Chris Riemenschneider of StarTribune.com recently conducted an interview with MASTODON guitarist Bill Kelliher. A few excerpts from the chat follow:
On the fact that there isn't anything remotely hip about the fearsome-sounding foursome:
"We'd like to think we're cool, hip guys, but probably not. I think whatever respect we're getting now, it comes from our hard work on the road and, of course, the music."
On the band's influences:
"We all grew up on early METALLICA, [IRON] MAIDEN, SLAYER, [JUDAS] PRIEST, and I think AC/DC and [LED] ZEPPELIN come through pretty strong in our music, too. It's a good time to bring some of that back — hopefully in a new way, though. We don't mind being called a 'prog-rock' band, because that means 'progressive,' you know, taking the music forward. I think you see that with bands like TOOL, THE MARS VOLTA, the DEFTONES and hopefully us."
On whether the band sits around getting stoned to write its songs:
"No, they're all true stories. [Laugh] We write the music first and the lyrics come second, but we're pretty serious about them. We want the songs to be metaphors and capture some kind of deep and heavy struggle, to reflect the music. In this case, they're are all about this journey up a mountain, and all the things that happen along the way."
On fans' concerns that the band sold out by signing with Warner Bros./ Reprise:
"'Blood Mountain' would be the exact same record it was, no matter what label put it out, except it probably wouldn't sound as good as it does because we'd have had less time in the studio. We made it clear to Warner Bros. that we're not a pop-rock band or a group of 19-year-olds who got together to be a supergroup and write hits for the radio. Their response was always that they want MASTODON, nothing else."