Interview with Mastodon: One For The Road

On March 24, 2009, Mastodon released their fourth studio album, Crack The Skye. Up until that point, for whatever reason, I knew nothing of the Atlanta metal scene or Mastodon. A friend of mine suggested I give the album a listen, and I am glad that he did. We all have those records that, for whatever reason, stick with us. For me, that was the album. That was the one that really got me into music more, and it really brought me into the metal scene. It was my jumping off point. I dug into the band’s back catalog and listened to their entire discography in reverse. I didn’t want to listen to anything else for months. Eventually, I went on to discover various other classic and modern metal bands via Spotify and Pandora.

After tutoring myself in the history of metal, I proceeded to give a listen to some of the newer bands like Kvelertak and Gojira that were on my “metal artists to listen to” list. Mastodon are currently gearing up to promote their newest full-length, Once More ‘Round The Sun. After playing several festivals together in the past, Mastodon decided to hit the road in the spring with both Kvelertak and Gojira. For me, this was the metal tour to catch in 2014. Three incredible metal acts, all on the same bill.

I was lucky enough to catch up with Brann Dailor, the drummer from the almighty Mastodon, to discuss the spring tour with the guys from Gojira and Kvelertak. Brann and I also discussed lasers, beer, and of course, Once More ‘Round The Sun. See what Brann had to say below:

Once More ‘Round The Sun comes out at the end of June. Are there any moments that reflect back to some of the older records like Remission and Leviathan?

There’s a lot of music in there, a lot of notes. There’s nothing I can tell you that would explain what it sounds like, you know what I mean? I can tell you all sorts of stuff and you’ll sit there and try to come to some sort of conclusion on what the hell I was talking about, but you won’t know for sure until you hear it. It’s a brain-melting experience for sure. But we love it. We’ve listened to it four times in a row. That’s how much we love it (laughs).

What did producer Nick Raskulinecz bring to the table? What was the recording process with him like?

Oh it was great. He made us feel at ease, had good ideas. It was like making a record with a good friend.

I read that when this was recorded, you guys actually had about 90 minutes of material?

Yup, we wrote about an hour and half worth of music. That’s just too much music for one record. There was a brief moment where we talked about doing a double album, but in the end we decided against it. With a double album, I feel like it allows more for certain songs to be neglected when they wouldn’t be on a 45-60 minute LP. I think around 50-55 minutes is when you are done listening to something. People got shit to do, man (laughs). I do hope our fanbase, or mega-fans of the band, would definitely want to listen to the whole thing, though.

I personally can’t wait to get that vinyl bundle in the mail and take a look at all of the liner notes and artwork.

When you open that four-panel gatefold, and look at the artwork, I think it’s going to be so ridiculous. I can’t wait. That’s when I’m going to crack open my five-year-old beer that’s been sitting in my basement. I got a bunch of beers that I keep in a beer cellar. When I get that vinyl, I can’t wait, I’m very excited.

What kind of beer do you have that you’re waiting to crack open?

This particular one that has been sitting that long is a Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout. Troy [Sanders, bassist/vocalist] gave it to me right before we recorded Crack The Skye in 2008. So it’s been sitting down there for like, six years. He gave me a four-pack, and this one has just been sitting there. And I’m going to drink it, because I have to. Otherwise, it will be 10 years and I’ll be like, “Oh yeah, when am I going to drink this? I need to pick an occasion, give me an occasion!”

Is there a beer or brewery you guys gravitate to when you travel on the road? When you are in New York, is there something in particular you guys try to get a hold of?

Um, New York, let’s see. Well, there’s Southern Tier, and then there is Brooklyn. Brooklyn is really good.

Nice, what’s your favorite from Brooklyn Brewery?

I like the Black Ops; it’s real good. I’m like a nerd and the only reason I have a Twitter account is because I follow a liquor store in Atlanta, and they let me know about any special releases that are coming out. So I wait on line with all of the other beer nerds, get the bottle, store it downstairs, and never drink it.

Until you release Once More ‘Round The Sun.

Yes (laughs). At least I know I have it down there.

Going back to touring and being on the road, how have the shows been so far? That L.A. show must have been great for you guys.

Yeah, all of our drum friends stopped by the show—Danny Carey, Dave Elitch, Jon Theodore, all of our drum friends. Danny’s been coming out for years and years; we’ve been close friends for a long time. It’s really great when your buddies show up at your shows. We are fortunate for that. When you tour with some of these guys, you become really close friends and when the tour finishes, and you live on the opposite coast, you barely see each other. It’s great to get that one night where you hang and you’re like, “All right, see ya next time” (laughs).

Building off of that, did you know Kvelertak and Gojira well prior to the tour?

We played shows in Australia with those guys and some other ones here and there. Besides the Soundwave festival tour, we never did a real proper tour with those guys. So we do know those guys and everybody involved, and when we were told of the lineup, we thought it would be pretty big as far as a metal tour goes. I feel like it’s what the fans would want. We felt like everyone could get behind it and that we weren’t trying to force-feed an interesting band that only we enjoyed to the audience. I think Gojira and Kvelertak are the future of metal.

It’s definitely a dream lineup of sorts for metal fans nowadays. Gojira’s been getting lots of recognition these past couple of years and Meir really put Kvelertak on the map.

Yeah, it’s been absolutely amazing. The shows have been great and lots of people have been coming out. We have all been performing great and we feel like we are at the top of our game. We are singing really good, everything is sounding awesome, and at this point, yeah, I’m very stoked. And we’ve got freaking lasers, dude.

Do you? That is how you make a show even better.

People love lasers. They’re like, “What? Lasers? I’m definitely going.”

If Simon and Garfunkel put on a show with lasers, right now, kids would flock to get tickets.

Oh, everyone would go. Sold out. Come on now. “Lasers will be there? Oh cool. I like looking at lasers.”

What’s the process of picking out songs for your setlists now? I mean, you guys have such an expansive discography.

Yeah, I mean, that’s the thing. It’s kind of a nice tour in that respect because the record is not out, and we are done with The Hunter tour, so now it’s like we play a couple from each album. It’s about an hour and a half with some old stuff we haven’t played in a long time.

Do you guys change things up in term of how you play some of the songs?

Not really, not on this tour. We’ve kinda kept it the way it was, because like I said, we are playing quite a bit of old stuff. I feel like because we haven’t played some of these in so long, it is kind of fun to repeat them every night. And we are playing both singles, “The High Road” and “Chimes At Midnight” as well.

What’s next for the band after some of the European festivals? Anything else in works you can tell us about?

We will probably do a fall tour for the new album and all of that good stuff. We will be around.

Mastodon’s new album, Once More ‘Round The Sun, is available June 24 through Reprise Records. For more information, go to