YOU JUST GOT OFF THE „UNHOLY ALLIANCE“ TOUR IN THE STATES A FEW WEEKS AGO. NOW YOU’RE ON YOUR OWN HEADLINING TOUR HERE IN EUROPE. HOW DOES IT FEEL LIKE TO PLAY THE HUGE ARENAS FIRST AND THEN GO BACK TO THE SWEATY CLUBS AGAIN? Troy: We enjoy playing both types of venues. The big arenas are overwhelming, and the sound is huge, the stage is huge, and there is 5000, 10.000, 12.000 people and it’s amazing. But we’ve grown up playing small clubs, and we can always be a bar band, you know, and play little dive bars, 300 capacity, 400. So we enjoy them both, they have different types of energy. And we appreciate both styles, so it’s really fun to play. Huge festivals or arena shows and then go play a small club. I think we like ‚em both a lot. HAS IT BEEN EASY TO WIN OVER THE SLAYER CROWD? THEIR FANS ARE KNOWN TO BE A BIT DIFFICULT WHEN IT COMES TO BANDS SUPPORTING SLAYER… Bill: The first show with SLAYER we ever did, I remember, I was very nervous about the crowd, how they would react. They were all wearing SLAYER shirts, SLIPKNOT T-shirts, you know, whatever. And we just came out and did what we did, and just tried to, you know, play the heaviest stuff we have, and the kids started going crazy. And they were into it. It was a good feeling. Cause I was very nervous, you know. I was like: „Oh man..:“ I’ve seen people being booed of stage for SLAYER, you know, so… COULD YOU BRIEFLY SUM UP THE PAST TWO YEARS? THE SUCCESS SEEMED TO HAPPEN REALLY QUICKLY FOR YOU GUYS… Troy: The past year and a half is where our band has really grown the most, I think, with popularity. We put the „Leviathan“ record out two years ago, and it took a few months to catch on for most people. But we just constantly were on tour, both in the States and across Europe. And I think we just won over a whole new group of fans by just touring non-stop. And then the tours got bigger and better, too. You know, supporting Slipknot and Slayer was huge. In the States we did the Ozzfest, that was very big. Came back over here and did a couple of dates with IRON MAIDEN, that was huge. So I think with those tours and then all the non-stop small clubs that we’ve… We’ve been on tour ever since „Leviathan“ came out. So I think this as our work-ethic has gained us a new slew of fans. And I think it’s where hard work just pays off, you know. Hopefully if will help with the new album. Bill: Also we did a few videos in the meantime to get those out there, you know. Kids are… well, you know, watch MTV2, and see us on there and recognize the songs that just go to a younger audience. It’s definitely, at least… You know, (it was) kinda hard, we first started to get the younger kids into it, cause all the places we played were bars, 21 and up in the States, you know. BUT WITH THE KIND OF MUSIC YOU PLAY- A VERY PROGRESSIVE AND COMPLEX STYLE WHICH IS NOT EASILY ACCESSIBLE – IT’S PROBABLY NOT AS EASY TO GET AIRPLAY ON MTV… Troy: Well, we just write the music that we enjoy writing and playing, and because it’s not so easily acceptable and not on mainstream radio we have to, you know, ever since seven years ago, when we started our very first tour, we knew that we would have to travel with our music to open it up for our fans, and to gain fans, and to grow a fan base. So we’ve just had that idea that we have to tour to spread our music. It’s not just gonna happen by being… we’re not gonna be right on the radio immediately. We’re not gonna have really, really, really popular videos. So we just have to get out there and tour the whole world and bring our music to the people. Bill: That’s right. We’ve been to Europe how many times? This is like our 10th or 11th time over here. Japan, Iceland, need to go to South America, Canada. But yeah, that’s all we do is tour like crazy. (laughs) Like: „Oh, Mastodon – they’re here again! Cool! Let’s go see them!“ YOU JUST BROUGHT UP THE VIDEOS FOR MTV. CAN YOU TELL ME SOMETHING ABOUT THE VIDEO SHOOTING? Bill: Yeah. I don’t know, it’s fun. I love making videos. It’s cool, you know, and to see the final product. It’s like: „Wow! That’s pretty neat!