MACHINE HEAD frontman Robb Flynn spoke to U.K.'s Independent about the band's decision to forgo the usual festival circuit and instead play its own "An Evening With..." shows, with no support bands and performances often lasting two and a half to three hours.
"We've always had these mellow songs that we never really played," he said. "We dusted them off almost out of necessity for the 'Evening With...' shows because when you're playing a three-hour show, you need to give the audience a break and we sure as hell need a break! So we started to pepper the set with songs like 'The Burning Red' or 'Descend The Shades of Night' or 'Darkness Within' or 'Sail Into The Black', these mellower moments that we rarely used to pull out live. From a creative standpoint, it was so revitalizing for us as a band."
Flynn went on to say that he hates playing festivals. "The last festival we ever did I just wanted to get offstage as soon as possible," he explained. "It was pouring with rain, I was freezing my fucking ass off, there's water getting in all our gear, everybody's there in their parkas standing in a foot of fucking mud and I'm just thinking, 'When did metal become this?' It sucks for us and it sucks for the people standing out there watching us. Don't get me wrong, there are some great festivals out there that create their own culture and their own vibe and I love that. But there's a lot of festivals out there that are just thrown-together bullshit and you can't afford to not do those ones when you're out on the circuit; that's the shit that grinds you down."
According to Flynn, he "just didn't feel any connection with the people" MACHINE HEAD was playing to on the festival circuit. "We've done festivals for 23 years but we got to a point where we had to try something else," he said. "Just because it worked for us 15 years ago or 10 years ago or even 5 years ago, it doesn't mean it's going to work for us now. Everything's changing at such a rapid pace; I've been in the music business for 32 years and I've never seen as much change as we've had in these last five years. I'm not saying it's a bad thing, I'm not saying it's a good thing but it is what it is and we've got to constantly re-evaluate and ask ourselves what's right for us. Believe me, we're making way less money and we're playing to way less people than we would be if we were playing a festival, but if that connection between us and our audience isn't there, then there's no point in us even being there. We might be playing to 3,000 people instead of 30,000 but those 3,000 people are losing their fucking minds and I feel this unbelievable bond when that happens. That's the sole reason why I do this, to feel that connection and that sense of release that unites us all."
MACHINE HEAD's new album, "Catharsis", will be released on January 26 via Nuclear Blast. The effort will be made available in several formats, including a CD/DVD digipak edition which contains footage of MACHINE HEAD's 2015 concert at San Francisco's Regency Ballroom.
The follow-up to 2014's "Bloodstone & Diamonds", "Catharsis" was produced by Flynn and was recorded, mixed, and co-produced by Zack Ohren (FALLUJAH, ALL SHALL PERISH) at Sharkbite Studios in Oakland, California. Mastering was handled by Ted Jensen (HATEBREED, ALICE IN CHAINS, DEFTONES) at Sterling Sound in New York. Cover photography was created by Seanen Middleton.
The North American tour in support of "Catharsis" will kick off on January 25 in Mesa, Arizona.