Niclas Müller-Hansen of Sweden’s Metalshrine recently conducted an interview with guitarist Bill Kelliher of Atlanta progressive metallers MASTODON. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Metalshrine: You’ve toured for so long now, are you already planning new stuff, coming up with riffs for the next album?
Heafy: We have nine songs pretty much completely recorded as pre-production, recorded on our bass player’s laptop, and it actually sounds better than our first record. Paolo‘s [Gregoletto] really good at recording shit. It’s all programmed drums, but programmed in a way that Paolo programmed the bass part, like the underlying drum tracks and Nick [Augusto, drums] would sit with him and rewrite them, but on the computer. We tracked guitars, we tracked bass and we’re gonna track vocals soon, we tracked solos and I’ve got an album title, album arts, song names. We’ve got about 15 songs and everything’s planned out. Video ideas, photo shoot ideas, everything. But we just can’t reveal anything.
Metalshrine: Next album then, when it comes to producing, same thing as the last one?
Heafy: We don’t exactly know. We’ve got the plan, but we can’t reveal. It’s also kinda far to tell, but it will be different again. The new stuff sounds amazing and I know every bands says that, but yeah, it’s really great. The fact that we’re all working on it so much already, we know that it’s something really special.
Metalshrine: Right. Do you ever get writer’s block?
Heafy: With TRIVIUM, yeah, yeah. Luckily we’re not on what needs to be considered writing time. We don’t have to write for the new record but since creativity is popping up anyway we figured we’d take advantage of it. Whenever we’re forced to write, I feel like, “Yeah, I can’t write.”, but if I don’t have to write, then I’ll write good stuff.
Metalshrine: Releasing a new album and the music industry being what it is, don’t you ever fell like starting up a label of your own?
Heafy: Our initial contract with Roadrunner is, like, one [album] with a bunch of options, so we’re still bound to them. We’ve always been partners with our label and they’ve always done a great job distributing us and spreading the word of our band. I don’t know where it’s gonna go. Every year that we release a new record, the music industry changes drastically. Every time we release a CD, it seems like the CD buying is 30 percent less. We just had 40 of our friends fired from Roadrunner international and that was a huge drag. I don’t know what the result of it is. I’m sure it’s a domino effect of people not buying music, people not putting value in music anymore, but it’s hard to bring that up because people take a lot of offense of that, but it’s true. Because there is no value in music for some people and they feel like it should be a free commodity, bands are disappearing. People can’t argue that bands aren’t disappearing, that bands aren’t going away because they can’t afford to exist. That’s why we’re so fortunate that we can tour this much. Everything is disposable and instantly accessible and it’s sad that there isn’t value in going to the CD store and waiting for the CD to come out. It’s all about “I need this instantly and if I don’t get if for free, that band’s a dick!” I don’t know when that sense of entitlement came around and I think it’s mainly due to the Internet thing becoming such a huge thing. It’s unfortunate but you have to adapt with the times. I mean, there isn’t really a matter of changing it, but you have to adapt and make it work for you. We’ve learned that cool metal doesn’t sell records, but I think it’s because people weren’t really buying music when we started releasing records and I guess there are 100 times more metal bands than there were back when TESTAMENT and MEGADETH were selling records. I don’t know, but I know that touring and merchandise is the way for us to be able to stay alive, even though people get cuts of that that we do. I don’t know if the kids know, but there are lots and lots of people getting cuts of every single thing that a band does. Their merchandising, their touring, their endorsements… people get cuts of all that.
Metalshrine: I don’t think they see that. They only see all these rappers with the houses and the cars.
Heafy: Exactly! The kids go, “So what’s it like being a millionaire?” and I’m like, “Are you kidding me? I’m trying to make my fucking rent, kid!” [laughs] But what I’ve learned too is that when touring in the U.S., there’s a huge chunk that doesn’t listen to the Internet or that doesn’t download, but listens purely off the radio and still buys CDs, so there are portions of the world that are not connected to the Internet and that’s also weird. There’s no right way and there’s no formula, you just gotta adapt.
Read the entire interview from Metalshrine.