During an interview on the “Rock & Roll Beer Guy” podcast, Mastodon’s Bill Kelliher offered an update on the band’s new album. On top of that, the guitarist also revealed that the group have written a new song for the third installment in the “Bill & Ted” series, “Bill & Ted Face The Music.”
Kelliher said the following when asked how the band are spending their coronavirus downtime:
“MASTODON hasn’t worked since last summer. We’ve been taking this time off to A) relax, B) write a new record. And we were kind of right in the middle of it, and we had about 20 rough songs recorded right before this [pandemic] hit.
I’m actually leaving tomorrow for Atlanta. We’re gonna get back together and try to get back into finishing a few things that we started and just see where we get.”
He continued after being asked what fans can expect from the new record:
“It’s all relative to who’s writing. With ‘Emperor Of Sand’, my mom was really sick with brain cancer and tragically passed away from that right when I was in the heart of writing that. And I was getting a lot of my demons in my riffs out for that record in particular; I really helped write that a lot. And with this new record, it’s kind of the same. I’ve definitely been writing like a madman, like crazy.
It’s different than ‘Emperor Of Sand’, but there’s definitely a vibe going on. I don’t know how to describe it.
I’ve been doing these ‘Riff Of The Day’ things live on Facebook and Instagram — videos of me just playing riffs, just playing old songs, and I have to re-learn them and everything. And most of them are off ‘Emperor Of Sand’, the stuff that I wrote I’m showing. So I’m, like, ‘Wow, these are some sick riffs.’
The new record, the stuff I’ve written, is not quite as notey as that, but it’s definitely got more NEUROSIS heaviness, simplified guitar parts. And Brann [Dailor, drums/vocals], he always demos most of the vocal ideas, ’cause he always has melodies, and he’s been singing on a lot of it, at least for the demo purposes. The vocals are kind of ‘Asleep In The Deep’ style — kind of RADIOHEAD-ish almost, real melodic, just a lot of vocal harmonies.
Even though we’ve done, like, 20-25 songs, we still don’t have all of Brent’s [Hinds, guitar/vocals] songs in there yet. And there’s still a lot of time for that stuff to change and to morph into other stuff.
Every record is a little bit different on how it gets written or who writes the majority or whose songs make it on the record and whatnot… Time will tell which songs are gonna be the keepers and the ones that make it on the record.”
Kelliher also said the following about writing a track for “Bill & Ted Face The Music”:
“We got asked, like a couple months ago, to be a part of the new ‘Bill & Ted‘ movie, to put a song in there. So we wrote a song to be in that movie which we’re kinda of wrapping up now. It’s pretty fun.”
However, he did add that there was some creative differences between the band and the director:
“Working with Hollywood is — same with record companies — they think that when you’re an artist, a musician, it’s like going to McDonald’s — they can just order what they want and you get it your way, and there it is. It’s, like, no, it doesn’t [work that way], at least with our band. There might be some session guys or whatever that can work like that, like, ‘Hey, I want a bluesy jingle that goes something like that,’ and they can pull that out of their ass in a minute. But we’re not like that.
With the movie industry, they were, like, ‘We want a song for the movie, and this is the description of the part.’ So we wrote something, and we turned it in, and we don’t hear back for weeks, for months. And then they’re, like, ‘Yeah, well, the director doesn’t really like this part’ — I guess like a 20-second clip — and he’s, like, ‘Yeah, he doesn’t like this. Can you change this?’ And I’m, like, ‘No. I can’t. I’m not changing it. I’m sorry. Don’t use the song then.’ I was pissed. They were, like, ‘They wanted more like an AC/DC style,’ and I’m, like, ‘Then fucking call AC/DC.’
We wrote a killer fucking song, and the music director of the movie, he’s the one that chose us, he loves the song, but the director is, like, ‘Well, this is clashing with that.’ I’m, like, ‘You’ve had it for months. Why didn’t you tell us months ago?’ Especially now with the pandemic, nobody’s in the same room together. It’s not like we all live in the same studio and we can just pull stuff out of our ass all day long.”