Mastodon's Bill Kelliher Tells How New Song 'High Road' Means The Most To Him

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  • Mastodon's Bill Kelliher Tells How New Song 'High Road' Means The Most To Him
    POSTED 19 Feb 2014


    Mastodon, Gojira & Kvelertak are about to embark on a US tour and they had a chat with Artist Direct before that kicked off. They covered how they each band approaches their own tours, the songs that mean the most to them and how they all originally bonded at Soundwave! Read below!

    What’s the first metal show you each attended? Where did it start for you?

    Bill Kelliher:My first concert I ever went to wasAerosmithin like 1985. To me, that was metal back then. It wasn’t exactly the metal we know of today, but it was pretty heavy for me then. The first real metal show was probably seeingMetallicaon theAnd Justice For Alltour. That was pretty amazing. Being a teenager and seeing my idols on stageJames HetfieldandKirk Hammettwas awesome. I had been playing guitar for only a few years, and I saw the whole giant production of “Lady Liberty” with the scales. They had the whole theme going on fromAnd Justice For All, and it was in the height of that record. It just sounded amazing. I was in college at the time, and it made me feel like, “I’m wasting my time here. I should be on stage like that doing what they’re doing!” Now, twenty years later, it’s happening.

    Joe Duplantier:That’s fucking great.

    Erlend Hjelvik:That’s awesome. I wish I could’ve been at that show.

    Joe Duplantier:Me too! I’m so jealous. I saw them for the first time on theLoadorRe-Loadtour. I have a video of theAnd Justice For Alltour. I believe it’s from 1988. It’s amazing.

    Erlend Hjelvik:I think the first metal show I went to was Satyricon, but I come from a small village and there were never any shows. That’s the first one I traveled out of town to go to when I was 17-years-old. I was too eager. I remember I got super drunk, and I got kicked out after two songs. It was kind of a bummer.

    Bill Kelliher:[Laughs] That’s great.

    Erlend Hjelvik:At least I got to see two songs.

    Joe Duplantier:That’s a cool story too! My first metal show was a brutal death metal band from Bordeaux, France. Where I grew up there was no scene at all. All of the major tours would never go to this corner of France. So, it took me a long time to see a real professional metal band. I remember this band from Bordeaux. They were from the underground scene, and they were called Disabled. I remember being like, “Whoa! This is what I’m going to do!” It was so dark and powerful. If I were to see it now, I’d probably think it was very sloppy and funny. At the time, I was really impressed so I remember the show. They were your typical death metal band with long hair and fucked up Cannibal Corpse t-shirts. There were like ten people in the club. I loved it! I talked to the guys, and they traveled like three hours to come to the show from their hometown. They were paid like two-hundred bucks, but it was a big deal for them. So, this career wasn’t very promising money-wise, but that was it.

    How do you approach each tour? How do you make it exciting?

    Bill Kelliher:You’ve got to keep it interesting. People like to go out and see a concert and know what to expect. Like if I go to seeSlayer, I know it’s going to be a great show. Slayer’s pretty stripped-down. They have some visuals. Fans like little elements of surprise"What are they going to do this time?“ Usually for a new record cycle, you think, "Okay, let’s do somethingnewor interesting!” We’re not the most active band on stage. We don’t really have a frontman. Everybody kind of sings. We have a lot of complicated things to play so we’re not really jumping around likeDavid Lee Rothup there. I like seeing a cool backdrop. Or, there was theCrack the Skyething with the big video screens. To us, that was the best way to represent that album, telling a story. It also depends on your budget for that tour. You ask, “Can we afford to do this?” People forget that all of these things cost money whether it’s setting up that screen or putting on pyrotechnics. It’s all part of the show. As the band grows and gets bigger, obviously we want to put on the best show we can afford to in the right way. We haven’t thought of anything too crazy yet for this upcoming tour, but I think we had better get on our game with it. Maybe we get a big screen and all of the bands share it? That’s the best way to do things nowadays instead of each band having its own circus behind them, so to speak. When we did thatDethkloktour, we both shared the screen. It’s two totally different bands with different videos and concepts playing, but it’s something to think about for this tour.

    Joe Duplantier:It’s true that it depends on the budget a lot. If you’re willing to work with your own hands on the production, you can make something happen. For example, I built this head we had on stage with a couple of guys from the crew. We spent a week working on this ourselves because we couldn’t afford to have one built by someone else. It’s very tight for us. There’s not a lot of money out there. We have a lot of ideas like a giant screen and fireworks [Laughs]. In terms of keeping it exciting, it’s true that it’s difficult to be excited sometimes when you’re on tour. When you do something over and over every day, after a while, it gets old. There’s still always this excitement. Sometimes, I come home from tour, and I’m super tired and exhausted. I think, “Finally, I’m home!” Then, after three days, I sort of miss it already! We all have that in our blood. People feel it when we’re on stage. The way we communicate our excitement is in the music itself.

    Erlend Hjelvik:The lineup is important for keeping it interesting. The whole package makes a tour different. On this tour we’re doing in Norway, we actually have a standup comedian with us. That’s one of the things that makes this tour really interesting for me. Having that guy with us is unique. It’s been working out really well. The whole package is important. People notice the difference.

    Bill Kelliher:I think you should bring the Norwegian comic to the U.S. and have him tell jokes in Norwegian [Laughs]. That’d be pretty exciting!

    What song that you’ve written means the most to you up to this point?

    Bill Kelliher:I don’t know. I’d have to say it’s something off of our new album. There’s a song called “High Road”. I wrote the music. The lyrics were written by Brann Dailor. I think it’s going to be a single. It was a riff I wrote in my sober time. I was feeling really good about it. I actually wrote it on a James Hetfield model ESP. It’s the “Snake Bite” guitar. I was sitting in my hotel room in Luxembourg because we had a couple of days off there. It’s a very simple, easy, and heavy riff. I didn’t think it would catch on with anybody else, but Brann was like, “I hear some really cool vocals there!” It just blossomed into this huge six-minute song with cool leads. They’re not solos, but leads in the middle of the song I put together my song. It’s something I worked really hard on. It’s new and fresh. I’m excited for it to come out and have other people hear it and let me know what they think.

    Joe Duplantier:For me, I’d say it’s a song called “Pain Is A Master” from our latest albumL’ Enfant Sauvage. I like the song and the lyrics. The meaning is that if you don’t have someone to show you the way in difficult times, pain itself will show you the way. In order to survive, we do things in difficult times when we suffer or feel lost. We understand things because it is hard. We fight to survive. “Surviving” is a big word.

    Erlend Hjelvik:It’s probably “Kvelertak” on the new album. When I first heard the riffs, I thought, “Can we do this?” It'sAC/DC-esque. It’s really different from the other tracks we’ve done. We almost didn’t put it on the album. We recorded it, and now it’s one of my favorites. It’s been a big hit here in Norway. We always close the show with that song. It’s a band anthem.

    Read more at Artist Direct

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Mastodon, Gojira & Kvelertak are about to embark on a US tour and they had a chat with Artist Direct before that kicked off. They covered how they each band approaches their own tours, the songs that mean the most to them and how they all originally bonded at Soundwave! Read below!

What’s the first metal show you each attended? Where did it start for you?

Bill Kelliher:My first concert I ever went to wasAerosmithin like 1985. To me, that was metal back then. It wasn’t exactly the metal we know of today, but it was pretty heavy for me then. The first real metal show was probably seeingMetallicaon theAnd Justice For Alltour. That was pretty amazing. Being a teenager and seeing my idols on stageJames HetfieldandKirk Hammettwas awesome. I had been playing guitar for only a few years, and I saw the whole giant production of “Lady Liberty” with the scales. They had the whole theme going on fromAnd Justice For All, and it was in the height of that record. It just sounded amazing. I was in college at the time, and it made me feel like, “I’m wasting my time here. I should be on stage like that doing what they’re doing!” Now, twenty years later, it’s happening.

Joe Duplantier:That’s fucking great.

Erlend Hjelvik:That’s awesome. I wish I could’ve been at that show.

Joe Duplantier:Me too! I’m so jealous. I saw them for the first time on theLoadorRe-Loadtour. I have a video of theAnd Justice For Alltour. I believe it’s from 1988. It’s amazing.

Erlend Hjelvik:I think the first metal show I went to was Satyricon, but I come from a small village and there were never any shows. That’s the first one I traveled out of town to go to when I was 17-years-old. I was too eager. I remember I got super drunk, and I got kicked out after two songs. It was kind of a bummer.

Bill Kelliher:[Laughs] That’s great.

Erlend Hjelvik:At least I got to see two songs.

Joe Duplantier:That’s a cool story too! My first metal show was a brutal death metal band from Bordeaux, France. Where I grew up there was no scene at all. All of the major tours would never go to this corner of France. So, it took me a long time to see a real professional metal band. I remember this band from Bordeaux. They were from the underground scene, and they were called Disabled. I remember being like, “Whoa! This is what I’m going to do!” It was so dark and powerful. If I were to see it now, I’d probably think it was very sloppy and funny. At the time, I was really impressed so I remember the show. They were your typical death metal band with long hair and fucked up Cannibal Corpse t-shirts. There were like ten people in the club. I loved it! I talked to the guys, and they traveled like three hours to come to the show from their hometown. They were paid like two-hundred bucks, but it was a big deal for them. So, this career wasn’t very promising money-wise, but that was it.

