That’s a song about a parrot. They have black tongues. I don’t know if you’re familiar. You know, looking in that fucking mirror all day playing with that bell, it just gets to you. If you could fly and then get someone to put you in a cage, you’re not going to be too happy. It’s a big, bad ass riff. Troy’s put his vocals over the top of it and he just kills it. Bill and I wrote the music for that one. And that’s just a really powerful song. It flows real nice and it just sounds totally evil and I love that. I like evil and darkness. That’s what turns me on. That’s what gets me off, evil and darkness, upside down crosses, skulls
“Curl Of The Burl“:
It’s about meth heads in the woods running around with chainsaws, chopping down trees and trying to sell the burls for more money to get more meth, to get hopped up on meth and run around the forest and repeat that cycle. They get addicted to the meth and then the meth makes them addicted to trying to find the best burls. So I guess it’s about addiction. Brent was kind of messing around on the guitar one day and the tape was rolling and practicing bass with just me and him. I just started playing along…just kind of jamming and that sort of came out of it. I had a riff that was in another song that I took out and put it in with what we were playing and agreed that would sound good in that section. It just developed from there. We recorded it and came up with the chorus on the spot. We all dug it. I really dug it because it was like the kind of beat unlike anything I’ve ever done with Mastodon before. I like to lay into a solid beat like that; more of a Bonham-esque groove oriented thing. That’s one of those things that just sounded cool. It’s going to be a huge hit. I’m pretty sure…I’m going to buy a drum shaped swimming pool with the money that I get from that song. I’m just kidding. I think it was a great song. I love it.
This one is the most fun song to play on the record. It’s like two and a half minutes or something. It’s really fast and reminds me of being a little kid or something. The lyrics are really childish as well. That’s the point of the lyrics: “I wanna drink some fuckin’ blood. I wanna break some fuckin’ glass”; just something that maybe a 12-year-old might write. Even the verses feel like they were born on a playground somewhere. I don’t know. It’s fun. That one I’m excited to play live. All these songs are going to be cool to play live but I think this is more of a live record then the previous one. I hope “Blasteroids” in particular will draw a big response from people who jump around and punch each other in the head and, rip their clothes when we play it.
It’s about having sex in space. I think the main riff developed during the Alice in Chains tour. We would set up amps backstage and those guys would jam. Brent would sit down and just start jamming out. Brent lives to play the guitar. He’s just always jamming. I had my iPhone with the recorder and I’d hear some shit going on over in his direction. He’s just deep in it and I’d come over and start taping. When we got back home I just kind of unloaded all this stuff. I think that chorus riff from that was in the shuffle along with all the riffs we’d collected during the Alice in Chains backstage jamming. The way that one came together was awesome. The chorus was really pretty and then it just… moves. It’s like another groove. But then the whole album just has a lot of groove to it, you know? Crazier, spastic. We’re kind of laying into some grooves. It’s a nice variation from what we have been doing, I think, because that’s kind of like the music that we want to listen to nowadays; stuff that’s more groove oriented. I did that one. You can shake your ass to it.
“Octopus Has No Friends“:
That’s just some wild guitar stuff. Brent came in and said “I can barely play this at the moment.” Suddenly he said, “Wait, and hold on, I got it. I got it.” That just turned out to be such a killer song. Troy came in and put his really triumphant vocals over the top of Brent’s crazy guitar work. It just took off. I really didn’t even see it coming. Troy has a really good ear for where to lay vocals over certain parts. It sounds real triumphant to me. It has this “I’m on my way back home” lyric in it that just means a lot to us. You know, we say that to each other when we’re on our way back home from a really long tour. That song has some sort of deep meaning for us because when we go away for a long time, we miss our home so badly. Like the last week of a six weeklong tour is just like, oh God, you just start to envision yourself in your house and in your bed and, you know, on your toilet.
“All The Heavy Lifting“:
That was the first song that I felt like, yeah, okay, we got something. We’d been messing around with some other stuff and it was really during the first week of writing. For the first couple of days you’re just re-familiarizing yourself by playing stuff that you’re not quite sure yet just how it goes. After you’ve been on tour for a very long time, you’re just so used to playing the songs a certain way. Then when you sit down and start writing, it’s like, well, I don’t know how quite to play this yet – it doesn’t feel right immediately. Things were discombobulated and everyone was just kind of like, “Eh, I don’t know.” And then again, it just came together and sounded so evil and badass. So we thought, “Yeah, that’s cool. Let’s do that.”
