Atlanta-based Mastodon have a strange story to tell on their new seven song, 50-minute heavy metal opus, "Crack the Skye." And the best way to hear the whole twisted tale will be live and direct: the band plans to perform the album, due March 24, in its entirety on their upcoming North American tour that kicks off April 10 in Birmingham, AL.
The complete album performance is something new for the group, says guitarist Bill Kelliher, but "there's something about [the album] where it would be weird to leave a song out. We'll incorporate a whole stage show, which will hopefully make it even more exciting for kids to come see and more visually stimulating." The band is also hoping to make a short movie from all the songs, which Kelliher predicts will be Mastodon's version of "The Wall."
The trek runs through mid-May, after which Mastodon heads to Europe to support Metallica. Hometown Moastodon fans got a preview Saturday night (Feb. 28) when the band headlined a free, 40-band heavy metal festival at Atlanta's Masquerade nightclub, produced by the car company Scion.
As for the "Skye" concept, Mastodon drummer Brann Dailor is, yes, completely serious.
"It's about a crippled young man who experiments with astral travel. He goes up into outer space, goes too close to the sun, gets his golden umbilical cord burned off, flies into a wormhole, is thrust into the spirit real, has conversations with spirits about the fact that he's not really dead, and they decide to help him. They put him into a divination that's being performed by an early-20th-century Russian Orthodox sect called the Klisti, which Rasputin is part of.
"Knowing Rasputin is about to be murdered, they put the young boy's spirit inside of Rasputin. Rasputin goes to usurp the throne of the czar and is murdered by the Yusupovs, and the boy and Rasputin fly out of Rasputin's body up through the crack in the sky and head back. Rasputin gets him safely back into his body."
"That's the basic story," he says, "but it's all metaphors for personal sh*t."
As previously reported, "Skye" was recorded with producer Brendan O'Brien, who was introduced to Mastodon by Bruce Springsteen drummer Max Weinberg.
"Crack the Skye," which will be released by Warner Bros., follows 2006's "Blood Mountain," which has sold a career-best 146,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
Mastodon tour dates:
Apr 10: Birmingham, AL (Workplay Theater)
Apr 11: New Orleans, LA (House of Blues)
Apr 13: Lawrence, KS (Granada Theater)
Apr 14: Boulder, CO (Fox Theatre)
Apr 16: Phoenix, AZ (Martini Ranch)
Apr 18: Indio, CA (Coachella)
Apr 19: San Francisco, CA (Great American Music Hall)
Apr 21: Portland, OR (Hawthorne Theatre)
Apr 22: Seattle, WA (Neumo's)
Apr 23: Vancouver, BC (Commodore Ballroom)
Apr 24: Calgary, AB (MacEwen Ballroom)
Apr 25: Edmonton, AB (Starlite Ballroom)
Apr 26: Saskatoon, SK (The Odeon)
Apr 28: Winnipeg, MB (The Garrick)
Apr 29: Minneapolis, MN (Fine Line Music Hall)
Apr 30: Chicago, IL (Metro)
May 1: Pontiac, MI (Crofoot Ballroom)
May 2: Cleveland, OH (Beachland Ballroom)
May 4: Montreal, QC (Le National)
May 5: Toronto, ON (Opera House)
May 7: Boston, MA (House of Blues)
May 8: Philadelphia, PA (TLA)
May 9: New York, NY (Fillmore @ Irving Plaza)
May 10: Brooklyn, NY (Music Hall of Williamsburg)
May 12: Washington DC (9:30 Club)
May 13: Carbarro, NC (Cat's Cradle)
May 14: Ashville, NC (Orange Peel)
May 15: Atlanta, GA (Center Stage)