How do you approach each tour? How do you make it exciting?

Bill Kelliher:You’ve got to keep it interesting. People like to go out and see a concert and know what to expect. Like if I go to seeSlayer, I know it’s going to be a great show. Slayer’s pretty stripped-down. They have some visuals. Fans like little elements of surprise"What are they going to do this time?“ Usually for a new record cycle, you think, "Okay, let’s do somethingnewor interesting!” We’re not the most active band on stage. We don’t really have a frontman. Everybody kind of sings. We have a lot of complicated things to play so we’re not really jumping around likeDavid Lee Rothup there. I like seeing a cool backdrop. Or, there was theCrack the Skyething with the big video screens. To us, that was the best way to represent that album, telling a story. It also depends on your budget for that tour. You ask, “Can we afford to do this?” People forget that all of these things cost money whether it’s setting up that screen or putting on pyrotechnics. It’s all part of the show. As the band grows and gets bigger, obviously we want to put on the best show we can afford to in the right way. We haven’t thought of anything too crazy yet for this upcoming tour, but I think we had better get on our game with it. Maybe we get a big screen and all of the bands share it? That’s the best way to do things nowadays instead of each band having its own circus behind them, so to speak. When we did thatDethkloktour, we both shared the screen. It’s two totally different bands with different videos and concepts playing, but it’s something to think about for this tour.

Joe Duplantier:It’s true that it depends on the budget a lot. If you’re willing to work with your own hands on the production, you can make something happen. For example, I built this head we had on stage with a couple of guys from the crew. We spent a week working on this ourselves because we couldn’t afford to have one built by someone else. It’s very tight for us. There’s not a lot of money out there. We have a lot of ideas like a giant screen and fireworks [Laughs]. In terms of keeping it exciting, it’s true that it’s difficult to be excited sometimes when you’re on tour. When you do something over and over every day, after a while, it gets old. There’s still always this excitement. Sometimes, I come home from tour, and I’m super tired and exhausted. I think, “Finally, I’m home!” Then, after three days, I sort of miss it already! We all have that in our blood. People feel it when we’re on stage. The way we communicate our excitement is in the music itself.

Erlend Hjelvik:The lineup is important for keeping it interesting. The whole package makes a tour different. On this tour we’re doing in Norway, we actually have a standup comedian with us. That’s one of the things that makes this tour really interesting for me. Having that guy with us is unique. It’s been working out really well. The whole package is important. People notice the difference.

Bill Kelliher:I think you should bring the Norwegian comic to the U.S. and have him tell jokes in Norwegian [Laughs]. That’d be pretty exciting!

What song that you’ve written means the most to you up to this point?

Bill Kelliher:I don’t know. I’d have to say it’s something off of our new album. There’s a song called “High Road”. I wrote the music. The lyrics were written by Brann Dailor. I think it’s going to be a single. It was a riff I wrote in my sober time. I was feeling really good about it. I actually wrote it on a James Hetfield model ESP. It’s the “Snake Bite” guitar. I was sitting in my hotel room in Luxembourg because we had a couple of days off there. It’s a very simple, easy, and heavy riff. I didn’t think it would catch on with anybody else, but Brann was like, “I hear some really cool vocals there!” It just blossomed into this huge six-minute song with cool leads. They’re not solos, but leads in the middle of the song I put together my song. It’s something I worked really hard on. It’s new and fresh. I’m excited for it to come out and have other people hear it and let me know what they think.

Joe Duplantier:For me, I’d say it’s a song called “Pain Is A Master” from our latest albumL’ Enfant Sauvage. I like the song and the lyrics. The meaning is that if you don’t have someone to show you the way in difficult times, pain itself will show you the way. In order to survive, we do things in difficult times when we suffer or feel lost. We understand things because it is hard. We fight to survive. “Surviving” is a big word.

Erlend Hjelvik:It’s probably “Kvelertak” on the new album. When I first heard the riffs, I thought, “Can we do this?” It'sAC/DC-esque. It’s really different from the other tracks we’ve done. We almost didn’t put it on the album. We recorded it, and now it’s one of my favorites. It’s been a big hit here in Norway. We always close the show with that song. It’s a band anthem.

Read more at Artist Direct

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