Mastodon’s Brann Dailor Talks ‘Once More Round the Sun,’ Touring With Clutch + More
Mastodon are full-on into promotion of their Once More Round the Sun album, recently announcing spring dates with Clutch. Drummer Brann Dailor recently spoke with 'Loudwire Nights' host Full Metal Jackie about the lure of the upcoming tour, their outrageous Grammy outfits and he even opened up about his hopes for the band's future music. Check out the chat below:
Brann, fans get psyched about seeing two great bands at one show. What excites the bands themselves to tour with each other -- like Mastodon touring with Clutch?
Well we have a pretty long history together. We’ve been friends for a long time. They’re one of the first bands that I remember championing us. I guess like, "Hey that band's cool let’s take them on tour." And we are all pretty excited about that.
I know that for myself I think I saw Clutch on their first tour, opening for Voivod and I can’t remember what the other band was -- Damn the Machine maybe. Anyways I remember going there to see Clutch. I just have a long history of being a big Clutch fan. And when they took us on tour 2000 or 2003 we were all super excited to go out with Clutch and we began a friendship. And we’ve maintained a friendship over the years and always talk about teaming up to go out and do it again. So it’s a long time coming. We haven’t toured together since '03 or '04 when we were on our way out to record Leviathan. And it's been a while. So it’s going to be fun to rekindle that flame we once had.
Mastodon's Reprise Records catalog is being re-released on vinyl. What is most noticeable about the way the band sounds in that format?
I guess there’s just certain richness vinyl that I enjoy over CD or digital format especially those 180 gram versions just for the audiophiles out there. Just preferred listening, I guess. For me, it’s more of a ritual of listening to an album. It seems to require your full attention more than something you just pop on digitally. It seems to be in the background but when you are putting an album on you’re making a decision to listen to this album. For some reason, it seems to grab my attention more, when I make the choice to listen to an album.
What inspired the decision for your band to dress the way that you guys did for the Grammy Awards?
You know there wasn’t any big decision. To me, it seems like a lot of the guys are ready for a funeral basically. And it’s supposed to be a party. So I bought the balloon suit and it looked like something I would wear to something like that. It seemed fun and kind of in the clown realm, and I’m a big fan of clowns. So yeah, I liked it. It looked cool and better than any other suit I have. So that’s what I decided to wear.
And Brent decided to wear the Dodgers uniform. Probably a very impulsive decision on his part. I think he went somewhere, I’m not sure where he went but it was somewhere and they had Dodgers uniforms and it probably just clicked in his head that, "I’m going to get one of these and wear that. That’ll be hilarious." So we take ourselves pretty seriously when it comes to our music and the lyrics and the time onstage. But everything else, our personalities, you can get a sense of who we are through our music videos, our interviews and I guess the clothes that we wear at the Grammys now.
You have to love how you guys didn't even plan it, but the way that it all turned out. Even though you didn't go home with a Grammy, the consensus was Mastodon won the Grammys.
Oh yeah? Okay cool! Well, it feels good to win the Grammys. We were just happy to be there you know representing for heavy metal. It's cool to be invited. It's cool to be a part of it. Somebody's got to be there to just remind everyone that heavy metal is still there to the people that don't really think about it that often. Yeah, we're a heavy metal band and we got invited to this thing so you're forced to deal with us for at least a couple of hours.
What caught you off guard most about the way that some people reacted to the dancers in the video for "The Motherload?"
The people who were upset by it. The sexist remarks, I think, caught me off-guard. I felt that we had taken extra special care in making sure that it wasn't sexist, so yeah, that caught me off guard. It seemed obvious to me that the girls in the video were doing their thing and having fun doing it. No one was forcing them to smell the glove, per se. I didn't think that would happen, to be honest. Maybe I was being naive because anytime that you confront people with something with a sexual nature, that's an option. I don't know. I just thought it was fun, it was a fun video. I don't want the band to be defined by it, it was just another video that we made for a song. We had a bunch of different ideas and that's the one that got picked and we did it. We live in Atlanta, I think it's fitting.
The album Once More Round the Sun hasn't even been out a year and some media are reporting that you're already working on a new album. What determines how quickly you make new music?
We're always working on new stuff. We're not going over riffs and trying to put things together as of yet. Everyone is collecting little bits and pieces along the way and then when it comes time to really sit down and write then we'll start dumping the riff bags out onto the floor and go through them and see what's good and whatever one is kind of digging on.
We did record a new song for something that's going to be announced in probably just a few days but we recorded something new and that's exciting to record a brand new Mastodon sort of mid-cycle, which is something we don't really do. We don't really get the opportunity to do that. Sort of mid-tour cycle for an album, you're really just concentrating on the live show and then when you have time to rest, you try not to be in Mastodon world as much you have to because you have to plan for the next tour and make sure you want to do everything you can to maybe change things up and work on old material and figure out what the T-shirt designs are going to be and figure out what the backdrop is going to be, the lighting, all the business end of touring because of the fact that today's musician, especially metal musician needs to stay out on tour if we want to make a living at this. We need to be out on tour most of the year.
So, mid-tour it's hard to sit and come up with something but we got inspired by being propositioned by -- we'll probably announce in a few days. It was an exciting proposition and we jumped on it and I think we made something really cool and unique and something surprising, which is what we look for when we're writing new Mastodon stuff. We want it to sound like us but if it's new it should sound new and different and have something else going on. So, this is also an opportunity when you're writing one song, it doesn't have to be part of an album. It doesn't have to make sense within the catalog. It doesn't have to ... it's kind of freeing to just be asked to write one song. We did that and we recorded it, it came out awesome and I'm really excited for it to be released.
Once More Round The Sun was more melodic than previous albums. In what ways would you like the next album to sound different than before?
I'm not sure. As far as it being different, those things need to reveal themselves naturally and organically. We know it when we hear it, so I guess that's where the artistry of a musician comes into play. That intangible, oh yeah, that's it. That's the sound. That's that sound we were looking for! We know it when we hear it. Hopefully, it's a surprise to us as much as it would be a surprise to the listener.
I'd like to get a little weirder, but it's sort of ... I don't like to have anything predetermined. It's sort of dangerous, when you sit and talk about what you want music to sound like and it's kind of, I don't know, it doesn't really work and it's not very exciting to have this predetermined notions about what you want something to sound like and then you place those parameters around your musical ideas. Because I feel like at the place and time that they erupt, hopefully, they do. They are what they are and you like them for genuine reasons. You gravitate towards certain riffs or parts or vocal melody because it's inspired by life events that have happened at that place and that time. You gotta follow the divining rod that is Mastodon, wherever it wants to go. We just let it do its thing and just follow it until we're all satisfied with it.
Thanks to Mastodon's Brann Dailor for the interview. As stated, the Once More Round the Sun album is out now. You can pick it up via Amazon or iTunes. And be sure to catch the band on tour at these locations. Tune in to Loudwire Nights With Full Metal Jackie and Tony LaBrie Monday through Friday at 7PM through midnight online or on the radio. To see which stations and websites air ‘Loudwire Nights,’ click here.