Exclusive Backstage Interview with Mushroomhead With Pics!

By Charlie Steffens aka Gnarly Charlie, Writer/Photographer
Friday, October 7, 2005 @ 8:36 PM

Vocalists Jeffrey Nothing and

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Dressed to Kill

Face it – rock music and make-up make strange bedfellows. While a band can get by on its musical merit alone, some will throw on face paint, colored contacts and the like to make it an all-out stage production. Alice Cooper did this, and still is … all these years later, even if the mascara applications aren't as heavy and greasy as they once were. Ultimately the music does the talking, but fine musicianship coupled with great visuals can sell more records … and tickets, for sure.

Apparently, the members of Mushroomhead had their trademark look tied up years before Slipknot began to "slip on" and capitalize on that very similar look. Though imitation has been called the biggest form of flattery, it is Mushroomhead that have been called the band who look like Slipknot knock-offs.

This is not a debate on which came first: the chicken or the egg. This is to point out that Mushroomhead are still relevant and eminent. The members of this heavy shock rock octet can get by on their music and they like to dress up. They're still playing music that is just as loud, dark and moody as it ever was, with a rhythm and melody that keeps the sound buoyant and makes those pits circle.

Since former vocalist J Mann split the band, a new vocalist, Waylon Reavis, from 3 Quarters Dead, has stepped in to sing and scream with veteran vocalist Jeffrey Nothing. The two shroomers were available for a short discussion with KNAC.COM while donning their make-up.

KNAC.COM: I'm with Waylon and Jeff of Mushroomhead, while they're doing their make-up ritual here in the dressing room. Jeff, from what I understand, your make-up takes the longest to put on, correct?

Jeffrey: Yeah, I don't really do any of it myself. Waylon can do a lot of his himself

KNAC.COM: On this tour you're mainly promoting the new DVD [Mushroomhead Volume 1], which is a carry over of your last album?

Jeffrey: The XX and XIII tours … a little bit of all that stuff.

KNAC.COM: For the show tonight and the tour overall, what material is going to be on your set?

Jeffrey: It's really just the older stuff. We're not doing any of the new songs yet. We're doing the stuff that Waylon's done with us before, and the new stuff – we're going to wait 'til the album's more ready. We're holding that off until early next year. Maybe in the October run we'll do some of the new stuff.

Two good looking brunette girls, who look exactly alike, walk into the dressing room and are greeted by Waylon and Jeff. I resume the interrogation.

KNAC.COM: Waylon, as far as the make-up take-off thing: how is it on your pores?

Waylon: It really doesn't affect my pores. I keep pretty clean skin, for some reason. It's grease, and I don’t know why I don't break out like a teenager, but it kind of makes my skin softer.

Jeffrey: It's probably like getting a facial everyday.

KNAC.COM: So rock and roll is like the fountain of youth, after all.

Jeffrey: I think so.

KNAC.COM: Here's something that's cutting edge, and maybe I'll get punched, but what is the deal about this whole thing with Slipknot and the Burger King commercials.

Jeffrey: Burger King's rebuttal was "What about Mushroomhead?" That's what they said to Slipknot. "You want to sue us? What about Mushroomhead?" They [Slipknot] recently did a show in Cleveland and they had an after-party that's basically home to us, and Joey [Jordison] was there and some other members …Joey ended up hugging Skinny, our drummer saying "We've known about you guys all along and we know you're the first, and we basically copied Mr. Bungle." So, that was a little different to hear. It's finally calming down where it's not a mudslinging battle. The only thing for me, and its always been the case is that people just throw us off as a copy and never gave us when that was the furthest thing from the truth. You should still have an open mind with music, no matter who your favorite band is you still give everything that's in that genre a chance, I think. You might miss …even, like five seconds of a song …you missed out on it, because you're too busy caught up in "Oh, I thought that was first …"

Waylon: Talking the bullshit. That's the way I put it. Personally, it came before me and I really don't have an opinion on it, but Jeff's right, just because we wear masks don't judge us. It's all about the music and what you do as a musician. If the music's not good - nobody care's about what you look like.

Jeffrey: Also, what's funny to me is that there are way more Burger King commercials now. There used to be just the one. I've seen two new ones since all this hassle has come up. I mean, why do you want to sue Burger King? They have a lot of money –I don't understand.

KNAC.COM: Some people just want to stir the pot and create controversy.

