Ohio’s alt-industrial metal outfit, Mushroomhead, entered its third decade with its heaviest and most inspired album to date. The Righteous and the Butterfly pays tribute to former guitarist JJ Righteous who passed away in 2010, as well as Vanessa Solowlow who passed last year and was the wife of co-founder and drummer Steve “Skinny” Felton. This summer the band is tearing up the road on the 2014 Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival in support of its new record. Metalholic sat down with Skinny and vocalist Jmann to talk about the new record and the tour.
The Righteous and the Butterfly marks the return of vocalist Jason “Jmann” Popson, and is also the first album to feature all three vocalists; Jmann, Jeffrey “Nothing” Hatrix and Waylon Reavis. The latter joined the band when Jmann took a hiatus in 2004. The new record also features new guitarist Tommy Church and bassist Ryan “Dr’ F.” Ferrell. Both added to the new textures and nuances heard on the record.
The fans have responded to the rejuvenated line-up sending The Righteous and The Butterfly into the Top 20, and #1 on the Hard Rock Charts. Offers Skinny:
It was definitely a pleasant surprise. We didn’t write it to do that. We made some art for ourselves. We’re artists, not rock stars. At the end of the day we just wanna do what we do and feel good about it when we press play the next day. As artists you have to have some sort of release. You have to have some sort of medium to put it out there and ours just happens to be music. And we’re also fortunate that people like what we do because we’d do it either way. Cause we’d do it whether people liked it or not. So we’re blessed to have people picking up the new album.
Jmann talked about the import of the album’s title, and what it means to the band:
Unfortunately we lost two members of our family. I think that really put things in perspective for us as far as how short life is and not to take people for granted. It really puts you in touch with what really matters: heart and soul, friendship, love.
“As difficult as it is sometimes,” Skinny adds, “People need to embrace change in their life. It doesn’t matter what it is. Things happen for a reason.”
The band’s Day 4 Mayhem Festival performance was one of the afternoon’s highlights. Wearing their trademark masks and make up, the nine-piece unit took the stage with “Our Apologies” Robbie “Roberto Diablo” Godsey and Rick “ST1TCH” Thomas pounded away on the water drums, keyboardist Tom Schmitz set the tone, while Jmann, Reavis and Hatrix stalked the stage, inciting the crowd. Skinny and Dr. F laid down the foundation and Church brought the crunching riffs. The band also brought out Jackie LaPonza for “We Are the Truth, and turned fans on to a cover of Pink Floyd’s “Empty Spaces”.
During our interview below, Jmann talks about his return to the fold and how the new members impacted the recording of The Righteous and the Butterfly. Skinny talked about how he created the basic artwork for the album’s stunning cover. Prior to the interview they chatted about recording a fresh version of Adele’s “Rumor Has It”, stating that they always try to throw a new spin on the covers they choose. Admitted Adele fans, Jmann and Skinny, said they wanted to give one of her songs the Mushroomhead treatment.
All photos © 2014 by Rustyn Rose and Suzette Mansfield.
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