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Mastodon’s Troy Sanders Explains ‘Circle of Insanity’ Behind ‘Curl of the Burl’

Karl Walter, Getty Images

Mastodon recently kicked off a North American fall tour in support their epic new album, ‘The Hunter,’ and one song you can expect to hear on a nightly basis is ‘Curl of the Burl,’ the disc’s current single. It’s powerhouse rock number with a catchy chorus bound to get ingrained in your mind, but its enigmatic title does beg the question: what the hell is a burl — and why would it curl?

“Well the burl is a knot that you see in trees, it’s the bulbous knot — a cancer of trees, if you will,” bassist-vocalist Troy Sanders explained when we caught him on the phone last week in Austin, Texas, a few hours before the band kicked off their trek there. “A lot burls are created when a tree goes through stressful period. So these burls are unique, and within the burl the there is a specific swirl and curl within that burl. It’s all about the swirl and the curl.”

Fair enough, but what are burls used for? “People will cut these down and sell them to woodcarvers and furniture makers because of the design on the inside of the burl — it’s all about the swirl and the curl,” he continued. “Wood makers and sculptors will pay a premium for this, and in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States there are folks who will get hopped up on methamphetamines, go into the woods with their chainsaws, find these burls, load up their pickup trucks, take them into town, sell the to the wood makers, take the money, re-up on the meth, get back in the pickup truck and go back into the woods for a few more days.”

He concludes: “It’s a circle of insanity based on a true story.”

That circle of insanity seems to follow the loose narrative of the fantastical ‘Curl of the Burl’ video, which features a drug-addled lumberjack trudging through the forest, cutting down trees with chainsaws and getting high off the sawdust. Drummer Brann Dailor came up with the idea for the clip, which he told Loudwire is “a cross between ‘Evil Dead’ and ‘Cheech & Chong.'”

Mastodon’s current North American trek runs through a Dec. 2 gig in their hometown of Atlanta. In the meantime, check back with Loudwire in the near future for more from our exclusive interview with Troy Sanders.

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