Steve Felton is sick of talking about Slipknot — but he can't help it. The subject inevitably comes up whenever the Mushroomhead drummer talks to a reporter.
"They're the 'NSYNC of heavy metal," Felton said, sighing. "They're a fabricated, label-made bullsh-- band. They're way more corporate than anyone knows."
For more than eight years, Felton — known as "Skinny" to fans of his Cleveland band — has been fielding questions about the Iowan mask-and-jumpsuit-sporting octet. And for eight years, the bands have been at the center of a fierce rivalry that's consisted mostly of insult-trading and has unfolded, largely, through the media. The only face-to-face confrontation that's gone down as a result of the feud occurred between Slipknot and a faction of Mushroomhead devotees in the Forest City several years ago — a fracas sparked when the 'Head fans hurled batteries at the 'Knot during a concert.
"They've done lots of sh-- talking in magazines, and I am still waiting for them to come beat my ass like they say they're gonna," Skinny said. "They think they own the 'mask rock' title, but Mr. Bungle was doing it back in the day. So was Kiss, the Residents, King Diamond. There are so many bands that don't get brought up — it's always Slipknot. And it's like, 'Wait a minute, are those guys the originators of this? No way.' Let's talk about some good bands that wore costumes and masks — like Alice Cooper. Hell, I've seen pictures of Jethro Tull wearing jumpsuits with little insignias. There are just so many talented bands who've done it before us and before [Slipknot]."
Of course, at the heart of the great debate is the question of who came first, Mushroomhead or Slipknot. And no, there's no straight answer: Mushroomhead nearly signed with Roadrunner, but pen never touched paper — a year later, Slipknot joined the label's roster.
Skinny's always ready to offer his thoughts on the matter. "We've been doing it longer than them, and we've been around way longer. It's just the rest of the world doesn't really know that. They broke into the spotlight before we did. That's just the luck of the draw, I guess. [But] musically, we're nothing like them. If we didn't wear the masks, there'd be no comparison ever."
Rather than spout off about Slipknot, Skinny says he would rather discuss topics like, say, Savior Sorrow, Mushroomhead's first album of fresh material in three years. It's also the band's first album to feature new frontman Waylon Reavis, who replaced J. Mann two years ago. Mann, the band's singer for 11 of its 13 years, quit due to an overloaded work schedule and his father's ailing health.
Savior Sorrow hit stores last month and debuted at #50 on the Billboard albums chart with 18,000 scans. Mushroomhead have been touring in support of the LP with Brand New Sin, Soil and the Autumn Offering; the trek runs through November 14 in Atlanta.
While on the Jägermeister-sponsored tour, Skinny said the Mushroomhead dudes have been filming around the clock, capturing the action on and offstage. The footage will be compiled into the band's second DVD, tentatively titled "Volume 2," which should be in stores this spring. "Volume 1" was released more than a year ago.
The effort should also include several Mushroomhead videos, including one they shot in Ohio last month — for "12 Hundred" — that probably won't be safe enough to air. "It's very, very horror movie-esque — really gory and bloody and pretty evil," Skinny explained.
"There isn't a treatment, so to speak, for '12 Hundred,' but there's a lot of performance footage. We shot it on the set of a horror movie that was being filmed outside of Cleveland called 'The Rage.' The guy who does our masks and makeup works on horror movies and was working on this one. They had this big outdoor rave party scene in the movie, and they asked us to be the band that performs at it."
Instead of negotiating a performance fee for playing in the movie, the Mushroomhead guys asked if they could shoot their own video using the film's sets once the movie wrapped.
"It's heavy-duty as far as the look [goes], but we did go overboard with the blood," said Skinny, who's also working on a still-animation clip for the song "Burn." "The back of [singer Jeffrey Nothing]'s head is all ripped up, and he's on a gurney, and there are jumper cables sticking out of the side of his head. It will probably be banned by MTV."
