Exclusive: Mastodon Working With Dr. Dre Producer Mike Elizondo

[caption id="attachment_3670" align="aligncenter" width="630" caption="Mastodon in Los Angeles, Ca., June 2010. Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images"][/caption]

Mastodon are putting the final touches on their as-yet-untitled fifth album, with the sessions expected to be completed before the band leaves for tour on June 2. The new set comes just two years after Mastodon’s 2009 album Crack the Skye -- which paid tribute to drummer Brann Dailor's late sister, who committed suicide when she was 14 -- and finds the band trying out a handful of new things, from producers to song composition.

“We wanted to go explore some other spots,” drummer Brann Dailor tells Hive from Atlanta, Ga., where the band are recording at Doppler Studios. "[Crack the Skye] were depressing moments to live every night. Tragedy has happened, and will happen, but a lot of great things have happened, too.”

The band is currently working with Dr. Dre’s longtime producer, Mike Elizondo, who’s longed to work with the band for awhile. Elizondo's résumé also includes work with Eminem, Fiona Apple and 50 Cent.

“A few people had recommended him, and said he’d been asking about working with us,” Dailor says. “He’d been asking to work with us since before Blood Mountain came out. We learned he was this old thrash metal kid from L.A., and he totally got the band and understood what we were trying to do.”

While some longtime fans might wince at Elizondo's pop leaning résumé, Dailor stresses that this isn’t really a new direction for the band. Though it’s not the long-awaited “Air” record (Mastodon’s first three albums featured fire, water, and earth elemental themes), Dailor confirms it's still the same band.

“Everything still sounds like Mastodon," he says. "There’s no way around that. We wanted to flip it upside down and get away from all the emotionally heavy subject matter. Crack the Skye was such a departure, but we learned a lot about ourselves from that. We’re taking those sensibilities and using them with more upbeat, loud and crazy riffage.”

Though Dailor was mum about the details of the tracks, he did reveal that new song titles include “Blasteroids” and “All the Heavy Lifting.”

“There’s some stuff on the new one that I feel like is totally different for us, and will surprise everybody," he adds. "Maybe in a good way or maybe in a bad way, but everything that’s on there is stuff that we really love.”

Mastodon are slated to spend the summer playing a bevy of festivals in Europe, as well as a co-bill with Soundgarden on July 30, in Quincy, Wa.