Mastodon Vocalist: “I Think Us Screaming And Yelling Is Kind Of A Thing Of The Past”

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Mastodon are one of the few remaining juggernauts of the hard rock world, but they are also one of the most progressive bands in music. I’m not sure whether or not they ever swore to never do the same thing twice, but with each release they have forged ahead with cunning a willingness to try new things that fans have welcomed with open arms.

While speaking about the group’s latest material with Loudwire, Mastodon guitarist/vocalist Bill Kelliher was asked about the chorus of the group’s newest single (“High Road“) and whether or not it’s representative of the album as a whole. Kelliher responded:

“Yeah, in regards that a lot of the stuff on the new record is very verse / chorus based. A lot of it was built as ‘less is more.’ We’ve done our really complex, mathy and even proggy records, but I think we write our best stuff when we strip it away from there. We focus on clear verses and choruses and add the proggy stuff in — salt and pepper it.

I feel like we’ve done that in the past, where something wasn’t complicated enough, so let’s make it more complicated. It’s like, no, let’s make the song simpler. It took us a while to sound as good as I feel like it does. It’s very clean sounding and with a lot of really catchy verses and choruses going on.”

Later in the same interview Loudwire brought up the fact many fans still hope the band will return to the aggressive sound that powered their initial releases. Addressing these desires, Kelliher added:

“Lately I’ve noticed we’ve been doing lots of warm-ups, listening to vocal takes, taking voice lessons: stuff you need to do to keep your voice in shape. I would never have thought 10 years ago what we’d be doing in 2014. Now we’re taking voice lessons and warming up our vocals cords before a show. Just getting all professional, you know what I mean?

I think us screaming and yelling is kind of a thing of the past. But also, our music back then lends itself to more of that style of screaming because the music was really in that direction. We just kind of wrote in any old fashion, just kind of let it fly, let the shit fly.

We didn’t really know how to write songs, we just kind of threw riffs together and screamed over it and people liked it. I guess we just kind of matured and maybe we lost some fans who liked that about us, but we can’t continue to write like that on purpose. Every record to me is a snapshot of the frame of mind our band was in, who we were as people when we wrote those riffs.

I think it gets harder and harder as you get older to keep screaming and screaming and screaming about shit, you know? I think the songs we write are getting a little more rock, a little bit of rock going on and little more thought behind the groove. We’re constantly evolving and are more about the groove and feel rather than just playing as fast as we can or sounding as complicated as possible.

Let’s put more of our effort into writing a song that feels like something Zeppelin would do, AC/DC or Black Sabbath. They didn’t play as fast or as slow as they could, they just made songs. I think we’re slowly gravitating towards that in an organic fashion.”

Mastodon are headed out on another headlining tour in the near future, and elsewhere in this Loudwire interview Kelliher revealed that the group plans to play two new tracks on the road. Support for that tour has yet to be revealed, but several early date leaks point to Gojira being direct support. We’ll bring you more information as it becomes available.

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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