Wed, 13 May 2015 09:23:31
Troy Sanders of the Atlanta hard rock juggernaut reveals secrets of "Asleep in the Deep," gives tips on getting into country music, and talks meeting Metallica for the first time in our Artist of the Week interview.
Mastodon give 21st century rock ‘n' roll a pulse. The Atlanta foursome—Troy Sanders [bass, vocals], Bränn Dailor [drums, vocals], Brent Hinds [guitar, vocals], and Bill Kelliher [guitar]—released their sixth full-length studio album, Once More 'Round the Sun [Reprise Records], last summer to a groundswell of tastemaker and audience acclaim. It even bowed at #6 on the Billboard Top 200, making for their second consecutive Top 10 debut after 2011's The Hunter. Coupling otherworldly imagery, mind-blowing musical chops, emotional delivery, and a transcendent vision, they've architected a world of their own metallically marked by a rich roar. Critics adore them as do fans, and their live shows have become the stuff of legend, selling out venues worldwide.
Right now, the group's co-headlining The Missing Link tour across North America with longtime friends Maryland's Clutch and support from Graveyard. It's the perfect bill for hard rock heads, alternative rock lovers, heshers, and anybody who just appreciates a good riff. As Artist of the Week, we spoke to Troy Sanders about Once More ‘Round the Sun in-depth. He uncovers some real gems about certain songs, offers advice for country music virgins, and recalls his band's fateful first meeting with Metallica.
How are you?
I'm good! We're about three weeks into this Missing Link tour that we're on with Clutch and Graveyard. We're in mid-stride, and it's been really great.
Obviously, you've been friends with Clutch for a long time. Does The Missing Link tour bring things full circle?
Well, they took us out in 2003. That was one of our first big, proper, and full U.S. tours when our band was nothing. We were in the middle of writing what became our Leviathan record. When Clutch took us out on tour, we were all such huge fans, and I do remember calling of our friends and going, "Dude, we're going on tour with Clutch!" [Laughs] It was phenomenal. We basically rehearsed all of this new material until the tour ended in Seattle. Then, we got dropped off in the studio to record Leviathan with Matt Bayles. That's always going to be a very special connection we have with Clutch because they took us under their wing when our band was very small.
Of course, a few weeks later Neil Fallon flew back to Seattle and recorded the song "Blood and Thunder" with us. To this day, that's still our most popular song. After Leviathan came out, our band's life really started to change. We began to get bigger tours. We signed on with management. We signed with a major label. Things really took off. The Mastodon and Clutch relationship is very special. Twelve years later, we get to do it all over again. We're doing this co-headlining bill, and I find it special on many levels. Those guys have been together 25 years with the same four members. Mastodon has been together for 15 years with the same four guys. I think there are a lot of similarities in terms of the respect we have within each band and recognizing the longevity. That's a rare and special achievement.
You even got to co-headline Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado…
Yeah, when we saw this tour scheduled, it was a lot of the same places that we've all played many times. There were two moments that really stood out though. One was that we're co-headlining Red Rocks together. At first, I thought, "That's going to be special, but it's going to be a half-empty amphitheatre." Thankfully, I was wrong. The place holds 9,000 people, and over 7,000 people showed up. It's easily a highlight of the tour, and it ranks in the top three gigs that Mastodon has ever played, in my opinion. Next week, we co-headline Central Park. It's an outdoor show in New York City. One of the first records I ever heard playing in my household was Simon & Garfunkel's The Concert in Central Park. My parents would play that all the time. Now, it's us!
The set flows very well. You're not playing Once More ‘Round the Sun from start-to-finish, but the live show captures the record's entirety.
Five years ago, we did a whole tour where we did Crack the Skye from top-to-bottom. Then, we came back out and did thirty minutes of other material. We feel that record was a pinnacle sort of moment in our band's discography. With this album, it's a traditional concert where we're obviously riding the high of our latest record. We're playing almost the entire record. However, in an hour-and-fifteen minutes, we play a couple off Leviathan, a couple off Blood Mountain, and a couple off Crack the Skye. It's a mixed bag. So far, three or four weeks into this tour, everybody seems to be leaving the clubs very happy.
That's ultimately what we want because we tour a lot. We play Chicago twice a year. We play Detroit twice a year. We play L.A. three or four times on this record cycle. At first, it's like, "Why would we keep going? We're going to create overkill amongst our fans." The contrary is that the shows are still super packed, and people walk away with a lot of excitement on their faces and a big round of applause. I think we're doing our part. On top of that, we're beyond grateful that we have such a wonderful fan base. We recognize that this is also through the package. We take a lot of pride in putting a package together that people will want to come out and see. It's like, "S***, Graveyard, Clutch, and Mastodon together…I've got to go!"