“ I mean, you have to. If you are in a band these days you have to, you know, if you wanna get anywhere, you have to have a video and compete with everyone else of course. But, I don’t know, it’s fun to do. We just did two videos – in our time between the Slayer tour and coming over here – back home for „Wolf is loose“ and „Colony of birchmen“ off the new record. So, and I’ve seen a little bit of it and so far it looks pretty damn good. I HEARD YOU WANTED TO FILM A VIDEO WITH YETIS JUMPING THROUGH ALL OVER THE PLACE..!? Troy: We’ve had a dream of having a yeti on tour with us to walk across the stage one time in-between the set, and that’s it. Just to do the look, you know, and… Bill: They’re highly-, they are all in a union, and it’s kinda high union fees they charge. They charge a lot of money. So, those yetis, we’re gonna knock ‚em down a little bit. ALL OF YOUR ALBUMS AND MOST OF YOUR SONGS DEAL WITH – USUALLY – HUGE ANIMALS: WHALES, ELEPHANTS, ANTS, WOLVES… BUT WHERE DOES THIS INFATUATION FOR ANIMALS COME FROM? SOUNDS LIKE A VERY “UN-METAL” SUBJECT TO SING ABOUT… Troy: They are friends and they are family. We’ve always been fascinated with prehistoric creatures, mythological creatures. We like to make our own creatures up sometimes. And I think we just, you know, we’ll go to museums when we’re on tour if we can and we’ll just try to go look at a whale, you know, like a skeleton of a whale or a mammoth skull or anything that’s prehistoric and large. You know, we are all just fascinated by that kind of stuff, so it’s one unique thing that we have in common, which I think is great. And we can carry it over into our lyrics, our stories, our album themes and into our videos. So I think it works out great. Bill: When I was a kid I was always into like dinosaurs and geology and like, you know, rocks, and just like stones and like gems and all that kind of stuff when I was very little. And I think it just kind of carried over (into) like monsters, prehistoric beasts, sci-fi movies, you know, all that kind of stuff. The discovery channel, it’s all very interesting and it’s cool for lyrical content, too. YOU LOVE CONCEPT ALBUMS, OBVIOUSLY. AND THERE IS ALSO A LYRICAL CONCEPT BEHIND „BLOOD MOUNTAIN“. COULD YOU EXPLAIN WHAT THIS IS ABOUT? Troy: Two albums ago our „Remission“ record was loosely based on fire, and our „Leviathan“ album was based around the ocean and the water. So this time we decided to focus on earth. And we chose „mountain“ which can embody every single element of earth. And it’s a themed record of a journey and a struggle and an idea and travels through various elements within earth, and everything that comes along the way. And ultimately we’re there to-, our goal is to prevail and conquer this giant massive slab of mother earth which is „Blood Mountain“. I READ IT AS A METAPHOR FOR LIFE AND COMING ACROSS THE OBSTACLES OF LIFE. WOULD YOU TELL ME YOUR INTERPRETATION OF THE LYRICAL CONCEPT? Troy: You know, what I think, It’s good is that all four of us in the band can relate the metaphor for „Blood Mountain“ into a different, their own opinion. And I think that’s gonna happen with all the listeners, too. If they pick out any metaphorical content, they are probably gonna view it differently for each individual person. So it’s almost an open-ended story, and you can pull from it various and all sorts of ideas and stories and concepts and it’s kind of wide open to a degree. Bill: Whatever it means to you when you read it or you sing along, you know, even if you don’t know the lyrics and you’re singing along what you think it is, that’s what’s more important, you know, I think. It’s just interesting for us, you know, when we see people sing it along, it’s just like: „Wow!“, you know. Whatever it means for you, then that’s fine, you know. Doesn’t have to be literal, everything taken literal, you know. It’s just out there. Like, you go and make up your own ideas of what it means for you, you know. At the time we were all just talking about „Blood Mountain“, I was talking with him, you know. It’s like: „Well, I could see it as a struggle, like, now we’ve just signed with Warner Bothers it’s like a huge endeavour we have now to this journey!“ You know, it’s like, now we really gotta start working, we gotta start climbing, get higher and higher, hopefully bigger and bigger and better and better, whatever. So that’s kind of what it-, I can relate it to like that. When like “Leviathan” was the search for the white whale, to me it’s more like, that’s what we do every day when we get in the bus, then drive to the next gig. It’s kinda like we’re… It’s not about catching the whale, it’s about the journey, you know. IT’S OUT FOR INTERPRETATION, BUT THE WHOLE THEME OF “BLOOD MOUNTAIN” IS ALSO A BIT “OUT THERE”… IN WHAT KIND OF MINDSET DO YOU NEED TO BE IN TO COME UP WITH A STORY LIKE THAT: SASQUATCHES, BIRCH MEN, ETC.? THAT IS OUT THERE… WHO CAME UP WITH THE ACTUAL CONCEPT? Troy: I guess, the initial idea came from… Brent our guitar player had mentioned the word “blood”, we had