Intervju med Bill Kelliher i Mastodon!
Sista dagen på Metaltown satte jag mig ner i cateringtältet sent på eftermiddagen med Bill för dagens sista intervju. Det blev bl a lite snack om nästa platta, turnerandet och kanske framtida samarbeten med svenska band och en eventuell livedvd från London.
Bill Kelliher: Is it typically rainy here in the summer?
Usually in the beginning of summer it can be really crappy weather. You never know. Swedish weather is pretty unpredictable sometimes.
BK: The rain sure makes the coffee taste better, I know that much. (laughs)
But isn´t Atlanta kinda like this or is it more that it´s really hot?
BK: Atlanta is really hot and humid in the summer. In the winter it´s really rainy and floodish. A lot of water. It´s brutally hot in the summer. You can´t be outside, but there are a lot of lakes and once you get out to a lake you´re fine. I live in the city and there´s pools and stuff, but you basically stay in your house with the AC on. It´s nice. I used to live in New York where it was like this all the time and in the winter it´s snowy.
How much more touring are you gonna do for this album? Are you kinda wrapping things up?
BK: Yeah, we´re kinda wrapping things up. To me it seems like it´s been kind of a fast year. The record came out in September last year and then we did a European tour, a US tour, an Australian tour… what else have we done? We´ve done two US tours. We´ve been touring a lot. I think we´ve been touring since September or October last year and we´ve pretty much only had a month off since then. We were home for Christmas for two weeks.
Are you gonna keep going until Christmas?
BK: We go home in two weeks and then we do two festivals in Canada at the end of July and then we 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. We´ve toured a lot for the record so, you know… for me it´s about time to go home and get some rest and relaxation. Get back in touch with my family and start writing the new record and do it all over again next year I guess.
Does that ever get tiring and repetitive? You do an album then tour and then another album and so on.
BK: Yeah, but that´s the line of work I´m in. I can´t really bitch and complain about it. What else would I rather be doing? I don´t know! I play my guitar every day and I know how to do that. I can do that and I´ve been doing it for a long time and I enjoy doing that. It´s all in how you look at it. If you look at the big picture, there are people that don´t have jobs, there are people that hate their jobs and people that can´t work because they have bad health or what not, so we´re very lucky to be able to do what we´re doing. Do it for so long and still be relevant in this day and age of… just fucking everybody´s in a band! There´s bands everywhere all the time and we´ve created such a good fan base, you know, thank you to all our fans, that we´re able to keep on doing this. We´re able to play festivals and make enough money to let us fly overseas and be here on this lovely day in Gothenburg. (laughs)
Do you already have ideas and riffs for the next album?
BK: Yeah! For me, I´ve spent a lot of time this last year studying my Pro Tools rig and trying to learn how to record stuff. I have it on my laptop and I´ve had it for years and I´m finally really spending time every day on tour… when you´re on the road… for people that don´t tour and they´re just at home wondering what a typical day is like, it´s all about getting to the venue and you sit around for about 15 hours and then you play the gig and then you either go to bed or stay up and party and do it all over again every day, so there´s a lot of time to do nothing, to reflect, to write. For me, I´ve been trying to incorporate that in every day writing. Trying to write a riff a day, record it and that way when I get home, I won´t have to try it to work because I don´t have time when I´m home. When I´m at home I have two kids, two dogs, a wife, three cars, kids to make breakfast for, school to take them to, soccer practice, karate class and they like to go fishing. The kids come first so I can´t just sit in my room and play guitar. My wife would be like “What the hell are you doing? Put the guitar down!” and I´m like “Well, I´m having a creative moment.” And she´d go “Well, have your creative moment later!”. (laughs) When they go to bed, I have my little office set up and I´ll play a little bit at home but usually when I´m at home I don´t wanna… I don´t know. I wanna use my time as best I can. So to answer your question… I´ve had a lot of coffee today. (laughs) I´ve been writing a lot of stuff and if it doesn´t make it onto the record it´s ok. It´s just a riff and I´ll write something else. 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. For “The Hunter”, a lot of those riffs and some of those songs, I always had but they never made it on “Blood mountain” or “Crack the skye”. I´ll say “Hey, this riff fits there!” and there you go. For me it´s the more you write… you just keep writing and writing and then you remember where the thing is and you say “We´ll take this riff and put that in there and see if it´s time for that riff to come out of hiding and show itself.”.
When you write, do you consciously think to come up with stuff that´s different from the previous album.. ?
Or it just comes and it´ll be what it is?
