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Mastodon’s Brent Hinds: Being in a Band is “The Most Brutal Job I’ve Ever Had”

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As we’ve written time and time again in this space — and as the musicians we speak with always reiterate — being in a band isn’t the “sex, drugs, rock n’ roll” lifestyle of legend. The road life is challenging in and of itself — the schedule is grueling, and it’s difficult to keep up personal relationships back home — but today’s demands of meet and greets, lessons and more, all in attempt to replace lost income from record sales in recent years, makes it even tougher than ever.

Mastodon’s Brent Hinds is feeling the effects of all of that, and in a recent interview with Let There Be Talk he didn’t hold back at all, with some particularly unkind words for his handlers and the music industry in general. Here’s the full quote, transcribed by Ultimate Guitar:

When are you guys going to work on a new album?

“What I really wanna do and what I hope people will let me do is take some fuckin’ time off and let me breathe. That’s how shitty the music industry is. Because you’ve got to work your dick into the dirt before you can see any worms.

“This is definitely the most brutal job I’ve ever had. I would definitely rather frame houses again. Like, no one’s looking at me. It’s like, ‘Stop looking at me just because I fuckin’ play a goddamn show on the stage.’ I don’t give a fuck. Honestly, I just don’t care. Never have cared.

“But when the opportunity’s there and you strike and it happens and then they milk you… I feel like I’m being milked like a dry hyena titty. I have nothing left for anyone. They’ve worked me to my fuckin’ soul, it is almost gone.

“My next thing that’s gonna happen for me is I’m not gonna play music for a year or two. I need to go regather myself.”

After this tour?

“Never said that. I said that’s what’s next for me. As far as me, what’s next for me, is that.

“Now, what’s next for me in my job – I couldn’t tell ya. They probably got tours booked up their fuckin’… Their bank accounts. I don’t know. They got me booked as long as they need to eat. Or as long as they need to shop. Or whatever they do with their money.

“I don’t care. All I care about is my peace of mind, which is leaving me. So I need to stop and recalculate myself. I need to decompress from all this and I need to press the restart button and just kind of reboot myself in a way.

“I just got married about a year or so ago. I gotta go down there and meet all her family. I’ve been on tour constantly. It’s just not healthy. My next thing to me is to go get healthy and just to get away from the music business for hopefully over a year.

“It’s okay. It’ll be okay. I can still play music. If people want me to play good music they need to let me go for a year. If anyone that had a half of mind that was in charge of anything that I did would listen to what I say and not ignore what I say. Which happens a lot.”

How do you write songs?

“I compile… I don’t really write songs. I compile songs. It takes me a while to write a song. Or a song just comes at me and I write it overnight.

“If I really want to do something impressive, I work on it for about a year and really put the pieces where I need them. I have different methods, of course. I have several methods. You don’t have enough time on this podcast.

“I do a lot of things that I don’t even really want to talk about, honestly. I roll dice and I name dice different chords. I do all kinds of weird things that I’ve taught myself how to do just from being a music teacher also. I teach guitar classes every day at 1:30 to some unassuming whoever. And then I just try to plow through the mud with them.”

You teach online?

“No. Only when I’m on tour. I don’t do anything online. I wake up, I have to give a guitar lesson at 1, and then the soundcheck starts, and then the interviews start, and then meet-and-greet starts, and then the doors open.

“We even rarely have time to hang out with the people that you’ve become very fond of in those parts of the world. Because they work you like a broke-dick dog because of how fucked the music industry is for rock ‘n’ roll and heavy metal.

“Any kind of music that requires raw talent – good luck.”

It does seem like Mastodon have been in the conversation pretty consistently for the past several years. For what it’s worth, a good, long break will pay dividends for everyone — I find that bands usually return with much stronger work when they take the time to let it properly gestate and refresh themselves personally as opposed to the every three or four year album + touring cycle. Shit, I’ve been writing for this dumb site for 12 years without more than two weeks off at a time (and even that long is rare) and you all can clearly see our writing is in the shitter. Brent, wanna spend next winter on a leisurely tour of the Greek islands together? I give great back rubs.

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