For some artists, strength is found in adversity. It would be a gross misrepresentation to suggest that Machine Head frontman Robb Flynn has embraced the darkness of 2020 in its entirety, but certainly he and his band have risen to the challenges thrown their way, delivering, with 2020 singles Circle The Drain and Bulletproof genuine proof of Machine Head’s vitality and vision.
My Hands Are Empty is a watershed moment in the band’s history, marking the first songwriting collaboration between Flynn and Burn My Eyes-era guitarist Logan Mader in 24 years.
Lyrically, Robb Flynn pulls no punches in the seething track, which deals with with depression and opioid addiction.
One verse reads, ‘Medicate, I watched you slowly die /The powders and pills / Disintegrate, you right before my eyes / The emptiness haunts me…”
“I have some family members who have beaten their opioid addiction, and have some still in the throes of addiction,” Robb Flynn candidly admits. “It is painful to watch, and I deal with it with great difficulty. It is a song of sadness, but there is hope as well. I have beaten my own drug addictions and we can fight through this, together, and share our pain with the world.”
Musically I wanted to go for a bit of a Through The Ashes Of Empires vibe,” says Flynn,“and it had a grandiose vibe from the beginning, something about that vocal melody haunted me day and night. I sent it off to one of our collaborators Joel Wanasek, and he came back with a whole depth and dimension with strings and keys that really made the song come alive. I added the guitar harmony in the chorus soon after and I knew we were on to something special.
Of Logan Mader’s credit on the track, Flynn comments: “On the Burn My Eyes 25th Anniversary Tour I mentioned to Logan about needing a riff or two for a new song, he was excited to collaborate, I sent him the song and the next day he sent me back the heavy riff in the bridge and I was floored. It fit perfectly, and felt really cool to be writing together 24 years later. [MH bassist] Jared [ MacEachern] came up with the rhythm under the lead section and the song really locked into place."
Logan Mader adds, "During pre-pro for the BME anniversary tour last year, I had a special opportunity to collaborate with Machine Head for the first time in over 20 years. This is a big milestone for me, to circle back on a massive orbit around life and end up doing new music with MH is epic and unexpected. The song, My Hands Are Empty was almost complete, but needed a riff or two. Robb sent it to me, so I jumped in and added a section which ended up in the master after some arrangement tweaks by Robb. The song is amazing. It was a great feeling to be in the studio with Robb after all these years and I hope to do it again!”