Charlie Steffens of KNAC.COM recently conducted an interview with guitarist/vocalist Robb Flynn of San Francisco Bay Area metallers MACHINE HEAD. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
KNAC.COM: [The new MACHINE HEAD album] “Unto The Locust” is going to be out the end of September. How far along are you now with it?
Flynn: Still mixing it. On days off I fly back to Oakland and mix it with my engineer and fly back here and rock it.
KNAC.COM: You broke out again in a big way with “The Blackening” a few years ago. That was really good to see.
Flynn: We always did well. We always had the fan base. We were selling out House of Blues in L.A. and Irving Plaza in New York and stuff. I think the media really came back around on “The Blackening”, which was rad. We got this whole new fan renaissance with a whole new generation. It was killer. I think it’s like any band. If you’re going to evolve and stay relevant you ride the waves that happen and, you know, there’s good waves and bad waves. We’ve somehow managed to ride the waves past the bad waves. (laughs)
KNAC.COM: Let’s talk a little about Unto the Locust.
Flynn: For this record, I really wanted to try and bring in some new stuff to the picture. During the course of “The Blackening” we had recorded a cover of IRON MAIDEN‘s “Hallowed be Thy Name”. We agreed to do it, based on the fact that it’s one of our favorite songs and because we felt it would be a challenge and it would be a song that no one would really want to take on because it’s a pretty fuckin’ epic song. I wasn’t really certain if I could sing that high and pull it off. I knew I could hit the notes but I wanted it to sound real and heavy. I didn’t want it to sound thin and weak, like some singers sound. To my surprise, I actually pulled it off and did it a lot better than I thought I was going to. It really pushed me. Then a friend of the family passed away. It was pretty sad, and I recorded a cover of [BLACK SABBATH‘s] “Die Young”. It was just me on acoustic. Pretty high notes Ronnie James Dio‘s hitting there at the end. The perfect grit. It’s the perfect fucking grit.
KNAC.COM: Not a 40 or 60 grit, but something smoother, right?
Flynn: It’s a finer grit. It’s not too gritty. I’ve always respected that guy, but when I really tried to emulate that sound my respect for the man grew like tenfold. He had what was probably the perfect grit for a hard rock singer. He’d hit those super high notes, but just add that grit to it. It wasn’t clean. It still had a throatiness to it that was fuckin’ awesome. I challenged myself. I finally got it. I was thinking, “You know, I’ve been singing fifteen years now. I’m going to start taking lessons.” I’ve taken a few lessons before and I’ve done warm-ups that my friend showed me. I did some pretty intensive vocal training with Melissa Cross, and then again with a guy named Don Lawrence, like three-day, three-hour sessions. And at the same time, I started taking classical guitar lessons. I used to be pretty good at it, but I actually wanted to get some theory behind it. To put myself in that place where I feel like a complete retard. “These fingers won’t work!” To be back in that vulnerable place where you don’t know what you’re doing. It was awesome. Like, after all these years of doing this to go and learn…I just fully went into this learning mode. I know that came out with the new record. There’s a big, classical element to it. Some of the vocal range is definitely the highest that I’ve ever hit. I feel like I’ve really pulled it off and I sang my ass off. I’m really proud of what we were able to accomplish on the record.
Read the entire interview from KNAC.COM.
“Locust” performance footage: