Skinny – drums
J Mann – vocals
Jeffery Nothing – vocals
Bronson – guitars
Gravy – guitars
Shmotz – keyboards
Pig Benis – bass
Stitch – samples
The ultimate in all-terrain vehicles –a rental van– screams out of the parking lot of Mars Studio where MUSHROOMHEAD has been tracking for 32 consecutive 14-hour days. The passengers: three dark figures known only as Skinny, Bronson and Stitch. The freight: the band’s personal Pro Tools recording rig loaded with new tracks. The object: to beat the clock and drive to Los Angeles in nothing flat — or sooner — for mix down sessions with Matt Wallace (Faith No More, Deftones).
Skinny’s leather-clad fingers grip the wheel. His jackbooted foot smashes the gas pedal to the floor as it would his kick-drum beater. The necessary stimulants –rough mixes of MUSHROOMHEAD’s latest and greatest album — crank from a boom box strapped to the backseat. The disc titled XIII, partly in reference to the only sort of luck the band has known during its ten-year career. Hard. But with fuel like this, they might truly make it this time.
The van careens cross-country, having its way with America’s fruited plains, purple mountains majesty and nuclear tested deserts an average speed of 98 miles per hour. Time is indeed that short. But eventually the trio piles out of the hissing van into the smog-filtered sun stabs of Los Angeles, California.
Miles traveled: 2404. Time elapsed: 35 hours. Mission Accomplished.
This is not a video game this is not a post apocalyptic action movie. This is, simply a day and a half in the life MUSHROOMHEAD. And they’re lucky to be alive.
The latest soundtrack to that life –XIII– fully reflects the wild urgency and range for the first time in MUSHROOMHEAD’s career. The mostly self produced album features more… everything… in all directions. Punishing songs like Kill Tomorrow find the octet at their relentless riff-laden best. Mid-tempo cuts like Sun Doesn’t Rise, one of the tow tracks produced by Johnny K (Disturbed), highlight the band’s tough melodic sense. And dramatic tunes like Nowhere To Go showcase their mood-conjuring magic. We really pushed the envelope this time, says Skinny. Everyone was really focused and anxious to show what we can really do. Our only criteria was that the songs had to fucking rock. They had to be songs that we could go out and perform for the next three years and still love to play every single night.
Lyrically, vocalists J Mann and Jeffrey Nothing achieve catharsis exploring familiar nihilistic terrain perhaps best summed up by song titles like ’destroy The World Around Me. To their credit, though, they never resort to cheap shock tactics for effect. Exhibit A: there’s not one expletive on the entire album. That speaks volumes about our singers abilities, says Skinny. They can convey these really dark images and powerful ideas without making things seem overly literal or too abrasive. We don’t want to spell everything out for people. You have to let listeners apply the music to their lives as they need to apply it.
And more people are likely to do that this time. MUSHROOMHEAD have always been outsiders pursuing their own unique vision. But perhaps the increasingly dark world at large is finally ready to catch up with the band. Listeners who’ve previously judged the band based on its theatrical stage show and over-the-top appearance are advised to leave preconceptions at the door. I think this album will slap people across the face, says Skinny. Our main goal was to make every song like an artwork you can hang on your wall and never get tired of looking at. I think people are going to be very surprised.
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