During a recent interview with Rock Sound, Mastodon’s Brann Dailor and Bill Kelliher discussed a number of topics. Among them were their new song “Rufus Lives” from “Bill & Ted Face The Music” (out August 28), their latest single “Fallen Torches,” and more.
Dailor said the following about “Rufus Lives”:
“The song was something that was sort of in the works, you know? It was pretty recent, maybe six months ago. I was going over to Bill’s, and I’d had probably more than a pot of coffee already, and was just amped up, ready to rock!
He started playing guitar, we put this thing together, it wasn’t even 10 o clock in the morning and we already had this fast, crazy thing going on. It just sounded cool. That was the beginning of it. From there we wrote the song pretty quickly, and then when Bill & Ted came around, they wanted something very specific for a specific scene in the movie.
They sent us the scene, and it needed to be like party rock ‘n’ roll. We sent them a couple things, but they were a little doomy. It’s hard for us not to be doomy, you know? They were like, ‘It needed to be at a party, not a funeral!’ And we were like, ‘Okay, we’re sorry!’
The notes that we all gravitate towards are all minor, spooky notes, Black Sabbath. That’s where we live, spooky! But I think we were able to maintain our aesthetic and our musical personalities, and give a party rockin’ song. It’s basically like, ‘You’re at a party, you’re in the woods, everybody is having fun, what’s on the stereo?’
That’s the song we needed to write, and what we tried to do. Then we took the situation that Bill & Ted were in, and we applied it to the lyrical content. So I’m singing in it, and Troy’s singing.”
“When I was a teenager I liked Bill & Ted and thought it was cool, though that was like 35 years ago! We got an email from someone there who must be a fan, like the music director, and they wanted us to write a song for it.
We had like, 25 songs written for the new record, so could probably find one that would fit along with their soundtrack. There was one we’d written the week before that was heavy hitting, one of the better songs that was gonna go on our record. It’ll be out in a couple weeks, and it’ll be cool to be tied to that.
I enjoy writing songs that are going to be in movies. If I ever get to go to the movies again, seeing it on the big screen and hearing it full surround sound stereo, it’s awesome: like, ‘I wrote that riff!’”
In the same chat, Kelliher also discussed the band’s latest single “Fallen Torches,” which features frequent collaborator Scott Kelly (Neurosis):
“We had written that over a year ago, when we’d been in between doing European tours with Scott Kelly. We’d been thinking about writing a full EP or something with him, a bunch of songs. When we’d done the first European tour with him, there was a lot of sitting around backstage and playing on acoustics, throwing ideas around.
The record hasn’t happened yet, but we did have Scott come back to do rehearsals with us, and Brann and I put together ‘Fallen Torches’ and played it to him. We wanted him to sing on it, like, ‘Just pick a place and give it your best’, you know? The idea, in a perfect world, was to release it in December of 2018, and play it as part of the part of our set with Scott.
But it didn’t quite happen, it didn’t quite come out for whatever reason. We just dropped the ball I guess, I don’t know. I was ready to leak it, just put the song out on the internet and be able to play it live. But we waited and waited. With ‘Medium Rarities’ [out September 11], it just seemed fitting to put it out as the first song, give people an incentive.”
Later on, Kelliher also offered an update on the group’s upcoming album:
“We have been working on a brand new record since October really. So we’re getting ready to record that soon, but it won’t be out until next year some time. You’ve got to stay sort of active and keep putting out music. Times are changing. I don’t know if we’re going to be able to tour next year, so is it worth it putting a record out, does it make sense?
I always want to put music out, but is it one of those things where you put a record out, it goes straight to Spotify and because there’s no money being made off of it, you can’t survive? If you can’t tour and go out and sell merchandise, those things go hand in hand. It’s like a free giveaway, really.”
He then went on to discuss the sound of the effort:
“It’s hard to pinpoint, because every day that we write something, it’s the opposite of the song the previous day! And that’s kind of how we like it. There are so many variations of Mastodon within every record. There’s a lot of complex stuff going on in the new record, I know that. A lot of good riffage as usual, and I’m not going to say it’s like ‘Emperor Of Sand’ part two, but there are some similar sounds on there.
It’s all over the place, so you’ll have to see. We have like 20, 25 song ideas, and obviously they’re not all going to go on there, it depends on which ones do. I think we want to put different sounding songs next to each other, rather than everything sounding the same.”
Dailor also added the following about the uncertain future amid the coronavirus pandemic:
“I don’t know what’s going to happen. We’re writing music, we’re making plans to record another full-length album, but that’s the question mark. Do you put it out and not tour it? Because I know that the world needs new everything. What’s the next thing that comes out on Netflix? What’s the next album that’s out? The world needs the music, the art, the entertainment, because they don’t feel good, and a lot of people are going through really hard, crazy situations, in a multitude of different ways. So many things are colliding, especially here in the States. Our fucking president is just the worst person… I remember being a kid and seeing Donald Trump on TV, on Lifestyles Of The Rich And Famous, being eight years old and going, ‘That guy sucks. That guy’s a dick. He doesn’t care about anybody but himself, he’s just a rich, spoiled brat’. And I knew that as a kid, you know what I mean? How could [anyone] think that guy cares about anybody but himself? Anyways, there’s a lot going on here, and people need music. But you say to yourself, do you just… you know, musicians don’t make any money off of record sales, or streams. There’s no money there, so for everybody who plays music… the money runs out.
I’m just trying to make sure I can pay the taxes on my house. Luckily my house is paid off, but there are a lot of people who aren’t in that situation. There are a lot of people trying to figure it all out, playing it by ear, basically. I’m doing the only thing that I know I have control over, and that is trying to write this music with my friends, be safe about it, but record it and sort of stick to the plan. Business as usual, and we’ll figure the rest of this stuff out later. If you have a record ready to go, do you put it out, because you can’t tour it? Do you just roll the dice and hope that a year and a half from now, when you’re able to go on tour, everybody wants to come out and hear you play that? I’m sure they will, but who knows? Are people going to feel comfortable going to a concert with 5,000 people? I think maybe they will, but who knows. There are a lot of unknowns right now. The one thing I can control is, we can take a little bit longer with our album, that’s for sure, and really make sure that it’s… we can pore over every single bit and piece, make sure everything’s in there. We can mess with it until we feel like it’s there. I feel like the new stuff is pretty much there, we’re ready to go into the studio for real at this point. We’re putting those plans together.”
You can read more over at Rock Sound.