Neil Mason is taking stock of another wild year for The Cadillac Three. Heading into their tenth year as a band in 2021, there's no sign that the trio are in anyway resting on their laurels, having released two heavy-hitting records in the form of COUNTRY FUZZ and Tabasco & Sweet Tea in 2020 alone. "I've never been in a band where we got to a fourth and fifth record" Neil explained, "So I'd be lying if I said that it wasn't a challenge to figure out". Their dive-in-the-deep-end approach to what's next in this respect is refreshingly instinctual - Country Fuzz embracing their gnarly rock foundations and turning up the heat, while Tabasco & Sweet Tea wakes up in a sweat from the night before, the sound of funk and blues ringing in its ears as it remembers swapping the cans for iced rums with lime.
As he finally prepares to settle down for the holidays and reflect upon the year with his wife and new born in Texas, Mason unveils everything that he couldn't live without - things that have inspired him, driven him to be who he is today, or even the simple pleasures you can get from a good Taco.
My first one is kind of my mantra, if you will, which is just super simple and I think it's actually from the Bible. I didn't really grow up going to church or anything, but it's always stuck with me - “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. And that to me is number one, especially in a year like this one where everybody really needs a little extra hand, or a little extra support, or this, that or the other. I think it’s as important as anything, whether it's with my family or with a stranger, you know, so it’s kind of always been something that I've come back to. It’s such a simple concept that I still think can be applied to just about everything in life.
The first thing I thought of that I wouldn’t want to live without is the Tom Petty Wildflowers album. That's my favourite album; he's my favourite artist. They actually just did this whole really awesome re-release of the record. The first time I heard it I was a teenager, probably like 13 or 14, when my mom got it. She had this six-disc CD changer, and Tom Petty wildflowers was always in one of those six slots. I've heard that record probably 1000 times or more. It takes you on a real journey - there's like 15 songs, it's an hour long. There are acoustic moments, rock and roll moments, almost even some country moments. There are great lyrics, great stories, amazing players, musicians, you know? It feels really live. It's also the first record he did with Rick Rubin, and the marriage of their dynamics is a really cool thing. So yeah, I mean, I could go on and on and on about that record. It's my favourite record of hands down.
If I could have one food it would be tacos. There’s a couple of places in Nashville that are my go-to places for Tacos. They're probably not the best, but to me they are because they were the first tacos that I ever had. So they’ve got that memorable flavour that I remember from being a kid. My wife who's from Texas tells me that all the Mexican places in Nashville are terrible but I think they’re great. There's a place that me and Jared and Kelby all love called Las Palmas, which is just like a little hole in the wall here in town, that if you ever come to Nashville is a must-try. I love it. So, tacos are a simple one, but they’re something that always make me happy.
This should probably be my number one, but my family are an essential, which is my wife, my daughter Louella and our dog Lily. And then you know, my mom, dad and sister. That's just a no brainer. I actually got to see my sister this week for Thanksgiving, which was awesome, her and her fiancé came over. Because neither of us have been doing anything at all or seeing anybody. You kind of forget what it's like to see other people. I mean, I've seen Jaron and Kelby, and a couple other people, maybe my nextdoor neighbour, but that's about it. It’s gonna be a strange, strange holiday season but I've had good distraction with having our daughter. Family’s an easy one.
When I was a kid, I grew up watching a tonne of basketball. My favourite dude in the world, of course, is Michael Jordan. His drive, competitiveness, work ethic and desire to succeed are the qualities that I grew up watching and being in awe of. If I'm ever in need of inspiration, then I turn on a two-minute clip on YouTube of Michael Jordan, and I'll be like, “Alright, yeah, I gotta go. I'm ready. Let's do this”. If Mike is doing it, then yeah – no days off. So, if I could just sit around and write songs, or sit around with tacos and listen to Tom Petty with my family - and then have a loop of Michael Jordan games on a TV - then that's pretty much my entire life.
The Cadillac Three's COUNTRY FUZZ and Sweet Tea & Tabasco are both out now via Big Machine.
Photography courtesy of Big Machine & Wilful Publicity.