Back in 2009, Mastodon released “Crack the Skye.”
Critically applauded, it was a huge step for the heavy metal band.
“It’s the album they’ve been alluding to for their entire career, a masterwork by a band at the absolute top of their game, pushing the boundaries of metal and unafraid to experiment with music,” read a review by music news site Metal Sucks.
By the end of the year, Rolling Stone, Spin and Paste each named it among 2009’s top 25 albums.
“Crack the Skye” is now getting the anniversary treatment, including a tour with Coheed and Cambria where Mastodon will play the album in its entirety.
We spoke to drummer and singer Brann Dailor about the record before the tour landed at Stir Cove.
Q: What’s it like doing all of “Crack the Skye”?
A: It’s good. I think it’s pretty awesome. We’re just getting used to it. The understanding that we have a huge movie playing along with it behind us. It kind of hypnotizes it. You have to understand that it’s not going to be like people going crazy, mosh pit. It’s a different experience musically and for the audience. They’re kind of taking it all in and listening.
Since Day 1, we always judge our crowd by how they’re pushing and shoving each other around. So it’s sort of back to that. It’s not that kind of party. We do four old tracks, and we make sure they’re the more upbeat ones.
Q: You play most of the songs a lot, so was there any need to go back and relearn it all?
A: There were only like two that took some sitting down and figuring out. But me personally, after our last tour, I started going down and going through the whole record playing it front to back in the basement by myself. I just wanted to be ready. I’m a professional! (Laughs.)
Q: Making the record and recording it was a whole emotional thing, but what about after the record was released? What did it mean to the band?
A: It’s where we grew up. With “Crack the Skye,” we became the band that was inside of us. Everything was elevated a little bit. It’s the album that separated us from the pack. For us, it was almost an awakening, like this is what we’re capable of a band.
Let’s never do that again! (Laughs.)
Q: It will be a cool team-up to see you with Coheed and Cambria. Have you ever played together before?
A: We’ve played festivals and stuff. We hung out a few years ago in Jacksonville. We were up late hanging out and barbecuing and having a good time. At the end of the night, we were like, “Let’s go on tour together.” We obviously get along, and we have a lot of cross-contaminated fans.
After you’ve been touring for 20 years and you’ve toured with every band under the sun, it starts to get a little difficult to find things that make sense that are going to broaden your horizons as a band. Finally, it’s happening.
Q: Have you worked on any new material? Obviously, you’re on tour now.
A: We’ll get into it. Everybody’s got tons of ideas. It’s just getting those ideas in the same space together.
Creativity is not like a faucet you can turn on and turn off. It’s always there in tandem with your life. We’re always collecting ideas and riffs. I’m always writing down song titles and ideas for the story. I imagine by the time we roll around to September, we’ll start hitting it.
We know when we’re onto something and we think something’s really killer.
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10 guitar gurus who hit all the right notes
It only takes a few notes to identify them. Some guitarists have such mastery of their instruments that no one else can replicate their sound.
Take The Edge, who plays in Omaha on Saturday with U2. It’s easy to play “Name That Song” with U2’s catalog, mostly because The Edge’s sound is so identifiable.
Many great guitarists are known for their technical skills or their mastery of a genre, but these 10 are artists you hear and say, “Wow. Nobody else plays like that.”
— Kevin Coffey