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Machine Head - A chat with Dave McClain
On Thursday the 18th of October, Metalrage went to the 013 to see Machine Head and to have an interview with Dave McClain (drums). Keep reading to find out about the future of Machine Head and Elton John!

Metalrage: How's the tour going so far?

Dave: It's going good man! We started in Australia, it seems like 3 months ago, we've been
out for a while.

Metalrage: I saw the tourshirt a few minutes ago and it had this gigantic list on the back. How long will you be away from home this time?

Dave: Its a big list. We'll be back December the 15th. Usually we get back on the 21st or the 22nd so we have one day to shop for Christmas.

Metalrage: So this time you actually have some time to sleep and get ready for the food...

Dave: This year is a little better!

Metalrage: TTAOE is considered to be a "return to form" by a lot of critics and fans and I believe by the band itself, as well. Is his "direction" going to be continued for the next cd?

Dave: Yeah, because the way we're doing stuff now... well this is the nutshell version of the story: If you are on a label and you put out album after album, you tend to get bigger and bigger. You want more exposure and the label wants to give you that. So they start picking songs for radio. That happened on Supercharger, which was basically based around one song, being Crashing Around You. And after 9/11 nothing like that got played on the radio. Nothing with the word "crashing" or "building" or anything like that in it. So this time we decided not to take anything to radio. We wanted a record that got out by word of mouth, like "shit this a fucking heavy album". This just opened everything up for songwriting. The songs got more complex and longer, and it was alot more fun doing this record.

Metalrage: So it was better for you guys?

Dave: It is much better. I think that the next album will be done the same way. We now have had this unit together for a while, and I think the next album will just get heavier, if anything.

Metalrage: Phil Demmel joined Machine Head quite a while ago now. In what way does he "add" to Machine Head compared to Ahrue Luster or Logan Mader?

Dave: Well compared to Ahrue, I dont think Ahrue really had his heart in what Machine Head was about. He wanted it to go off in a more mellow, commercial direction. But with Phil, things are more like as they were with Logan. He is a killer guitarplayer and he adds to the songwriting as well. With Ahrue, Rob would come up with alot of heavy stuff, and Ahrue would come in with the other side. Sometimes that worked. It worked on The Blood, The Sweat, The Tears for example. But for me, it never really fit. With Phil, we are all on the same line, we've got four guys now who are on the same thing. We're not worrying anymore that half the record should be mellow. There might be two songs like that on the new record but we're all focused on the heavy shit right now.

Metalrage: It's been a while ago when you got asked to play for Machine Head. If I'm correct, it was Igor Cavalera who suggested you to the band. What would have happened if you didnt get the gig?

Dave: Hey man, I dont know. I would have been in a band, somewhere. Or doing something with recording with my friend, Ross Robinson. I would probably doing some stuff with him, or do sessions or something.

Metalrage: So your life really is in music?

Dave: Yeah if I didn't play with Machine Head, life would have continued and I would probably be in a band. Maybe Chimaira, or something. (editor: joking about that band's drummer problems)

Metalrage: The first song on TTAOE is Imperium. I consider it to be one of the best Machine Head songs since a long time. What was your first "impression" when you heard the first complete rough cut of it?

Dave: Well, that was during practice. Me and Rob wrote that song. I wrote the verse riff a long time ago, so we were playing around with that. We had a couple of other parts but it wasn't really going anywhere. I think it was the last song we wrote for this album. So during practice I said to Rob: "Hey man, I got some more parts, I think they would make the song work, lets try it". First time we played it we were all smiling, like: "Holy shit dude! Lets play it again!". I think we played it 5 or 6 more times. And I still go like "this song is badass" while playing live, so I'm glad it's our song!

Metalrage: So you play guitar as well. Are you more active in getting "your" influence in the band?

Dave: I always write stuff. This time around, with Ahrue out of the band, it was just me, Rob and Adam. And Adam doesn't really write anything, so I knew that Rob needed some help. So I just started writing at home, put it on the computer and burn it on a cd so Rob could hear it. Or I just took a few parts to practice. I wrote a few things on Supercharger and The Burning Red.
I've always played guitar. When I started drums, I started on guitar as well. Not really focusing on it, but just playing a bit.

