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White whale, holy grail: Mastodon's Bill Kelliher reflects on legacy of "our 'Ace of Spades,'" "Blood and Thunder"

Credit: Jimmy Hubbard

This year marks Mastodon‘s 20th anniversary as a band, and in those two decades, no song has quite endured like “Blood and Thunder.”

The track, which opens Mastodon’s 2004 Moby-Dick-inspired opus, Leviathan, has become the group’s most popular song over these last 20 years, as well as their standard set closer.

“When we wrote it, I just was, like, ‘Ah, it’s just another Mastodon song,'” guitarist Bill Kelliher tells ABC Audio. “It’s a fairly simple song, it’s only a couple notes. And I was like, ‘This song’s cool, it rocks, whatever.'”

Once “Blood and Thunder” made its live debut, though, it was clear it had made a connection with the audience.

“After we started playing it live, it just seemed like that’s our ‘Ace of Spades,'” Kelliher says, referring to the Motörhead classic. “That’s our hit, I guess, that people just go crazy over.”

He adds, “I’d like to think that all our songs were hits, but that one, for some reason, really gets the crowd going crazy.”

It’s that crowd reaction, Kelliher explains, that keeps him excited to play “Blood and Thunder” after all these years.

“Playing it is whatever, it’s very simple on the guitar,” Kelliher says. “But…the reaction that we get is what gets me off.”

“Makes me wanna play it more,” he adds.

A live version of “Blood and Thunder” is included on Mastodon’s new Medium Rarities compilation, which is out now.

By Josh Johnson
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