.
If your true identities are ever revealed will that be the end of Masked Intruder?
Blue: I don’t know. That’s kind of a difficult question. I mean our true identities are Intruders. I am Intruder Blue. I mean if anyone ever had a look under the ski mask I’d be interested to know what identity is revealed, because I haven’t personally seen it.
Maybe it would just be another blue ski mask
Blue: Yeah it could be blue ski masks all the way down to the skull for all I know. Like that game Mortal Kombat, when Scorpion took off his mask, that was just like a skeleton head down there. And then he could shoot fire out of his mouth. So, potentially, if someone de-masked us, it could be the end of the world. It could be a fire breathing skeleton horde.
I think that would be kind of cool. Maybe on your last show, you could do that and see what happens.
Blue: That’s an interesting idea. Thank you.
Masked Intruder is currently online; For Tour Dates – www.fatwreck.com/tour/single_artist/106
Masked Intruder Online