Machine Head is certainly no rookie to the music business that is for certain and with the release of their 6th studio album ‘The Blackening’ this group of hard rockers is on the road and giving their fans everything and more on stage.
Consisting of Adam Duce (bass & vocals), Dave McClain (drums), Robb Flynn (lead vocals & guitar) & Phil Demmel (lead guitar); Machine Head has experienced every musicians dream of performing with their idols on a tour.
I caught up with Dave McClain while they were on tour and he was kind enough to spare some time for some questions I had about the band. Here is what we talked about:
TFL: You guys have released your 6th studio album last year ‘The Blackening’ – how are you guys doing so much at such a young age & where are you drawing your inspiration from?
DM: The band has been through a lot of different stages of kind of like what you go through in the music business and where we’ve been. The band started off as basically an alternative to what was going on at the time which was like all of the grunge stuff that had taken over you know. It basically almost killed metal except the top bands like Metallica and stuff – all the metal bands that were prior to grunge were starting to go over into the grunge thing you know. Machine Head was started out of that, out of ‘what the hell is going on?’ That is pretty much the mindset of the band back then is pretty much the same now. We’ve gone through a lot of different stuff, 7 or 8 years ago we were a point where we could have gone either way as far as breaking up or to try to keep going. We wanted out of our contract with our label Roadrunner, who we are still with, for awhile. In that time we pretty much realized that the only thing we really had was our fans that were really sticking behind us. We made a decision that if we are going to go out & if this is the last thing we will ever do then let’s go out swinging & really make a kick ass Metal record which turned out to be the album before ‘The Blackening’ which was our ‘Through The Ashes of Empires’. A lot of people in this business had written us off saying ‘oh they’re done’ and blah blah blah and we came out with the ‘Through The Ashes’ and it pretty much just smacked everyone in the face. So with ‘The Blackening’ we poured out hearts into it. It took us like a year to write the whole record, our label wanted it out sooner, but we felt that this was our sophomore album and wanted to do everything right. We did a lot of crazy things like writing 10 or 11 minutes songs & people have just related to it so hard. For this album we have had the best things that have ever happened for this band – winning Best Band, Best Album awards then we got nominated for a Grammy for the very first time and a lot of people are really digging what we’re doing right now & we’re loving what we’re doing right now. That’s probably the longest answer I have ever given.
TFL: I’m seeing, as a hard core music fan, that Rock & Metal seem to be the genres that are coming out with music that contains the most substance to it…know what I mean? It’s not empty music, there are lyrics that fans can relate to – it’s not all the ‘Cookie Monster’ kind of vocals that were around for awhile. To be put on ‘Maiden Heaven’ and I did listen to ‘Hallowed Be Thy Name’ – you guys did a KILLER version of their song and I’m a Maiden addict – I love those guys & have for years. I really commend you guys for your performance on that song – Iron Maiden’s music is not easy to do.
DM: Yeah, Thanks! They were easily for every one of us an influence. When I was a kid, this is going back a little bit, but when I heard the album ‘Killers’ I was just like ‘this is IT!’ It blew me away & totally changed my life. It totally got me into more extreme bands that were doing new stuff. So we got the opportunity to do that song & be a part of that album, we all picked ‘Hallowed Be Thy Name’ just because it is pretty influential on what we’re doing now like longer songs with lots of different parts to it. We added a little bit of Machine Headness to it & we’re pretty stoked on how it came out and just glad to be a part of that album.
TFL: No doubt! You’ve been doing some shows with Metallica, not so much touring with them, but performing some shows with Metallica this year – how has that been going for you?
DM: That was unbelievable. We did one show with them last year in Wimbley Stadium – it was kind of last minute. It was one of the best shows we have ever done. This year there was 4 shows Poland, Czech, Spain & Portugal so we jumped at the chance to do it for sure. Getting out there you never really know what to expect – we had met the dudes and actually went and partied with Lars a couple of weeks before & when we got out there they were the coolest guys ever. Lars and James would come up and ask how our sound check was and made sure everything was good & told us if we needed anything at all to let them know. For a band to do that at the point in their career is pretty unheard of you know. It was amazing playing in front of their fans. James came to us during their last show which was Rock in Rio; we were in the area called ‘The Cockpit’ its right behind Lars’ kit. You’re hidden, you’re underneath the stage and the crowd can’t see you from there but you can see the whole stage. It’s the BEST view ever! The band would come back in between songs for guitar changes and stuff right so Hetfield came back and asked us “you know ‘So What’?” and we were like ‘YEAH!” and he goes ‘why don’t you come out and sing with us on stage” and we were like HOLY SHIT!
TFL: I know you don’t have a lot of time so let’s go back to ‘The Blackening’ – ‘Clenching the Fists of Dissent’ is one of my favorite songs off of the album because it is good hard core metal. It’s got a really cool beginning to it, some really solid drumming, awesome guitars in it & you guys just rip that song. Where did the idea for the song come from?
DM: When we were writing ‘The Blackening’ we knew we needed that one song that one song that just pops out to you and that was the one. We went longer and longer with our songs because it just felt right. It just kept snowballing & it just turned into this ‘thing’. There is definitely parts in ‘Clenching’ that hit you over the head about the war & everything that is going. We knew we wouldn’t feel right if we didn’t talk about what was on our minds you know & pissing us off. Every day we would see it on the news, so this one is like another classic song for us.
TFL: Instead of asking you one last question, I would like to give you the opportunity to pass along a message to your fans. I want to give you the opportunity to give a statement to your fans from YOU.
TFL: Absolutely…the floor is yours.
DM: Usually the message to our fans is listen to metal and drink lots of beer and vodka. (Laughing)
TFL: Is there anything that you want them to know? Anything that they can look forward to in the future?
DM: Actually yeah! Our fans are probably going to be pretty damn happy about what we’re doing right now. As far as touring, what we’re thinking right now is – we’ve been out on the road right now for about 16 months for ‘The Blackening’ and we figure we pretty much in the middle of the cycle as far as touring & we’ve got all of this year totally booked out. We would like to do a full headline tour for us where we can go out for a couple of hours and play really deep cuts from our albums that our real fans would like to hear. We’re looking at doing something like that where we can pull out songs that we have never even played and make it really special for the people who have been supporting us. They come out every show!
Anytime Machine Head hits the stage to perform live is already IS something special. I’ll
be in line for tickets for their headline show – that’s for certain! Watch for tour listings
and if you call yourself a Heavy Metal fan then their album ‘The Blackening’ is a must
have for your music library.
I can’t thank Machine Head and of course Mr. Dave McClain for taking the time to talk
with me. Backstage Live Magazine is bursting with pride having this superior band in
our magazine. RAWK ON & HORNS UP!