Machine Head: "People just like calling me a dick"
Political corruption. Social inequality. Street violence. Machine Head frontman Robb Flynn has had enough, and he’s not afraid to let us know about it on new album Catharsis...
"The last song for the record was written and recorded just after the white supremacist rally and the murder in Charlottesville. If music is a snapshot of somebody’s headspace captured, that day you got a raw burst of fury and anger and frustration and confusion, and it’s all there in Volatile. After is all said and done, I’m saying some shit, but this shit’s got to be said.”
Robb Flynn is animated, eyes widening and voice defiant. We’re chatting in the basement of London’s Gibson Studios, before Hammer’s photoshoot, and the Machine Head frontman has a lot of things to get off his chest. However, his primary focus is unquestionably the bold new album his band have just finished. A sprawling, 75-minute colossus, the ninth Machine Head record almost creaks under the weight of the talking points it throws up: the musical detours, the startling curveballs, and the often pointedly political lyrics and genuine sense of righteous anger that underpins its most powerful moments. There is zero chance that Catharsis will emerge without ruffling a few feathers, but it seems equally likely to send Machine Head’s fanbase into raptures.
Looking healthy, happy and incredibly relaxed for a man assailed by jetlag and a relentless stream of prying journalists, Robb is more than ready for whatever is thrown back at him when Catharsis is released. Never mind that most of the album is heavy as fuck: Catharsis is going to get people talking, for better or worse.
“Yeah, people just like calling me a dick!” Robb laughs. “There’s plenty of shit I don’t say anything about, because who wants to deal with all the bullshit? I don’t. I don’t want my family to deal with the bullshit, either. I say things every once in a while because I feel I have to, but I don’t want to be that guy, you know? I don’t want that title, ‘The Guy Who Stands Up And Says Shit’. Maybe it’s because I grew up listening to the Dead Kennedys and Public Enemy – shit that was super-fucking-pissed off about what’s going on now. That stuff still resonates with me and it still influences me.”
Robb goes on to explain that seventh track Bastards was not originally meant to be a Machine Head song. Penned as he was trying to get his head around the idea that America had gone mad and elected a narcissistic lunatic as supreme leader, its lyrics were inspired by a conversation that he and his wife Genevra had with their two sons, as they tried to explain America’s perverse electoral choice.