Metalrage: Not so long ago, you got married. How is that working out, since you guys tour around quite a lot?

Dave: I think I've been on tour longer than I've been home. We were talking about that the other day. Like: "See that's why it works so good! You don't have a chance to get mad at me!". But it's hard. We've been married for a year but we have known eachother for almost ten years, so she knows what she got into.

Metalrage: It seems that heavier music is on the rise again. Bands like Chimaira, God Forbid, Shadows Fall and Lamb of God are doing pretty well, especially in America. Older bands like Exodus and Death Angel came out with new albums. Do you think it's a trend, a sort of nu-metal backlash?

Dave: I think it's a trend. A lot of those older bands like Exodus got back together a few years ago. I believe one of the first new shows that they did, was the Chuck Billy Thrash of the Titans benefit... All of those bands were getting back together. Death Angel always was unique back then, they still sound good. Well, Exodus still sounds good as well, but I was never big on Exodus. But all these other bands were getting back together, and they were like: "keep booking us! We weren't any good back then, but we'll do it!". But the new bands like Lamb of God are still pretty underground compared to Limp Bizkit. Limp Bizkit was getting huge, and a lot of the garage bands tried to sound like Limp Bizkit because that's all that the labels were signing. But the biggest of those new bands are still selling under 150.000 records so it's pretty much underground, really. Which is killer, because that's what's metal is all about.

Metalrage: But don't you think that the same thing that "happened" with Limp Bizkit might be happening with bands like Chimaira and God Forbid?

Dave: Well, I think that God Forbid has been doing their own thing. But I think that there are tons of bands that go like -impersonates screaming vocalist- ...I can think of 20 of those bands that really sound all the same. What's the difference, really, besides having a different bandname. I don't really get it. It seems that there are always a few bands who do something "first", and there will always be a lot of bands trying to follow that or turn it into their own thing.

Metalrage: Bands like Caliban and God Forbid got good record deals. I think that Killswitch Engage was one of the first bands in this "genre" that got big, relatively I think that has something to do with it...

Dave: Yeah.

Metalrage: So what's in your cd-player these days?

Dave: I don't have cd-player man... I got an I-Pod! But I`m listening to the new Lamb of God, and the new The Haunted... which is fucking killer.

Metalrage: Peter Dolving is back!

Dave: Yeah... and he is fucking...

Carn and Dave in stereo: Pissed!

Dave: But that would be the newest things. And stuff like Elton John's greatest hits... you don't want to know about that.

Metalrage: Machine Head toured with 36 Crazyfists and God Forbid in the states this year. Got any funny anecdotes about that tour?

Dave: Well, there was this one thing with 36Crazyfists. It happened at Maryland or somewhere. First the singer had go to a hospital because his voice went out or something. But the drummer comes walking up, holding his ribs and his eyes are black and his nose is fucked up. So I was like "what the fuck happened" but I think they had some W(orld)W(restling)E(ntertainment)-style wresteling in their van, or something.
And When we first met God Forbid, we got told before: "watch out for your beer". Every night after we got off stage, like clockwork, they would knock on the door and go like "Hey man... do you guys have any beer?". We wanted to give them some of our beer, but we were like:
"nah this is fun, just let them come in".
They tried to be all cool and stuff, but it always went: "Hey man, how's it going, can I talk to you for a minute", and we would say: "what's up man, want a beer?", and they go like: "YEAH man!".

Metalrage: Another question... you probably know what a brown-eye is?

Dave: It's a fucking drink that I am sick of!

Metalrage: It shows up everywhere... Rob couldn't stop talking about it in The Melkweg some time ago... he says it originated in Amsterdam.

Dave: Yeah it's wodka and coke.

Metalrage: Any special kind of Wodka?

Dave: No, just good wodka!

Metalrage: Pantera or Slayer?

Dave: For me, definitely Pantera! If they would come back together, I would kill Vinnie Paul and play drums for them!

Metalrage: All right, that was it; thanks for your time!