For over 20 years, accomplished Texas-based music artist Justin Bruce has refused to settle on any one musical genre. Constantly making unique inroads with many different styles of music, he has followed his particular muse in any way it leads him. Although metal and hard rock have always been a primary focus, each year that passes recently has resulted in new peripheral works that have seen him branch off to everything from country-rock with shades of bluegrass to alternative-progressive metal to industrial metal/ ambient noise or even Christian rock.
“I love to explore the soulfulness, lyricism, and emotion of country or bluegrass and the earthy traditions of folk, along with the "raw" musical attitude that comes with rock and metal. I also like to incorporate a lot of various instruments into the songs, so you have this complex interplay of sounds and textures going on that really brings a progressive feel as well. People like to put different genre labels on the music...but at the end of the day, I just hope that someone else likes it. If even one person can become a true fan and derive some pleasure from listening to my music, then I have done my job well.”
The music industry as a whole and listeners in general love to have a specific “genre label” for each artist, but often that relegates musicians to boxes that are very limited. If you play heavy music for instance, what genre of heavy music are you to be categorized under? If you play anything with a pop aesthetic, are you selling out? If you make beautiful chill sounds, and then promptly follow it with savage metal sounds, you are either viewed as doing it to be provocative, or that it’s coming from an unfocused vision. So what does one do if a single category does not contain the breadth of the expression that needs to come forth? If you have a history of heavy rock or country music, yet have skills that extend into different realms, getting any attention from those outside genres is next to impossible. So what happens if you’re an artist that simply uses ‘genre’ as colors in a wide palette? What happens if you’re an artist like Justin Bruce with a history of musical knowledge and experience that extends far past a single genre? Furthermore: What if you think that “Heavy Music” or "Alternative Music" is not something to be ashamed of, and you feel it deserves to fit into the typical fold of ‘respected’ music? It has been well known to those proficient in heavy music that it can represent emotions in ways that no other music can, and can add a dynamic to emotional music that makes the topics truly "heavy". If the inspiration (and the ability) to play different styles is not done to be provocative, but rather to illustrate a full spectrum of musical emotions, why would one not want to follow that? Which is why Justin has embarked on such a wide range of projects, including Shame the Masses, Justin Bruce Band, The Screaming Eagles, and DoubleTap.
Background & History
Justin Bruce is a lead guitarist, multi-instrumentalist, poet, author, and composer from Angleton, Texas. Growing up in a southeast-Texas musical household and listening to bands such as Def Leppard, Van Halen, and Aerosmith, Justin had a firm grounding in classic hard rock from a very young age. As he grew older, Justin’s interests became as wide-ranging as blues rock bands Jethro Tull and Ten Years After, fusion guitarists Eric Johnson and Allan Holdsworth, country artists George Strait and Clint Black, and classical composers Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven. He has been playing guitar since 1999 and has been writing and recording original music almost from the beginning. Justin studied at the Jim Sutton Institute of Guitar, studying advanced music theory for guitar. After many years of writing and recording hard rock, blues, instrumental rock and country music, Justin began venturing into the world of extended-range 7-string, 8-string, 9-string, and 10-string electric guitar and progressive metal/jazz-rock fusion music. In addition to his early career as a solo artist with original titles such as “If Loving You is Living”, “My Hero and Dream Lover”, “We’re Gonna Make It”, “All We’ll Ever Need”, and “It Seems”, Justin has collaborated with a number of other artists.
In the early 2000s, he was a founding member of the rock/ acoustic rock band DoubleTap. In 2006, DoubleTap recorded a self-titled, 17-track album of original lyrical and instrumental material and are known for original titles such as “Temptation”, “Lost Souls”, “Shine On”, and “Perfect Nightmare” along with favorites “Forever” and “I’m Still Waiting”. DoubleTap went on hiatus in 2007. Also in 2007, Justin published a volume of poetry and song lyrics from his solo work and contributions to DoubleTap. In late 2016 and 2017, he was also an occasional guest artist for several Christian worship bands. In 2017, Justin and Houston-area musician Adam Heiman featured two local country music shows together in Danbury, Texas. Also in 2017, Justin auditioned for the rock band Crawfish Skeleton, in which Adam was a member. In early 2018, Justin was a guest artist for the rock/country trio JAM (Justin, Adam, Matt) with Adam Heiman and Matt Komlofske. In 2018, Justin and Adam founded the “1960s - 2000s hits” classic rock/hard rock cover duo/trio The Screaming Eagles. The Screaming Eagles toured the greater Houston and Galveston, Texas area through 2018 and into 2019 and then went on hiatus. In 2019, Justin announced that he would continue using his given name to record, release, and perform under for his country/soft rock material and use the moniker Shame the Masses (also see StM tab in menu) to continue to release and perform under for his modern metal/post-grunge/hard rock/progressive metal/ambient/post-rock material. Justin also used the name Quasars Do Dream for a short time. This allows Justin the freedom to express different aspects of his personality. Also in 2019, Justin joined forces with Matt Komlofske (Picasso’s Trigger, JAM) and Bill Daniels (Picasso’s Trigger) to found the short-lived industrial/progressive metal band Bad Guys Wear Black. In 2021, Justin and Bill continued the project working under a different name - calling themselves God Inside - and produced the unreleased single "Yes to Go". In early 2020, the idea began developing for a folk metal/medieval metal/oriental metal/symphonic metal project that became Galvladi Oglaigh (also see GO tab in menu), which began releasing new music in mid 2022. Justin continues to release music with all bands and is currently working on new solo material.
Instruments - Vocals (baritone/tenor harmony & backing), electric guitar, 7-string electric guitar, 8-string electric guitar, 9-string electric guitar, 10-string electric guitar, 12-string electric guitar, acoustic guitar, 8-string acoustic guitar, 12-string acoustic guitar, acoustic resonator (slide) guitar, bass guitar, keyboards/ piano, harmonica, mandolin.
Associated Acts - Shame the Masses, God Inside, Galvladi Oglaigh, Quasars Do Dream, Bad Guys Wear Black, Kosmo Quasar, The Screaming Eagles, JAM, DoubleTap
Genres - Classic rock, hard rock, instrumental rock, progressive metal, jazz-rock fusion, blues, country-rock, country
Monikers/ Aliases - Shame the Masses, Quasars Do Dream, Kosmo Quasar
Influences - Def Leppard, John Petrucci, Dream Theater, Tool, The Scorpions, The Eagles, Avenged Sevenfold, Eric Johnson, Jeff Loomis, Marty Friedman, Jason Becker, Devin Townsend, Prince, Andy Timmons, Brantley Gilbert, Aaron Lewis, Jason Aldean, George Strait, Garth Brooks
Shame the Masses
- Shame the Masses (single - 2020)
- Punk Enough to Die Young (single - 2021)
- One More Good Time (single - 2021)
- Black Widow (One More Time) (single - 2021)
Justin Bruce Band
- Mini Dress Princess (single - 2019)
- Quasars Do Dream: A Beautiful Sight (single - 2019)
- Reckless Love (cover) (single - 2020)
- No Regrets (thematic and lyrical collaboration with the artist Skeptik) (single - 2020)
- The Thunder Rolls (cover) (single - 2020)
- The Dance (cover) (single - 2021)
Give It Back to the Lord (single - 2022)
Elysian Fields (album, sequentially released - 2022)
- Double Tap (album - 2006; re-release 2019)
Tap It Again (album (partial re-release) - 2021)