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"I got a Blondie T-shirt. I got a black eye!"
--Grasshopper (Mercury Rev)
May.07 Cover - Mastodon PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Clark   
ImageBang Your Crystal Skull
The World Answers the Call of Mastodon

The silly new Cartoon Network flick, Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film For Theaters, begins with a parody of the old-fashioned "Let's All Go to the Lobby" pre-feature ad where hot dogs and buckets of popcorn come to life to dance and sing suggestive purchasing options for hungry moviegoers. It's absurd enough as is, but in the Turner crew's twisted hands it becomes a thrash metal onslaught where evil pretzels and nachos scare the crap out of the '50s snacks and threaten the audience with grievous bodily harm if they misbehave. "If I see you videotaping this movie/ Satan will rain down your throat with hot acid/ And saw your testicles/ And turn your guts into snakes!" And so on. With subtitles to translate the aggro gggrrrrooaaarrrrrgghh!!!! of the vocals. It's completely ridiculous, but the general consensus is that it's one of the funniest sequences in the entire movie.

Mastodon, which performs the 1:50 sonic blast, isn't a band known for its sense of humor, which almost makes it even funnier. Their metal is heavy, loud, serious and intermittently complex. But as I've come to find out time and again, a band's onstage stance usually has little to do with its members' normal demeanors. The four Mastodonians are about as friendly, funny and easygoing as any dudes you'll meet. Even guitarist Brent Hinds, with whom I had a nasty, public brawl eight years ago - in his pre-Mastodon days - has chilled out considerably. I suppose world metal domination will do that to a guy.

"Obviously, the four of us take our music religiously seriously," clarifies Mastodon bassist Troy Sanders. "That's how we channel all of our emotions, and makes us who we are, that hour onstage or whatever it is a night. The other 23 hours of the day, we're fuckin' goofballs."

"That's kind of why we put out The Workhorse Chronicles," says guitarist Bill Kelliher, referring to last year's DVD from Relapse Records that includes career-spanning footage of Mastodon, both on and off-stage. "If you watch that, it's just us on tour, telling stupid jokes, doing stupid shit. That's why it always gets me when people are like, ‘Dude, can I have your autograph?' or ‘Sign my shoe!'"

They should probably get used to such requests. After breaking through critically and, to a certain degree, commercially with Relapse's release of their second album, Leviathan, in 2004, Mastodon have steadily become the toast of the metal community. They toured with Slayer (sharing the same management, Mastodon have to date opened six tours for the metal veterans), did OzzFest and were called no less than "the future of metal" by KERRANG! magazine. Subsequently signed by Reprise, their third proper album Blood Mountain was released to tremendous acclaim in September, hitting #32 on Billboard's album sales chart (and #9 on Rolling Stone's critics' list of the best albums of 2006). It's surpassed 100,000 in sales in the States so far, and a quarter of a million worldwide, with a Grammy nomination netted for the song "Colony of Birchmen" and a hilarious guest gig on Headbangers Ball. Clearly, their skill, determination and miles on the road are paying off. And it's a nice thing to see happen, because this band works its collective ass off.

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