With beginnings in death metal, [artist id="1865382"]Bassnectar[/artist] (born Lorin Ashton) is so much more than that today, though metal is still clearly a large part of who he is. Besides catching his long hair thrashing during his epic live shows, one need only listen to a couple of tracks on his latest album, Vava Voom — "Pennywise Tribute" and the album's closer, "Chronological Outtakes" — to know his metal flag still flies high.
Over nine albums, in a career that spans longer than a decade, fans have come to adore Bassnectar's exceptionally diverse sonic palate. Of course, there has been one constant over the years: His desire to make every release heavier than the last.
When MTV News caught up with Bassnectar in Miami recently, he shared, "Musically, I really focus on playing and making what I love, and I don't let myself get bogged down with, 'Is this the newest? Is this the freshest? Is this the most popular sound?'
"What I don't want to do is impose rules on myself," he continued. "I don't like to think of myself as having one particular style. I just like to make all music thicker and heavier, whether it's rock music or metal or punk or classical, downtempo, dubstep, whatever it is. I just like to take heaviness and apply it to forms of music."
On Vava Voom, out Tuesday, Bassnectar has continued his legacy of sonic exploration. "Ugly" and "Ping Pong" are bass whoppers. "Empathy" is sheer cinema, reminiscent of a lost "Tron Legacy" cut. "Do It Like This," featuring his frequent collaborator friend ill.Gates, is almost an indescribably sumptuous mix of rock, hip-hop, glitches and wobbles. The album also features Amp Live, Jantsen, Mimi Page and Tina Malia. And then there's the title track, featuring bars by rapper Lupe Fiasco.
"That was one of the most interesting collaborations that I've had recently, partly because of the friendship I was able to make with him," Bassnectar revealed.
"Vava Voom" is a Southern bass track with a pitched-down hook, similar to chopped and screwed with a scaling melody reminiscent of '80s Atari games and early Neptunes production, before breaking into a dubstep-flavored ending. And Fiasco adds primo bars.
"He's a really creative person, and he rhymes fully improvisationally," Bassnectar revealed. "So, he makes one sentence, and then you play back that sentence, and he comes up with another one. There's two sentences, and then he says the third sentence. And then, basically, this crazy poem unfolds. It was wicked."
Bassnectar sold over 200,000 tickets on his U.S. tour last year, and with Vava Voom out Tuesday, he's back on his tour grind through July, with demand for his live stage show greater than it's ever been.
"Last year, when we sold out Red Rocks, which is a 10,000 person venue, it happened a couple of weeks in advance. And I was speechless," he shared. "This year, it sold out in one day. And after selling out in one day, we added a second show that's going to sell out as well, so it's just a stunning time."