Mastodon

Posted: April 15th, 2009

"I was coming down off the acid by drinking tequila."

Interview by Lewee Regal | Photo by Gonzales

Durable backpack. First-rate pair of boots. Fifty-foot rope. Iron cook wear. Wool head cover and a sharpened machete. No, this is not an inventory list of what to take with you and your buddies on your skate trip to the Hook. These are the items you’ll need if you want a fighting chance of conquering Blood Mountain, Mastodon’s latest album. This is Mastodon’s follow up to Leviathan, their last album (based on the story of Moby Dick), and was named 2004’s Metal Album of the Year. I fittingly sat down with Brent and Troy in the dungeon below Slim’s before their show in San Francisco. There they described in detail the concept of Blood Mountain, signing with a major label, and being put on metal detention.

Mastodon’s been touring relentlessly for over six years now. That’s a long time. What do you guys do to not go crazy?
Brent Hinds: Party. Sleep.
Troy Sanders: Usually it just consists of driving, but today I fucked up. I partied too hard last night and I just woke up like 20 minutes ago to do this interview.

You guys brought in some of your friends on this new record. Who was involved?
Brent: Cookie Monster sang on a couple songs. We had Cedric from Mars Volta, Scott from Neurosis, and Josh from Queens of the Stone Age.

Mastodon also just did something for the Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie. How did that come about? Did you guys ask them to do it or did they hunt you down?
Troy: They asked us, actually. Jonathan Ray, who works at Cartoon Network in Atlanta, has done our past four videos. He was telling Brann, our drummer, how some of those guys were fans of our band. They didn’t know it, but we had just come off this European tour and had watched every episode of Aqua Teen on DVD.
Brent: On mushrooms that shit was insane.
Troy: It was pretty awesome; they asked us if we would be interested in being a part of the movie, writing a song to be the intro to the film. We were like, “That’s amazing. We’ll be right down there.” It’s hilarious.

What happened on the Ozzfest with you, Brent?
Brent: We got kicked off a show in Nashville because I was fucked up on acid and ripped a bathroom up. It was real early in the morning. I was coming down off the acid by drinking tequila. I was starting not to trip anymore. We didn’t have to play ’til like 1:30 in the afternoon; I would’ve been totally fine. They sent us home, but we joined back up with the tour a day later.

You got put on metal detention?
Brent: Yup. Metal detention, dude. First time ever.

You guys also just went into a mountain and shot a video a mile deep into the earth, didn’t you?
Troy: That could very well be one of the coolest things we have ever done. We’ve gotten real adventurous doing these video shoots. Ruby Falls is in this mountain on the Appalachian Trail, and it’s about a half-mile down. To get in there you’re spelunking. You’re caving to get down into there.
Brent: It gets pretty tight in spots. We had to carry all our gear down there. Drums, Marshall stacks, fucking guitars—all that stuff. It was gnarly, man.

You guys plugged all that stuff in down there in the cave?
Troy: Yeah. It took us five hours to get that stuff down there and back up. We only shot for two hours altogether. It was worth it, though. There’s this crack where the river runs on top somewhere somehow and water leaks down into the cave, creating this 100-something foot waterfall. That’s the Ruby Falls, so we just set up all the equipment right in front of the thing.

The last album, Leviathan, was about Moby Dick. Did that have any symbolism towards finding the big whale of a 
major label?
Brent: It was a lot of parallels, looking for a label, finding success, growing as a band, and just in general trying to play music as a living. Doing music for a living is just not very easy. It’s like trying to catch Moby Dick. So this album is another struggle concept in a way. It isn’t easy to get to the top of this mountain, and the levels just get crazier the higher you get.

Now that you guys are on a major label, how do you like it compared to the indie labels?
Brent: It’s much better than being on an indie label as far as support goes. You get to explore more avenues with more money. It’s a little more stressful now as far as our scheduling goes. We’ve never had to do interviews before like this. For instance, the other two 
guys in the band are doing an interview with someone else right 
now. Before we would just be riding along in the van all day trying to get to the next show. We would do a phone interview here and there, but that was it.

Are you doing interview after interview everywhere you go?
Troy: I would say we’re doing at least one to three interviews everyday now. But it’s like, shit, five years ago we got the cover of Metal Maniacs, and we were all like, “Yeah, man. We have made it! This is it.” We thought that was the peak.
Brent: We’re just glad people give a 
 shit. Any chances we get to talk about ourselves, we’re all about it.

Download Mastodon albums or songs from the iTunes store here or check their myspace for upcoming shows.
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