It’s not easy doing triple-duty as drummer, singer, and lyricist for what many believe to be one of heavy metal’s most important bands. Although Mastodon has garnered four Grammy nominations and worldwide critical acclaim over the course of an 18-year career, Brann Dailor and the rest of the foursome have remained remarkably true to their singular sound. In fact, the band finally took home their first Grammy in 2017, for Emperor of Sand, their seventh and most successful album to date. We caught up with Dailor, who let us in on what makes his wildly famous band the leviathan it is in advance of their Sept. 20 show at The Capitol Theatre.
Update 10/6/18: Mastodon have unfortunately canceled their Port Chester Tour Date, but we never let a good interview go to waste! Read on below.
Your singing and lyrics have been increasingly present in Mastodon songs. Do you plan to play a more central role in the vocals?
I hope not [laughs]! The hardest thing for me to do is write lyrics, and the easiest thing for me to do is play drums with the band. For a lot of drummers, once they’re done with their drum tracks, they are just like, “See ya.” When I get done with my drum tracks, that’s when the work begins. We procrastinate and leave the lyric writing ’til the very end, like we have always done, and then I’m just feverishly writing lyrics and verses and trying to figure out choruses, thinking, Oh my God, what are we going to sing here? We can’t just leave this empty! It really is a lot of work.
Tell me about your recent trip to Congress with bandmate Bill Kelliher to support The Music Modernization Act, which would increase fair pay to artists.
The Georgia Grammy Association Recording Academy members asked me and Bill if we wanted to go and speak, and I said yes because [the act] is something that benefits not only songwriters and musicians but everyone involved in making albums and creating music from the ground up. Legislation is often five or ten steps behind what’s actually happening in the world and, music-wise, we are way behind. So we basically went there and shared our stories…and had some meetings. The bill passed through Congress, and now it will sit in the Senate, but we’ll see what happens.
Anything you can say about a forthcoming album for Mastodon?
We are still sort of in tour mode with Emperor of Sand, but we’re always pushing forward and creating, constantly working, writing, and collecting riffs along the way. [Guitarist and vocalist] Brent Hines himself said he wanted to get heavier and faster, so we’ll see what happens with that. From what I remember hearing from Brent’s output, it was totally bonkers, and I was very excited to dig in on my drums and play along to it. It just sounded completely out of this world. I always get excited when Brent’s excited, because we can team up on some wild, fast, crazy, heavy stuff.