RR: What was your thought process in forming Mission 5. How long were you guys a group before putting out the record?
Chase March: I was a huge fan of Run-DMC and the whole aesthetic of what they did. I wanted to start a group that took it back to the basics of what hip-hop was; 2 MCs and 1 DJ on turntables. I had been rapping for years and thought it was worth taking the next step and releasing a project independently.
My brother and I both rapped and we had written a pretty good song together. I would serve as the lead MC and he would do occasional vocals. We traded rhymes back and forth in the song and were impressed. We knew we could make a go of it.
We started the group in 1997 and started looking for a DJ. We found one through a friend of a friend and hear a demo tape he had made of some scratching. We liked what we heard and invited him into the group in 1998. That year, we released our debut album “Write About Now”
RR: What was the recording process like for this one? There are tracks on this record that have an entirely different vibe and quality of mixing and mastering. A song like “People Don’t Seem to Know” for example sounds like it was recorded far earlier, or in a basement somewhere. How did you guys manage to put this together?
Chase March: We recorded the first album with a producer who wasn’t strictly hip-hop. He was a cool dude though and had a lot of heart and we liked what we got for the money. Unfortunately, when we were done the album, we got negative feedback from our first, and trusted listeners. I am glad we got that feedback, because we never released that version of the album.
Instead, we recorded the whole thing over again with another producer. The album was just about done when he had a problem with his computer and we lost all of our beats. He still had the vocals though and went to work creating new beats for almost all of the songs.
I think this producer put a vocal effect on everything he recorded back then. I wanted our vocals to sounds as raw and real as possible, so I asked him to remove it. I think this effected the mix negatively. It could have been mixed better. But I didn’t know any better at the time. I thought it sounded good.
The album was recorded in a small home studio in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. It was mastered in Toronto where we had the CDs and vinyl manufactured.
RR: As an enhanced CD, what extra content was on it?
Chase March: The enhanced CD had photos, a bio, and a few, very short videos. It was a novelty to put out something like that and I was excited to try it. The producer of the album did all of this work for us as well.
RR: How did you go about funding an enhanced CD pressing at this time? Those things were super expensive.
Chase March: I worked a fast-food job and put all of my money into the recording and manufacturing process. It still wasn’t enough. I had to take out a $5,000 line of credit to help fund everything.
As for studio time, we did that on a weekly basis so it was a little easier to manage.
RR: Do you have any stories related to recording the album, or shortly after promoting it? There’s a video that’s around on YouTube which shows the album release party. What do you remember from that night?
Chase March: There were no venues in Hamilton at the time who were willing to have an independent hip-hop show there. I had a really hard time securing a spot for the album release party. I finally found a rock-oriented bar that would let us hold it there. They allowed us to collect a cover charge and that was the sole money we would make. We did not get a cut of the bar or any other benefits.
This venue was called The Corktown.
I remember that the regular customers of the bar were not happy about a cover charge and would just squeeze passed us. It was a losing battle trying to get money out of them. Everyone who came specifically to see us, gladly paid however.
We had a few opening acts as well. One of them was a Boys-II-Men type group, but I cannot remember their name for the life of me right now.
We had a full-size VHS camcorder at the time as asked a cousin to film it for us. I digitized this years later and put it on YouTube.
We tried to make a music video with that camcorder too. It is on YouTube even though it is pretty terrible.
It is coming up on the 20th anniversary of our debut release and I tried to organize a reunion, but unfortunately it looks like that is not going to happen.