There are a lot of pop-punk songs about unrequited love. Usually it’s the kind of unrequited love that involves a guy pining for a girl while obsessing over her – what she’s doing now, and who she’s with, in so much detail that you realise he must be following her around, peering in at windows, possibly in defiance of a restraining order. Masked Intruder take this theory to its logical conclusion: they’re a pop-punk band made up of love-struck burglars. They’re still looking through your windows, but they’d like to steal your television as well as your heart.
Each member of the band hides his identity behind a coloured mask, so when I interview their lead singer I’m talking to ‘Intruder Blue’. That’s a weird thing to have to call someone, but in his thick Noo Yawk accent Blue tells me he’s a normal guy who’s just finished “a normal day at work”. What is a normal day at work for Masked Intruder? “Me and the other guys in the band, we were casing some houses earlier and got some pretty good-looking stuff. Green got a nice scooter. It’s green, so he was happy about that. We don’t too much like to use stuff that’s not matching colours, that’s a thing.” Is it an obsessive-compulsive thing? “It’s really just a fashion sense, is what it basically comes down to.”
They may be criminals, but Blue thinks he’s more of a misunderstood hero. “I’m always seeing myself as a Spider-Man-type character,” he says. “Like, I wish I could crawl up walls and stuff but I can’t. But I would definitely very much like to make out with Kirsten Dunst.”
Masked Intruder are like comic book characters in one respect, though: they’re very popular with kids. Although their songs operate on a satirical level that might be a bit beyond youngsters (Blue introduces their song ‘Heart Shaped Guitar’ by saying, “It’s about when you love somebody but they don’t necessarily love you or know who you are or think that you should be on their property”), kids do turn up at their shows.
“We always try to autograph their stuff,” Blue says, “because we think it’s pretty special when a kid comes out to a show. Once people get old everybody’s a jaded asshole, but when you’re a child you’re still cool, you’re still excited about stuff. We think it’s real swell, we think it’s real cool. Obviously we’re not a kid band. Some people might think it’s questionable to let your kid listen to Masked Intruder, but we think it’s cool ’cause it’s better than letting your kid listen to The Wiggles.”
Having young fans has helped their career as well – their musical career, rather than their criminal one. Michael ‘Fat Mike’ Burkett of NOFX signed Masked Intruder to his Fat Wreck Chords label after he heard his children listening to their album. That debut self-titled record has since been re-released on Fat Wreck and a follow-up, M.I., is due this year. Best of all, they got to meet the legendary Fat Mike himself. The closest Blue comes to breaking character is when he talks about that.
“It was an honour,” he says, “because I’ve been listening to NOFX, like a lot of people, since I was a kid, so it was a little bit surreal to meet your heroes like that. But it’s cool, he’s actually a pretty chill hang. We had a lot of fun – he likes to party, we like to party, so it’s like a match made in heaven.”