Tree Riddle of the Flint, Michigan radio station Banana 101.5 Rocks recently conducted an interview with bassist/vocalist Troy Sanders of Atlanta progressive metallers MASTODON. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Q: “Curl Of The Burl” is your big single. It’s a kick-ass tune, but a lot of people are wondering, “What the hell is this song about?” and I don’t know what a curl of the burl is — so could you explain that for us?
Sanders: The burl is the knot that’s found in various trees — it’s almost like a cancer of trees. Within that burl are unique swirls or curls. A lot of people will cut those down and sell them to wood-makers, wood sculptors, and furniture makers because it’s got a unique design to it. And this is a true story which happens in the Pacific Northwest — a lot of people go out in the woods with chainsaws, they find these burls, they cut them down, they load their pickup trucks with these burls, take them in to town sell them to various wood-makers, take the money from that, purchase more meth, go back in the woods and continue that circle of insanity. So it’s based on a true story. People will steal your cars, steal copper…and people will go out there in the woods and steal burls.
Q: The video for that song is pretty weird, who came up with that concept?
Sanders: That video treatment was created by our drummer, Brann Dailor, and it kind of follows the story of the song itself, but with a campy B-movie humor side to it. It could possibly inspire some Halloween costumes — who knows?! We wanted to throw some humor in there and hopefully people can crack a laugh at it. Videos are short-lived so we want something that has an impact like, “Hey, man, you gotta check that video out. It’s nuts.” Or “It’s crazy” or “It was insane.”
Q: I noticed you guys have a lot of tree-related stuff going on in your songs and your videos, are you big forest dudes?
Sanders: Well… yeah. We’re fascinated by many aspects of nature. We’ve written albums about water and mountains and outer space and we’re fascinated with anything of epic proportions — trees, mountains. This album has a lot of wood related stuff in it with the “Curl Of The Burl”, “Dry Bone Valley”, “The Hunter” itself. You know, the cover of our record was a massive wood sculpture. Our friend, A.J. Fosik, did this massive sculpture of this triple-jawed minotaur which is on the cover of our record. So yeah, we’re fascinated by wood… it’s dedicated to wood.
Q: There are a lot of interactive elements you’re putting into this album. Who came up with the idea to include different types of media with “The Hunter”?
Sanders: Collaboration between us… the band and our manager, Nick John. We’re always tryin’ to add anything that potentially could be exciting or add any level of coolness to the record itself. If people can take a step inside the MASTODON world and become one with us in any degree or manner, then we think that’s a good thing. So we’re always trying to come up with ideas to help the entire packaging to encourage people to buy a physical piece of music… and hopefully people can join our world a little bit.
Q: On this album you did things a little different — most of your other previous stuff is concept based, correct?
Sanders: Correct. The past four records have been sabbatic or conceptual to a degree, and it was kind of nice to shed the idea of doing another concept record and not only throw a curveball to ourselves, but the rest of the world. It was kind of therapeutic, in a way, for ourselves to kind of explore any musical territory or any lyrical content we felt [was] exciting at the time. So it was quite refreshing for us to write “The Hunter” and it kind of rejuvenated a whole new level of energy within the four of us. We’re really proud of the direction we went and can’t wait for this thing to come out very soon.
Read the entire interview from Banana 101.5 Rocks.