Guitarist Bill Kelliher of Atlanta progressive metallers MASTODON spoke to Kaytie of the Razor 94.7 radio station about the band's latest EP featuring four previously unreleased tracks. "Cold Dark Place" was made available digitally and on CD on September 22 via Reprise Records, followed by the release of a limited-edition ten-inch vinyl picture disc on October 27.
Three of the songs on "Cold Dark Place" — "North Side Star", "Blue Walsh" and "Cold Dark Place" — were recorded during the sessions for MASTODON's 2014 album "Once More 'Round The Sun" and were produced by Nick Raskulinecz. A fourth track, "Toe To Toes", was recorded during the sessions for the band's most recent album, 2017's "Emperor Of Sand", and was produced by Brendan O'Brien.
Regarding how the idea for the "Cold Dark Place" EP came about, Bill said (hear audio below): "When we recorded 'Once More 'Round The Sun', three of the four songs were songs that Brent [Hinds, guitar/vocals] had mostly written. We all kind of arrange everything together as a band, but they were very heavily Brent songs; he wrote the music for 'em and Brann [Dailor, drums] wrote the lyrics, and the rest of us played on it. And I think with 'Once More 'Round The Sun', we had, like, 15, 16 songs, and we're, like… Anything over an hour or… 52 minutes is, like, our cutoff time with records; we don't wanna make records any longer than that. So what we thought was these songs, they kind of sound like they belong together; they don't exactly sound like they'd go on 'Once More 'Round The Sun'. 'Why don't we take those and put them out as an EP later on down the road?' We didn't feel like they were completely finished or mixed or whatever. We wanted to knd of… We didn't wanna rush it. So [we said], 'Let's just wait. And we'll put those out at a later time.' The song 'Toe To Toes' was from the 'Emperor Of Sand' sessions. And I'm glad we didn't put it on that record, 'cause that record's great — it's great the way it is. I mean, it could have maybe been better with that song on it, but it's cool to take that song and add it to the 'Cold Dark Place' EP."
Kelliher described "Toe To Toes" as "a little more straightforward" than the material on "Emperor Of Sand". "It's very catchy; it's a very good song," he said. "I think when we heard it, we were, like… We weren't sure. I was, like, 'I don't know.' I was, like, 'I like it. I think it sounds awesome.' And Brent was, like, 'I don't think it should go on the record.' Honestly, I was, like, 'I think we have enough good songs on the record that that's not gonna make or break it. Maybe we'll take that one off and put it as a single later. Maybe we'll add it to the other songs, remix 'em and put out 'Cold Dark Place'.' And that's what ended up happening."
MASTODON is continuing to tour in support of "Emperor Of Sand", which debuted at No. 7 on the Billboard 200 album chart. The follow-up to 2014's "Once More 'Round The Sun" was recorded at The Quarry Recording Studio in Kennesaw, just outside MASTODON's hometown, with producer Brendan O'Brien (PEARL JAM, NEIL YOUNG, AC/DC, RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE), who first worked with MASTODON on their seminal 2009 album "Crack The Skye".