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Comedian Bill Burr on Seeing Meshuggah Live: “A Fucking Life-Altering Experience”

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Comedian Bill Burr is a recent convert to the awesome power of Meshuggah, having raved about discovering the band on his own The Monday Morning Podcast last year (“Dude I know I’m like fucking over ten years late on this thing—but I am an old guy,” he qualified at the time). As a drummer, Burr expressed particular admiration and adoration for Meshuggah drummaster in chief, Tomas Haake.

But Burr hadn’t seen the band live until their recent West Coast tour, and as tends to be the case when anyone sees Meshuggah live for the first time (or 10th, or 100th), he had his mind sufficiently blown to pieces.

Burr attended the show with his drum teacher, The Mars Volta’s Dave Elitch, and recounted the experience on a new episode of his podcast [transcribed by The PRP]:

“I went with Dave —my drum teacher—I went to Meshuggah, who I’d never seen live. I gotta tell ya it was a fucking life-altering experience. I can’t remember the last time I saw a fucking band that blew my mind like that.

“They are a heavy metal band—not a heavy metal—a metal band, from Sweden; who I’ve always heard of and I always tried to get into it, but the combination of the singer that ‘rawr rawr rawr rawr’-singing like that… I’m already an angry enough guy. I’m like Jesus Christ am I really going to have this on my fucking hard drive?

“And then like the music was so complex, I didn’t know what was going on. I didn’t like so many of the songs, like the drummer’s basically playing like a polyrhythm. It’s like his body’s playing two different songs. I don’t know what the fuck I’m talking about.

“But as far as I can tell, it seemed like on top he’d be playing in like 4. And then his feet, I don’t know what, they’re playing like a completely different song. And then the band is playing the rhythm to his feet but the crowd is nodding to what the fuck he’s doing with his hands.

“So everybody’s grooving with this shit. It’s like I dunno, do you want to check out a fucking unbelievable song? They got this song “Bleed“. And on top he’s playing like 8th notes with the backbeat on 3.

“So everybody’s head is moving to that, like ‘gah gah gah gah…’—I can’t even do it, right. But underneath his feet are going like ‘burta burta burta burta burta burta…’ the whole fucking song basically.

“On top he’s like [mimics hi-hat, snare, etc. sounds] and underneath ‘urta urta urta urta…’. It’s like you’re going insane. You know, I always felt like if you ever heard voices, like that’s the music version of that song. Like up top would be somebody talking to ya, going like ‘Hey ya wanna go to the mall, maybe, I heard they opened like a new fucking Starbucks, blah blah, blah’ and underneath there’s demons going ‘dah di, dah di, dah di, dah di…’

“It’s like a seven minute song. I’ve never fucking seen… And they played it live and it sounded as good as what they played on the record. And then the whole fucking night you never saw their faces.

“It was just these fucking strobe lights going at you, lined up with the bass drum. So everybody’s fucking nodding to the beat like [mimics bass drum] and the lights are like [mimics song groove] in your fucking face.

“I never thought I’d be into some shit like that. I can’t say enough how fucking unbelievable that band is. And you’re doing yourself a disservice as a human being if you never see them live. It was fucking unbelievable.

“And the amount of famous drummers that I saw standing there, just fucking geeking out, big smiles on their faces, shaking their head, ya know? Reaffirming to me as just a casual fan of music that yes, what I am hearing is that unbelievable. It’s so unbelievable that drummers that I’m blown away by are blown away by this shit.”

Welcome to the Meshuggah club, Bill! I saw them TWICE in the span of as many days this past weekend on the 70,000 Tons of Metal Cruise and they blew my brains out just as hard as they did the first time I ever saw them. It never gets old.

You can listen to the clip on Burr’s podcast below starting around the 11-minute mark.

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