Mastodon: Russian Revolution
GW Many of the songs have intricate vocal harmonies.
KELLIHER That’s my favorite part of music. I always love to hear vocal and guitar harmonies. That’s a big part of my musical background. I love music like Weezer and the Beach Boys, and I’m excited that we’ve now gotten to the stage where we can do that.
GW It sounds like you did a lot of experimenting with guitar tones on this record.
KELLIHER Definitely. Brendan had so many different guitars, amps, effects and pedals that we used to do a lot of layering and create different guitar sounds. From day one it was an amazing recording experience. He had a rack of 25 guitars in the studio, and we just randomly picked things up. He’d grab a guitar and go, “Try this for that part.” He knew what each guitar was going to sound like and how it would fit in.
HINDS Getting to use Brendan’s gear was the most fun part of making this album. We had a blast trying all of these different guitar tones and exploring the world of vintage amps. We have some really good tones on this album. It’s a textured, tangible sound that you can almost reach out and touch. We used a lot of smaller amps, which actually allow you to hear the guitar better. I really liked this cool old “Plexi” Marshall that Brendan has. I played his six-string banjo on the beginning of “Divinations.” We always throw that country nutmeg in there whenever we can. I used a different amp and a different guitar on everything whenever I could. That helped define the different chapters of the CD. I love the organ tracks that Brendan put on the record. That’s my favorite part of the album.
KELLIHER Brendan had an old Telecaster that I used on a couple of clean, but gritty, parts on the record. A lot of those parts aren’t totally predominant, but they’re mixed in there. I played a Danelectro baritone on the middle part of “Ghost of Karelia.” I used an open tuning, which allowed the open strings to ring out and made the part easier to play. We used the Electro-Harmonix Holy Grail reverb pedal extensively on the record, some tremolo and octave pedals like the Electro-Harmonix POG and a really old Leslie speaker cabinet that has a really Zeppelin-y sound on a few songs. I played this 12-string electric that has the smallest neck—it was so tiny that I could wrap my whole hand around it twice. I used it on this really intricate clean part in the middle of “Oblivion” and ended up muting half the notes I was trying to play. I told Brendan, “I don’t know if it’s me or if this guitar is really small.” He said, “No, it’s really small. On a neck like that you aren’t supposed to hit all the notes anyway.”
HINDS We just scratched the surface of all of the cool stuff that Brendan has. I used Teles, Strats, Flying Vs and Les Pauls. I also played a 1968 SG that I’ve had for a really long time and have just started taking on the road. It kind of makes me nervous to play it, but when you’ve gotta have it, you’ve gotta have it. Guitars are made for destroying. I’m a firm believer in that.
KELLIHER Brent played most of the acoustic guitar parts on the record. I have a First Act nine-string electric guitar, which has a double cutaway and weighs about 20 or 30 pounds. It’s the heaviest guitar I’ve ever played. The high strings are doubled up so it produces a chorus effect. I used that on a couple of songs.
GW It sounds like you used an EBow on “The Czar.”
HINDS I can space out on the EBow for hours. That’s the thing about working with Brendan. I was just sitting there fucking around with the EBow, and Brendan recorded it and used it without my knowing about it. He put it on the song, and when I heard it I said, “What is that? That sounds awesome!” He said, “Remember when you were playing EBow that day? I was recording it.” I was like, “Wow, I’m never going to be able to do that live. Thanks a lot.” It’s going to be a really big challenge to play the new material live.
GW Since you write songs on acoustic guitar, I would think that you’ve already worked out the basic structure for playing the songs live.
HINDS Exactly. I already know the skeleton of the song because it started out as a skeleton to begin with. I don’t write anything on electric guitar. I don’t have an electric guitar in my house because it’s too loud and there’s too much shit to fuck with—the amp, cord, and guitar. I have a Martin D-15 lying around, and I’ll just pick it up and see what happens. I never have any intentions of writing anything. It just comes to me.
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