BK: Yeah, pretty much. A lot of times if I get someone else´s guitar or a new guitar in my hands, I just get this vibe and something will just come out of nowhere. 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. Like “I always play in the same pattern. Let me try something different.”. 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. For me when I´m writing, I do have a little meter in my head that´s saying like “You can write something better than that.” Or “You can write something cooler than that.”. When I write my music, I gotta take it to Brann and I gotta take it to Brent and Troy and I have to impress them. I´ve been trying to impress those guys. I´m not thinking “This is the next song. This is how it goes and the kids are gonna love it.”. It´s more like “Hey, what do you think of this riff?” and then, if it catches someone´s interest and they start chiming in and we make my riff kinda morph into something else like “Yeah, I like the idea you´ve got, but I don´t like the notes.”. Brann will say that to me sometimes, like “It doesn´t sound evil enough. Let´s add some minor chords in there or something.” And that´s kinda how the songs come together. There´s really no rhyme or reason. It´s like the riff fairy just kinda sprinkles riff dust on your fingers and you go “Ah cool, that sounds neat!”.
The stuff you did with Feist, will there be more stuff like that? Something that is quite different from what Mastodon is.
BK: I don´t know. I can´t really tell, because that just kinda happened. We played on the Jools Holland show and Feist was one of the guests. We ended up talking backstage and you know how many times we´ve said to other bands “Hey, we should do something together!”? We say it all the time but it never ever comes to fruition, but because Troy had said in the public eye… he said it on camera and in some other interview and they were like “Oh, so what are you gonna do?” and it was like “Fuck, now we have to do it.”. We were only home for like three days and “Now´s the only time you can do this Feist cover.”, so it was like “Alright.”. We learned it our way, went into the studio and recorded it like that. (snaps with fingers) It just happened to work. 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.
Well, you toured with Opeth and it could be a cool thing to do with maybe Mikael in Opeth?
BK: Yeah, I talked to him about it the first few days because I had my Pro Tools with me. 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 fucking Tito Jackson, I don´t care. Whoever wants to play on it. (laughs)
That would be something. Any plans for a DVD from this tour?
BK: We did a Live at Brixton Academy on the last tour when we came to Europe. We´ll probably do a rerelease of “The Hunter” album and include the DVD. It came out really, really well. We´ve cut some live stuff before, but it doesn´t always transfer, you know. It doesn´t always sound that great and maybe it wasn´t your best performance. Every night´s different, but the Live at Brixton Academy in London, I´ve seen some of the footage of it and they really outdid themselves as far as recording it visual and audio. It sounds really good and they mixed it really well, so I think we´ll put that out as a live DVD of “The Hunter” songs, but don´t hold me to that! I don´t know when or why it´s gonna happen. We did do it and some of it is streaming online. It would be time to do another DVD, kinda behind the scenes, but we´re getting old. It gets boring back there. Drinking coffee and doing interviews. (laughs)
Finally. As a guitar player, do you just play a certain brand of guitars? I interviewed Marty Friedman and he plays all kinds of guitars. Usually guitarists stick to Gibson or Fender or whatever.
BK: Well, for me I usually find… comfort wise like holding a guitar and what I´m used to, is Les Paul Custom. It´s pretty much my main guitar. People make guitars for me which is cool, but sometimes they don´t feel right or fit right, because it´s all about being comfortable. You don´t wanna play some crazy looking guitar that´ll stab you in the gut or something. Explorers I play a lot because I like the way they sit, the way they feel and they look cool. I´ve never really played Fenders. Me personally, I always find something good in a Gibson. I´ve got a couple of Yamahas that I play and that I like. There´s a company called First Act that´s made some guitars for us that I like. What else? Shit, that´s really about it. I´m just like a nerdy vintage guy. I really like old Gibsons. There´s something about them. I think it has a lot to do with the esthetics from that time period, like looking at Jimmy Page and Steve Jones from Sex Pistols, who´s a big influence on me. There´s something really sexy about a Les Paul. It´s like a woman and I´m very attracted to those guitars.
They do look good.
BK: Yeah, they´re curvy. I´m just a sucker for a Les Paul. Always have been. I always wanted one when I was a kid, but I could never afford one obviously since it was too expensive. Now I´ve got like 50 of them and I´m loving it. My wife doesn´t understand my love affair, but that´s ok.
Do you collect them?
BK: Yeah, for sure. I´m a big fan of the Silverburst. I really like all their colors. It´s kinda like women, “Yeah, I like all colors.”. Now it´s grown to where it is more of a collection and do have so many Les Pauls like “Well, this one doesn´t go on the road anymore! It´s too nice.”. I have like a ´79 Silverburst that´s in mint condition and I´m not gonna bring it out on the road anymore. It goes in the studio and I´ll play it on the records. It´s the perfect guitar. Someday it will probably be worth a lot of money. It is kind of a collectors thing because I do go on eBay and I´ll see guitars and go “Ah, I gotta have that!”. Do I need it? No. So that´s collecting, right?
Yeah. For sure.
BK: I wanna have it and I wanna own it. I wanna be able to show people and go “Look at this beautiful guitar and I own it!”. It´s like picking out a new dress. Like “How am I gonna look in this new dress tonight?”, except I don´t wear dresses anymore.
Cool. Thank you!