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MACHINE HEAD : INTERVIEW WITH ROBB FLYNN


Radio Metal : MACHINE HEAD have been touring since 2007 to promote The Blackening and you’ve mentioned that this won’t end until at least 2010. Is this solely a result of the album’s success?

Robb Flynn (singer) : I think that it’s a combination of many things. It’s been an incredible last couple of albums and the media attention that we have gotten has made other bands interested. Although we’ve always played in front of the same amount of people, it started to grow because of all the extra media attention now. So then for whatever reason, METALLICA wanted to take us out and it has just been awesome! We are setting up a headline tour for the end of the year and that will be the end. The finish line is in sight (laughs).

Is the success of The Blackening going to influence your musical orientation in future albums?

That’s hard to say because Through The Ashes was a huge record for us and the logical thing to do would have been to copy the Through The Ashes formula because it was a success. But we didn’t want to do that because we started writing other things and had different vibes going; you just have to see where the music takes you. So The Blackening ended up being very different from Through The Ashes and I think that the next album will be very different from The Blackening.

It seems that every album you’ve made has been very different and has gone in a different musical direction. Am I right in thinking that you knew this would happen when you started the albums?

We knew we wanted it to be an epic and grandiose metal record but we had no idea what that was going to be (laughs). I would love to say that we had it all planned out and that it just fell into place perfectly, but it doesn’t work like that. The four of us were lucky enough to tap in and let that flow through us and kind of have a view of the bigger picture where these eight songs went best with each other.

You mentioned once that the band RUSH had influenced you; does this make a big difference and is this something new for you ?

I liked RUSH back in the day, but I guess I went through a love-hate relationship with them. I loved them when I was a kid, then I hated them a little bit later because I got sick of the technicality. But finally I really got into the technicality and I really dug into the old stuff more than I ever really had. So yes, Rush was definitely a big influence on the last album and Through The Ashes too.

Have you recently discovered any new music that will make a difference to yours in the future?

Not really. I was just watching TERROR on stage and they are so fucking brutal and Neanderthal. It really made me want to write really simple riffs like « pah pah pah… pah pah pah » (laughs). Basically just bash because I like that.

The Blackening has songs that are long and have progressive structures. For the last three years progressive metal bands such as DREAM THEATER have tried to diminish their progressive tendencies. Do you somehow feel closer to that scene now ?

No. We are a metal band and those guys are phenomenal musicians who are on another level of musicianship that my brain doesn’t understand (laughs). I listen to some of the things they do and it’s incredible but I don’t understand it. I get lost because of all the time changes and stuff, and my brain just doesn’t understand it. By default I look at us as more of a riff-oriented band that veers into progressive territory. Whereas I believe that DREAM THEATER are a totally progressive band that veers into riff territory.


(Robb Flynn) : « With Adam, after twenty years of friendship and seventeen years in a band together, we wanted to kill each other (laughs). »

Do you think you might do something with them one day ?

Yeah, maybe ! We might go super proggy because I love MASTODON and stuff, which is a totally different type of prog that I like and can understand a more easily. But the DREAM THEATER dudes are still super cool.

As a band evolves, it seems that band members evolve also both as musicians and as individuals. They become less dramatic and direct in their approach of the world. Do you feel such an evolution ?

Prior to MACHINE HEAD, I had never left America so my view of the world has changed because now I have really seen the world. Whereas most of America only sees the news and what the media show them. My experience has been that there is a lot of manipulation in the media with how they portray the rest of the world. America always portrays France in a negative light and the same goes for the Middle East. But when you actually go to those countries and see how things really are, I think that that gives you a different slant. Once you are aware of the media’s manipulation and influence it makes you start to think differently.

You once said that you felt disappointed by American politics today. Many people nowadays have put their hopes in Barack Obama. Do you also feel optimistic about him?

I do, man! He’s the first black president and it’s incredible just for that! Whether he lives up to all the hype or if he’s even able to turn the ship around, it’s going to be a miracle. It’s so fucked up right now but he seems to have his head on his shoulders. He seems cool. I saw a picture of him right after the election, he was sitting in a pub in Chicago. He was drinking a beer, and I was like « Alright! » (laughs). It’s funny because George Bush never drank beer. I used to always talk to my friends who voted for George Bush, because I didn’t, and I would ask: « why the hell did you vote for him? » And they would say: « well, he looked like the dude I could sit and have a beer with » (laughs).

Would you rather live in a shitty and frustrating world with metal music or in a perfect and beautiful world with no metal at all?

(laughs) You’re asking a hypothetical question that isn’t reality. We always want to strive for a better world of course, but there will always be assholes.

You explained on your website that you and Adam had to follow a therapy together in order to solve your personal problems. How did you come up with the idea?

I have been to therapy on my own and with my wife, and it helped. After twenty years of friendship and seventeen years in a band together, we wanted to kill each other (laughs). We’ve been on tour for two and a half years now and things came to a head, so we went and we worked it out. We didn’t make a huge public drama or talk shit in the press, we worked it out. So many of my favourite bands couldn’t do that and it sucks. Some bands have done it, like METALLICA who famously made a movie about it, or MOTLEY CRUE and AEROSMITH, and I’m glad they are still around.

Last question: how come you look younger now than you ever did before?

(laughs) I’m digging French vodka now, that’s why (laughs).

Interview conducted on June 20th, 2009 at Hellfest
MySpace Machine Head : myspace.com/machinehead



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