In a recent interview with Paste, Brann Dailor, drummer for Atlanta-based metal-men Mastodon, offered up a few tidbits about the band's upcoming album, which he described as having "a lot more groove" than 2006's Grammy-nominated Blood Mountain.
The unnamed LP, due in January 2009, continues with the elemental theme that has run through the band's previous releases. But it's not about wind, or any other obvious Western-influenced choice. "There are a lot of elements out there," said Dailor. "Many different cultures and religions have their own versions beyond the basic four elements." He also spoke to online rumors regarding a thematic foray into Czarist Russia. "[That's] a really small part of the grand story. We wrote a huge story and the Rasputin-Czar thing is a small portion."
As attentive fans may recall, the band worked through three tracks worth of this new material at this June's Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival. One of those songs, "Ghost of Karillah," has popped up in Mastodon live shows before and seems an early favorite to be the first single. But Dailor's not so sure. "I think all of them are a bit too long to be singles...With us, it's kind of a battle because we always feel that you can't just hear one song that represents the whole record. Where one song might be simple and streamlined, another song might be abstract and totally crazy. I think people know that about us at this point."
Compared to at least one other track, though, "Ghost" might a radio-friendly choice. "We have one pretty long epic song that’s going to take some more time," Dailor said. The band had 33 minutes of music done for the album when interviewed, but this last number is going to take some special knowledge of the boards. "We want to do some things to it that make it really special. It’s got a lot of twists and turns and it’s a really crazy song, so we want everything to work from start to finish. When you create that kind of song, you got to find some way to shoehorn some vocals in there. It’s all kind of trial and error."
Luckily, the band's studio team is suited for the task. After recording three albums with Matt Bayles, Seattle-based producer and former Minus the Bear member, Mastodon decided to "shake things up a little bit" and work with Brendan O'Brien and Nick Padilla in a recording studio that's close to their Atlantan homes. The proximity is nice, as "being out in Seattle for an extended stay at Motel 6 is not the way to keep everyone in the best mood." But the switch-up isn't just convenience. O'Brien, who has worked with Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Pearl Jam, "seems to make bands sound like who they are," Dailor said. "He's not coloring it in a way that he would do it. He's just taking a snapshot of the bands he's worked with."
The visual side of Mastodon will stay the same, however. Paul Romano, who has done art for the band in the past, returns for this record. "He’s doing preliminary sketches as we speak."
And on the broader questions of metal's place in our musical world? Dailor felt assured that Mastodon's new record will find its niche in time. "There’s a place for everything, I think. Everything is exactly where it’s supposed to be and everyone is doing exactly what they need to be doing."
Read the full transcript to Paste's interview with Brann Dailor of Mastodon here.
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