MACHINE HEAD frontman Robert Flynn recently gave an in-depth interview to Earth-Dog.com. Several excerpts from the interview follow:
Earth-Dog.com: How do you feel about the return of VIO-LENCE and why have you chosen not to take part?
Robert Flynn: "While I hate to be the bearer of bad news, I feel I must tell you...for all intents and purposes, VIO-LENCE disbanded two years ago. However, I did re-unite with VIO-LENCE for their 'farewell show' two years ago in April 2003, and while the attendance was dismal, it was one of the funnest, and funniest shows I've ever played. Phil [Demmel] quit VIO-LENCE, joined MACHINE HEAD, began an extremely hectic recording / tour cycle, and has been busy with MACHINE HEAD ever since, so I'm a bit unclear as to what 'the return of VIO-LENCE' is."
Earth-Dog.com: MACHINE HEAD starts out with much of the thrash energy of VIO-LENCE early on, yet the band progresses into much more "groovy" territory and "alternative" sounding vocals. Was this an attempt to be more commercially acceptable?
Robert Flynn: "MACHINE HEAD was never thrash, period. After VIO, I wanted to move away from that. 'Thousand Lies', 'Old', 'Take My Scars', 'Frontlines', all the breakdowns off the first two records were all very groove-oriented and influenced by bands like BIOHAZARD. MACHINE HEAD's fast stuff was WAY more influenced by hardcore bands like POISON IDEA, ATTITUDE ADJUSTMENT, SICK OF IT ALL, DISCHARGE, and definitely not thrash bands. The melodic vocals that we brought more to the forefront later on, were the result of just feeling trapped as to what we could and couldn’t do. We felt like we had backed ourselves into a corner, and wanted to try some new things. We made a conscious decision to change, and when you do that, you run the risk of making some mistakes. But the way I look at it, for the most part, every record after your first record, you're gonna be crucified one way or another. If you never change, you're going to crucified for always sounding the same. If you change, you're going to be crucified for changing. But to me, never changing is boring. So if I'm going to be crucified, I'd at least rather be crucified for changing."
Earth-Dog.com: PANTERA was pretty successful at a time when metal was on the decline in America. How do you feel about PANTERA and their contributions to the growth of the metal scene?
Robert Flynn: "'Vulgar Display of Power' has influenced every single modern metal band in existence today, period. From MACHINE HEAD to KILLSWITCH ENGAGE to SLIPKNOT to LAMB OF GOD to SHADOWS FALL, and I don’t think the importance of PANTERA can be overstated. They had a #1 record at a time when metal was VERY uncool. They were responsible for bringing music that extreme to mainstream attention. They helped bridge hardcore and metal, and they were a phenomenal live band. I had the pleasure of touring with them twice, and on a good night, and when Phil [Anselmo] was in a good mood, they were the best live band I have ever witnessed."
Earth-Dog.com: How does being a "father" effect your perception of yourself and the "hard/dark" image of MACHINE HEAD?
Robert Flynn: "I feel it adds a balance, grounds me. My little boy is incredible man, and having a kid definitely makes you feel more like a kid again. You can act like a full-blown dork, and the more you do, the more they love it. Kids don't judge you, there's no skepticism, just trust, and love. A lot of times MACHINE HEAD can be an all-consuming beast. I could spend every second, of every day doing, and delegating things that need to be done for MACHINE HEAD. But in the end, it's no way to live, man. At least for me, I've found that if I don't have some other side to my life, I begin to resent MACHINE HEAD. My son is that other side. My wife and I also took up wakeboarding four years ago, and it was one of the best hobbies I could ever take up. You go to the lake, summertime, your friends, on the boat, a bunch of beer, the water, blasting some tunes, it fuckin' RULES! We go group camping quite a bit as well...get that 7AM wakeboard run in, when the water is glass. It's the best way to shake off the camping hangover too. Already took my kid to the lake, and went wakeboarding with him on the boat, he LOVED it."
Earth-Dog.com: Why won't you let Jason Newsted [former METALLICA bassist] put out QUARTETO DA PINGA [Newsted's one-off project with Flynn, SEPULTURA's Andreas Kisser and EXODUS' Tom Hunting]?
Robert Flynn: "Well, Jason *cough*, aside from the fact that almost no one (present company excluded) cares about a two-day jam session that happened over 10 years ago, the entire premise of those recordings was that they never would be officially released. They would only be released through the underground, traded, shared, etc...which they have been. Anyone who wanted to hear them...at this point...has. Had I known they might be released in the future, I wouldn't have done them. Now that Jason's out of METALLICA and wants to release everything he's ever done, my feelings still haven't changed."
Earth-Dog.com: Do you do pretty well financially, or is it still a lot tougher than people think making money being a "rock star"?
Robert Flynn: "Well, I haven't had to work a regular job for 10 years now, though for the first four years of that, I lived well below the poverty level. But I agree that most people have no idea how little the artist actually makes. I think a lot of artists like to brag about how much they got 'signed for', which doesn't mean a dime of it went into their pocket, but makes it sound like a big deal, it also gives the perception, untruthfully, that they're rich, which to some people is impressive, I guess. Myself, I have a modest lifestyle, I own a house, a wakeboarding boat, a 4 Runner, money in the bank, but again, it's pretty modest."
Read Robert Flynn's entire interview with Earth-Dog.com at this location.