- Machine Head's latest album "The Blackening" has received almost exclusively positive reviews, with many critics regarding it as the metal album of 2007. Lachlan catches up with singer/guitarist Robb Flynn to discuss the new album, how they wrote it and what repercussions they suffered after Disney read the lyrics.

Robb Flynn from Machine Head>I've been listening to the Blackening, and something that caught my attension was the longer, more epic songs. While writing, was it a conscious decision to head in this direction?

No, I mean we were surprised as anyone, when we timed our songs we were like "Jeez we've got a 10 minute song"! So we just started writing and just let the music take it to where it went. I guess we were purposely naive about whether it would be played on MTV or if it would be played on the radio, and in a lot of cases almost made sure that it didn't. Like a song like "Now I lay thee down" has kinda a poppy chorus, but I wanted to make sure that because it had such a poppy chorus the lyrics were kinda fucked up. Like it's basically about suicide, one person killing another person and then comitting suicide and then everybody dies. (laughs). It wasn't like there was any kind of happy ending with that one, and I like the idea of having almost poppy hook and with these really fucked up lyrics. And you know, we just wanted to make a really dark epic record. That's really what we tried to do.

>Do you all write together in the studio?

A lot of it, you know I write riffs at the house and then bring them in, and I've got a basic structure that I kind of want it to go. And then everyone throws in their 2 cents, "Let's do this and let's do that" and it just evolves. It's very... you know I'd love to sit here and make it sound very glamorous and that we've got this great plan, but it's really so Beavis and Butthead when we're in the rehearsal room.

>Well it's a creative process there's no rules.

Yeah we just go "yep that's cool" or "Yep that sucks". It's really as dumb as that.

>And you guys are happy to tell each other that you don't like their ideas?

Well yeah, sometimes (laughs).

>So you've got 20 more gigs coming up, how do you keep it fresh?

I just really try to live in the moment. I try to take in everything that's going on in the crowd, I really feed off the crowd. We always try to put out a lot of energy, but it's almost about kind of vibing off what the crowd is doing. To me it's just fun to play the songs. I don't get bored of it, and even after all these years I don't get sick of playing Davidian.

>People love categorising metal as having stupid lyrics, but your album has a lot more political criticism than I hear in any other genre. Has there been much of a reaction in the States to what you've been saying?

Yeah, we always kind of had that question authority vibe, we were very much part of the punk rock scene when we started. There has been some repercussions - the band was removed from two venues in America that were owned by Disney, that is they fell on Disney property. And Disney got a hold of the record and a hold of the lyrics and actually had our concert cancelled by the promoters. Like they pressured them to cancel our shows because they disagreed strongly with our lyrics, and disagree with the agression.

So you know it's not like we didn't think that... well going into the Blackening we kind of had the feeling that because the lyrics were so blunt and poignant there wasn't not a chance of repercussions. We just didn't think that anybody who tried to inflict those repercussions would succeed.

>You're playing with Dragonforce in UK and Europe, have you seen them live?

I've never played with them before, I've seen them live at Ozzfest. Shredding guitar players, ridiculous players. Phil and I have actually agreed that we're the worst guitar players on this tour.

>Worst doesn't mean that you can't play super fast.

Yeah well we've got the riffs so it doesn't matter (laughs)

>Can you tell me what gear you're using on this tour?

Same as we always use, Marshall cabs, Peavy 5150's and Gibson guitars.

>Why the 5150's?

They've got a nice midrange growl and a lot of definition, especially in the picking. We play a lot of fast stuff so we need it really defined, and they've got a killer midrange that helps define that. Plus they've got a tight low end.

>You managed to meet up with Lars Ulrich and he told you what he thought of Slayer the first time he heard them... what exactly was that?

That's privileged information, I can't tell you that (laughs). It was a great night, well the whole day was crazy. We're playing with Metallica at Wembly stadium and we get this insane reaction, and then to be able to end the night talking thrash metal to Lars for an hour after the show and drinking absurd amounts of alchohol.. it's a lot of fun.

>Have you seen "Some Kind of Monster"?

Yeah, it's a killer movie, awesome. It's rad that they allowed their obviously disfunctional lives to be aired in such a public way. It took an unbelievable amount of balls. People can criticise it all they want to but when that's you up on the big screen, and everybody is going "ooo, look at them"

>Do you see any parallels between them and your own band?

Of course man, the three of us have been jamming together for 12 years, we've had our share of arguments and fights, and not talking to each other for a week, and y'know, disfunction. Drugs and booze.. it was scarily similar in some ways.

>Some a few of the new songs seem to have a lot of very complicated riffs that you're playing while singing, how do you manage to pull that off live?

It's funny because all of the complicated riffs have been the easy ones, but it's the really really simple riffs that give me the most problems.

>Is that because you're thinking about it too much?

No, it's usually because when it's a simple riff I make the vocal pattern complicated, just because I can. (laughs). Like the riff in clenching, the chorus, which is hands down the easiest riff in the whole song, it took me almost a month to be able to play and sing that (laughs). I was like "what is up?".. it's the easiest riff on the record.

>I was thinking of the Halo riff in particular.

Well, that one took a while too.

>Any thoughts on the new album, and ideas of where it's going to head eventually?

No idea. The Blackening has only been out for 6 months and we're just riding the wave. We're on a rollercoaster and we're just holding onto the sides and watching it go, watching it explode. It's crazy.

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