Mayhem Fest Preview: Mushroomhead’s Jeffrey Nothing on the Ohio Metal Scene, Being D.I.Y. and More

2014-06-25

Story by Anne Erickson

Interview: Jeffrey Nothing of Mushroomhead talks Mayhem Festival 2014, ‘The Righteous & the Butterfly’ and more

The annual Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival will kick off July 5 at the San Manuel Amphitheater in San Bernardino, Calif., and this year’s edition is set to feature some of the biggest bands in the heavy music genres performing on four stages. This year will mark the seventh anniversary of the traveling music festival, which covers a wide range of hard rock and metal music.

Cleveland-based alternative metal outfit Mushroomhead will play the full Mayhem trek, which runs though an Aug. 10 date at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion in The Woodlands, Texas. Other bands booked to appear include Avenged Sevenfold, Korn, Trivium, Asking Alexandria, Cannibal Corpse, Suicide Silence, Miss May I, Emmure, Veil of Maya, Texas Hippie Coalition, Darkest Hour, Ill Nino, Body Count, Upon a Burning Body, Wretched, Islander, King 810 and Erimha.

In preparation for the chaos known as Mayhem Fest, Mushroomhead vocalist Jeffrey Nothing checked in with Audio Ink Radio to discuss the band’s new album “The Righteous  & the Butterfly,” being a D.I.Y. group and why he’s excited “beyond words” to play Mayhem.

Mushroomhead have enjoyed a 20-plus year career. What keeps you guys together and going strong?

We have a very strong core that has, for the most part, been doing this together for 25 years. We have been very fortunate to have some very good people join us along the way. Mushroomhead is stronger than ever, not to mention we could very well be the poster band for the D.I.Y. movement. If you want to survive and succeed in this day and age of non-existent CD sales, you have to be able to do as many things as any band needs in house. Tour support is also all but gone. Not keeping costs down can cripple or kill even the best bands.

What was the creative process like for your new album, “The Righteous & the Butterfly?”

It was like a vacation from any past album process we have ever had. We were all absolutely on the same page. In the past, we were not only not in the same library, but not even in the same town. “TR&TB” is different than any record I have ever made. Skinny said it wrote itself, and I couldn’t agree more. Every one of us had their heart into this record more than ever before. We are, way more than ever before, truly a band. There are no ulterior motives, no jealousies, no moments that we would have rather redone. This album stands on its own, and until we write again, it’s the epitome of what we are trying to do, and it feels good.

Do you feel this album differs from the other Mushroomhead albums in your discography? I think it covers new terrain.

Yes, by all means possible. This is the very essence of who we are, who we have always been and who we are meant to be. J Mann and I were in the band together 10 years ago. But we, Waylon included, are finally writing together and pushing one another and getting that best performances from and for each other. These songs felt great in the tracking and mixing process, but they really come alive in practice, and I cannot wait to share them with audiences everywhere. Saying we are pumped is a ridiculous understatement. This whole experience has come full circle. We’re the band we always knew we could be, long before we ever even jammed together for the first time over 20 years ago.

You guys are out of Cleveland. What’s the metal scene like in your hometown and throughout Ohio?

Our Cleveland scene has been a very well-kept secret for way too long. Ohio, too, is an amazing hotbed for all things music. Maynard James Keenan, Marilyn Manson and Scott Weiland are all great vocalists from the area, but talented bands come from Northeast Ohio, too. There is and always has been a plethora of great bands in a variety of styles from Cleveland. Integrity, the Spudmonsters, Chimaira, Ringworm and of course ourselves, Mushroomhead, barely scratch the surface of what is here musically. The fans, for that matter, and the pits in Cleveland are legendary. I believe the national spotlight finally shines here, as it should.

Fans will have the chance to see you on Mayhem Festival this year. Are you excited?

Beyond words! 2002 and Ozzfest were long ago. There is an entirely new generation of metal fans getting the opportunity to see Mushroomhead in what I believe truly is this band’s natural habitat. We love playing for any audience, but in the festival world we get to blur the line between band and crowd. We got the chance to play three shows in 2009 as a part of the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival and had a blast. In so many ways, it’s good to be home, and no, we can’t wait!

What Mayhem band will you probably hang with the most on tour?

Avenged Sevenfold and Korn. We took Avenged Sevenfold on a couple of their first tours and had a great friendship at that time, and I can imagine it will be like we never missed a beat. They are great guys, and I couldn’t be happier for them and their success. With Korn, we just played Soundwave 2014 and we were beyond fortunate enough to be able to have our Sidewave dates as the opener for Korn and Rob Zombie. This also felt very much like we had been there before, taking pics and hanging out with both bands. Waylon also had the opportunity to be interviewed with Jonathan Davis of Korn and relive the experiences of his first show seeing Korn live and what that meant to his path as a singer. So, I would say our time will be shared with those two bands most.

What are you most looking forward to at Mayhem?

Proving that we never went away– that we are relevant and in it for the long haul. We have come of age. We will be in our element, and I feel, we will be reinventing just what that element is and should be. We recently played Soundwave in Australia and, in a lot of ways, did Mushroomhead bare bones: no water drums, no stitch, no new release yet. We’re bringing the full-on Mushroomhead monster to the heavy metal tour of the summer. We’ll leave every bit of who we are, every afternoon, no matter the city or temperature or time of day. That crowd will not forget our performance for every right reason. Ever!

Photo by Blind 7 Photography