November 7, 2014, posted by Crumbs

The General Journals: An Evening With...

Machine Head

Greetings and salutations from tour pre-production-ville in beautiful Vienna, Austria. Tomorrow we officially kick off the ‘Bloodstones & Diamonds’ era and a lot of stuff is going on in my mind.

The first thing is we’re on the eve of a new album (and the world that a new album creates) and that in itself almost feels like a miracle. It’s been quite the three years since “Locust” came out in 2011. But those three years brought us to this, and THIS is where I want to be!
The full album stream came out yesterday on YouTube, check it out here:

Reaction has been amazing and polarizing. Extremely positive on one end and surprisingly negative on another, but I love it. That’s what makes Metal so great, that people are passionate about, they fuckin’ CARE, one way or another. We don’t need to be loved by everyone, in fact when some people don’t like it I know were on the right track.
But man, the folks who love it, holy shit… friends have sent me some fan reviews that literally welled me up.
It’s a nerve-racking yet exciting time and we’re all feeling pretty damn proud right about now.
Lotsa folks pondering whether were going to “do it,” if we’re gonna “crossover.” Wondering if the mainstream is gonna latch on and were gonna have an amazing first week success story. It’s weird to have people ponder that about us. Thank you for the votes of confidence. But nah!

We’re 8 albums deep, it’s gonna do decent first week, it’ll be a slow-burner, it’ll marinate, and then transcend.
This is about the long haul.
Think about it, Machine Head itself is all about the long haul and this album is no different.

The tour starts in Strasbourg France and first leg of the “Killers & Kings" Tour will have us in Europe until we head home for the holidays. We then re-charge the batteries and hit the US starting in January. No rest for the wicked... or crazy... you tell me! But seriously January could not come fast enough as we’re really looking forward to doing something a little different than usual.
We’re doing “An Evening With” Machine Head.
Meaning: it’ll just be us, folks.

We are really excited about the idea, playing longer sets, throwing in some deep cuts, and just having our own world. Promoters in the US seem really stoked about it, some have said it feels like “an event.”
Venue space permitting we might do a video montage (“we're gonna need a MON-TAGE!”) beforehand. We’ll see.
Another thing to look forward (?) to is we’re going to do touring a little differently this time around, we’re going to stop doing all summer festivals.
It looks weird to see that, to type that, let alone say that…
But that’s right; we’re going to stop doing festivals.

As it stands now we have passed on a headline slot on Wacken, Soundwave Festival in Australia, Download UK, Sonisphere UK, Knotfest, Hellfest, and a plethora of other festivals throughout the world. In fact, we have made a decision to not do ANY festivals for the entire “Bloodstone & Diamonds” album cycle.
So yeah, if you want to see The Head, we’ll only be headlining the shows we play in support of the new album.
Well… it’s long story, ya got a minute?
If you don’t, feel free to ignore this, cause there gonna be a bunch of whiners e-mailing me and commenting saying “oh god, your blogs are sooooo long.”
They’re not for you. They’re for a different breed.
So, where was I at…? Oh yeah, why no more festivals?

Well... we’re burnt out on them.
We’ve been doing festivals since 1995. The first festival we ever did was the Dynamo Festival in front of 130,000 people. Not a bad way to start right!!?? It was crazy and fun and chaotic and the nerves were occasionally nauseating, and it really felt like it meant something, like we were a part of something. A month later we did Donington and it was in front of 70,000 people!! But then again, 70,000 saw us suck. From fill-in drummer issues to brutal food poisonings…we weren’t part of shit that day!

Since then we have pretty much done festivals every summer, mostly in Europe, but back in ’97 we did Ozzfest in the US and starting in 2008 we’ve been a part of the Mayhem Festival 3 times now.
But there are now more festivals than ever! In 2012 we did 3-months-straight of “summer” festivals in Europe, but summer in Europe doesn’t really start until September. So for the most part we we’re playing outdoors, to a lot of people, yes, no doubt, but these people are watching Machine Head at 5PM in the freezing rain with bitter winds ripping across the festival grounds and don’t forget the occasional fatal lightning strike, too. Half the time both the band and the audience are in cold/wet survival mode and to be honest, when it’s like that, no matter how awesome the first Black Sabbath album starts, it’s the lamest environment for a heavy metal show!

