Atlanta metal kings Mastodon are back with their first full-length album in four years, Hushed and Grim. The album, which marks the band’s ninth studio release, is Mastodon’s first double LP and will arrive on October 29th via Reprise Records.
Heavy Consequence caught up with Mastodon singer-bassist Troy Sanders via video Zoom to chat about the new album, what it’s like getting back on the road, and the band’s upcoming tour with Opeth, among other topics.
When discussing the title of Mastodon’s new album, Hushed and Grim, Sanders told us, “It definitely stems from a much deeper and darker place.”
“The album is about losing our manager, Nick John, just over three years ago to a battle with pancreatic cancer,” Sanders continued. “He was monumental in our existence. Almost as important, or more important, than being our band’s manager, he was our dear friend. I always called him my friend before I called him, ‘Oh, He’s also our manager.’ That’s kind of how our relationship worked, not just with me and him but all four of us in the band. He scooped us up in 2004 and, without compromising anything at all, brought us to many bigger and better stages all over the whole world, so we wouldn’t have the career that we have if it weren’t for him.”
“Along the way, he was a beautiful presence,” remarked Sanders. “He was amazing energy, His guidance and appreciation for all thing Mastodon, as a band and as us personally, was unbelievable. He passed away in 2018, and as a lyricist in the band, there was no way we were going to write a record that didn’t focus and be central on that, because that’s how we kind of work. We pull from real life emotions, and we dig deep and create stories from the heart, which I believe is great, because it’s a very authentic place to pull from.”
“So, Hushed and Grim is kind of towards the end of our living days with Nick. It wasn’t great. It was horrible. Losing someone to that disease is just so… How life can throw such horrific diseases at such beautiful people can fuel some frustration and anger that’s unbelievable. So, Hushed and Grim stems from that vibe of being with Nick on his final days. He was the fifth member of the band, so it was like losing a band member and a best friend at the same time. Hushed and Grim resembles the feeling and vibe of being with him at the end and how painful that was to witness and go through. In a nutshell, that’s what it is.”
Sanders added that even with the heavy topic that inspired the album, Hushed and Grim is not meant to be all “gloom and doom.”
“The record is not intended to bring people in and make people sad and cry. But, there’s a depth to the album, and the meaning of the album will hopefully translate to a lot of people and be very relatable and hopefully touch people in a good way.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Sanders discussed the band’s first shows back after nearly two years away.
“Over the past three weeks, we played four festivals across the U.S., and those are the first four shows that we’ve played in two years, and it just came rushing back when we were up there,” he said. “To strip it down, it’s just that beautiful energy between stage and crowd. You’re playing the music, they’re singing along or clapping or dancing or whatever, and that energy comes back to us, and it’s just this full circle that cannot be experienced unless you’re at that live event. That’s what I always call the intangible magic that can happen, and those moments happened last weekend and the weekend before at those festivals. I was like, ‘Oh, yeah. That’s why I do this.’ It’s incredible.”
Trouble viewing the video above? Watch the interview on YouTube.