Just a beautiful epic. We don’t have any super long songs this time but this one has the same sort familiar feel to some of those longer pieces we done in the past. Again, that’s a lot of Brent’s beautiful guitar work on this one. Brent and Troy sing on it and it sounds awesome. They just did a great job. That’s the title track – it’s a big song so it’s a beauty.
“Dry Bone Valley“:
The main riff on that was something that Troy had from years ago. He taped it on this little Dictaphone that he had been traveling around Europe with during the “Blood Mountain” tours. I think we were in Italy somewhere and Bill & Brent set up amps backstage. I think it was the same day that the riff for the song, “Crack the Skye” was written. Troy came in and was like, “Does anybody remember this riff? Nobody did so Brent relearned it. It was pretty simple. We threw in some other interesting ideas with it. And there you go, “Dry Bone Valley.”
Another one of my favorites on the record. It’s about being a baby in a crib. There’s lots of childish stuff going on in this record. Probably one of my favorite musical moments – the whole first section of it is has lots of really beautiful guitar work. And it just moves in all these places that make it work perfectly and sounds amazing. I is a really bizarre song but super catchy and it works really well. I don’t even understand what that song is but it’s almost two completely different things at once and I love it.
“The Creature Lives“:
Yet another really bizarre song. Doesn’t even really sound like us but it is us.
I came up with this melody on a keyboard at my house. I just came up with this simple little melody. I’d emailed it to the guys and Troy took particular interest in it and kept like pushing me. He said “hey, man, we have to write that song – we have to finish that.” A couple of weeks went by and has written a bass part. He said “I’ve got it, let’s do that.” I was wondering what is was going to turn into – and how we’ve got to figure out what to do with that. I think I was driving somewhere and I could just envision it and imagine people singing along. I’d felt as that I had something to built on. One day in the studio it was just Troy and I and when it’s just a bass player and the drummer, we thought, what the fuck are we going to do?” Troy suggested that we should work on that thing we’d been working on. We ended up working up a demo version of it and for the most part it sounds exactly like what we’d imagined it. It hasn’t really changed at all except for the added guitar parts. We can’t wait to play it live. Probably one of my favorite songs on the whole record and I’m really happy that Troy pushed for it to be completed because I was not like not sure that I’d finish it. I didn’t really know if anyone would like it because it’s not a typical Mastodon song but I think it works.
This will rip your face off. It’s a mover and a shaker – an awesome song. Scott Kelly from Neurosis recorded the vocals for the whole metal section. It’s a kick ass face melter. I can’t wait to play that one live, it’s going to be sick. I really can’t wait to play it live in Scott’s home town so he can come out and sing it with us, you know. We always look forward to that. Eventually, we’ll have enough songs featuring Scott Kelly so that he can just join our band.
Another really weird song with some riff time signature stuff going on in it.
There are these crazy robot vocals on it which make it sound like some kind of science fiction to me. To me, it sounds like if some Cylons decided to start a band, which they probably had a band. They just didn’t show it because they probably weren’t very good. But if they had a band and they were going to write some songs, I think that they would write, “Bedazzled Fingernails.” It sounds like their style of music that they would like to listen to or play.
This was a last minute addition to the record. We went into the studio with X amount of songs and then a couple unfinished stragglers. We hadn’t ever played them together or rehearsed them at all. I might’ve run through it once with Brent but that was it. It was the last day in the studio and we were looking for anything else that we can do drum tracks for. Brent said, “Yeah, let’s try doing that one thing and see what it turns into.” We constructed the bridge for it and it really came together. It’s another one of my favorites. I’m really happy that Brent remembered that song that he had in his back pocket. Really just this one riff and that grew into what it is now and something that we’ve never done before.
That was written during the “Crack the Skye” sessions as well. That one and “Deathbound” were the two from those sessions that were the furthest developed songs that didn’t get used for “Crack the Skye” because they were just too heavy and too fast and crazy. “Crack the Skye” had taken on this whole other vibe so “Deathbound” got trapped in the studio. “The Ruiner” did not so we tracked it for this record. It’s a fast, crazy song. I wrote it on my Dictaphone just kind of humming the riffs. Bill’s got a riff in there as well. It’s just a classic, kind of heavy Mastodon song.