Mastodon Take the "Darth Vader Approach" to Jonah Hex

Mastodon Take the 'Darth Vader Approach' to <i>Jonah Hex</i>
Not too long ago, a neat tidbit of news regarding progressive metal quartet Mastodon was revealed. In keeping with their mission of self-challenge and branching out of the normal confines of their genre, they signed on to write a score for Jonah Hex, the most recent comic book turned film.

At that point, though, few details were available other than their confirmed participation. However, our friends at Paste Magazine recently conducted an interview with Mastodon and found out much more about what's going on.

According to Mastodon bassist/vocalist Troy Sanders, after visiting the set to get a feel for the production, the band felt assured that working with Jonah Hex director Jimmy Hayward was perfect. Sanders expected this, however, understanding that Hayward is a genuine Mastodon fan to begin with.

"As opposed to labels profiteering the situation, saying they'd give a band $500,000 to use some song, he called us out of the blue as a fan. It was the most beautiful, authentic way to collaborate," Sanders told Paste, adding that band and director "were immediately on the same wavelength of art, music and life in general."

Sanders goes on to note that while Mastodon have always been an exploratory collective, this particular music is the greatest stretch they've made to date, as the film's requirements for variations in mood and tempo were fixed points of reference they had to adhere to.

"We wrote variations on themes for each character, different variables for a bunch of riffs: faster, slower, heavier, lighter," he said. "It's the Darth Vader approach. Some of it was heavy, some of it was very moody, a lot of it was spacey, Melvins B-sides, Pink Floyd-like, surreal outer space, like Neil Young's Dead Man. Swirling, nausea music."

Most interesting - aside from Sanders revealing that some of the material might be adapted for the London Orchestra for particularly epic scenes - is the reality behind their inclusion. Sanders sums it up best, when he says, "[The movie budget] covered our studio fees, but it was a break even deal... I guarantee an incredibly popular misconception will be, 'Oh my god, they're selling out doing a fucking comic-book movie. They probably got a huge paycheck and don't give a shit about integrity,' The fact is the exact opposite. We sacrificed another two weeks away from home to give away an album's worth of material for nothing in return but satisfaction in being a part of something incredible."