It was a little more than three years ago, while Mudvayne frontman Chad Gray was mixing the band's The End of All Things to Come with drummer Matt McDonough at Los Angeles' Larrabee Studios, that Gray overheard a very strange conversation.
"We would stop into Bob's Big Boy every day on the drive to Larrabee," Gray explained. "And so we're sitting in Bob's Big Boy, and we're just talking in a booth and there's this guy sitting close to us and I hear him say something like, '... and he's got to cut his own eye out.' "
Gray asked McDonough if he'd overheard the same eye-plucking conversation; he hadn't. So Gray just sort of let it pass. He figured it was someone discussing a scene from a script — he was, after all, in Burbank — and continued scarfing down his double-decker Big Boy. But he's always remembered the meal.
Fast-forward to this past September: Mudvayne were in Canada, where they were about to shoot a video for "Forget to Remember," the next offering from their album Lost and Found and the lead-off single from the "Saw II" soundtrack.
"We walk in the day before the video shoot, and ['Saw II' writer/director] Darren [Bousman] is there, and he shows me a scene from the movie," Gray said. "What's strange is [the scene is of] this guy who has to cut his eye out of his skull to get to a key that unlocks this weird head trap. And I go, 'This is so strange.' I started talking to him, and asked him if he'd written his script as 'Saw II.' He told me it was an adaptation from a script he'd written years ago. I told him the story, and he's like, 'Dude, I held all of my production meetings at the Big Boy.' "
Things got even more bizarre when Gray learned he'd have to (gulp) do some minor acting in the video. At the start of the clip, we see Mudvayne's frontman — sans gorilla costume and red face paint — walking down a dark and grungy hallway, when he's spooked by an odd sound. He stops, turns and glances behind him, and then starts walking again, only to be grabbed by some strange creature with a pig face.
"We're used to working with video directors — guys who're used to working with bands," Gray explained. "Here I am, working with a guy who directs real actors in pulling out all of their acting skills. I was a little intimidated. 'Oh my God, this guy doesn't actually expect me to act, does he?' I was freaked at first, but once we were there, I wasn't nervous at all. And I made my acting dee-butt."
The video, which has been airing on MTV2's "Headbangers Ball" in recent weeks, features several clips from "Saw II" (see "Saw II: A Sequel With Guts?") as well as performance footage of the group shot inside one of the torture rooms used in the flick.
At the moment, Mudvayne are resting up before the November 18 kickoff of their Masters of Horror Tour (see "Mudvayne Take Sevendust On Masters Of Horror Trek"), to which they recently added 15 more stops, including the tour's final destination, Oklahoma City on December 20. Gray said Mudvayne have no plans to start writing anytime soon — not even while they're on the road.
"When we write, we like to just go away — just the four of us," he said. "We want to remove ourselves from everything — even family — and write music and get into that headspace of what that is. It keeps that level of honesty up, to where you're really speaking from what you're feeling right there at that moment."
Gray did say Mudvayne's lineup remains unbroken, despite recent rumors of guitarist Greg Tribbett's departure ("Why is it never me being the one who's leaving?" the singer joked), and that the band's been thinking about compiling a DVD.
"But I want to do something different, something creative, something unique," he said. "I am tired of the same old thing with these DVDs. But we're talking about it, for sure."