Interview: Mastadon

by james wright

“Right now I need to get away from it,” says an exhausted Brann Dailor. Brann is exhausted because his band, Mastadon, is currently in the studio recording the follow-up to “Remission”, which was critically acclaimed by fan and press alike. “I’ve just been listening, listening, listening and it makes it easy to lose perspective when you hear something so many times. I will go over my shit with a fine tooth comb and hate it, then go over it again the next day and love it.”

After leaving the extreme noisemakers, Today Is The Day in 1999, drummer Brann Dailor and guitarist Bill Kelliher opted to move to Atlanta and quickly started a band. After merely three weeks of searching, the band completed their line-up and began writing for what would become Mastadon.

After cutting a quick demo, the band soon found themselves signing with Relapse (Today Is The Day’s record label) and were shoved into a van and onto the road alongside the likes of Cannibal Corpse and Clutch. In October 2001 Mastadon recorded their epic debut LP “Remission”, a complex venture in violent vocals, intricate guitars and brutality.

Now the pressure is on to deliver a successful follow-up. With Metal Hammer claiming Mastadon as one of “50 Bands You Must Hear”, Alternative naming them as one of “25 Most Important Bands in Metal” and being named one of the “25 Greatest Live Bands Ever” by Revolver magazine, it must be hard not to get some kind of inflated ego. The heavy praise from the press only manages to bring a smile to Brann’s face.

“Did you see we’re a better live band than Kiss?” he says jokingly. “I’m happy that they choose us, but come on, Kiss? They fucking blew shit up! I think as a band, we play really intensely and we put our heart into each song along with our blood, sweat and tears. It’s hard to comment on things like being one of the best live bands or whatever, because I’m in the band and I just think of us as four nasty white dudes.”

Being darlings of the press like Mastadon have been recently, you would think that the “benjamins” would just be rolling in, but they are not. “If we stayed touring constantly then we might be able to send some cash home to live but right now, if we’re not on the road, we need to find day jobs,” Brann states honestly. “There aren’t a whole lot of metal bands out there right now, that make a living off their music. I think kids would be surprised if they knew how big your band has to be in order to make a living off of your music.”

Living on the road is something Mastadon have become accustomed to until their recent stint in Seattle while recording the follow-up to “Remission”. Touring with everyone from Queens of the Stone Age to Morbid Angel has given Mastadon a devoted fanbase from a wide range of musical backgrounds. Many of those fans were made from Mastadon’s 45-minutes on stage each night, destroying everything in their path. His thoughts on touring…

“Living in a fart-box or a giant refrigerator on wheels,” he laughs. “Sleeping on people’s floors and shitting in truck stops may sound glamorous but its not. Usually you try and stay with a girl, not to sleep with her, but because her apartment will be well kept and she will probably have a nice fluffy couch to sleep on,” Brann confesses. “The drugs and booze will always be there for you but the big fluffy couches aren’t always going to be there,” he laughs. “When you stay at an 18-year old dude’s house, that shit is gonna be fucked up. It’s gonna have a piss infested floor and the kid will keep you up to 8am playing the latest and greatest in death metal at full volume.”

We ended the convesation with Dailor’s thoughts and expectations on the new album.

“It sounds huge and bad-ass. It has some classic rock type singing on it, which is cool because the one thing that was criticized about ‘Remission’ was the vocals,” he states emphatically. “We admit that the vocals on that record were an afterthought because we wrote the songs and at the time we had a vocalist but we got rid of him. So the vocals were up to Troy and Brett to do vocals here and there. This time around we concentrated on the vocals and made sure they were kick ass. Mastadon is definitely on the search for the ultimate riff and we got a few of them on here.”

www.mastodonrocks.com