Let’s be honest: we always get excited about a new Machine Head album, but when noises began leaking out from the MH camp that fans should be prepared for a less intense, less heavy, less, dare we say it, metal record, our intrigue levels shot through the roof. With these revelations ringing in our ears we tracked down ’Head mainman Robb Flynn for some clarification on just what to expect.
So, Robb, we understand we should be expecting a very different Machine Head album this time around?
Robb Flynn: “Yes, this is a very grooving, melodic record. To my ears it’s the record that could have followed The Burning Red, except that this has a much more aggressive production. The Burning Red had a much darker, more stoner vibe. This has a real classic Blackening, Burn My Eyes production, but I’ve still been saying to people on these Facebook Live things I do that you need to lower your expectations for the heaviness!”
We’re sure that’s gone down well!
“Well, you know, some people are OK… look, you gotta be honest. I don’t want people to think this is The Blackening Part Two. If that was us at our most thrashing and aggressive, then this is us at our most grooving and melodic. It’s gotta a lot of hardcore beats and hardcore grooves.”
Was this a deliberate step away from the last few albums on your part? Did you directly draw inspiration from The Burning Red at all?
“No, I think everything Machine Head does is a happy accident! There’s this misconception of how music is written, I think, that when you write you have this agenda. It doesn’t work like that. We didn’t try to do anything, it was just the melodic, grooving stuff that got our dicks hard.”
How was the recording process on this album?
“Great. Everyone really played their part. We started writing last September, we now rehearse right next to SharkBite Studios, where we recorded The Blackening and Through The Ashes Of Empires, and we’d rehearse three songs then go into the studio, like 100ft away, and record what we had! They were barely finished; it was like recording a demo, real quick, get in, get out, and the demos were always awesome. We wanted to try and capture that energy, that, ‘I barely know what this song is’ energy. So, we did that, three times, and that is the album. I want to hear that on heavy music! A guy just losing his mind… piss and vinegar.”
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The title, Catharsis, is very intriguing…
“There’s a line in the title track that says, ‘The only thing keeping me sane, the music in my veins, and if these words are my fists can you feel my catharsis?’ It seemed to symbolise everything; there’s a lot of pain and anger and frustration and beauty and love in this album, and to be able to express all of that… you know, catharsis means cleansing – it makes you whole again after. There are some beautiful ideas on this, and there is some ugly shit, too.”
And you’ll be supporting the album with another run of ‘An evening with Machine Head’ shows. No festival dates then?
“Yeah, we’re selfish. Ha ha! We’ve been doing festivals for a long time, dude. I’ve been shitting in porta-potties for 25 years, and I started to lose touch with the audience. We played huge festivals where people just didn’t give a fuck. So, when we decided to do ‘An audience with…’, we had to commit to it and hope people came with us. If you don’t want to come with, then thanks for coming this far, but it was something we had to do. We’ve talked about learning a new cover every night for these shows.”
Catharsis will be released January 26, via Nuclear Blast. Pre-order it now.
Machine Head 2018 UK tour dates
May 13: Southampton Guildhall
May 14: Cardiff University
May 15: Bristol O2 Academy
May 17: Birmingham O2 Academy
May 18: London Roundhouse
May 19: London Roundhouse
May 21: Nottingham Rock City
May 22: Newcastle O2 Academy
May 23: Glasgow O2 Academy
May 25: Manchester Academy