Mastodon's new album concept tackles the horrors of cancer

A promotional picture of Mastodon

Mastodon’s upcoming seventh album features a concept that centres on the horrors of cancer, drummer Brann Dailor has revealed.

Since releasing 2014’s Once More ‘Round The Sun, cancer claimed the life of Mastodon guitarist Bell Kelliher’s mother – and Dailor says his own mother is also unwell.

And the drummer says it was inevitable that cancer would feature as part of the as-yet-untitled album’s theme.

Mastodon recently said the record was in the bag and nod Dailor has opened up further on the concept.

On how the new songs are linked, Dailor tells Loudwire: “There is a tie, a concept that goes between them. The last couple of years have been not… there’s been some illness within the bands’ family, there’s been a bunch of cancer.

“So the whole album is sort of all about cancer basically. Well, not literally. It’s a big story that sort of roped to go along with it. It takes place in the desert.

“It brought us together writing wise, because when someone is going through cancer, Bill’s mom was going through cancer and he’s kind of far away from her, so there’s wasn’t a lot that you can do.

“And my mom’s also sick as well and being far away there’s not a lot you can do. I mean, you know we were done writing anyways but we kind of needed something to occupy some hours of the day that would’ve been kind of us sitting there worrying about the situation that you don’t really have that much control over.

“Unfortunately, Bill’s mom passed away a few months ago, her illness came on kind of quickly, and she had a brain tumour and she didn’t last more than eight or nine months.”

He continues: “For us it always just ends up in the music somewhere, in terms of a song or we see what we can do with it. If we can turn it into something beautiful then that’s good, that’s a good thing.

“A good way to honour your people is with your art. We just would go down to Bill’s basement, we got a little studio down there and we just kinda riff out and see what we were liking and biting on, and low and behold a bunch of months later we had like 15 great song ideas that got down to somewhere about nine or 10 great pieces.”

With bandmate Brent Hinds having previously said the record could end up being a double album, Dailor now says it’ll come in at under an hour long.

He says: “We trimmed it, we got it trimmed down to about an hour. So it’s kind of every couple years we’re good for an hour of music.

“We have probably a few songs that were questionable that we were trying to work on further to see what they’ll get to, and when it came down to it, we just figured it’d be better for everyone if we just trim it down to the absolute best of the best and just go with that.

“Absolutely no filler, all killer, as they say.”

The album is expected to be released in 2017. They play at Download festival next summer.

Mastodon hit The Motherload

Stef wrote close to 5,000 stories during his time as assistant online news editor and later as online news editor between 2014-2016. An accomplished reporter and journalist, Stef has written extensively for a number of UK newspapers and also played bass with UK rock favourites Logan. His favourite bands are Pixies and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Stef left the world of rock'n'roll news behind when he moved to his beloved Canada in 2016, but he started on his next 5000 stories in 2022.