Mastodon‘s latest album, 2017’s Emperor of Sand, was a concept record about dealing with cancer. According to guitarist Bill Kelliher, the band’s next effort won’t be any less heavy.
As Kelliher tells ABC Audio, Mastodon’s upcoming, in-the-works eighth album is driven primarily by “depression” and “loss” in response to the 2018 death of the band’s manager, Nick John.
“There’s a few songs that are dedicated to him specifically,” Kelliher shares. “They’re really sad.”
“It’s all great music to me, a lot of it’s pretty upbeat,” he continues. “It’s just the subject matter comes from our hearts, which are still hurting from the loss of our best friend and manager. We can’t ignore that, it’s all poured in there.”
Pouring grief into their music isn’t something new for Mastodon — 2009’s Crack the Skye is dedicated to drummer Brann Dailor‘s sister, who died by suicide, and 2011’s The Hunter is named after guitarist Brent Hinds‘ brother, who was killed in a hunting accident.
As Mastodon continues to filter their emotions through their records, Kelliher feels he and his band mates owe it to their fans to be as honest and open as possible.
“Our fan base and audience, they kind of expect an album like that,” Kelliher says. “That’s kind of like medicine, like a coping mechanism…just a way to escape the daily grind of f***ing bad news.”
“I feel like they need it, they’re craving it,” he adds. “They’re like, ‘Man, I need a new outlet to cry on and something to get me through this period.’ I know Emperor of Sand was definitely one of those records for a lot of people, and it really meant a lot.”
By Josh Johnson
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