Machine Head’s Robb Flynn Talks Passionate Fans, Evolution of Metal + More
Machine Head frontman Robb Flynn was a guest on Full Metal Jackie’s radio show over the weekend. Flynn, talked about the band’s recent U.S. tour, the evolution of metal over the past 20 years and more. If you missed Jackie’s show, here is her full interview with Robb Flynn:
This tour just wrapped up — it was your first headlining tour in the U.S. in a lot of years. How did it go?
Yeah, first headline run in four and a half years and it was awesome. I mean awesome from the first day in Denver [then on to] New York [and] we just went through the southwest in Texas and the West Coast and it ended and it was amazing. I mean four and a half years you can forget about a band in that much time and to have more people come out and have the highest attendances and have those really passionate, incredible reactions to the new songs was amazing.
Has your definition of metal changed much over the almost 20 years since ‘Burn My Eyes’?
To me it makes up so many things, I mean everything from Mercyful Fate to Black Sabbath to Slayer to Arch Enemy to All Shall Perish to Suicide Silence. I hate the sub-genre thing and I hate all the categories that everything’s got to go into, it drives me crazy. I think it’s more of an attitude, more of a spirit. As a kid growin’ up in the Bay Area, pretty much the golden era of thrash, I got to see some incredible bands and I got to see some crappy bands too.
There’s a lot of crappy metal out there and there was a lot of good metal and for me and my friends we started getting into punk rock and we started getting into hardcore and metal and rap and all these things were coming out right at that time and for us there was just kind very Beavis and Butthead. It kicked ass or it sucked and it more had to do with the attitude and the spirit. You could see that some people really believed in what they were doing and were trying to push things to be new and different and that was always more exciting and then there was the people who just tried to do things same way and never pushed it far enough and we didn’t get into it.
Robb, what have you come to appreciate about Machine Head now that maybe you didn’t 10 years ago or 20 years ago or maybe even a couple years ago?
I think we can appreciate just how far we’ve come. I don’t think about it all the time but every once in a while I’m talking to the kids onstage and I sit there and I go, “Yeah man, our first record came out 17 years ago.” [Laughs] I mean this is not the trajectory of a band on their 17th year, most bands are kind of with it at this point and many of our peers have fallen by the wayside and almost every band that was going when we started is defunct and the fact that we’re still here and we’re doing better than ever, we know that we’re lucky and that we’re incredibly lucky to have a fan base that’s so passionate and so intense about our music.
I mean our fans live and breathe this stuff, it’s amazing, every single day on this tour I’ve signed kids that have our lyrics tattooed on their arm or the Machine Head logos and then they want to get our autographs which I always think is crazy. You don’t want my stupid autograph tattooed on your arm but they’ve got things that actually mean something like lyrics. You hear these incredibly stories and these heartbreaking stories and you hear just how much it helps carry them through and it makes us believe.
Did you ever think in a million years that there would be people that would be tattooing your lyrics on their bodies?
I didn’t see that one comin’, you know [laughs], when we first started out that wasn’t kind of a thing. It’s definitely more popular right now, I see that startin’ to happen but it trips me out when somebody walks up and they have my face tattooed on their arm I’m like, “Why would you get this ugly mug tattooed on your arm, [how about] Marilyn Monroe, Brad Pitt, you know.”
Now that you guys have some distance from writing and recording the latest album, ‘Unto the Locust,’ do you hear it differently?
I haven’t listened to it probably since we put it out. I produced it, I mixed it and then we went and did all the listening parties so I listened to it about 10 times a night every night so when we finally went on tour it was just cool to play it, it’s cool because now when I do listen to it I listen to it in a less analytical mode, now I’m just more stoked to be jammin’ it live and seeing people’s reaction to it, that’s what I’m vibing off of. I’m watching all of these kids scream our lyrics back at us and just thrash and rage and go crazy and that’s what I’m vibin’ on right now.
This coming weekend, Full Metal Jackie will have Cam Pipes of 3 Inches of Blood on her show. Full Metal Jackie can be heard on radio stations around the country — for a full list of stations, go to fullmetaljackieradio.com.