After the heavy conceptual trappings of 2009's "Crack the Skye" and amid some "stressful things" going on in their personal lives, the members of the Atlanta hard rock group Mastodon wanted their new album, "The Hunter" to provide some respite.
"The word we were throwing around was 'fun,' " says drummer and primary lyricist Brann Dailor. "Usually making a Mastodon album is a very stressful experience for everybody. It's up and down, a roller coaster ride. We can't be satisfied with a simple riff. We're always looking for more.
"Finally, at this point we were like, 'Man, we'd love to dial it back a little bit and make it so it's not that complex and write some simpler stuff.' So we didn't really spend time banging our heads against the wall trying to figure out mathematical equations to shoehorn into the middle of a rock song. We just wrote something and said, 'Yeah, that's fun to play.' "
Mastodon's audience has certainly responded well to the change. "The Hunter" — named in honor of frontman Brett Hinds' brother, who died while the band was recording it — debuted at No. 10 on the Billboard 200, Mastlodon's best showing ever. And despite any perceived simplification, the blend of prog rock and heavy metal sensibilities is certainly complex by most any other bands' standards.
"Yeah, it's impossible for us to shed all that stuff," Dailor, 36, notes. "We still have all those tendencies to make things complicated, and we still enjoy that aspect of it. This is as simple as we can muster, I guess. This is our version of a simpler, stripped-down approach."
Mastodon, the Dillinger Escape Plan and Red Fang perform Wednesday, Nov. 16, at the Fillmore Detroit, 2115 Woodward Ave. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $35 and $25 with a $60 four-pack. Call 313-961-5450 or visit www.livenation.com.
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