Mastodon: "Record Store Day is about remembering your roots"

As the clock struck midnight on Record Store Day 2012, we talked to Mastodon's Bill Kelliher about the importance of the occasion and the band's split single with Feist

Feature by Dave Kerr | 21 Apr 2012

Mastodon have played a number of in store appearances in the run up to today and you still take a lot of care over your physical album releases. What does Record Store Day mean to the band?
Record Store Day brings attention back to these local shops which, for a long time, were pretty much the only places for vinyl collectors and music fans to go and get their fix. Now we’ve got the Walmarts, Targets, the big corporations like Best Buy selling CDs, plus, iTunes and the whole online marketplace. Record Store Day, to me, is about remembering your roots. 

It’s also an opportunity for us to do something special, like put out a covers record – something unique for this unique community of people. Vinyl disappeared for a while but collecting is making somewhat of a comeback. I think there’s a whole generation of kids who perhaps didn’t even know what vinyl was, and when it started making this resurgence they probably thought it was something new – like ‘oh, what’s this big plastic thing?’ It’s good to get people back in those stores and off that computer for a second. 

Tell us about your split single with Feist, which comes out today. You both played Jools Holland late last year, was that when the idea came about? 
That’s when we met, I really didn’t know anything about Feist until we did that show together but she really struck a chord with us. Honestly, I think it was more Troy [Sanders, bassist/vocalist] and Brent [Hinds, guitarist/vocalist] who were talking to Leslie. They were interested in doing some collaboration down the road, it just so happened that it came around sooner rather than later. It was like ‘oh, Record Store Day’s coming up, let’s do something.’

Troy kinda blurted out on some televised interview: ‘Oh yeah, we’re planning on doing a cover song – Feist's gonna do one of ours, we’re gonna do one of hers.’ I didn’t even know that was happening. Our management called to ask: ‘What’s Troy talking about?’ I said ‘I have no idea – I guess we’re doing a Feist cover!’ 

What made you choose A Commotion? Feist remarked in a recent interview that she pictured the band playing The Bad in Each Other; that noodly riff has Brent Hinds written all over it... 
Well, we listened to the whole of Feist’s new record, a couple of songs stuck out to us but A Commotion really did. It happened to be in the key of A in the beginning, there were violins, I could hear a kind of droning, Melvins-like A note and the drums building up. The lyrical content was really cool and I could just hear us doing it, like, really beefing it up and making it our own, or at least a good rendition.

We practiced a few times and it didn’t really sound like much until we took it to the studio and Mike Elizondo got a hold of it and started layering the guitars. Then we felt a little more comfortable with it and just did what we do in the studio when the madness happens. Troy started singing and I think it turned out well. Feist's cover of Black Tongue is magnificent too; it’s eerie sounding…really cool.

The "Feistodon" limited split 7" featuring covers of Black Tongue and A Commotion is available from shops participating in Record Store Day exclusively today. Mastodon also release their cover of The Flaming Lips' A Spoonful Weighs A Ton on vinyl.