Troy Sanders from Atlanta progressive metallers MASTODON spoke to Lou Brutus of HardDrive Radio about the band's upcoming album, "Hushed And Grim", which is due on October 29. Asked how he and his bandmates decide on which songs to release first prior to the arrival of the full-length disc, the singer/bassist said: "Our label, Warner Brothers, of 15 years or so, they've been fantastic, and they kind of put the ball in our court, like, 'This is what we would like to do. What would you guys like to do?' The four of us, we listen to them, because it should be their field of expertise, but we also know what we would like for our fans to hear first. So, thankfully, it was a quite easy process of what we were gonna put out — here's song one, song two and song three. Just like we would kind of go back and forth with how we sequence an album. We just talk to one another and express why I think it should be this way, and why do you think different. It's a respectable conversation that we have internally, as with our label. So, thankfully, there's no butting of heads like that that I could see being a very easy problem to have with other bands, perhaps."
Sanders also talked about how the members of MASTODON go about agreeing on a sequencing for a new album. "Once we have songs mixed and ready to go, we just kind of dive into the emotion of each song," he explained. "In a perfect world, we would like this to be digested or ingested from start to bottom. Because we all grew up in the '70s and '80s with our favorite albums, we always put pride into creating the entire full art of the album; that's very important to us. So besides having the artwork mirror the emotion that we feel should be with the record, we always wanna have the lyrics printed on the insert sheet with the liner notes. We want the fan to be immersed, as we were with our favorite albums — sitting down, looking at the artwork, listening to the songs, reading the lyrics. It becomes your world for 60, 70, 80 minutes [or] whatever. So, with that in mind, we just think of what could be the best ride to take from start to finish; what would have a nice ebb and flow; how do we space out the softer songs; how do we space out what we feel are the strongest songs overall, like a complete MASTODON song. So, yeah, it kind of goes back and forth for a long time, and it could be interchangeable and still have a very similar impact. But we just kind of collectively agree on what we feel is the best sequencing, thinking of if someone's listening from the first note to the last note. And, again, we all have a lot of courtesy and respect for one another that once we get it to a point and someone says, 'That's awesome. I love the way that plays. I listened to it from start to finish. That's great. I'd love it to be represented like that.' It's, like, 'Okay.' We get to a point where we're, like, 'That's cool. Sounds good.'"
The follow-up to 2017's "Emperor Of Sand", "Hushed And Grim" was recorded at West End Sound, which is located inside of Ember City, the rehearsal facility that members of MASTODON manage in Atlanta. Helming the effort was Grammy-winning producer/mixer/engineer David Bottrill, who has previously worked with MUSE, DREAM THEATER and TOOL, among many others.
The "Hushed And Grim" artwork was created by longtime MASTODON collaborator Paul Romano, who also designed the sleeves for "Crack The Skye", "Blood Mountain", "Leviathan" and more.
MASTODON's latest rarities collection titled "Medium Rarities", was released in September 2020. The compilation included a new song called "Fallen Torches" as well as a bevy of classic covers, soundtrack contributions, instrumentals, B-sides, and live recordings on one complete package for the very first time.
"Emperor Of Sand" debuted at No. 7 on the Billboard 200. That LP 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."
Last year, MASTODON wrote and recorded a new song called "Rufus Lives" for inclusion in the latest "Bill & Ted Face The Music" movie.