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Mastodon’s Troy Sanders: 10 albums that changed my life

Troy Sanders of Mastodon
(Image credit: Justin Borucki)

As a member of Mastodon, electro rock collective Gone Is Gone and extreme metal supergroup Killer Be Killed, Troy Sanders was always going to have a wide range of musical influences to draw from, and so it proves. “Each of these records represent a certain period of my life,” he explains. “The beauty of music is that you might not pick the ‘best’ album by each band. Every record can mean something different and personal and profound to each individual, these are my personal special relationships with this music.”

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Men At Work – Business As Usual (1982)

“This was the first album that I owned and the first arena concert that I ever went to. Men At Work are a band that I am deeply attached to, and so I always say that this is my top album of all time. The material is solid, it just screams 80’s, early MTV pop rock - it’s so clever and catchy and well written. There is some incredible melodic rock on there, but also some darker stuff that really resonates with me too. The fact that I still listen to this nearly 40 years later says it all. This is my number one.”


George Jones – Anniversary: 10 Years Of Hits (1982)

“George Jones is a country artist who died a few years ago. One of his many albums is Anniversary and I’ve never been hit so profoundly by classic country in this way, shape or form. Never before has a record been so perfect for where I was in my life, every song just resonated immensely. I fell in love with it and I began to travel round and see him on his touring schedule. You know when you find that artist that you feel is not only speaking to the world, but is speaking for himself and is speaking to you. That would take the silver.”


Neurosis – Times Of Grace (1999)

“One of the main reasons that I’m speaking to you today is that in 1999 I discovered NeurosisTimes Of Grace. A brilliant record that exhibits deep, sincere heaviness like never before. Just incredible. On that tour they took out a band called Today Is The Day who had 50 per cent of Mastodon in at the time, both Bill Kelliher and Brann Dailor were in Today Is The Day back then and they were able to tour with Neurosis on the Times Of Grace record. They still remember how life changing and inspiring that tour was for them.”


Mastodon – Slick Leg EP (2001)

I have to be real honest here. In 2001 Reptilian Records, out of Baltimore, released the very first ever Mastodon picture disc, a seven inch. I had been in the band a year and we had our first ever official release – it helped solidify us as we were taking our steps as legitimate heavy rock road dogs. I was so proud. I’ve been a collector of picture discs ever since; I just love holding that vinyl. But this really set the tone for us, and I still have, not only the album itself which sold out many, many years ago, but I also have the test press which I bought on Ebay and it cost me about $600. I have to include it, because it was the thing that gave us that forward momentum, we started and a year later we had something to show for it and that kept us believing that this was the correct path for us. All these years later, I think it’s going pretty well.”


Melvins – Stag (1996)

“I remember it came out around ’95-’96 and back then I just knew they were this Sub-Pop band that were really weird, they were connected to Nirvana, they had some heaviness and they had some noise songs. But then they came out with Stag and it was on Atlantic Records, quite the shock. It was drenched in uniqueness and creativity; you’d have these heavy songs and then these curveball songs and it just made The Melvins a top band of all time for me. I heard Stag and I went and dived back into their entire discography, which I been devouring ever since and I love as well, but this one hit me hard. I’d just never heard anything quite like that before, they weren’t afraid to take chances and they weren’t trying to be cool. They genuinely didn’t care if people liked them or if they hated them, they reeked of awesomeness, I absolutely love The Melvins.”


Weezer – The Blue Album (1994)

“The reason is this is just slammed from top to bottom with pop-rock awesomeness. But also, because when Mastodon was driving around in a van across the United States, the one CD that got played until it broke was Weezer’s Blue Album. If you get in a car and are taking a drive, it’s one of the ultimate driving albums, it is catchy, it’s feelgood, it’s short and sweet, there is nothing negative about it. It’s just a gem of a record and the first five years of touring were defined by that, alongside...”


Martin Lawrence – Live Talkin’ Shit (1993)

The comedian Martin Lawrence had this album Live Talkin’ Shit, and we listened to that album driving around in the first five years more than any other comedy album. We listened to a lot of music and a lot of comedy, and Weezer was comfortably the most played music and Martin Lawrence was easily the most played comedy. Just hilarious top to bottom, we are still looking forward to meeting him one day so that we can express how much the laughs he gave us during those early years helped to bond us on every highway across the United States.”


Killing Joke – Euphoria (2015)

“I love many albums by Killing Joke, but their 2015 album Euphoria just still shatters me with their intensity and their precision and their drive. Nearly 40 years in, that focus and desire from a legendary band is astounding, I can never get enough Killing Joke.”


Primus – Sailing the Seas of Cheese (1991)

“I love every Primus album that they have ever put out. When Sailing the Seas of Cheese came out, I had never heard anything in the worlds of rock, or alternative, that was so unique and so quirky, that displayed a heaviness that I’d never experienced before. In the early 90’s the heavy music that I had been exposed to, everyone already owned it, but Primus were just unlike anything else. Some people didn’t gravitate to it, because it was so whacky, and I understand that, but I fell in love with them and went to see them all the time. It just swooped me up and I’ve been a giant fan ever since. And in 2018 we were able to do a co-headlining tour with Mastodon and Primus, and I circled back to becoming that fan again seeing them every night. A real dream come true.”


Thin Lizzy – Black Rose (1979)

“When that album turned 40, Thin Lizzy went out on tour and played that album in its entirety. And I was the bass player on that tour, and to be able to do that was beyond my wildest dreams, easily the top two or three most memorable moments of my life. To not only be able to learn that record, but to play it out on stage every night in front of thousands of smiling fans absolutely tops off my list.”

Stephen Hill

Since blagging his way onto the Hammer team a decade ago, Stephen has written countless features and reviews for the magazine, usually specialising in punk, hardcore and 90s metal, and still holds out the faint hope of one day getting his beloved U2 into the pages of the mag. He also regularly spouts his opinions on the Metal Hammer Podcast.