The rest of the week's metal news:
The Acacia Strain have been added to the bill for the Saints and Sinners Festival, which will go down in Asbury Park, New Jersey, October 28-29. The lineup boasts All That Remains, Killswitch Engage, Atreyu, Unearth and From First to Last, among others. ... In related news, more and more dates keep being added to Killswitch's upcoming trek with Shadows Fall, Bury Your Dead and 2Cents. At this point, the tour's slated to launch November 9 in Charlotte, North Carolina, and will hit Cincinnati, New Orleans, Baltimore and elsewhere before wrapping up December 20 in Providence, Rhode Island. ... Former Morbid Angel/ Hate Eternal bassist Jared Anderson died Saturday at age 30. The exact cause of death has not been released yet. ... Swedish goth-metallers Beseech have called it quits. "All of us in the band have come to the sad conclusion to put Beseech to rest for good," reads a statement from the band. "The decision has not been easy because this has been a really big part of our personal lives for many years. We have met so many great people through the music and really loved what we have done. We are proud of the work that we have achieved. However we cannot hide from the fact that we have grown apart from each other as persons and we have different views of how we want Beseech to work as a band. This has taken away all the inspiration to continue, and we see this as the only solution in the end. This way we can all part as friends and wish each other good luck with new endeavors that will follow." ...
Ion Dissonance have found a replacement for former frontman Gabriel McCaughry, who left the band back in June. The mathcore specialists have enlisted Kevin McCaughey (formerly of Shaolin) to take over behind the mic. According to a statement from Ion Dissonance, they have been working on material for their forthcoming third album, "and it's going really well so far. We have a lot of new stuff already and all we can say is that we feel it's some of the best stuff we have ever written." The band will hit the road with Necrophagist, Skinless and the Faceless starting December 8 in Jacksonville, Florida, with dates scheduled through December 16 in Louisville, Kentucky. ... Grind-metallers the County Medical Examiners have completed work on Olidous Operettas, the band's Relapse Records debut. The disc, due in January, will contain eight tracks, including "Morgagnic Anatomics," "The Virchow Postmortem Procedure" and "Maturating Decompositional Gas." According to the band's bio, TCME are a collective of "real-life pathologists with an unhealthy adoration of and fixation on Carcass." ... Fireball Ministry drummer John Oreshnick is sitting out the band's current six-week tour with Artimus Pyledriver and Vains of Jenna because of personal reasons. His temporary replacement is Yael, who is a friend of bassist Johnny Chow. Yael will play with the band through November 20 in Bakersfield, California. Fireball Ministry's upcoming video for "The Broken" was inspired by a fan's homemade video that was recently posted on YouTube. Fireball's clip can be seen at MySpace.com/TripleThreatTour. ...
Swedish traditional-metal warriors Dream Evil have posted the video for "Fire! Battle! In Metal!" here. The clip was directed by Patric Ullaeus (Dimmu Borgir, Lacuna Coil) and is filled with classic metal iconography — soldiers on horseback, medieval castles, dark woods, flaming torches. United, which features the song, comes out October 31 and also includes "Blind Evil," "Evilution" and "Doomlord." ... New Orleans sludge veterans Crowbar will release their first live DVD in early 2007. The concert footage was shot last summer at Germany's annual With Full Force festival at the airport Roitzschjora in Löbnitz. Crowbar's last album, Lifesblood for the Downtrodden, came out in 2005. ... Grindcore masters Napalm Death will headline the Death by Decibels tour, which starts November 24 in Levittown, New York. Dates run through December 21 in NYC, and A Life Once Lost, Dead to Fall, Animosity, Impaled and Arsis are also on the bill. ...
Ex-Savatage frontman and Trans-Siberian Orchestra contributor Jon Oliva will release Maniacal Renderings, the second album by his band Jon Oliva's Pain, November 7. The album was recorded at Audio Lab Studios in Tampa, Florida, and came out in Europe last month. Songs include "Through the Eyes of the King," "Playing God," "Push It to the Limit" and the title track. ... Ex-Crisis guitarist Afzaal Nasirudeen and drummer Justin Arman will perform with Son of the Soil at the World Performing Arts Festival in Lahore, Pakistan, on November 14, 16 and 18. Crisis released their fourth album, Like Sheep Led to Slaughter, in 2004 and are currently on indefinite hiatus. ... The first album in 14 years by "Beavis and Butt-Head" whipping post Winger will come out November 28. Winger IV includes "Right Up Ahead," "Four Leaf Clover" and "M16." "It mixes some classic hard rock, like Van Halen, and early Winger style [with] progressive and acoustic elements that may resemble Genesis, Mott the Hoople or King Crimson," frontman Kip Winger said in a statement. In other words, it just might not suck. Look for a full U.S. tour in early 2007. ... Japanese psychedelic-metal band Solar Anus have reissued their entire back catalog on the double disc Tumult. The dizzying, galactic sludge-scapes are just what you would expect from frontman Tankotu, an active martial-arts athlete who also happens to be one of Japan's leading fetish photographers.