Troy Sanders Compares Experiences Between Veteran Band Mastodon and New Project Gone Is Gone [Interview]
Troy Sanders of Mastodon and Gone Is Gone was the latest guest on Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio program. The bassist-vocalist contrasted being in a veteran band like Mastodon with starting the brand new project Gone Is Gone, explaining the chemistry within both groups, as well. Check out the chat below to dive further in.
How are you?
Hi. I'm good, thank you.
You've got a lot going on. Obviously, Mastodon's got a new record but you've got another project made up of you and members of bands like Queens of the Stone Age and At The Drive In. The band is called Gone Is Gone. There's a new album called Echolocation, which is out now. Making that first Gone Is Gone EP was a completely new and very spontaneous process. What was foremost in your mind about making this one?
Good question. It was kind of experimental getting together in the first place. We all had the desire to do something different that sounded exciting and a little bit refreshing compared to what we are used to doing with our time.
The EP we had so much fun putting it together, and it was done quite easily as far as friendship and camaraderie goes and we felt like we had a chemistry that was worth attempting to tap into further. And after the EP was released we did a show in Los Angeles, a release show and we had so much fun playing onstage together. It was just stress free, pressure free and it was very enjoyable, so we vowed to attempt continuing the band.
Thankfully all four of us were on the same page for when we had these small windows of time off tour together. We were convening in Los Angeles and start working on the music and it came together much quicker than we ever anticipated. And within a few weeks of jamming together we had what would become the Echolocation album.
So, it was a combination of momentum and just enjoying ourselves with one another. Having a different band when we're all very fulfilled with our other bands, it just is a different adventure and different sense of fulfillment. It's very very enjoyable and it’s nice to put that back into ourselves when we're playing music, not worrying about the next record's gotta be better than the last and this show's gotta be better than the last. It's kind of the energy of having your very first band a long time ago and it was strictly done for fun with all of the right reasons.
Mastodon can be conceptual as an allegory for catharsis. How does that apply to the new Mastodon album?
It applies completely and directly. We tend to write and channel the emotions and experiences that we actually have in our lives. For better or worse we tend to pull on what’s been affecting us and what we've been living and experiencing over the previous tour cycle.
In other words, the last record came out two years ago and we started touring. The time that record was done recording, without knowing that the process for what will become the next record starts then. Whether it's good things or bad things, even if the story line is left of center or very odd, it's a parallel to what the story is that we're telling from our collective experience of the past couple years together. So, I think it's always a very therapeutic process for us because we channel all of these energies through the art that we call Mastodon.
Gone Is Gone doesn't have the history like Mastodon. Why is the opportunity to create without expectation so valuable to a musician?
It becomes worry free, it becomes stress free and extremely enjoyable without any of those pressures on our shoulders or weighing on our minds; it's strictly to get together because we enjoy doing it. The only reason that we get together and have Gone Is Gone in the first place is because we want it. We don't necessarily need it, but we all dearly want it. And that creates an environment and a camaraderie that is done strictly out of joy of creating music with new people, new experiences.
I believe that the four of us in Gone Is Gone have a very cool chemistry that is worth exploring, and thankfully we're all on the same page with that. Because if one guy was like, "Hey I'm completely fulfilled with this other thing, I don't need this anymore," then that would be the end of it. But thankfully all four of us are on the same page and that's very very rare when you have four grown people that are in this relationship together. We've beaten the odds already and it’s a whole lot of damn fun basically.
You, Brent and Brann from Mastodon all sing. What was different about the way you built the vocal interaction on the new album compared to how you mesh instrumentally?
One of the beauties of Mastodon is that we have a three way vocal tag team. It's created, very selflessly, meaning if I write a certain set of lyrics, but Brent [Hinds]' voice fits better on the part, then Brent will take those lyrics and that's his part. A lot of time Brann [Dailor] will write lyrics for something but the voice that calls for it is my voice, then I will take it. It's very interchangeable as to who writes what and who performs what. That's a great quality to have as opposed to, "Hey, I wrote it, so I'm singing it."
That doesn't fly and ultimately we all want the greater good of the song no matter who performs it. We have three distinct voices, so we kind of let the music dictate on who fits where. If it's got this '70s, very airy bridge to it, or something well that's going to be our drummer Brann's voice. If something is in the line of a gruff Melvins approach or something, that would be me. So we just kind of put the placement of people and our voices where we feel like it belongs. That's a really cool thing that we have.
Mastodon and Eagles of Death Metal are going to be touring together. How does each band balance the other to make an overall great show?
Well, we strive to put a package together that will want people to leave their house. We've been touring nonstop off — basically we've been touring our entire career, we just turned 17-years-old and a lot of people have seen us once, twice, five times or more. So we always are trying to better ourselves as a band, but for those that have seen on the last tour and three times before that, we want to give a good reason to come out again so we try to put together a package that we feel is solid for the listener.
Eagles of Death Metal are a fantastic, fun, rock 'n' roll band and I think that we share a lot of the same crowds. A lot of Mastodon fans like them, Eagles fans like us. I think if we put the two together, it's gonna draw from both bands fan bases and just make it bigger and better. We always try to do that.
We feel like we've exercised as many of the heavy metal tours that we could possibly have ever done, so to branch out a little bit is kind of exciting. A handful of years ago we did a co-headlining tour with Against Me! and that went really well. It kind of opened ears for people that weren't familiar with us, our fans that maybe weren't familiar with Against Me! and it worked really well, a little bit more diverse, so I think Mastodon and Eagles of Death Metal is just a no-brainer. Knock it out of the park.
Troy, I know we've got this upcoming tour but are there any plans beyond that you can talk about?
Well we hope to stay very healthy and continue to tour the usual year and a half, two years on this record. That's what we enjoy. We like to create the music that we love and try to bring it to as many people around the world as we possibly can. So we are starting to line up all months ahead of us with lots and lots of shows. It's what we love to do. It's been great for us so far, this record's not broke so we do not intend on fixing it.
Thanks to Troy Sanders for the interview. Grab your copy of Mastodon's 'Emperor of Sand' at Amazon or digitally through iTunes. Gone Is Gone's 'Echolocation' can also be purchased through Amazon or iTunes. Keep up with Troy Sanders by following Mastodon and Gone Is Gone on Facebook and find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie’s weekend show at this location.
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