Mastodon Frolic With Yetis, Lose Limbs In Bloody Videos

Band urges fans to not download leaked LP.

There’s a certain English journalist that Mastodon’s drummer, Bränn Dailor, would love to meet. But there’d be no handshake between the two men, given the Brit is the one behind the online leak of the Atlanta metallers’ forthcoming album, Blood Mountain, last week.

“Hopefully one day, he’ll introduce himself,” Dailor joked about the journalist, who claimed he was one of the band’s biggest fans. “[Our record label] traced it back to the guy who did it, and he got fired from wherever he was working. It’s just so stupid. And it’s such a sh—y copy. It sounds like sh–. I’m not concerned with record sales, because I think that if anyone’s looking for it online to download it and listen to it, when it comes out [on September 12], they’ll buy it anyways. They’re fans.

“My problem is, I can equate it to when I was 11 years old,” he continued, relaying a story about discovering his Christmas presents in his mother’s closet a month before the holiday. “I wrapped it all back up, and then Christmas came,
and I went downstairs, and I knew everything I was going to get. And that sucked. It totally ruined the whole thing. Up until then, I had never done that before and I was always really excited to wake up and open that first present. But that wasn’t awesome, and I never did it again.

“When I was a kid, you had to wait for that Iron Maiden record,” he recalled. “The whole thing was, this is the day it comes out, and you cannot have it before that day. But these days, with the Internet, everything just leaks. I urge people not to download it if they see it there, but I understand if they do. I want people to be excited for it and to hear it for the first time and hear it the way it was supposed to be heard.”

Of course, Mastodon didn’t let the frustration of Blood Mountain‘s leakage distract them from last week’s mission: To shoot two videos within five days, with director Jonathan Rej (Further Seems Forever, Stretch Armstrong), who worked with the band on the video for “Blood and Thunder” from 2004′s Leviathan.

On August 9, the ‘Don invaded Chattanooga, Tennessee’s Ruby Falls, “America’s highest underground waterfall,” to film the clip for Blood Mountain‘s eventual second single, “Colony of Birchmen.” Three days later, the band spent hours standing in front of a green screen for the lead-off single, “The Wolf is Loose.”

“For ‘Wolf,’ it’s going to be a Savannah ghost story,” the drummer explained. “Savannah is the most haunted city in America, and we were thinking ghosts in the forest, and ghosts being chased, and we gave Jonathan that and he kind of ran with it. He came up with this whole story, and it’s going to be shot in black and white. We’re ghosts in it, and different body parts of ours will be disappearing and falling off.”

For “Colony of Birchmen,” a track that features guest vocals from Queens of the Stone Age mainman Josh Homme, the clip will focus on the story of Blood Mountain: a man embarks on a mission up a treacherous mountain in search of the crystal skull, which he needs to place atop the perilous crag, and encounters a smorgasbord of vile creatures, including a vicious wolf and a Cysquatch — “a one-eyed sasquatch that can see into the future,” said Dailor (see “Mastodon LP Tackles Auto-Cannibalism, One-Eyed Sasquatch” ).

“Well, fans were pissed when the ‘Blood and Thunder’ video had clowns in it,” he explained. “They were like, ‘This has nothing to do with “Moby Dick,” ‘ ” the thematic inspiration behind Leviathan. “This album’s story, visually … I mean, there’s a lot of cool sh– that could be acted out there, and it could be really cool looking. We’re hoping for a really tripped-out, cool-looking video.”

Mastodon traveled 1,000 feet below the ground to complete the video inside Ruby Falls, and when it begins airing next month, expect to see lots of yetis, sasquatch and Dailor banging away on his drum kit under a 100-foot-tall, blood-red waterfall. Rej even shot footage atop Atlanta’s Stone Mountain, with “a bunch of people in crazy yeti costumes and sh–,” Dailor said. “We’ve cornered the market on the sasquatch and the yeti. No other band can use it.”

With its release less than a month away, Dailor’s expectations for Blood Mountain — which will be available with a 45-minute making-of DVD — aren’t unreasonably high. The record is, after all, a metal LP, and the ‘Don’s not expecting to debut at #1 on Billboard.

“But that would be awesome,” he admitted. “I would welcome that with open arms, for sure. But I’m not counting on anything like that. There’s some accessibility in there, but overall, it’s a weird record. It’s a different sound than any of the other stuff that’s out there now. I think that’s really cool — that it’s on a major label and has the potential to reach so many different people. And we’ll just see. Nobody has any idea if anyone’s even going to like the record. We hope everyone digs it. But then again, I didn’t think anyone was going to like Leviathan. We’ll see.”

Mastodon will launch a tour in support of the album on September 6 in Baltimore, with dates scheduled through October 7 in Atlanta; the Bronx and Converge will open the gigs. Then, the band will take off for a month (guitarist Bill Kelliher’s got a baby on the way) before heading to Europe for a headlining run there. Dailor said Mastodon will be touring the States again in early 2007, with plans to stay on the road for much of the year.