Saturday, July 5th, 2014 – San Bernardino, California

Review, Interview by Kimberly Annette

Photos by Kimberly Annette ©2014 & Jeff Serpa ©2014

…She roamed fiercely looking for a way out of that sticky hot jungle when she came to the edge of a giant cliff. Looking down, she could see what appeared to be the island natives involved in some kind of ritual. The scent of mayhem hung in the sweaty thick humidity. The sound of pulsating stomps and chanting natives filled the air, as a cloud of dust churned above their heads. The vibrating rhythms of hundreds laid way, an intoxicating path, enticing our heroine with magnetic force as if, calling to her very soul. Were they ravenous cannibals? She didn’t care, she simply had to find out what the circular ritual was all about. Then with a smile she thought, “I must get closer,” so with DSLR in hand she fearlessly twisted her way into the mist of the overgrown jungle down the side of the mountain. She was getting closer.

As she stealthily crept in she could see their bodies moving wildly continuously dancing in a circle around and around as more and more natives rushed to join in. What was this ritual? Was it some kind of bizarre call? But to who? Or what?… Wait a minute… reality check… this isn’t some old 1950’s black and white jungle movie, there were no DSLR’s in old movies!… Good thing for our heroine of the story it’s not an old movie, almost positive she was about to be captured and sacrificed or burned at the stake.Mayhem Mushroom Mosh Pit H5A3378

In reality, it’s July 5th, 2014, and the blazing hot sun of the California desert is beating down relentlessly as a cloud of dust rises from the monstrous mosh pit forming in front of the Coldcock American Herbal Whiskey Stage, one might call it a bit of the twenty-first century mayhem, a perfect place for a girl and her DSLR, Rockstar Energy Drink’s Mayhem Festival is well underway as Mushroomhead rips the crowd into a tribalistic frenzy with their special effects “monster in the closet” makeup and intense metal that screams to be released from its cage. One of the photographers who had just left the pit exclaimed, “Mushroomhead, a total assault on the senses!” The showmanship and theatrical quality of their makeup rivals Hollywood.

From the up-surging water rising off the water drums with every thrashing blows dealt by Robert Diablo and ST1TCH, to the aggressive tribal style of founding member Skinny’s double bass drums, to the eerie monster like stares perfected to a “T” behind the garish Stan Winston style special effects makeup, to the three lead singers and tightly woven mixes, the dynamism of Mushroomhead’s monolithic live performance is a full in your face “assault on the senses,” one bad ass performance. Enough to fuel the imagination of a writer…

After Mushroomhead’s powerful set, The Rock Rag was thrilled to have a chance to sit down with the band’s drummer, producer, and founding member Skinny for a brief chat.

Skinny - Mushroomhead

FULL PHOTO GALLERY HERE

As the unconstrained Skinny found his way to the adjacent empty chair full of amusing banter one gets a sense of a brilliantly sharp mind that never rests. In a festival setting, interviews are usually quick and basically generic but the man in the mask was by no means generic or basic but complex and intriguing worthy of much more, but for now here are the basics.

Kimberly Annette (KA): Mayhem comes on the heels of Mushroomhead’s latest album, The Righteous & The Butterfly how’s that going so far?

Skinny: You know, brand new album, released it May 13, it’s been out for about 5-6 weeks, doin’ really well, but the most important thing is; we like it.

Usually after, you know, it’s our 7th album, 21 years in the game, by the time you’re done producing, recording, writing, mixing, mastering, you’re sick of it, you don’t want to hear another song, but this one, I could not wait to get on stage and play some of that stuff today. Yeah, it’s the first time in years that I’ve been this excited.skinny_kimberly_annette_H5A3371

KA: Does any of that excitement have to do with J Mann being back? The two new guys?…

Skinny: A lot of J Man and…. The two new guys, yeah, Church on guitar, and Dr. F on bass; those guys come from our old school side projects, Church was with Waylon and I in Tenafly Viper, and Dr. F. was with Nothing and I on Nothing, Nothing’s solo album, which came out on Sub Noize . So we’ve been doing it quite some time and when the time came to do a new Shroom record man, I knew who we needed.

KA: Right on, so do you still have all your side projects going on then?

Skinny: Yeah, yeah, the side projects this time around have been kind of just put on the back burner; this new album is definitely the focus… The band is focused, the talent is there, poised and ready to strike… it’s the first time in a lot of years that I think Mushroomhead has got their proverbial shit together.

KA: Right on, that’s cool when it all comes together like, when the music just feels good and right that It’s a great feeling.

Skinny: Yeah, Yeah… Right! It’s good, yeah; it feels like it’s the first album, it feels new.

KA: So the masks, what was the concept or what inspired these particular masks? They are very unique; they’re definitely intriguing.

