Mastodon break out the big guns

New album Once More ’Round The Sun has confirmed Mastodon as the hottest metal band on the planet. So, after all these years, how do the Atlanta-based rockers keep their standards so high? Guitarist Bill Kelliher has a theory – “I’m an Irish citizen. My father is from Killorglin . . .”

Mon, Jun 30, 2014, 17:08

We’re totally different guitar players and totally different people. We are at different ends of the spectrum is how I look at it. I think that’s what really keeps our band special.

Once More ’Round the Sun has done really well in the charts around the world. It’s currently number eight in the Irish music charts . . . It’s great news. We’re hoping to start our headline tour in Ireland in a few months time. I’m an Irish citizen. My father is from Killorglin, Co Kerry. He has passed away since then. I researched it and got my Irish passport and became a citizen, so I’ve got dual citizenship. Coming to Ireland is amazing. I’ve got a lot of family there, all my cousins and relatives come out from Cork, Kerry and Dublin.

Tell us about your father. He came over when he was 15 or 16 years old. My grandfather and my uncle Joe got him a sponsor in America. My uncle went over first and then brought my father. By the time he was 23, I think, he opened a hi-fi business, a stereo shop in New York. I grew up in upstate New York. My father owned up a hi-fi business for about 30 years. Music was always a big thing for us.

Did you grow up listening to Irish music? My father tried to assimilate into American culture as quickly as he could. My father never had an accent as I recall. His sister, my aunts, and my grandfather did. I never even noticed until I got older and I asked my father ‘why don’t you have an accent’ and he said ‘I don’t want to stick out. I just wanted to be a normal American citizen. I didn’t want to just be the Irish guy’. The Edge was one of my first guitar influences especially with his guitar distortion.

There is clearly a Thin Lizzy influence in Mastodon’s music. Were you a fan? Thin Lizzy was always playing in my early days. I remember that my father’s cousins, Deirdre Mulligan, was always playing Thin Lizzy at her parties. Every summer, we’d go to Massachusetts to go vacationing and all the Irish cousins would come out and Lizzy was always on the turntable.

Once More ’Round the Sun is out now on Warner Records