Radio Metal 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.
Radio Metal: For the third time in the row, you produced the album by yourself. Do you think that you’re the only one to be able to say how the music has to sound like?
Robb: You know, we’ve used big name producers in the past — Ross Robinson, Johnny K — and I’ve learned a ton from those guys and they were great to work with. But a lot of times those guys have their own sound and they put that sound onto whatever band they record with, and we didn’t really like that — that we suddenly had this different sound because of the producer we worked with. So more out of necessity than anything, I did “Through The Ashes Of Empires” (2004), and everybody was happy with the result. And then I did “The Blackening” (2007), and everybody was happy with the result. So the guys asked me to do it again, so I did it. You know, I think that they trust my vision, and it’s great to see that from where you go it can pretty much stay true to the vision all the way to the end.
Radio Metal: With the huge success of “The Blackening”, we would have expected “Unto The Locust” to be in the same vein, but it actually isn’t. You’ve taken your music into new directions. Is it important for you not to repeat yourselves and explore new things?
Robb: Very much so. We definitely did not want to write “The Blackening 2”. I mean, the whole last six months of the touring cycle for that record, all that we’ve heard, every day, every interview, was “How are you going to top ‘The Blackening’?” You know, it was a great, huge moment, and we’re bigger than ever. One of the biggest metal bands in the world. For us it was about challenging ourselves, and writing the record that would allow “The Blackening” to be what it was, and allow our new music to not get swallowed in the shadow of “The Blackening”. So we started challenging ourselves and we really pushed ourselves as musicians and artists and we feel like we came up with a great record that isn’t like “The Blackening” but is like MACHINE HEAD.
Radio Metal: This album features deeper contrasts in your singing than ever before. The harsh vocals are sometimes even meaner, and your melodic vocals haven’t been that melodic in the past. Can we say that you were looking for more challenge in your singing this time?
Robb: Yeah, for sure. We were looking for more challenge with everything, you know, everybody in the band wanted to really push themselves. Especially with the last record being the incredible success that it was, we really felt like we just wanted to step up our game, and take our music to the next level.
Radio Metal: One of the characteristics found in many bands the modern metal scene is the contrast between harsh verses and melodic choruses. This is actually something we partly find on some songs of “Unto The Locust”. Are you somehow interested or influenced by this modern metal scene?
Robb: We pioneered that. We were the first band to do that, and many bands have copied that. We’re just doing our thing. If you go back to “Burn My Eyes” and listen to the song “Old”, it’s very heavy verses and a melodic chorus, so that was well before the other bands. You know, we saw long ago that many bands were starting to copy what we were doing, starting to use the same amps that we were using, started to drop tune like we do, started to follow that formula, and we had already made steps to stay ahead of what other bands were doing. And we still do. We defined modern metal.
Read the entire interview from Radio Metal.
“Locust” audio stream: