Interview: Mastodon, Gojira, and Kvelertak Talk Meeting Metallica
Tue, 04 Mar 2014 09:43:46
Every musician has got idols or other artists that he looks up to. That just goes without saying. Inspiration feeds other inspiration, and every guitar player can trace their own style and reason for picking up the instrument back to someone else. That holds true for the members of Mastodon, Gojira, and Kvelertak. In fact, they even share one of the same idols...
In part three of our exclusive interview between Bill Kelliher of Mastodon, Joe Duplantier of Gojira, and Erlend Hjelvik of Kvlertak, ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino talks to the boys about meeting one of their heroes for the first time and the hilarity that erupted in the process. Kelliher also reveals just a little bit more about the new Mastodon record that the world is anxiously awaiting.
Who out of your idols did you get to meet that you were in awe of?
Bill Kelliher: I remember when we first got to play with Metallica. It was in Portugal at the Super Bock Festival. I really wanted to meet James Hetfield. They wanted Mastodon to interview Metallica. I was trying to think of all of these questions to come up with in order to meet them and break the ice. I'm not totally serious of a person. I like to joke around a lot, and I was trying to think of these funny twists on stupid questions maybe they had never heard before. Then, I was getting all self-conscious like, "What if I say that and they're not those kinds of guys? What if they don't get it and they think I'm stupid?" I started thinking way too hard about it, and I said, "Oh man, forget it! I don't want to do the interview anymore". I got all nervous.
Joe Duplantier: I know the feeling.
Bill Kelliher: This was right before we played. I think I walked out to get ready to go on stage. Kirk Hammett and Robert Trujillo were standing outside, and I was like, "Fuck it, I've got to go over and get a picture". I walked over, and Kirk was like, "Hey dude! I want to meet you. Where's your band? I can't wait to see you guys!" I thought, "Holy shit! You want to meet me? Fuck, I've wanted to meet you since I was ten!" I got a picture with him. James Hetfield was walking around. He was trying to use his phone. He had the same phone I did, and I walked up to him. It was one of those moments where you walk up to somebody you want to meet like a hot girl and right as you're about to say something she turns her head and walks the other way [Laughs]. It was like, "Shit, I missed my calling to talk to him!" I kept doing that. I finally walked right up to him, while he was on his phone. I said, "Are you having trouble with your phone?" He said, "Yeah, I can't figure out how to use this!" I said, "Let me see. I've got the same phone, and I think you have to dial this number and put the country code in". We started talking that way. Then, I was like, "By the way, thanks for teaching me how to play guitar!" He was like, "Oh, how did I do that?" I said, "Oh, I play in Mastodon, and I've been listening to Metallica since I was a kid. That's how I learned how to play guitar. I never took lessons. I just put your records on and listened. I emulated what you were doing. Thanks!"
Erlend Hjelvik: That's a great story!
Bill Kelliher: I think he was weirded out [Laughs]. He was like, "Oh, okay, sure! Thanks!" Ever since then, they've asked us to go out on tour many times. We've gone out for dinner with all of those guys. They've been super friendly and really cool. I've had some heart-to-heart conversations with James. It's really good stuff. Those guys are great dudes. Even after seeing the Some Kind of Monster movie where I was like, "I wish I hadn't seen that", as you get older and deeper into the music industry, you understand why people like that would need a $40,000 per month shrink to talk to. Sometimes, I feel like I need that with my band [Laughs].
Joe Duplantier: You're right about the shrink thing. When you've done this for twenty years, you can understand it's not that easy. It's not a bunch of friends having fun together anymore after a long time. I can only imagine how it is for Metallica after all of these years and the pressure. I think it was really brave to release this movie and show their weakness in the end. When I saw it the first time, I had the same reaction you did like, "Oh damn!" Then, afterwards, I thought about it, and I thought it was really smart and brave. You have to have some balls to release that. For me, it was Metallica as well. The first time I met them I was shitting my pants. We opened for Metallica in France. I had this fascination with James Hetfield. I learned how to play guitar listening to Metallica. I didn't want to be like James Hetfield. I wanted to be James Hetfield. I wanted the same guitar. I wanted the same pants. I wanted the same everything. [Laughs] When we opened for them for the first time, I was standing on this huge stage in the middle right where James would stand a little later. It was really something. It was a super important day for us. We tried to meet them. It didn't happen, but we played again with them. I met them in Paris. I went to see the show. I knew the promoter. He got me a ticket. When I arrived, he said, "You'll never believe this. Robert Trujillo wants to see you so he gave me this pass for you". I was like, "What?!" I was not there to meet them. I was just there to see the show. After the show, I went backstage, and I met the whole band. They said they loved our band and wanted to bring us on tour. That's how it happened for us. It was not a management thing or anything like that. It was directly from them. They handpick the bands they want to tour with, which I think is great. They still have their eyes and ears open. They're on their toes all the time, and they want to bring out bands that make sense. It was great.
