Mushroomhead drummer talks new album, Mayhem Festival

When certain bands speak, you listen. When certain bands release new music, you buy it. Some of those bands have fanbases that are so dominant and dedicated it’s hard to put into words. Sometimes those bands have their 15 minutes of fame and disappear while others find a way to stick around and make legends out of their career.

Mushroomhead are one of those bands, and over 20 years into their career they’re set to release their latest record, The Righteous and the Butterfly on May 13 via Megaforce Records, marking their seventh studio full-length.

Typically taking around four years to release each album, Mushroomhead have no problem making sure their fans get nothing short of the best and The Righteous and the Butterfly is no exception as it’s a beautiful, dark record that captures the very essence of what Mushroomhead are all about.

Original member, cofounder of Mushroomhead and longtime ‘Shroom percussionist, Skinny, took some time recently to open up about The Righteous and the Butterfly.

“It encompasses the last six records if you put them all together and all those elements are definitely found on the new album for sure,” says Skinny. “We did quite a few [songs] for this album and not all of them made it and there’s like five tunes that we’re currently working on for an EP that we’ll release later in the year and it is really, really heavy, like we were working on it and like ‘no wonder this shit didn’t get finished, it’s brutal!’”

Not to say the material on the upcoming release isn’t brutal. In fact, it’s about as brutal and heavy as we’ve seen Mushroomhead thus far, which is saying a lot with how extreme their catalog is.

“On the righteous and the butterfly there’s some very brutal moments and I definitely think we captured our attitude and our mood while we were creating this album and that’s why it’s just so damn heavy,” elaborates Skinny. “I hope that all the people that have been following and dig the band in a lifestyle sort of way…I hope we nailed it and hit home on this one cuz, you know, with touring for 22 years, you kinda wonder sometimes, ‘do I write music for myself or for everyone else’ and this album was definitely written for ourselves.

“It’s very honest and if people really respond to it, that’s great cuz it’s just us being us, there’s nothing contrite about it.”

The Righteous and the Butterfly is classic Mushroomhead and will remind fans of the classic Mushroomhead sounds found on XX and other records, partly because it’s a bit of a reunion of sorts with longtime vocalist J Mann returning to the fold.

Photos of Mushroomhead’s 20th Anniversary Tour in Pittsburgh:

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The record also sees a new side of Mushroomhead on the songwriting front with the addition of guitarist Church and bassist Dr. F appearing on their first Mushroomhead albums.

“Church and Dr. F, man, those guys are incredible musicians and they’re very, very, very knowledgeable,” explains Skinny. “Ryan [Ferrell, Dr. F] is classically trained and he plays piano, drums, bass, he can do anything, he’s just amazing.

“Church is just an awesome, awesome guitar player and an amazing studio engineer and Pro Tools editor,” continues Skinny. “I do a lot of that producing and engineering and Pro Tools stuff as well, so to have an actual team this time around to where we could actually get out of the chair and trade off…it was cool to have a 24 hour team, just constant, working around the clock, knocking tunes out and throwing ideas at it, so having those two has been really different and beneficial on that whole end as far as keeping files together and engineering.

“And then on the creative end, those guys, it literally go to the point where ‘okay, we gotta stop writing, okay? We gotta start working on some of these songs and have the singers put some vocals on.’”

As far as the return of J Mann, often times when a singer or band member leaves and then comes back, sometimes it takes some time for the chemistry to return completely. It couldn’t have been more of the opposite for Mushroomhead, though, says Skinny.

“With J coming back it was like riding a bike. It was like he never left,” he says. “The biggest thing for me as a producer was just finding space for all three singers where it wasn’t just constant vocals and there was actually music happening as well.

“With J coming back it wasn’t a transition at all; it was as smooth as it ever was, like he never left. He’s been around the last few years doing a couple shows with us and it just happened, everything was very, very natural.”

In fall of 2013, Mushroomhead celebrated over 20 years of being a band and embarked on the 20th Anniversary Tour. It was also J Mann’s first tour back and Skinny says it fun getting the returning vocalist back on the road for a full tour.

“The biggest thing about that tour was that was Jmann’s first tour back so there’s that excitement there,” reflects Skinny. “It was fun working with him because he’d done maybe nine shows in the last year or whatever and we put him out there for a quick 42 inside of six weeks which was more than he’d done in the last six years,” laughs Skinny.

“it was just fun getting him back on the road and then just sharing the stage on the exact date we started, which was October 23, 1993 was the first show so it was awesome to be on stage with those guys 20 years later to the day, pretty heavy.”

Mushroomhead have played on some of the biggest stages in metal. Ozzfest, Soundwave, Download Festival, Rock on the Range and more have all seen the legendary masked industrial metallers grace the stage. This summer will be no exception as they add the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival to their already stunning resume.

“Being included in that is awesome because it’s a legendary tour,” says Skinny. “It’s just like being on Ozzfest and we were fortunate enough to do that 12 years ago so having a chance to be on another large festival, everyone loves doing the festivals in the camp. It’s an honor to be included in the lineup this year.”

-Reggie Edwards

The interview can be heard in it’s entirety below: