Thrash Hits

March 9th, 2009

Interview: Mastodon’s Bill Kelliher – “I’ve been sober for four months.”

Ahead of the release of Mastodon’s fourth album, Crack The Skye, Raziq Rauf caught up with guitarist Bill Kelliher for a chat. In this first part he spoke of his 2008 hospitalisation and he gave us a lovely Sonisphere exclusive.

mastodon crack the skye 2009 band thrash hits promo photo

You’ve been announced as part of the fantastic Sonisphere lineup. Are you planning anything special?

“We got to meet Scott Gorham from Thin Lizzy and he was one of the coolest fucking guys I’ve ever met – we just joked around and talked shit. Brent and I picked up acoustic guitars with Scott and we played ‘The Emerald’ together and it was great. He even gave me his email! We were talking about having him onstage to play with us at Knebworth and we’ll play ‘The Emerald’. We’ll have three guitar solos from three different guitar players up there and we’ll extend it. He seemed joyous about it.”

You were hospitalised in November 2008 whilst out on The Unholy Alliance. What happened?

“It’s a difficult situation but I’m only human and your body can only take so much abuse – alcohol being the number one. It’s a personal thing and it’s something I have to deal with. I haven’t actually gone out on tour yet but hanging out with my crowd and the guys in the band, it’s easy to have a good time. We like to party. We like to drink… a lot. I’ve been sober for four months – since that happened – so I’m just going to try and keep that up but we’ll have to see what happens on the road. It’s a gruelling experience and I don’t wanna have to go through that again. It was pretty rough.”

Do you think it was just a tour thing or does it go deeper than that?

“I’ve been drinking every day for the past 15 years and going on tour just intensifies that. Once I got into the hospital, I just stopped. It wasn’t like I went through the shakes or anything. I can still go out with my friends and have a non-alcoholic beer. To wake up hangover free for four months is like being in heaven. Life’s rough enough! My wife’s really proud of me and it’s just a whole new world when you’re sober.”

How do you think you’ll deal with the inevitable partying that will greet you on your month-long US tour and then the Sonisphere tour?

“The older you get, the harder it is to keep that lifestyle up. I’m sure every musician can relate but every time you come to a town, everybody wants to party with you. To you it’s like Saturday night, every fucking night but to them it really is Saturday night. We have friends and fans all over the world that want to buy you drinks and give you drugs and it’s kinda scary. You just have to learn to say no sometimes because if you do that for too long and you will end up in hospital…”


Crack The Skye by Mastodon is released on 23 March 2009 via Reprise Records

Buy your tickets for Sonisphere Festival 2009

Part 2 of this interview will be right here on very soon.



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