Machine Head Frontman Robb Flynn Discusses ‘Unto the Locust’ and More
Machine Head recently released ‘Unto the Locust,’ their follow-up to their 2007 album, ‘The Blackening.’ ‘Unto the Locust’ invaded the Billboard 200 chart by debuting at No. 22, the band’s highest debut to date.
The band has received rave reviews from fans and critics alike for the album’s first single, ‘Locust’ which was released in June. ‘Locust’ represents the continuous creative progression of Machine Head, who began their career nearly 20 years ago with a more simplistic groove metal sound.
Machine Head are set to headline the ‘Eighth Plague’ tour with Devildriver, Bring Me the Horizon and Darkest Hour. The tour will feature Machine Head playing some of the biggest and most celebrated venues throughout Europe.
Loudwire recently chatted with Machine Head frontman Robb Flynn, who shared his thoughts on the new album, the history of Machine Head and the bands that inspire him today.
What are your feelings on ‘Unto the Locust’ and how have your fans been reacting?
We’re all just super proud. I mean we worked our butts off. I feel like we delivered something really special — something the metal world needed. We just did a bunch of listening parties in L.A., New York, Chicago and Oakland and got to get some first-hand fan reactions sitting there in the same room as them and talking to them. People seem to be really stoked.
What was the creative process like with this album and did you take a different approach to recording it?
With recording it not really, I mean we went to a new place. We went to Jingletown studios, which is Green Day’s place. They just had a cool vibe. I produced it again, got a new engineer. For the most part, we recorded it the way we did the last few. We got a new jam room, which was cool. During ‘The Blackening,’ we moved jam rooms so we decked it out and made it more like a clubhouse than a jam room. We put up posters like Pink Floyd ‘The Wall,’ Maiden and Sabbath — more the album art than pictures of band members. It just gave it a vibe and made it a cool place for inspiration.
The single ‘Locust’ is really interesting; do you have a second single in mind?
You know, that’s up to the record company. I mean if they want to put something out then cool. The record just came out … so we’re still on kind of this crazy roller-coaster with that.
You guys have been around for nearly 20 years and your music continues to sound really fresh. How do you compare the amount of thought and energy you put into your music now compared to when you were just getting started?
It was a different time. Going back to when we started, we were four long-haired white dudes living in a predominantly black neighborhood. [laughs] We were sharing a rehearsal studio with four punk rock bands. It was a different vibe; it was a different mindset, too. I think that we were still figuring out where we wanted to go back then as well and along the line we found our lane and we’ve been riding that lane. We’ve been able to block the outside world out and just continue to do our thing, which is a really good place to be.
What’s been the secret for Machine Head’s longevity? How do you keep it going?
We don’t really know anything else. [laughs] I’ve been playing in bands since I was 15 years old. I’ve been on tour since I was 18. I don’t really know anything else, so I’ve never had a Plan B — this kind of had to work. I think when you try and tackle something with that much tenacity you make it work. A lot of people told me how I should get a Plan B, but I don’t want a Plan B, this is what I want to do.
A lot of bands that started off doing groove metal and nu-metal have had a difficult time remaining relevant with their new material. What would you say Machine Head has that other bands don’t?
I think a lot of those bands just came from a different place. We were coming from thrash, hardcore, punk rock … and rap as well. We’re all and continue to be big rap fans. We all grew up on the classic rock and metal as well — Metallica, Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath — those bands were always the forefathers to us. I mean, Sabbath grooved hard. They’ve got some hard grooves. So, I think those are the things we drew from more — that kind of classic element, whereas I think other bands drew from mainly hip-hop or something, which I think kind of limited them and didn’t allow them to have as much of a scope or a breath to draw from.
We wanted to be really, really heavy of course, but first and foremost we wanted to push ourselves as musicians and be seen as good musicians. To a large degree, metal in general is viewed down in this kind of “Oh yeah, they’re doing that kind of stuff.” If you look at all the large award ceremonies here in America or even throughout the world, they don’t even view metal as a relevant category. I mean, there’s 10 R&B categories for people who don’t even write their own music, but the guys who are out here who are truly mastering their craft and working at it hard and living a hard life on the road — that somehow isn’t counted and that’s lame. It makes us pissed.
Are there any new bands that you’re into right now or ones that inspired the sound of ‘Unto the Locust?’
I really like All Shall Perish, in particular the last record and the new one, ‘This Is Where it Ends.’ I just saw them play last night. They did a video shoot and they killed it; it was awesome. I really like Time of Grace — that’s Adam D. and Jesse from Killswitch [Engage]. The band that really, really just blew my head off and really got me enjoying new music again. Right before we started writing ‘Unto the Locust’ [I listened to] Protest the Hero. Their record ‘Fortress’ just blew my head off – I love it. I was just getting so sick of new bands at that point and they just came along and breathed this fresh air into what I was digging. It kinda carried me through a whole tour cycle [laughs] through the last half of that tour cycle. They’re amazing musicians; I’ve seen them live, they’re awesome and funny and they’re Canadian. [laughs]
Tell us about the upcoming ‘Eighth Plague’ tour. You’ll be out with Devildriver, Bring Me the Horizon and Darkest Hour. How did this tour come to be?
We put it together. We booked a lot of large venues. We’re playing Wembley Arena for the first time over in London. We wanted to get some bands that were heavy, but different realms of heavy. We did a tour about four years ago called ‘The Black Crusade’ and it was Machine Head, Trivium, Dragonforce, Arch Enemy and Shadows Fall. Trivium brought their own thing, Arch Enemy brought their own thing, Dragonforce brought their own thing and we found that when we’re headlining to have these different elements there it made it more of an event, and that’s what we wanted. So we took the same mindset for ‘The Eighth Plague’ tour. It’s a great package and we’re super stoked, man. It’s a really huge moment for the band.
Editor’s note: In a piece we recently published on Loudwire, Robb Flynn told us what it’s like to be a rock ‘n’ roll dad, in addition to details on a heartwarming story about how his fans stepped up to the plate after his son’s guitar was stolen. Read all about that here.