Skinny: These particular ones are definitely part of the evolution of Mushroomhead. The original idea was nothing but just camouflage so to speak. When we started this in ’92, ’93, we started playing our first shows; everyone was in side-projects in different bands at the time, so we didn’t want to seem like this big super-group… So we donned costumes and masks just to entertain ourselves and not be looked at… I mean we didn’t even tell the other bands we were in at the time; we didn’t tell the other band members that we were doing this at the time as a side-job. We were very …

KA: Yeah, you know that sometimes causes a little bit of friction…

Skinny: OH IT DOES… It caused a lot of it for years. However, it was pretty much what we were going for, we didn’t want to be, we didn’t. No pre-conceived notions, that’s what I’m saying. We just wanted to be judged on our own merit, and be able to do artistic, experimental, whatever. It’s art at the end of the day, we’re not rock stars, we’re artists.

skinny_kimberly_annette_H5A3368KA: Right on, that’s fantastic, I like that approach to your thinking. Because when you’ve got the art going on behind it, when that’s what you believe in the music… it’s just this raw, and cool, organic thing, and that’s what makes it good… and that’s why your show and your music reflect the artist in you so well, it’s…

Skinny: Thank you, thank you… and definitely I agree, it’s very nice to hear… We have our own studio back home, and it’s very much an artist compound, so when you’re sick and tired of working on music, you can go up front and start to work on a mask, whether it’s sculpting with clay or it’s adding dreads…

KA: So you make your own masks then?

Skinny:  Yeah, yeah, yeah… We’ve got a couple of sculptors that do a lot of stuff; we’ll get a head cast on and then they’ll sculpt. They bring the clay bust over and we’ll say “more like this, more like that,” look at comic books, video games, movies, you know the stuff that inspires us.

KA: Nice.. so that’s how you came up with the concept for what you’re wearing right now?

Skinny: Yeah, yup..

KA: Very cool because its all you and a little bit more. I used to babysit for Stan Winston so I remember the creative process he used to go through.

Skinny: OH REALLY?!?! That’s epic right there. (high five’s KA)

KA: Right! (laughing)

Skinny: Epic, hell yeah! (laughing)

KA: It was cool, a lot of fun.. he was always a bit crazy, but always cool… So.. What’s next for you guys? You’re on the festival tour…

skinny_kimberly_annette_H5A3364

Skinny: We’re on the festival for the rest of the summer… And I don’t know if I can say it but … I think we’re going out with ICP in the fall.

KA: Aaahh NICE! Nice! Ssshhh shhhhh…

Skinny: Yeah, yeah, ssshhh … we might be leaking it, you might be the first one to know… I was just with my agent today and he said, “yeah it’s happening,” so …     Look for that…

KA: Definitely..

Skinny: Actually it will be really cool, if it happens the way it’s supposed to; Avatar, Three 6 Mafia, Mushroomhead, ICP, look the fuck out. We’re going from the mainstream to heavy underground… and that’s kind of where we live, we’ll dabbled in both, forever. It’s about the longevity… That’s part of the role you’ve got to be versatile in Mushroomhead. There’s something about working with a lot of people here, whether you will like one song or twelve, there’s something for everybody that comes out of it.

KA: As a photographer one of my favorite part of today’s show was the water drums, I got some great shots…

Skinny: Oh, right on, yeah, yeah, I get to switch with Roberto Diablo, Robbie, he is our secondary water drummer and drummer, and at the end he and I switch …   So I get to come out front and play water drums…

KA: Nice, but you didn’t do that in the first 3 songs, (laughs) nothing good ever happens in the first 3, sorry a photographer gripe… (laughing)

Skinny: Oh, Oh… (laughs) Now those are fun!

KA: Let’s bring this interview to a close with a gift of some Rock Rag Swag, you look like you’d dig a Rock Rag Dickie’s Mechanics shirt, am I right?

Skinny: A deluxe shirt?

KA: Yeah man, just for you…

Skinny: That is beautiful, thank you so much! I will rock this every day!

KA: Right on! Send pictures!

Find more information on tour dates on the Mushroomhead website and make sure to pick up a copy of the prolific The Righteous & The Butterfly, out on Megaforce Records today! It’s even available on vinyl.

MUSHROOMHEAD | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | YOUTUBE | ITUNES

MEGAFORCE RECORDS | FACEBOOK

ROCKSTAR ENERGY’S MAYHEM FESTIVAL | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | YOUTUBE

KIMBERLY ANNETTE | WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER

FULL PHOTO GALLERY HERE

 

 

Mushroomhead – Mayhem Festival - Review with Bonus Interview with Steve "Skinny" Felton
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