BUT, the money is almost too good to pass up so for years now we’ve just done what we always did, because it’s "what we always did". But every once in a while you gotta step back and examine if what you’re doing works for you. And that’s what we did.

On that 2012 tour we earned more money than we had ever made, some shows were great, a lot were kinda “meh”, but because of fly-dates galore, days-off galore, and some mind-bogglingly bad budgeting we spent all the money we made. Imagine working your ass off for 3 months and not coming home with anything to show for it? It was an exhausting run yeah, but it was also a demoralizing run. Financially and mentally it was one of the toughest blows we have had to deal with in a long time. It was frustrating beyond comprehension.
And it would have been all worth it, if it did what it was supposed to do which is “dun-dun-dun” turn people on to Machine Head, both as a musical act as well as a live band.

That is the whole idea of playing festivals or opening for other bands… that you’re reaching a bigger audience, outside of your own fan base. With that knowledge, you then hope that you’re going to draw more people next time through that area, sell more merch, expand your fanbase and make all that went into that particular festival “worth it,” right?

But it doesn’t…
At least not for Machine Head anymore it doesn’t.
It used to be delivering a killer festival set could be a game changer. But I haven’t seen that happen in a while. For most bands it used to mean, slaying the huddled masses would pack ‘em in next time the band headlined. And ya know what? Maybe it does happen for some bands (though I haven’t heard that recently) but it just isn’t working for us anymore.

It’s not a terrible “problem” to have. We love headlining. If the “Killers & Kings” tour taught us anything, it’s how much we enjoy headlining and playing these over-packed clubs. In Europe and in the US everywhere we played was so fucking awesome and truly inspiring. It was as close to a religious experience as I’ve ever had. Instead of worrying about an opening band or their crew or this and that, there was none of it. We were completely focused on Machine Head. It wasn’t 30 minutes then some other band, or for fucks sake 10 other bands! It was our own little world and we really, really liked that.

It felt like us and our people, not us and a bunch of random rockers who “might” get into you.
Don’t get me wrong, festivals are fun, you get hang out and drink with your band bro’s, there is a cool camaraderie that happens (though also a clique-y-ness), and let’s face it, there's a bit of a "cock-stroke" to play in front of 10,000 or 20,000 or 100,000 people.
You come off stage and think to yourself, yup, “they we’re all there for us…”
...but they’re weren't.

I remember when we opened for this HUGE German band called Böhse Onkelz back in 2008, we played in front of 100,000 people, it was nuts! And 100,000 people just stared at us for 45 minutes, no circle pits, no sing-a-longs. I think people liked us, it was a big crowd… but it didn’t touch the vibe or energy of 500 packed-to-the-rafters MH lunatics in Toledo on the “Killers & Kings” Tour, or damn near every show on that summer tour we just played.
And that’s the way festivals feel for us lately. Like it’s just a bunch people staring at you, out to get drunk, stoned, and laid, and have a good time! AND HEY, there’s nothing’s wrong with that. I mean, my life is a perpetual hunt for a good time like that!!

And truthfully that’s what most Machine Head shows are too!
But after all these years, we only want to have those “drunken, stoney, on-the-hunt” good times with the people who are already down with us.
Does that make sense?

We’re not trying to have a good time with a bunch of people who don’t know who we are. If Machine Head throws a party, big or small, we don’t want a bunch of “strangers” there.
This is about us and you guys, the die-hards! The Fucking Undesirables! We don’t care about the others out there. We’re here and we’re not going anywhere, if those people want to be a part of this, they know where to find us. So for the time being, and maybe “forever” we’re done reaching out for them.
The silver lining in this, and there’s ALWAYS a silver lining in EVERY situation. Is that it’s a plus for the fans. Machine Head fans, a lot of you Head Cases have been begging us to stop doing 30 minute sets, sick of having to stand in the rain and mud through 25 bands just to see us, and you are now getting your wish. We'll likely bring opening bands in the future, but for now, its new and fresh.

Frankly, we are beyond excited to do this. SO fucking excited to just get out there and create our own little world on our terms, our way, not someone else’s.
And not with people who’re just a bunch of “Looky-Loo’s”, but with motherfuckers who live and breathe this shit!!
U.S. Dates coming next week!!

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