Mastodon plays a style of massive, mighty metal, where one could see how they'd be the ideal soundtrack for a creature in Monsters University.
On records like Leviathan and Blood Mountain, the Atlanta group combined technical metal with complex narratives. But the group has a sense of humor as well, lending the song Island from Leviathan to Monsters University's soundtrack and selling Mastodon bikinis.
And on its latest release The Hunter, the band incorporated more hard rock influences. Mastodon guitarist Bill Kelliher said the group's new record will follow that album's direction, and should be out by next year.
But before that, they'll play the main stage of the Mayhem Festival's Tampa date on Wednesday at MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre. In an interview, Kelliher discussed Mastodon's new album and Monsters University. Here are excerpts.
You said you've written about 25 to 30 songs in the process of writing the new record. Can you talk about what those sound like compared to your previous albums?
There's a little bit of experimentation going on, a really good rock vibe going on, I think. Somebody told me that one of the riffs sounded like old Scorpions meets Slayer, which was cool. We're trying to take a different approach to writing and not to overthink it and make something too complicated, too technical. We're just trying to let the music flow.
How did it come about that your song Island got featured in Monsters University?
They needed a really heavy song for a scene in the movie where the mom is listening to her music, and she's a monster obviously, so she has to listen to some kind of crazy monster thing. So we had a lot of fans over there at Pixar and they were like, "Yeah, we really want you to do a song and we're all fans and we're really excited to have you guys do something with the movie." ... At first they wanted us to write something separate, which we did, but then last-minute they wanted to change it back to the Island song.
And how did you guys come up with the idea for Mastodon bikinis and beach towels?
We've always had the shark image for Megalodon, and what better to put it on than a towel? You're at the beach, you've got a big shark on the towel. Bikinis, you know, we did the "A--todon" gym shorts a few years ago and they seemed to go over really well. So we just figured try to make some bikinis and see how they turn out.