Mastodon’s Troy Sanders Talks New Album ‘Once More ‘Round the Sun’ + More
Mastodon‘s Troy Sanders was the guest on Full Metal Jackie’s show this past weekend. The singer-bassist discussed the band’s upcoming album ‘Once More ‘Round the Sun’ and more. If you missed Jackie’s show, check out the full interview below:
Full Metal Jackie bringing you two full hours of metal each and every week. On the show with this week, we’ve got Troy Sanders from Mastodon. How are you, sir?
I’m wonderful, thank you for asking. I had my ears cleaned today, so I can hear quite well.
So you can hear me, that’s good.
Yes, I visit an audiologist every three months to have impacted wax removed from my ear canals, and it is quite painful but I am feeling much relief. It is like living with a giant peanut M&M or a foam ear plug shoved in your ear at all times.
That sounds terrible.
So I would like to tell everyone out there, please don’t ever use Q-tips to clean the inner canal of your ears. Q-tips are made to clean the outer ear, okay? Trust me, I’m doing you a favor by telling you that.
So, Mastodon have a new album called ‘Once More ‘Round the Sun.’ It’s coming out June 24. Troy, ‘The Hunter’ charted Top 10 on Billboard and got high year-end praise from some pretty major media outlets. What aspects of that album and the way it was received became a starting point for ‘Once More ‘Round the Sun’?
Well, that’s a very good question. I see them as two different pieces separated by a two-year gap, by traveling and touring on it so much. I’ve been asked, “Does this new record take off where ‘The Hunter’ left us?” I think to a degree, yes, because we basically wrote ‘The Hunter,’ recorded it, and toured on it for about two years. Then about a year ago from today, around March of 2013, we reconvened in our practice space in Atlanta, Georgia, and started the writing process all over again. So those riffs and the lyrical content are kind of reflecting what had happened since the last time we wrote a record. I don’t really know how to say what this new record is, except that it is a very honest and authentic representation of what has happened to us over the past two years. It was created right from the heart and soul, through the fingers, through the guitars and onto tape.
Mastodon get categorized under so many subgenres of metal. Do these create any preconceptions about direction whenever the band starts working on a new album?
No, not at all. To a large degree, we don’t consider ourselves a metal band. We recognize there is a lot of metal in us, but we also want to believe we have a lot of rock ‘n’ roll in us, and we have a lot of progressive rock in us, we have bits and pieces of thrash and punk, and psychedelic-ness sprinkled throughout. A lot of times for me personally, just having the metal tag itself seems kind of limiting on us because we have such an appreciation for all styles of music and we like to incorporate bits and pieces of those in to our songs. But we also recognize all the different sub-genres and the millions of times people say, “Oh, what do they sound like?” and you say something, I understand that. But, it doesn’t affect how we create anything at all.
One of the things I’m most proud of my dudes for is that we never really speak when it comes to anything being preconceived. We don’t go in to a session saying, “Hey, we should really strip down and write some short, sweet songs for this album. Something that might get some radio airplay” or, we never speak of things like, “Hey guys, we really need to write some really long, epic songs like ‘Crack the Skye’” or things like that. We don’t speak of that either. We just let what we are feeling and whoever has an idea, let it go through their bodies and souls and let it come out their instruments, and if the rest of the band in the practice space can latch on to a certain idea or a certain riff, then we just build on that idea. We just build on it until it grows in to a song all its own. So we don’t really care about any type of sub-genre or how we should sound or if a certain song is starting to not sound like Mastodon, none of that comes in to play in our heads ever, because we are the four dudes creating it, and if it is something that we like we are going to go for it.
Some albums have been lyrically thematic, some not so much. Is there any dominant theme throughout this new record, and what prompted it or prevented it in the case of not being any theme at all?
We kind of dove in to the most recent things, everything that has transpired over the past two years. We didn’t dig back any further, and we didn’t go into any futuristic type dreamscapes, lyrically. We basically took our thoughts, ideas, and experiences since we wrote ‘The Hunter’ and dove in headfirst with various themes. It is quite in the color of darkness, but we really tend to pull from things negative and hopefully channel them through the art that we call Mastodon, and have it become a positive that will be recorded on tape and live forever.
So I enjoy the fact that when we do create lyrics, as a band, we’re able to be very personal with ourselves and one another. However, properly masking it with metaphors and having it sound interesting with only the four of us in the band knowing exactly what we’re speaking of. That seems to work well for us. That’s how this record came about lyrically.
Listening from a perspective of a fan yourself, what do you think people will like mostly when they hear ‘Once More ‘Round the Sun’?
I’m hoping that they will give it a listen and walk away with the same feeling I’ve always felt, if you give our band a chance. I hope something will touch you. I’m hoping you will immerse yourselves in the music while reading the lyrics. Ingesting this as one full piece, I think you’ll find something positive about it. Whether you like it a little bit or if you’re a big fan of our band, or anywhere inbetween. Give it a proper listen and let it hopefully touch you and inspire you in some sort of way. Let it take you on a mental journey and feel free to close your eyes and come with us.
I read that the band recorded another half hour of music that won’t be part of the finished album. How did it serve the making of the album to record so much extra music and what will happen to those unused tracks?
This is the first time we’ve had more material than we knew that would make the record going into the studio, but that’s a good problem. We had all these songs we had been working on that we all liked and loved. We went into the Rock Falcon Studios in Franklin, Tennessee, and we recorded about 15 songs. Listening back, we found a proper ebb and flow that we felt would make a solid album. It’s right around the one hour mark, which we think is a healthy dose of music.
With the songs that were “left over,” we do not view them as B sides. We do not view them as throw away songs, we’re in love with those songs just as any songs that made the record. So they will see the light of day, properly. Hopefully sooner than later. I don’t know what’s going to happen, will we do a winter EP release? Possibly. Halloween? Maybe. Record another half hour of much while we’re on tour this summer? And have another full length album to record and release next year? I hope so. So something good will happen to all of this material, just don’t know what yet.
Looking forward to hearing what is next. We’re excited about this new record ‘Once More ‘Round the Sun’ coming out on June 24. Troy thank you so much for taking the time.
Thank you, you’re awesome. I like you.
Pre-order Mastodon’s upcoming album ‘Once More ‘Round the Sun’ at iTunes. Full Metal Jackie can be heard on radio stations around the country — for a full list of stations, go to fullmetaljackieradio.com.
Listen to Mastodon’s ‘High Road’