I saw the Irving Plaza show right as the record came out, and there was a lot of that Paul Romano art fading in and out. Have the visuals changed significantly?
Well, the Paul Romano stuff is still in there. We kind of made a video with each song with actors and props. We did that for each song because we’re trying to eventually make it into a scripted movie. The visuals are a lot more along the lines of the story or the idea of what’s going on. The previous stuff we had was borrowed from other movies and different media. When we were planning to film this DVD we couldn’t use any of that stuff so that’s why we created our own and that way we can’t get sued for copyright infringement or anything. So all the stuff we’ve got is original.
I also remember at that show you played the whole new record, and everybody just looked exhausted after the Crack The Skye, were you expecting it to be like a marathon?
Yeah, we’ve definitely gotten better at doing it but yeah it is pretty exhausting, that’s why we take a little break to catch our breath. But we’ve always been that kind of band. We’ve always liked to have no breaks and just fly through every song and play everything back to back kind of like a Ramones concert where it just never stops. Just pummel the audience and see who gives first I guess. (laughs)
Well, I don’t know if I would call it a Ramones concert.
(laughs) That’s how I think of it, you know it’s like ‘1-2-3-4’ go into a song, stop, ‘1-2-3-4’ go into the next song, ‘1-2-3-4,’ go into the next song. Just non-stop. We don’t talk to a crowd, like, ‘Hey, how’s everybody doing out there tonight.’ This isn’t a fucking lounge act.
I think you did some stage banter for Troy’s birthday or something like that.
Was that Roseland Ballroom? I dunno. I think it was at Roseland Ballroom where a guy asked us to stop in the middle of the set and say something to the crowd or to his girlfriend, because he got down on his knees at the show when we stopped and asked her to marry him and put the ring on her finger right there in the crowd. And then we started up again. Something like that happened. Someone got engaged at our show in New York. Love.
It’s awfully ambitious for the first tour in support of a record to play the whole damn thing from front to back. Was there ever a moment where you guys thought, ‘Is this a good idea?’ Was there any hesitation?
No, not really. We just knew in our own hearts that we just made a masterpiece. Other people seemed to be digging it. We couldn’t just think about playing just a couple new songs, like ‘hits’ off the record, because we feel like every song is special to us. So we didn’t feel like, ‘Oh, let’s just take a couple of the songs and play them and kind of mingle them in with the other songs.’
I think all of us are pretty bored of [the old songs.] We’ve been playing the old Mastodon catalog songs for years and years, battering people with them forever. I think we just felt like, ‘Let’s come out and do something brand new. Let’s start the new record and see how it goes.’ We got good reviews all around so we just kept it up.
By the time when all that is over and said and done and it’s time to do the old stuff, it’s kind of like, ‘Now we can really let loose.’ The show’s almost over. For me, it’s a lot easier to play the stuff that we know like the back of our hand. It’s kind of like a mountain to climb, playing Crack The Skye, but it’s a fun mountain to do, and once that part’s out of the way, we’ve kind of blown some minds and I almost feel like we just gave the crowd a 55-minute show, and we could walk off stage and be done but no, we’re gonna come out and come out swinging with some more rockin’ hits.
It is still just a little mindblowing because there are bands that put songs on their record that they never expect to play live or don’t have any intention of playing live for years.
We’re not really like that. We like to play every song that we have written. I think there might be one or two songs that we’ve never played live. We’ve never played ‘Hunters Of The Sky’ or ‘Pendulous Skin’ or ‘Elephant Man,’ but those are a little more mellow, fade out tracks. ‘Hunters Of The Sky’ is just a regular old song, I don’t know why we’ve never played it, we just haven’t. And there’s older stuff we haven’t played in nine years from our first record, just because we keep pushing forward and writing new stuff that we think is better, I guess.
It feels as if there has been a real drive toward complexity and ornateness over the last two records. Do you feel after Crack The Skye it’s going to continue on that path toward greater complexity or do you see yourself possibly getting a little sludgier as you were on the first record and the early EP.
I can’t really answer that because we just gotta see what comes out for the next record. See what songs people have written and what riffs go together and we kind of pour it all into a pot and mix it up and bake it and see what it tastes like. We never really know ahead of time, like, ‘ Okay, this next record’s gonna be like this.’ It’s just something that organically happens.
Mastodon perform two nights at Hammerstein Ballroom, Oct. 29 and Oct. 30, with Dethklok, High On Fire and Converge. mastodonrocks.com.