Erlend Hjelvik: That's one of the things that I think is most amazing about those guys in Metallica. They still pay attention to new music. After being a band for so long and becoming the biggest metal band in the world, they keep their eyes open. When we played in San Francisco, James Hetfield called the promoter and wanted to be on the guest list. I thought, "Yeah, right!" I was playing the show, and there he was standing on the side of the stage. That was the most amazing thing I'd seen. It was so cool. He was such a down-to-earth guy.
What are you most excited about in regards to your new music?
Bill Kelliher: Well, I just think it's a breath of fresh air. Every time you write a record, it's new, fresh, and exciting. Then, you tour on it for a year-and-a-half. Two years go by, and you haven't written anything new. It gets stale. You get to a place where you plateau. You don't really get any bigger or better. I always want to just write a couple of songs and put out little mini-albums in between. Times are changing. People don't have the attention span they used to. Now that we're putting out a whole brand new record, it's a new touring cycle. It's a new chapter in the Mastodon world and catalog. It always refreshes me as far as my resolve and what I'm doing out here, playing music, and writing records. I feel very strongly about the new record. I feel like it's going to be very awesome. It's definitely really different from anything we've done in the past. I just like to rock. I like to get out there and play music for people. I love to see the looks on their faces and see them moving around, buying merch, and keeping the Mastodon wheel turning. This is the very beginning of it, and that's always the most exciting for me. We've got something new and exciting, and we get to turn a corner and a page in what Mastodon is. We're putting out a new record and blowing people's minds again, hopefully! Every record of ours is a little different, and we take on a different sound and perception of music. It's a little snapshot of all our lives in our music and records. I'm excited for it to come out and to play those songs live and get everybody excited.
Is there anything you want to ask each other?
Bill Kelliher: What are you guys wearing?
Joe Duplantier: I'm wearing pajamas right now [Laughs].
Bill Kelliher: Pajamas? Alright!
Erlend Hjelvik: I'm in an Italian restaurant in Norway. I'm just wearing black clothes and a High on Fire shirt I picked up on the last tour.
Joe Duplantier: That sounds like the touring uniform [Laughs].
Bill Kelliher: Yeah, right? I've got big, huge duck boots on and really tight jeans and a huge parka, snow hat, and Ray Bans. I'm out in the snow now having a snowball right. That's what's going on. We'll have some more wardrobe talk when we're on tour together. I can't wait to see you guys!
Get tickets here!
04/28 – Seattle, Wa. @ Showbox Sodo
04/29 – Portland, Ore. @ Roseland Theater
05/01 – Oakland, Calif. @ Fox Theater
05/02 – Los Angeles, Calif. @ Nokia Theater
05/03 – Las Vegas, Nev. @ House of Blues
05/04 – Salt Lake City, Ut. @ The Depot
05/05 – Denver, Co. @ Ogden Theatre
05/07 – Minneapolis, Minn. @ First Avenue
05/08 – Chicago, Ill. @ The Riviera Theater
05/09 – Pittsburgh, Pa. @ Stage AE
05/10 – Toronto, ON. @ Sound Academy
05/12 – Buffalo, NY. @ Town Ballroom
05/13 – Washington, D.C. @ 9:30 Club
05/15 – New York, N.Y. @ Terminal 5
05/16 – Worcester, Mass. @ The Palladium
05/17 – Philadelphia, Pa. @ Electric Factory
05/18 – Columbus, Ohio @ Rock On The Range
What's your favorite song from each band?
See part two of the interview here!
See part one of the interview here!
See our interview between Joe Duplantier of Gojira and Tom Araya of Slayer here!