MASTODON guitarist Bill Kelliher spoke to Tone-Talk about the progress of the songwriting sessions for 2017's "Emperor Of Sand" album. He said (see video below): "It's hard right now, because I thought I'd be really inspired to be writing, but I'm not. But I already have 20 songs written, so I'm good with that. But that was before the COVID[-19]. So now that the COVID's hit, I'm, like, 'Oh, now I'll just write another 30 songs,' but I'm not. I'm not traveling, I'm not doing anything — I'm sitting at my house, I'm sitting at my studio, and I'm, like, 'Oh, I'll just write another 30 songs,' and I'm just really not.
"I'm not saying I'm not inspired, I just feel that I'm so busy with now that I'm home, and my wife knows I'm home, and she's, like, 'Yeah, well, you've got this to do,'" he continued. "And I'm, like, 'Fuck!' When I used to go on the road, I could just sit in my hotel room and space out and not have to worry about real life… I mean, real life has always been in my face, but now it's, like, I can't escape. I'm in the clutches of just being under someone else's control, I think. I can't be, like, 'Hey, guess what? I'm gonn do down to the basement into my studio.'
"Me as a musician, I guess I'm an artist, I need to go away somewhere to get away from real life so I can just write riffs. And it's hard — it's hard right now, because COVID is keeping everybody so goddamn close, and, to me, it's [getting] on my nerves. I can't relax."
Last month, Kelliher told the "Rock & Roll Beer Guy" podcast that the music he has been writing for MASTODON's next album is "different than 'Emperor Of Sand', but there's definitely a vibe going on… The new record, the stuff I've written, is not quite as notey as that, but it's definitely got more NEUROSIS heaviness, simplified guitar parts. And Brann [Dailor, drums/vocals], he always demos most of the vocal ideas, 'cause he always has melodies, and he's been singing on a lot of it, at least for the demo purposes. The vocals are kind of 'Asleep In The Deep' style — kind of RADIOHEAD-ish almost, real melodic, just a lot of vocal harmonies."
"Emperor Of Sand" debuted at No. 7 on the Billboard 200. That album was nominated for the 2018 Grammy Award for "Best Rock Album," and its opening track, "Sultan's Curse", won the Grammy Award for "Best Metal Performance."