Mushroomhead's J Mann and Church Discuss New Album, 'The Righteous & The Butterfly'
Mushroomhead fans can rejoice! The inﬂuential industrial metal band are celebrating their 20th anniversary with a new studio album, The Righteous & The Butterﬂy. The offering also features the return of vocalist J Mann and the debut of new guitarist Church and bassist Dr. F.
Recorded in Cleveland and self-produced by the band with longtime co-producer Bill Korecky, the album is a fresh twist on a familiar vibe. Consisting of 14 tracks ranging from songs about survival and balance (“Devils Be Damned," “Qwerty”) to emotionally charged anthems (“For Your Pleasure," “Worlds Collide”) and even a riff-heavy rendition of Adele’s Number 1 hit “Rumor Has It.”
Mushroomhead features drummers Skinny, Robert Diablo and Stitch, vocalists J Mann, Jeffery Nothing and Waylon, guitarist Church, keyboardist Schmotz and bassist Dr. F.
I recently spoke to J Mann and Church about The Righteous & The Butterfly.
GUITAR WORLD: How would you describe the sound of this record as compared to some earlier Mushroomhead albums?
J Mann: When you're in a band that’s been around for 20 years, it begins to define you and becomes a huge part of your life. For this album, we wanted to encapsulate all of the eras the band has been through over the years and also add a new one. We never wanted to lose sight of our roots. We just wanted to take the strengths from all of those eras and consolidate them into one thought.
Why the title The Righteous & The Butterfly?
J Mann: It's actually a tribute/dedication to two people we lost who were huge parts of the Mushroomhead family. The “Righteous” being J.J. Righteous, our initial guitar player who unfortunately passed away a few years ago; the “Butterfly” being Skinny's wife, Vanessa Solowiow, who just passed away last year. She was the photographer for the band and was with us everywhere we went. She was a sister to us all. So half of it was named for him and half of it for her. The whole record is dedicated to them.
What’s the writing process like for a Mushroomhead project?
J Mann: I like to write songs that are a little bit riddlish, keeping things vague enough to appeal and adapt to a wide range of people and really make it last. So that what a song means to you now might have a whole new meaning for you eight years from now. I purposely go out of the way to write lyrics that are adaptable to your life.
Church: When inspiration hits, it doesn't matter if it's words, melody or just a simple idea. I remember when we were writing for this album, we talked a little about technology. Without giving too much away, that's an underlying theme on some of the record.
Why did the band decide to cover an Adele tune?
J Mann: Whenever you start recording an album, the first thing you want to do is start finding sounds. So before there was any original material, we said, "Let's just play something to find some good sounds." That was when that song came up and because the sounds on it were so strong, we decided to include it.
When did you know music was going to be your calling?
Church: Ever since I can remember, I’ve always wanted to play rock and roll. I started really taking it seriously when I was in high school and became one of those guys who liked to lock himself in his room to practice. At one point, there wasn't a Sabbath, Slayer, Metallica or Motorhead record I couldn't play all the way through just off of memory.
J Mann: I came up in the late Eighties, which was a scary time to want to be in music because it was at the height of hair metal. It meant you had to have long hair and wear makeup and Spandex, and I thought, "Never in a million years would I do that!" [laughs]. Then certain people came along and broke down barriers. People like Perry Farrell [Jane's Addiction] and Mike Patton [Faith No More]. They taught me how to think outside of the box and not take things so seriously. That's when I realized it was something I could do.
Church, what’s your live setup like these days?
Church: I'm running two Egnater Armageddon high-gain amps and two Egnater 4x12 cabinets that are just amazing. I also use DBZ Bird of Prey guitars. Those guitars just scream and will take all of the abuse from the makeup, paint and sweat.
What are you most looking forward to now that the new album is complete?
Church: With J Mann being back and the new sounds and tones, everyone's excited about this new music. It's also an honor and a privilege to have the opportunity to jam with the godfathers of mass metal. The creativity has been ever evolving for 20 years, and it’s something I really cherish. It's also nice to get new music to the people. Mushroomhead fans are the most loyal and best people in the world.
J Mann: I'm really looking forward to touring with my brothers again. Getting on stage and showing people something we're all so proud of.
For more about the band, visit mushroomhead.com.
James Wood is a writer, musician and self-proclaimed metal head who maintains his own website, GoJimmyGo.net. His articles and interviews are written on a variety of topics with passion and humor. You can follow him on Twitter @JimEWood.