'Screaming and Yelling Is Thing of the Past' for Mastodon, Bill Kelliher Explains

"It gets harder as you get older to keep screaming about s--t, you know?" the guitarist says.

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Mastodon guitarist Bill Kelliher discussed the approach that the band intends to take in the future, dubbing screaming and yelling a "thing of the past."

Noting that the guys have become much more professional when it comes to vocal practice, Bill told Loudwire:

"I think us screaming and yelling is kind of a thing of the past. But also, our music back then lends itself to more of that style of screaming because the music was really in that direction. We just kind of wrote in any old fashion, just kind of let it fly, let the s--t fly. We didn't really know how to write songs, we just kind of threw riffs together and screamed over it and people liked it.

"I guess we just kind of matured and maybe we lost some fans who liked that about us, but we can't continue to write like that on purpose," the guitarist continued. "Every record to me is a snapshot of the frame of mind our band was in, who we were as people when we wrote those riffs."

Further explaining the lack of screaming, Kelliher brought up a few classic rock role models, saying, "I think it gets harder and harder as you get older to keep screaming and screaming and screaming about s--t, you know? I think the songs we write are getting a little more rock, a little bit of rock going on and little more thought behind the groove.

"We're constantly evolving and are more about the groove and feel rather than just playing as fast as we can or sounding as complicated as possible. Let's put more of our effort into writing a song that feels like something Zeppelin would do, AC/DC or Black Sabbath. They didn't play as fast or as slow as they could, they just made songs. I think we’re slowly gravitating towards that in an organic fashion," he concluded.

New Mastodon studio album "Once More Round the Sun" is set for June release via Warner Bros. The record was recently announced with "High Road" single.

