Originally published in ‘zine issue #25, 2001
One of the best bands on Earth right now is Mastodon. I won’t repeat myself introducing them and lauding their praises when you can read it in the review section. Here Troy Sanders, the bass player and co-vocalist, talks about his sick band.
D.U.: What are advantages and disadvantages of being in more than one band at once?
Troy: For me, the advantages are being able to release myself through extreme music when the other band is having downtime. It is also great when there are more shows to be played. I live for the high of musically destroying people that are standing and observing this madness. The occasional disadvantages are having to turn down shows [and] tours, because someone’s other band is already booked [or] playing those nights. This doesn’t happen too often.
Mastodon has had a fairly quick rise to relative popularity in the underground from the time the band came together. Would you agree?
Yes, we are very aware and flattered that we’ve gotten such good attention after only months of [forming]. This is based on two reasons: after being together for a few months, we started booking tours all over the southeast, mid-U.S.A., and East Coast. We saturated the entire eastern part of the U.S. and had some really good shows, played with lots of good bands and played some big fests, like the Milwaukee, Syracuse, and New Jersey shows which exposed us to a couple thousand people real fast. The other reason is because fifty percent of Mastodon came from the band Today Is The Day and lots of their fans followed and created a very cool buzz about Mastodon.
Is Mastodon aligned more with metal or punk/hardcore?
We seem to have a very metal feel to our music. We’re all metalheads, but do have a huge punk hardcore influence in the music we grew up to. I think collectively, the music we write happens to be more of a super-driven, heavy aspect of all music that we love.
Some of you guys joke around on stage to an extent. How important to the band is it to keep an air about you live that parallels the feel of the music you play?
There are two sides to this question. We take our music very seriously, as it represents what we live. We do take pride in a delivery that shows how we feel, which is usually very straight-up, to the point, music that crushes the listener and comes across to them in a manner in which makes no mistake to the magnitude of emotion that we pour into it. On the flipside, we have a great time on tour, and we’re very good friends. We enjoy this so much that sarcasm is a staple in almost every observation we make, so it would not be “real” if this behavior didn’t bleed into what we do on stage that night.
Are the song lyrics more or less important than the song music?
After the riffs are aligned, and the song becomes itself, I take great pride in putting lyrics to it. All four of us have lyrical input, and it comes together very nicely. As the “main” vocalist, I take lyrics seriously, and feel grateful to write lyrics and do vocals in front of a band of this caliber. Like a conversation, I don’t want anything to come out of my mouth that doesn’t fit the magnitude of the music that the vocals are complimenting. So the song is completely crafted with music first and lyrics second, and it all becomes one, so the lyrics are neither more nor less important than the music itself. ■
Photos: Mastodon live in New York City (courtesy Ralphyboy)