talked about the word blood and how it’s a fuel, how it’s necessary for life and not in a gory sense of blood, and then “mountain” as being a massive piece of mother earth that’s beautiful, it’s also dangerous. But lyrically we also pulled a lot of ideas from dreams that we’ve all had. And, as you know, dreams can be very bizarre, and you wake up and you think: “How… why was I dreaming about that?” So we used a lot of… we interpreted a lot of our dreams and fused it into our lyrics as well. So it can come across like it’s very 1970-psychedelic, and we’re are all on LSD and floating in out of space. But a lot of things come from dreams and when you make up stories, and you read stories of folklore and mythology, you know, it’s all very interesting and it’s very out there. And we like that element. We don’t wanna sing about our girlfriends and how our dad was mean to us when we were growing up, you know. We try to take it further than that and try to involve like a thinking man’s agenda when you wanna read a piece of art or literature and incorporate that with our albums. YOU SEEM TO HAVE INCORPORATED A LOT MORE PSYCHEDELIC INFLUENCES ON THIS RECORD. WAS THAT A NATURAL PROGRESSION OR HAVE YOU BEEN LISTENING TO MORE OF THAT KIND OF MUSIC RECENTLY? Troy: Well, we do listen to a lot of seventies music, and I love it. But I think, in my opinion, it’s… I think Bill and Brent – especially with the guitars – have really matured and evolved, and it’s just the next step, you know, to just expand, but I guess you should answer that, huh? Bill: Yeah, I don’t know. I think, me personally started maybe experimenting a little bit more with some stuff. Like I’ve never… I was afraid to try before maybe or just didn’t fit for the song, you know. And all of our songs are a little different, you know. It’s not like every single song is the same person who wrote it, and they all sound alike… They are all very different, they all vary. So, I don’t know, I think it’s something that came naturally, like playing together for so long, and it’s been two years since we wrote the last record. And bands we’ve toured with, like Maiden – Iron Maiden – and Slayer, a lot of Slayer, Slipknot, you know, Isis, a lot of that stuff, I think, rubs off on us a little bit. Cause that’s all we do is see them every single night, you know. And of course NEUROSIS and, you know, FANTOMAS and all sorts of weird… Mr. Bungle, there is a lot of weird kind of stuff like that on the record, too, which is bizarre. Mars Volta, you know, especially like getting those guys sing on the record, it’s like: “Ok, cool! This is a crazy part, let’s get a crazy singer on this!” I don’t know, we’re just kinda doing some experimentation, I guess, and kinda finding ourselves. HAVE YOU ACTUALLY ASKED ANYBODY TO TAKE PART ON THIS RECORD? YOU’RE FEATURING LOTS OF OTHER ARTISTS, INCLUDING MEMBERS OF QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE, MARS VOLTA AND NEUROSIS. DID THESE GUYS JUST SHOW UP AT THE STUDIO INCIDENTALLY OR HAVE YOU ASKED ANYBODY CONSCIOUSLY? Bill: Yeah, I mean, all those people are friends of ours, like Scott from NEUROSIS. You know, his voice is so freakin’ powerful. Sometimes we might write a part of a song, we’re like: “You know, that sounds kinda like NEUROSIS, we should get like Scott from NEUROSIS to maybe sing on it if he wants to!” And, you know, he’s really, we are all really good friends. So he’s like: „Of course!“ And we can get somebody to do it, and again: it makes it… it varies everything, it makes various…, you know, different singers and songs. And Josh Homme from QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE, another band that all of us listen to a lot. One of our songs kinda reminded us maybe of that and we were like: „Wow, maybe Josh wants to sing on it!“ Just to-, just for a surprise, you know. AND THE HIDDEN TRACK WITH JOSH HOMME READING OUT A LETTER COMPLIMENTING YOU GUYS: WAS THAT A FAKE? Bill: He did that in the studio and we put it on the record. We didn’t ask him to do it or anything. He just did it and then it was like a little joke when we put it at the end of the record. So everybody now thinks he really leaked the record, cause the record got leaked. I KNOW THAT THIS IS A PROBLEM. ON THE OTHER HAND, VIA MYSPACE YOU PUT A COUPLE OF SONGS FROM THE UPCOMING ALBUM ON THE INTERNET BEFORE THE ACTUAL RELEASE. DO YOU REGARD THE INTERNET AS A CURSE OR A BLESSING? Bill: It’s either gonna leak early or it’s gonna leak the day it comes out, you know what I mean? Like somebody is gonna buy it and put it