INTERVIEW: Machine Head’s Robb Flynn

The Blackening was an unstoppable juggernaut of metal power for Machine Head. Conceived in 2005 and released in 2007, it kept the band on the road for quite literally years. But all good things must come to an end. And so finally, in the year of our lord 2011, Machine Head present Unto The Locust. Produced by Robb Flynn at Green Day’s Jingletown Studios, it’s a surprisingly diverse album which tempers its thrash edge with classical influences, wild mood swings, laser-focused precision, blunt-force-trauma riffage and some of Flynn’s best ever vocal performances. It may be hard to ever forget The Blackening and the way it captured the charred hearts of both modern and old-school metal fans in equal measure, but Unto The Locust its own animal and it makes neither concessions nor apologies for its history-making predecessor. It simply gets on with it in its own kickass way.

So I guess the question everyone wants to know the answer to is, did you have The Blackening‘s success in mind when you started working on this one, or did you try to ignore it? 

We definitely didn’t have The Blackening in mind at all. We lived that moment for so long. It was an amazing moment, but when it was done, we were really excited to start writing again. You’ve got to remember, when we started writing The Blackening, it was August of 2005. And we started writing for this record in June of 2010, so five years had passed. We were ready to write, and we were ready to create a new moment.

It was almost like that album wouldn’t let itself die, y’know? It just kept going and going.

Yeah! It was amazing. It was an incredible moment. The Slipknot tours, Metallica tours, Grammy nominations. It was an endless stream of good news! It was really amazing, but it just went on for a while. We were lucky enough to finish the tour in Australia. That was the last dates of the whole album cycle. The last show we played in Sydney. It was killer, a great way to end it, and we totally went triumphant into the writing sessions. We were really charged up.

I really dig the classical guitar influence on the new album. I understand you actually took classical lessons?

I did. I actually took classical guitar in high school. It was an elective I had to take and I mainly just smoked a lot of weed and played Black Sabbath songs. Haha. I got a C minus, which isn’t a very good grade. It’s below average. I guess I showed that teacher, huh? Haha. But it really got my mind into that mindset of playing it, and once I really started playing I always leaned towards classical players. Like, I always liked Richie Blackmore, and Randy Rhoads in particular was a massive influence. Randy Rhoads on the first two Ozzy albums brought a lot of classical vibes and that was a huge influence. So between that and Jimi Hendrix, Black Sabbath, those were pretty much my main masters.

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