Editors’ Notes To celebrate their 20th anniversary as a band, prog-metal sorcerers Mastodon have unveiled a collection of rarities, live tracks, and instrumentals. Spearheaded by the brand-new song “Fallen Torches”—which serves as a tribute to the band’s manager Nick John, who passed away in 2018—Medium Rarities also features Mastodon’s elusive Feist, Flaming Lips, and Metallica covers alongside originals inspired by Game of Thrones and Aqua Teen Hunger Force. “It’s good that this stuff is resurfacing, because I think a lot of people just didn’t hear it,” Mastodon drummer and vocalist Brann Dailor tells Apple Music. “You could get YouTube versions of some of these songs, but they might not be the best quality. So now they’re all together in one collection, sounding good, and it takes me on a trip down memory lane. I’m happy to add it to the Mastodon pile.” Below, Dailor discusses some key tracks on Medium Rarities.

Fallen Torches
“This came out of a couple riffs I had strung together, and then [Mastodon guitarist] Bill [Kelliher] had a couple riffs, so we put them together and added that big old monster riff at the end. We haven’t had that kind of riff for so long—I was excited to have an actual mosh riff. So then we got Scott Kelly [of Neurosis] to do some vocals, as we like to do. We called it ‘Fallen Torches’ because we felt like it made sense with our situation with our manager, Nick John. He was kind of our guiding light, and ‘Fallen Torches’ was very obviously literal to what we were going through at the time.”

A Commotion
“We did this split with Feist where we covered her song ‘A Commotion’ and she covered our song ‘Black Tongue.’ We had just met Leslie [Feist] on the Jools Holland show, which is a music show in the UK, and her whole band came up to us and said, ‘We love Mastodon—we listen to you guys before we go onstage.’ So we ended up going out for drinks after, and Leslie suggested we do this Record Store Day 7-inch where we cover each other’s songs—and it actually happened. I can’t tell you how many side projects and things that I’ve started with people at like two in the morning—thousands, probably—and they never happen. But this one actually did. And I loved her version of ‘Black Tongue,’ too, so this is one of my favorite things we’ve ever done as a band.”

A Spoonful Weighs a Ton
“Warner’s had this Record Store Day thing going for a while where they would have one of the artists on their roster cover another artist on their roster. We picked The Flaming Lips because they’re one of our favorite bands—and actually one of the real selling points that got us on the label in the first place. It was one of those things that made us feel more comfortable about switching from an indie to a major. And their record The Soft Bulletin was kind of a game-changer when it came out. This song in particular reminds me of when I was in a band called Today Is the Day and we were on tour with Neurosis in Europe and their sound guy would tune the PA with this song every day. As soon as I heard the beginning, I’d walk out on the main floor so I could listen to it really loud every day. That tour turned out to be the end of my time with that band and the beginning of trying to start something new, which became Mastodon.”

Atlanta
“We met Gibby Haynes when we played the All Tomorrow’s Parties Festival in England a few years ago with the Butthole Surfers. At some point during our set, I looked back to get my towel and a drink of water from my drum tech at the time. But when I turned around, he wasn’t there. Instead it was Gibby Haynes, and he was flipping me off. Later on that evening, we were hanging out backstage and [Mastodon guitarist] Brent [Hinds] starts strangling Gibby, who is turning purple and falls to the ground. It was just a prank, but we thought it was serous. So—surprise—Brent and Gibby become good friends, and when we started writing Once More ’Round the Sun, Brent wanted to write a song for Gibby. And this is that song—Gibby named it and did all the lyrics, and it’s pretty wild.”

Cut You Up With a Linoleum Knife
“We did this song for the beginning of the Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie. We were huge fans of that show, and when we were touring around in our van we had the DVDs, and if we ever got to stay at somebody’s house or had a DVD player, we would put it in and be under the influence and just be cracking up. It was so ridiculous, such an awesome show. One of the creators of the show got my number from one of our friends that worked at Cartoon Network here in Atlanta, so the guy called me on a Friday evening and said they’d love for us to do a song but they wanted to record it on Monday morning. So we just dropped everything and did it, and I got to sing like King Diamond. It was super fun.”

White Walker
“We were in Europe playing at this big festival and Brent got approached by some people who wanted to take a picture with him backstage. He noticed they had American accents, so he asked them where they were from, and they started talking—turns out one of them was Dan Weiss, one of the creators of Game of Thrones. And we were huge Game of Thrones fans when that show was on—that was what we’d do every Sunday night on the bus. So he invited us to be extras on the show, which we did, and then asked us to do a song for like a Game of Thrones mixtape. So we decided to approach it as more of like a folk song that was sung by the common people of the realm, like the mythology of the White Walkers that would be sung around the campfire.”

Orion
“We did this for a tribute album that Kerrang! magazine put out as part of the 20th anniversary of Master of Puppets. When we were recording Blood Mountain at Studio Litho in Seattle, we’d play ‘Orion’ to get tones. So when Kerrang! asked us to do a Metallica cover from Master of Puppets, we picked ‘Orion’ because it’s a really beautiful song that encompasses the beauty and the beast of Metallica. Most people covering Metallica pick songs that only show the beast side, but ‘Orion’ showcases a lot of the beauty and also the talents of Cliff Burton. Plus, we already knew how to play it and we didn’t have to sing. But the downside is that when the Kerrang! compilation came out, our song was the only one that wasn’t mastered, so when you put on the CD, our song was way quieter than everyone else’s—which was a bummer. So it’s now it’s properly mastered.”

SONG
Fallen Torches
1
4:22
 
A Commotion
2
4:14
 
Asleep in the Deep (Instrumental)
3
6:12
 
Capillarian Crest (Live)
4
4:20
 
A Spoonful Weighs a Ton
5
3:27
 
Toe to Toes (Instrumental)
6
4:28
 
Circle of Cysquatch (Live)
7
3:15
 
Atlanta (feat. Gibby Haynes)
8
3:25
 
Jaguar God (Instrumental)
9
7:55
 
Cut You Up with a Linoleum Knife (from the "Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters Colon the Soundtrack")
10
1:50
 
Blood & Thunder (Live)
11
3:52
 
White Walker
12
4:20
 
Halloween (Instrumental)
13
4:38
 
Crystal Skull (Live)
14
3:25
 
Orion
15
8:15
 
Iron Tusk (Live)
16
2:48
 

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