65 comments sorted by best / new / date

    A decent haircut is also a thing of the past
    Skrillex and his burn-victim grunger hair-style ruined it for us all
    You forget...metalheads have always had interesting haircuts. Skrillex just stole that shit from better men.
    Playing your music decently live is also a thing of the past by Mastodon standards. but I guess they have never played well so...Reminds me of Dragonforce. Edit: Sorry but everyone who down votes me has never seen them live. They suck go and see them don't be a fanboy. And learn to play.
    saw them live in February at soundwave and they were pretty phenomenal, enough so to make a buddy of mine who had never even heard about them until that day become an avid fan of them.
    Their vocal performance has been lacking heaps in the past, they're way on top of it now. Instrumentally they've always been amazing. Saw them at Soundwave + sideshow in Feb, Bill's economy of movement was mindblowing. Fantastic player.
    While the heavier stuff will definitely be missed, what he says makes sense. Just look at the band Clutch. Their first two albums had yelled vocals, and now they almost have a classic rock sound (still amazing though). Mastodon seems to be headed down the same path.
    Thank god someone mentioned some Clutch! You're correct, too. As a musician, you grow and learn. Its hard for some fans to really grow with the bands as well. If not, you've become stagnant and stale.
    I'll keep growing with Mastodon. Still love Leviathan and Blood Mountain by Crack the Skye is as of now my favorite Mastodon album and I loved The Hunter too. Really excited to hear how this new album turned out. High Road wasn't quite what I expected but it has grown on me.
    Baroness too have been toning down the heavy riffs and shouted vocals. I remember reading that Baizley said it was hard to get as pissed as he used to, or at least in the same way. he aggression's still there just channeled differently. Gotta remember these are a bunch of 40 year old dudes with wives and families, not the same pissed off 20 year olds that started the band.
    Clutch has been one of my all time favorite bands since I heard them on Viva La Bam after they released their Blast Tyrant album. I've really loved their change in sound, they're bluesy still with a tinge of weirdness (mainly in Neil's lyrics). Clutch is awesome, as is Mastodon. And if they're doing what they want to do, then everyone who calls themselves a fan of the band should support them.
    None of you have seen clutch live then. Sorry, but they suck. Massively. Nickleback with less niche appeal. Good day.
    I HAVE seen clutch live and they kicked major ass! One of the best shows I've seen. You are obviously a troll, fool, jackass, take your pick.
    Iced Earth9
    I definitely want them to continue on the tracks of Crack the Skye and The Hunter, so this is good news!
    Isn't this what every musician wants? Think of yourself. If you have been playing for many years, your has probably evolved a lot. Yeah there will be hints of where your influences started but with all the experiences you bring new things into your music constantly. Bands are no different.
    I'm an elitist, ignorant bastard, but I don't care; I prefer them singing with power and rage, I don't want, as bill puts it, "rock", I want progressive sludge about Mother-Punching and Moby Dick. He mentions being like LZ or Sabbath, and they're the kings of a genre, but is it wrong to want Mastodon to leave that in the 70's and be more like, well...Mastodon?
    But really, if you look into the past of Mastodon - different albums could be attributed to different (sub)genres, but if someone puts mastodon on, you can recognise it straight away - their style is just very distinctive. So even if they do "rock" from now on, I can bet you my today's lunch that it'll still sound like Mastodon. And my today's lunch is a big deal, you know, so that's a hefty wager right there.
    I'll second my lunch with dpol. Mastodon isn't the sludge rockers of yore. They did that and left us with Mother Puncher through Blood Mountain. Now they're tracking some prog rock and it solunds good. though High Road didn't really do it for me, I'll still check out the album. Not one alb um disappointed me yet, so here's to hoping.
    I think it'd be wrong for them to not do shit like they want, and instead they cater to anonymous people who they can't relate to.
    Second Rate
    The problem with these bands that try to write songs that "feel like something Zeppelin would do, or AC/DC or Black Sabbath" is that that sound is so rooted in the time period of the 1970s that when modern bands do it, it sounds corny and stupid. I completely agree that it is a sound that should be left in the 70s. Of course, I find that to be true when any band begins attempting to write "Songs in the style of X" (where X is whatever retro band they have chosen to worship for the next five minutes). If Mastodon wanna hop on the retro rock bandwagon, more power to 'em. That just leaves me with 20 extra dollars in my pocket.
    I just want Mastodon to make music that is genuine and true to themselves. I may or may not enjoy the music as much as I have liked previous albums, but that's okay. They aren't playing for me, nor would I want them to. I feel like bands that try and make albums for the fans just sound like garbage-- Korn comes to mind. Anyway, I think the album will be pretty good and that single that was released reminded me of some work on the Jonah Hex EP.
    Mastodon creates art, and just like any art form it progresses and moves in different directions. That's what makes art so special. Eventually you find a comfort zone and continue to build upon that. If fans can't get out of their comfort zone that's their problem. It's their art. Not yours.
