Robb Flynn has had a few rough years. A critically derided album, band members leaving and unable to tour, some were beginning to worry that this could be the end of Machine Head as we know it. But in the new issue of Metal hammerRobb doesn’t back down – if there’s something, he sees Of Kingdom and Crown as a new start, the first step towards a bright future. Here are 10 things Hammer learned by talking to Robb.
Catharsis’ response came as a shock
At its best you could say Machine Head 2018 album catharsis sowed division. Musically, lyrically, politically, that record pulled no punches and was considered a colossal misstep by many fans and media alike.
While Robb has no intention of raising his hands and apologizing for the record, he admits the response came as a big shock. “The catharsis cycle was nothing like I’ve ever dealt with from the metal media,” he tells us. “It was really not-damn-believable.”
Breaking up was never an option for Machine Head
The departures of Dave McClain and Phil Demmel in 2018 made fans fear it was curtains for Machine Head. But Robb never worried. “Literally the day they stopped, I started writing [2020 single] Bulletproof,” Robb explains.
There is no bad blood with Phil Demmel and Dave McClain – as for Robb
While Phil Demmel has made disparaging comments about Robb since leaving Machine Head (calling the band a “Robb Flynn solo project”), Flynn claims there is no animosity towards his former bandmates.
“For me, we closed it in a very classy way. I’ve gotten the audience to give up every night for Phil and Dave and for everything they’ve brought to the band – all the good times, all the good shows, all good music.”
Even when the old lineup broke up, Robb was building the future of Machine Head
On days off during the latest Machine Head tour with Phil Demmel and Dave McClain, Robb and bassist Jared MacEachern went into a studio in South Carolina.
“In the end we came up with the music for My hands are empty‘ says Robb. ‘So it was that early. I just wanted to keep busy, I just wanted to focus on my work and writing music. I didn’t have to think about the future.”
Machine Head’s European tour in 2019 was just what the band needed
In 2019, Machine Head went to Europe to play some massive three-hour sets as part of their …An evening of size. In the first part, Robb was reunited with former members Logan Mader and Chris Kontos to play burn my eyes fully. The second set saw Machine Head joined by guitarist Vogg (of Polish death metal merchants Decapitated) and drummer Matt Alston.
“It was a very unusual situation,” admits Robb. “And it was awesome! Jamming with Logan and Kontos for the first time was so cool, and there were literally magic nights with them on stage.”
Despite having sung for one of the most groove-friendly bands in the world for the past 31 years, Robb goes straight for the heavy stuff when it comes to his workouts. In fact, that’s how Vogg got on his radar in the first place — he was bombarded with Decapitated while playing sports. “I call it the death metal gym, it’s super hardcore!” says Robb.
The original plan wasn’t to make a Machine Head album
Despite all the recordings Robb has made since 2018, he initially had no intention of making another Machine Head album. Instead, he liked to work on singles. “In the beginning, I just wanted to release songs,” Robb says. “I felt like a record would take too much time. I love that we’re in a time where I can record a song today and everyone can hear it tomorrow.”
Robb has been planning a Machine Head concept record for centuries
Of Kingdom and Crown is Machine Head’s first concept album, but it’s something Robb wanted to do for a long time. “I’ve been talking about making a concept album for years,” Robb says. “For me, they’re usually not that well done, and if they… to be well done, magical.”
Robb’s touchstones for concept albums are quite surprising
When discussing the concept albums he thinks are “magical”, Robb cites a few obvious examples: Pink Floyd’s The wall, Queensryche’s Operation Mindcrime…but more surprising is his recording of My Chemical Romance’s The Black Parade. “I am a big fan of My Chemical Romance and loved The Black Parade. That’s a record on a desert island for me.”
Of Kingdom and Crown is not based on Attack On Titan anime series
Some early reports suggested that the concept behind Of Kingdom and Crown was actually based on the anime series Attack on Titan. However, Robb quickly clarifies and provides some explanation of the actual story.
“There is character number one, called Ares [pronounced Aries]’ explains Robb. “He loses the love of his life, Amethyst, and murders the perpetrators who killed her. Character number two, named Eros [pronounced Arrows], he’s the culprit, the one who killed Amethyst. He loses his mother to a drug overdose, and in his downward spiral he is radicalized by this charismatic leader and goes on his own murderous frenzy. The lyrics describe how their lives are intertwined.”
Read the full article in the new issue of Metal Hammer, out now. Order your copy here (opens in new tab).