Jeffrey: In a way, there's no such thing as bad publicity. If you're causing a stir you're going to be talked about, so maybe that's what they're hoping for. Other than that …to me, it's nonsense. It's a joke, suing Burger King. I mean, who in Slipknot is a chicken? Which guy?

KNAC.COM: Tonight what can we expect? An hour set?

Jeffrey: It's really the same style set that we've been doing for a little while because of the transitions that have happened in the band. I think the next major headline thing we do will be a lot different. A lot different visually and a lot of different songs, and new songs, but we're really concentrating on what we're writing right now more so than changing the set. Hopefully it'll still be a strong Mushroomhead set, and everybody will get what they came for.

KNAC.COM: Waylon, when did you come on board?

Waylon: Last August.

KNAC.COM: In terms of music, what background did you come from?

Waylon: What would you call 3 Quarters Dead, Jeff?

Jeffrey: It's kind of like classic metal, on the edge of metal, but not quite. I'd say it's more classic …it's more of a story-telling lyric instead of just screaming something. The records are a story, you know?

Waylon: I know that 3 Quarters Dead and Mushroomhead are two totally different things. It's kind of shocking that I got the job I got. You know what I mean, Jeff? Its' like, I can't believe that I'm the screamer and I didn't really scream that much in my other band. That's the fun part.

Jeffrey: They were recording in our studio, and J [Mann], before he left, said "Wow, he sounds just like me on the heavy parts." So, J kind of picked him up and picked him as his predecessor. We never tried anyone else out. We didn't look at all, we just picked Waylon.

KNAC.COM: Has anybody ever told you that you sound like Ian Astbury from The Cult?

Jeffrey: I got that almost every night, two tours ago. I get that a lot. But, it changes around, who I look like or who I sound like. I got Ian Astbury a lot on the last run. She Sells Sanctuary is one of my favorite songs. I used to hear that I sounded like John Bush {Armored Saint, Anthrax] in the last band that I was in.

KNAC.COM: What do you see as being in store for Mushroomhead from here?

Jeffrey: As far as this tour goes …we go to the merchandise booth every night and sign. And over the last year-and-a-half of touring I have heard a lot of kids that have gotten back from Iraq or Afghanistan and said that our music help bring them home. So, that was the main drive, trying to give something back. We're working on a new record. We're about six songs into it structurally, lyrics and music. We have about fourteen more that are just music right now. We wrote a couple of different things on the bus, but the new stuff's not gonna come out 'til early next year.

KNAC.COM: Do you collaborate? Is it a group effort writing songs, or is it between you and Waylon?

Jeffrey: Between the two of us and Skinny, mostly, as far as the lyrics. As far as the last few records –-Jay and I never really wrote together other than "Solitaire/Unraveling", because usually I'd just sing my stuff and he'd sing stuff, and on that song he read my lyrics and wrote his, but we never really sat down and decided parts together. Waylon and I coach each other, he'll come up with a melody, I'll think of some words or vice-versa. It's just a better environment to create, definitely.

KNAC.COM: When we take a look at you guys, Waylon, you scare the hell out of us. It's funny that you guys aren't dark and sinister. You don't take it all too seriously, do you?

Waylon: You can't. You can't take yourself seriously, doing this …I mean …we wear make-up! We're trying to entertain you, that's it. We want you to go home entertained. We want you to see something, feel something. I'm a father, I got two kids, and my kids love the make-up. They think it's Daddy Halloween every day, so you just can't yourself too seriously doing this. You gotta be human. You can't be this superficial monster.

Jeffrey: By the same token for me …that hour onstage I want to be as serious as I possibly fuckin' can. Sorry about the fuckin', but …

KNAC.COM: Fuckin' fuck …

Jeffrey: (laughs) …the hour onstage I want to become this creature. I'm not me anymore.

Waylon: Yeah, that's the point. If you can't do it off the stage, you gotta do it on the stage. Off the stage you gotta be a regular guy—you put your pants on one leg at a time, just like anybody else. But when you're on that stage it's all about the entertainment value …it's all about making sure they leave with a smile.

KNAC.COM: When I saw your DVD it really gave me a chance to check your pulse, and to see that you guys are really funny. This is a fine escape for you.

Jeffrey: It was either this or serial killing, probably.

Click on the thumbnail shots for large pictures.

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