on the internet right then and there. And someone else is gonna download it that day. But there is nothing you can do, but you have to… You can either try to fight it which is not really gonna do much. Maybe they can come up with different software but someone is gonna able to hack into it, you know. To me it just reminds me of when you’re a kid and you make a mix tape or something off your stereo or off the radio or off the record or whatever and give it to people, you know. But now it’s like the exact duplicate, sounds exactly the same, you know. It’s what you can buy. But I don’t know, hopefully it will get more people into the band and come to the shows. If they don’t buy, maybe they’ll like the music and come to the show and buy merchandise at the show or whatever, you know. But, it’s just… it sucks, cause it’s like rather have it be like everyone hear it at once. Like no one hear it at all until that one day it comes out and just be like a surprise, like anticipation for it, you know. Now that anticipation is gone cause some people have shitty copies of it. It’s like: „Ok, great!“ Cause it’s not a perfect burn, it’s like… I guess, it doesn’t sound that good. I haven’t really heard it, yet. THERE ARE A LOT OF GUITAR SOLOS ON „BLOOD MOUNTAIN“ – AFTER A LOT OF BANDS DECIDED NOT TO USE THEM SO MUCH ANYMORE – CULMINATING IN METALLICA’S „ST. ANGER“ A FEW YEARS AGO. HAVE YOU TRIED TO BRING THE MUSICIANSHIP BACK TO METAL? Bill: I just think when a part calls for a guitar solo we put a guitar solo in there. You know, it’s… Brent, you know, he’s a guitar solo freak. He wants to, you know, he likes to play guitar solos. And it’s like, you know, I think they’re great but only when they’re in the right place, you know. I just think it’s something that called for it and it’s cool. So, I mean, we’re not just a metal-, there are a lot of rock ’n roll elements in there, too. You know, so just throw it all in there and mix it up. YOU JUST BROUGHT UP A FEW OTHER „WEIRD“ BANDS. BUT YOU ALSO HAVE A DIFFERENT EDGE TO YOUR MUSIC. WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS THE MAIN DIFFERENCE TO ANY OTHER BAND YOU CAN THINK OF? Troy: I think that between the four of us we have such a wide respect for all genres of music and all four of us have very-, like if you looked into our favourite CD collections, all four of us would have a lot of different albums as well as the same albums. And I think that’s a good thing to bring a unique blend of various influences and I think for us it works well. Sometimes if four people liked four different things it might not work so well, but thankfully so far for us it has. And we just don’t ever really set any limits on ourselves and we welcome any idea, so I guess we can just blend in what we love: we love classic rock, we love thrash, we love punk, we love… just so much stuff. And I guess it comes through in a good way so far. Bill: I agree. All four of us have, you know, we have the common interest in a lot of the same bands – which is a good thing – but we also can… You know, if someone writes a riff and it’s like: „Wow – it’s awesome!“, it could be country, it could be, you know, blues or whatever. Whenever someone thinks that’s cool, it can fit into a song then we welcome it, you know. We’re not like trying to go out and be like: „Ok, let’s be really different!“ That’s just… let’s just write music that we like and how it makes us feel good. WOULD YOU SAY THAT THE FACT THAT YOU’RE FROM ATLANTA, GEORGIA HAD AN IMPACT ON YOUR MUSIC? Troy: Well, Brent our guitar player he is actually, originally from Birmingham, Alabama, which is in the Southeast of the United States as well. So he grew up on a lot of rockabilly and classic country. So it definitely moulded part of his style. But for the other three of us I would have to say no because I love all types of music and Bill and Bran are originally from upstate New York. So they grew up in the north where it snows all the time. So I don’t think living in Atlanta right now has anything to do with our sound except the way Brent grew up. ANOTHER DIFFERENCE TO THE PREVIOUS ALBUM IS THAT TROY IS SINGING MORE CLEAN VOCAL LINES ON „BLOOD MOUNTAIN“… Troy: Well, a lot of it is Brent doing the clean vocals as well. And we just tried to pay attention a little bit more to melody and trying to find melody. And if it’s gonna come with cleaner vocals, if that’s gonna make the song better, make the song more powerful as a whole and if it sounds good to us we’ll stick with it, because we’re all fans of a better song – whether it needs