Matt Stocks of U.K.’s Scuzz TV recently conducted an interview with MACHINE HEAD frontman Robb Flynn. You can now watch the chat below.
Speaking about the MACHINE HEAD‘s songwriting process, Flynn said: “It’s all different, but that’s one of the weird things that we do — we actually get together as a band three times a week, four times a week for a year and we write music together. And it’s like a weird concept now, because most of the bands I that talk to, a dude sets up a click track, records some guitar riffs, he e-mails it to the drummer, the drummer programs some stuff, they e-mail it to the singer and they never get together and they never record. That is weird to me. I wanted to be in a band so that you can just sit and freeze in a room or sweat in a room and just bang out ideas and go on that journey together.
“A lot of people go, ‘Ah, music isn’t as good as it used to be,’ and I’m, like, ‘Yeah, bands don’t play together.’ You look at THE BEATLES in their Hamburg era, which is kind of before all the fame and stuff. They’d play 30 days in a row. They did 100 days in a row once — 100 shows! I mean, think about how much time that is, how much chemistry is being created, and that’s why bands were good.
“And we have continued to do that, but we really did it on this record [MACHINE HEAD‘s latest album, ‘Catharsis’], all recording. And it was really productive, man — it was a cool experience. It was a really easy record to write, surprisingly.”
Asked if he ever tries to predict how MACHINE HEAD albums will go over with the band’s fanbase prior to them being released, Flynn said: “I do, and I’ve got about a 50-50 [success] rate. We’re all pretty bad at predicting the songs that are gonna be the hits of the record. I remember [MACHINE HEAD guitarist] Phil Demmel famously exclaiming about ‘Halo’, ‘We’ll never play this song live.’ [Laughs] Because it was such a rough song to finish. And, of course, I don’t think we’ll ever not play that song. Although, if you look at the first five months of touring [in support of 2007’s ‘The Blackening’ album], we didn’t play that song, ’cause we needed to get away from that song; it was a nightmare song to write.
“Once you’re done with a record, you can kind of have some fun and go, ‘This song might be cool,’ or, ‘This song might be something that gets the crowd going,’ but you never know — you have no idea. I mean, it’s just something that people pick on their own regardless of anything that we do. And I think you can’t get into that headspace when you’re writing — what people are gonna like. You can’t anticipate what people are gonna like. You can’t even think what people are gonna like or not like, because then you’re writing for somebody else and what they might think is okay rather than writing from your heart or from your gut or from wherever.”
He continued: “Dude, there was a lot of times on [‘Catharsis’] where we were, like, ‘Can we do this? We’re getting weird. We’re on some weird shit right now. And I’m digging it, but I know it’s weird.’ And there was a couple of times when we were weird and we were, like, ‘Man, but this song just isn’t a good song, so let’s go some other way.’ And then we went another way and got weird and we were, like, ‘This is a good weird. I can go on this weird. Let’s keep going.’ And that’s why I say it is an eclectic record, but… And at the same time, we’ve got 15 songs — 15 songs, 75 minutes. It’s a long-ass record; it’s ‘Lord Of The Rings’. [Laughs] It’s a big commitment of your time. And it’s a market where singles dominate. And there’s gonna be three songs that people grab on to, and most people aren’t gonna hear the rest of the record. And I don’t care — I don’t care. To me, every record we make… it’s a movie. And if those three songs grab you, or even one of those songs grab you, and you just wanna put ’em on your playlist and just to have it be the one song you listen to, [it’s] totally fine. But if you get grabbed by that song and you wanna go down the rabbit hole and go on this journey with us, there’s a hell of a journey to go on.”
“Catharsis” was released on January 26 via Nuclear Blast. The effort was made available in several formats, including a CD/DVD digipak edition which contains footage of MACHINE HEAD‘s 2015 concert at San Francisco’s Regency Ballroom.
The follow-up to 2014’s “Bloodstone & Diamonds”, “Catharsis” was produced by Flynn and was recorded, mixed, and co-produced by Zack Ohren (FALLUJAH, ALL SHALL PERISH) at Sharkbite Studios in Oakland, California. Mastering was handled by Ted Jensen (HATEBREED, ALICE IN CHAINS, DEFTONES) at Sterling Sound in New York. Cover photography was created by Seanen Middleton.
The North American tour in support of “Catharsis” kicked off on January 25 in Mesa, Arizona.