As we wait with bated breath for the release of Mastodon’s latest creation Hushed and Grim, we are honored with a quick chat with bassist Troy Sanders. The new album is Mastodon’s ninth full-length album. It is set to be released on October 29 via Reprise records.
The news announcement on the Mastodon website for Hushed and Grim states “This album is a collection of our authentic emotions pulled from our real-life experiences”. I asked Troy how different was the band’s approach on this album compared to prior releases such as Emperor of Sand? Troy replied “The approach is very very similar actually. Musically, it’s always been the same way since day one. Somebody will come in with one riff of an idea or multiple riffs or even a nearly completed song. And if anyone brings in an idea and says “Hey listen to this…what do you think of this”, it’s wherever the enthusiasm is. So if I’m excited about this riff, my other guys will pay attention to it and vice versa.”
Regarding the lyrical direction of Hushed and Grim, Troy continued “Our biggest fan, and our best friend, and our band’s manager Nick John of fifteen years passed away three years ago September 2018. So, his impact on us as a band was monumental. He changed the trajectory of our lives. He helped facilitate all of our musical dreams to come true. The impact he had was so great, there was no way that we could avoid that lyrically and write an album about something else. It was just too impactful. He was too impactful in a wonderful way.”
Troy added “We’re not bigger than you, we’re not better than you, we are just four guys that are trying to write humble honest music that we like. And more often than not, it is rooted in darkness and sadness. And that’s just the way it is.”
A very intriguing song on Hushed and Grim is called “The Beast”. The intro and verse feature an almost gothic country sound that expands and grows heavier before returning to the dark west. I asked Troy who came up with the ideas behind this song. Troy responded “Thanks man, I love that song too. That’s a song that Brent Hines brought in. He is rooted in, deeply rooted in all sorts of music, but his first concert and album were ZZ Top. So he’s always rooted in old country and blues.”
Another exquisite song that allows Mastodon to spread their wings is “The Dagger”. This strong psychedelic tune includes synth along with another instrument that I struggled to put my finger on. I inquired with Troy as to what the nature of the mystery instrument was. “It’s a sarangi. Which is similar sounding to a like a sitar. In Dagger, there is this whole mid-section that was initially a break. And we were like let’s pull everything out except percussion and let’s find…it was great to experiment with no expectations of when we were creating that song because we were all throwing in ideas to try to find new sounds that we’ve not done before.”
Mastodon recently celebrated their 21st birthday. I asked Troy what he attributes to the longevity of the band. “I attribute longevity to two main things. Number one, we have thankfully overtime continued to grow together. In any human relationship you always hope for the best, but it’s natural for people to grow apart. And that’s very normal, normal to happen. The good fortune and fate that we’ve stuck together and continued to grow together. And number two is that we’re all still incredibly passionate about creating music.”
I wrapped up our conversation with Troy Sanders asking about his first concert and the dreaded pineapple or no pineapple on pizza. Check out the video for all the details. Many thanks to Troy for taking the time to talk with us. We can’t wait to see him on the road in support of Hushed and Grim coming out on October 29th via Reprise records.