to be clean vocals with more melody or if the song calls for more extreme heavy vocals, whatever will make it better is what we’ll try. And if we try and it sounds well then we’re gonna use it. So we just paid more attention to vocals on this album, that’s why a lot of it turned out like that. SO IT HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THE FACT THAT A LOT OF SO-CALLED METAL CORE BANDS THESE DAYS ARE DOING A LOT SCREAMING AND YOU’VE BEEN FED UP WITH THAT. JUST MY THESIS… Troy: Well, plus our music is a little-, has a couple extra dimensions, you know, that we’re allowed to find some cleaner parts. And, you know, a lot of our favourite bands sing and they’re amazing: THIN LIZZY, NEUROSIS, you know, there is a lot of singing involved there. And if it’s gonna add more character and make it a better piece we are all for that. You know, they can still-, it doesn’t-, just because you sing that doesn’t mean that’s cheesy. You can sing and it could still be dark and honest and truthful and more powerful. And we’re all fans of it anyways, so… I’m glad we found it now. I hope we continue to find more of it, you know. A LOT OF FELLOW MUSICIANS ARE COMPLIMENTING YOU FOR BEING „THE NEXT BIG THING“ – HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH COMPLIMENTS AND HIGH EXPECTATIONS? Troy: You know, I think we all appreciate getting compliments, but you just have to understand it for what it is and appreciate it and don’t let it go to your head. And then you say: „Oh, thank you very much! I’m glad that you like us a lot. And I’m glad that you find us a bit different and interesting and unique!“ But that’s all you can really think about that, otherwise your head will blow up and you won’t be able to fit through the door. You know what I mean? And then you’ll be thinking: „Oh, we’re the best! The magazine said we’re the best! We ARE the best!“ You can’t think like that. So it’s just-, we’re just amazed that a handful of people like us that much. And if they do, that’s wonderful! BUT HOW IMPORTANT IS AN EXTRA-HUGE EGO FOR SUCCESS? Troy: I think all four of us we keep each other in check if our egos get blown out proportion. Because once you believe you’re the best then you seize to become the best. You know, that’s my philosophy on that. So, I think we’re true brothers where we would keep other in check and we know why we’re in this and that life is way too important… Brent (who just entered the bus): …always keep him in check – Troy, you’re not that cool, ok? (chuckles) I’m just joking… IN YOUR BIOGRAPHY IS SAYS: „THEIR MUSIC IS PARTLY DUE TO THEIR WAY OF UNCONVENTIONAL LIVING“. WHAT EXACTLY DO THEY MEAN BY THAT? Troy: I guess, it’s not the normal lifestyle. (Bill coughs) Maybe that’s what they mean. We’ve spent ten months, ten out of twelve months last year touring and ten months out of twelve months the previous year touring. So, it’s definitely a bizarre lifestyle. But maybe that’s what they mean by „unconventional“. I don’t really know. BILL, YOU HAVE A LITTLE BOY AT HOME. HOW ARE YOU GOING TO BRING PRIVATE LIFE AND TOUR LIFE TOGETHER IN THE FUTURE? Bill: I don’t know. It’s not easy, it sucks being away from home. But, you know, we’re all so deep into this band, this is the only thing that we… it’s the only thing we know how to to really. So we’re-, this is what we have to do. I mean, I could go home and be a dad and just sit at home, you know, but I’d rather be out here playing music. But, I mean, I have to have an income somehow. So hopefully it will get easier cause we won’t have to tour as much maybe and have more time at home. So, I mean, I could go off for like three weeks and then I need to go home for like two or three weeks. But get you home too long, and it’s like: „OK, I need to go back on the road!“ It’s a give and take, you know. Troy: It’s tough to find a balance, a fine balance between home life and tour life, I think. But anybody that travels and does any type of travelling for a living probably experiences that as well. Whether they’re in the military or professional sports player or truck driver or musician, you know. BUT TEN OUT OF TWELVE MONTHS IS PRETTY HARDCORE… Bill: We definitely wouldn’t be where we are today unless we’ve done all this work we’ve done, you know. It’s the only way to-, people ask us all the time, other bands: „How did you guys get so big?“ It’s like: well, there is no secret formula, you just have to be a good band, stay together long enough and tour your ass off. So… That’s that!
RECORDED ON THE TOURBUS AUGUST 22ND 2006 IN BOCHUM, GERMANY