    I can understand their desire to change course vocally and go in a more melodic direction, and I would support it, IF they were good singers. Crack the Skye was an amazing album and the vocals sounded pretty damn good and then when you see them play te same tunes live it's painfully obvious that they don't have professional level vocals to hit the notes they've written on a consistent basis. Then a screaming part comes up and Troy Sanders does his trademark pirate wail and it's like "oh man, THAT'S what you're good at"! If they want to continue in this direction they need serious vocal study or a new singer or something because the chorus of High Road is sounding pretty strained and flat, I can only imagine how bad it will be live...
    Head of nail, meet hammer. I was actually embarrassed for them when they went on Letterman and butchered the vocals on Oblivion.
    It's not about vocal training, they should take on the vaporizer full time, and lay off the zig zags.
    I'll get some massive shitstorming for this, but I find it quite strange that when bands like Avenged Sevenfold state that they are gravitating towards classic rock/metal vibes, and away from more complicated music, they are being slammed, while for Mastodon it's considered "growing up". I know what most of you will say, "Mastodon is good, A7X is bad, blabla...", don't get me wrong, I'm a huge Mastodon fan, but I'm afraid they're getting less inspired than during their Crack the Skye era.
    While I do agree with your point, well made as it is, I can see why this has happened. I guess the problem is that A7X haven't really been known for creativity, which led to their last album being ripped apart with people noticing the obvious ripoffs. Mastodon, on the other hand, a little more self explanatory.
    I completely agree. However, I believe A7X were getting hate quite some time before the album came out. But I'm sure Mastodon playing some classic metal stuff will still be much more inventive than anything from Hail to the King (and I like A7X as well).
    I'm not talking about their screaming vocals tho, I surely don't mind more clean singing.
    I came a little late to the party with Mastodon, having only become aware of them with the "Crack the Skye" album (which is a masterpiece in my opinion), but I would say I welcome this news and look forward to the upcoming record!
    Screaming over heavy riffs does get old. Lots of heavier bands are able to reinvent themselves by putting more thought and effort behind their vocals. I love their earlier material and I'm looking forward to the new album.
    Honestly, I have no problem with bands changing, and I always thought that Mastodon weren't selling out, but only appealing to different influences they always had, but this interview was disappointing. They shouldn't necessarily maintain a level of heaviness to please anyone other than themselves, but this interview makes it sound like they were forcing the heaviness and writing weaker songs as a result, and that's just a lame sentiment. When metal bands get 'tired' of playing metal, how often do you see them actually try something different? How often do those bands just structure their songs more in the rock vein, sand out anything remotely dissonant or weird, and play diatonically safe music? If they're satisfied, good on them, but I hate that perspective. As much as they try to be a dynamic band, ever changing, there are a million rock/prog bands I would put on before them. They are a riff driven band, and I flat out liked their riffs better before.
    "Screaming and Yelling Is Thing of the Past"
    as I grow older.. seem to re-appreciate the more Sabbathy type bands that got me into metal in the first place. So I am personally happy with their evolution.
    Mastodon are too mainstream. Go listen to br00tal tombkill ya posers.
    Can't say I was a huge fan of the screaming vocal stuff but I didn't mind it. Anyway, evolution is a great thing but cockiness and losing sight aren't. This idea of "we're growing up" is abit retarded in my opinion. Good music is still good music regardless of the band's maturity or whatever.
    JD Close
    I don't see at all how that's cockiness. Everybody grows as a person - why shouldn't their art? As they understand the world and their craft better, they have a better idea of what they are doing.
    In hind sight I think I may have rushed that comment abit. Just to clarify I wasn't accusing them of cockiness or losing sight. I was just talking in general about how bands may dismiss certain musical elements they've used because they've "matured". Its not always a bad thing but I think that attitude can be abit cocky because sometimes those elements may aid the music. Anyway I liked the new song and I'm still excited for the new release.
    In hind sight I think I may have rushed that comment abit. Just to clarify I wasn't accusing them of cockiness or losing sight. I was just talking in general about how bands may dismiss certain musical elements they've used because they've "matured". Its not always a bad thing but I think that attitude can be abit cocky because sometimes those elements may aid the music. Anyway I liked the new song and I'm still excited for the new release.
    never got what the big appeal is with these guys. they are nothing special. i have tried numerous times to "get into them" even saw them at mayhem years back and i was bored as hell with their set.
    Making the "Black Album" Metallica push, and failing, thank god. What a waste of a (somewhat) interesting band.
    Mastodon says they're too old to scream and yell now and everyone is okay with it. Metallica said they wouldn't write "Master of Puppets 2" like 20 years ago and since then everyone has been mad at them. People are hypocrites.
    Lol so many things wrong with this post.
    Second Rate
    People like GenerationKILL don't take the time to do a little research into this topic. If they did, they would realize that people are simply turning Metallica's own rhetoric back on them. The only hypocrites in the Metallica "sell out" discussion are named James, Lars, and Kirk.
    I feel like those are the same bands avenged sevenfold namedropped before they put out their peice of crap last album.
    Why is it the more I hear the members talk about this album the more scared I get. Reminds me of Avenged Sevenfold going 'mainstream'