Bill Kelliher Interview: One on One with Mastadon Guitarist

Above photo credit: Evan Bartleson

Since their first full-length album, Remission, back in 2002, Mastodon has remained a powerhouse band in the world of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal. With a sound that is constantly evolving, and a writing style that is notoriously unorthodox, Mastodon has kept fans coming back for more for over ten years. We recently caught up with guitarist Bill Kelliher at the Rockstar Mayhem Festival, and spoke with him about the latest tour, working on a new album, and what he feels are his band’s strongest characteristics.

Grizzly Bomb: How’s the tour been going so far?

Bill Kelliher: The tours been great! It’s been a really hot tour, except for today and yesterday. We started about four weeks ago, five weeks ago, out on the west coast and it’s been one of the hottest summers I’ve ever experienced. We play in the parking lot outside, in rural America everyday, so it’s been warm. The tour has been great though! Everybody gets along. The bands are great, and the catering is great. It’s like a 9-5 job. You get on the tour bus, go to sleep, and wake up the next day. It’s the same thing over and over, but it’s great.

photo credit: Kaley Nelson
photo credit: Kaley Nelson

GB: So aside from the heat, you guys have been on this tour before, back in 2008. How does this compare?

BK: To me it seems a lot bigger. A lot more bands, a lot more fans, and just a lot more interaction with people. I mean there are thousands of kids out there every night to see us play. So whatever they’re doing, they’re doing it right.

GB: You guys are currently working on a new album. Where in that process are you?

BK: We’re probably about 70% of the way there. We’ve written the basics of all the riffs, and all of the drum beats, we don’t have all the vocals down yet though. But yeah, (we’re) about 70% there.

GB: One thing I think fans have gotten to know about Mastodon is that the albums are so distinguishable from one another. What do you think fans are going to notice first about the new album as opposed to The Hunter (2011), or Crack the Skye (2009)?

Bill Kelliher of Mastodon at Rockstar Mayhem Festival 2013
photo credit: Kaley Nelson

BK: It’s kind of early to say, but to me there’s a lot of new avenues, new roads that we haven’t gone down before with certain riffs and styles of music. But you know, it’s all in the vein of Mastodon. As soon as we play it, it becomes ours.

GB: Now you guys have been playing music for a long, long time. Because music has become so accessible, I feel like sometimes it’s hard for bands to keep the attention of a fan base. How do think that you guys have been able to do that, for the length of time that you have?

BK: I don’t know we just try to be ourselves, you know? We go out there, we’re unpretentious, we don’t go out there and tell the crowd what to do, mosh now, mosh later, you know what I mean? A lot of bands go out there and have to yell and scream at the crowd. We’ve always kept true to our guns. We go out there, and say, “Hey, we’re Mastodon,” and we just play our f***ing set. We hope they like it, and then we leave. We let the music do the speaking for us; we think our music is good enough to do that.

GB: Absolutely man. Well, thank you very much (for the interview). Good luck with the new album, good luck with the rest of the tour, and we look forward to seeing you back here soon!

BK: Thank you very much!

Bill Kelliher of Mastadon
Bill Kelliher and GB’s Garrett Odzark

Check out more interviews from Inside the Grizzly Studio, and be sure to check back for more coming from the Rockstar Mayhem Festival!

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