Mastodon guitarist Bill Kelliher recently sat down with Metal Shrine to talk about when the band plan on wrapping up their current tour cycle to start writing a new record. A couple of excerpts from the chat can be found below.
Kelliher said that although Mastodon are assessing their options, it appears that their global trek in support of their latest album ‘The Hunter’ is drawing to a close. “We go home in two weeks and then we do two festivals in Canada at the end of July and then we do Reading and Leeds and that’s all we’ve got planned. We might go to South America with Slayer, but we’re not sure yet. That’s really all we have planned right now. It’s pretty much winding down.”
Kelliher revealed that he had already started writing material for the follow-up to ‘The Hunter.’ “I’ve been writing a lot of stuff and if it doesn’t make it onto the record it’s okay. It’s just a riff and I´ll write something else.”
For Kelliher, music writing is something that comes in bursts of inspiration and cannot be forced. “I don’t really control it. I’ll just start strumming. You know, I kinda look at my fingers and I try to put them in different positions then I normally would. I don’t know why. I guess I’m trying to make new stuff up.”
He added that after taking some well-earned time off, Mastodon would be hitting the studio to put together what he and the other members of the band had come up with. “What we usually do in Mastodon is that all of us write independently and when it’s time to go, ‘Hey, let’s get down to practice space! We need to write some new stuff. What have you got?’ Brent will come out, ‘Well. I’ve got this riff.’ And I´ll pull out some riffs. Sometimes it might be a riff that I wrote five years ago and it just didn’t make it on any record.”
While Mastodon may enter the studio with material prepared, they don’t go in with a direction or concept in mind. “Consciously, no. We don’t say it like, ‘On the next record we have to take a 45 degree turn!’ We don’t really think like that. It’s just the way that it comes out I guess…There’s really no rhyme or reason.”
Kelliher added that Mastodon are interested in collaborating with other artists for the album. “For the future, we’d love to work with other people if anybody wants to work with us. It’s so easy these days if you want someone to play a riff on something, you just send them a file. It’s all stuff that can be easily done.”
He revealed that he had already spoken with Opeth’s Mikael Åkerfeldt and Björn Gelotte from In Flames about the possibility of working together. “What I was kinda thinking was that I’d play a riff and then just kinda pass the computer and the guitar around and have people play different ideas, but man it´s a lot harder than I anticipated. Whenever I was writing I wanted it to sound really cool and it was like “Nah, that’s not good enough;” and I wanted it to be like, ‘Here Mikael, play to that!’ and he’d be like, ‘I don’t like that, that’s weird.’ Even if it’s just for fun, I was gonna edit it and mix it all together and get a real drummer and stuff like that. I also talked to Björn Gelotte from In Flames about doing that. Some day it’ll happen. I just kinda planted the seed and maybe when I get home and I´m actually in one place for more than a day, I can say, ‘Ok, cool. Here’s the riff. I’m happy with it,’ mail it to Björn and mail it to Mikael and mail it to f***ing Tito Jackson; I don’t care. Whoever wants to play on it. (laughs)”