Mastodon’s recently released Medium Rarities album contains three choice covers, with the Atlanta quartet tackling songs from Metallica, Flaming Lips and Feist. In the new issue of Metal Hammer magazine, drummer/vocalist Brann Dailor reveals the stories behind each of the tracks.
Speaking about the band’s 2006 cover of Metallica instrumental Orion, Dailor says: “Kerrang! got a bunch of bands to do covers for the 20th anniversary of Master Of Puppets [for a cover-mount CD titled Remastered]. We chose Orion, because it didn’t have any vocals, and that was good for us! Plus it’s one of my favourite Metallica songs. They’re known as being the really super-heavy metal band, but there are a lot of beautiful moments in their music that don’t get talked about. It’s also a look into the soul that was Cliff Burton – what a great person and beautifully talented musician he was.”
The band’s 2012 cover of A Commotion by Canadian singer-songwriter Feist has its origins in Mastodon’s appearance on the BBC’s flagship music show Later… With Jools Holland, Dailor reveals.
“We were so excited to be invited,” the drummer admits. “Heavy metal kind of gets pushed under the carpet, so whenever we get invited to these things, we feel like we don’t belong there, you know? We’re like these dirty heavy metal guys. But… the Feist people came up, and they’re like, ‘Oh, we’re huge fans.’ It was a mutual admiration society. We went out afterwards, we got drinks, and then the idea came up from Leslie [Feist], she was like, ‘We should cover each other’s songs for a Record Store Day Thing.’ Feist covered Black Tongue, and we covered A Commotion. It’s probably one of my favourite things outside of doing an album that I think we’ve done. Just the fact that we traded songs with somebody that you would never, ever expect. I wanna do more of that!”
Dailor reveals that the band’s 2012 cover of the Flaming Lips, A Spoonful Weighs A Ton actually came from the same studio session as their Feist cover.
“It takes me back to the first European tour I ever did, when I was in Today Is The Day, and we were opening for Neurosis and Voivod,” he says. “It was 1999, and that record [Flaming Lips’ The Soft Bulletin] had just come out, and the sound guy for Neurosis – this guy named Dave Clark – would check the PA with A Spoonful Weighs A Ton. Every day I’d go out there and listen, because I’d wanna hear it all big.”
“I think fans tends to think that musicians only listen to the kind of music they make, like all I do is sit around and listen to heavy metal, and I just don’t,” Dailor adds. “Your average teenage boy that listens to Amon Amarth is not thinking that his beloved singer of Amon Amarth is sitting around listening to Sade!”
In addition to this interview with Mastodon, the new issue of Metal Hammer features an exclusive 50th anniversary Judas Priest celebration, plus new interviews with System Of A Down, Perry Farrell, Ghostmane, Epica and more.