Ghost Cult chatted with Steve “Skinny” Felton, the mastermind of long-running Cleveland metal act Mushroomhead. The band has a brand new album out now via Napalm Records, the heavy and melodic A Wonderful Life. Steve spoke candidly about his 25-year plus career, how the band has survived over different lineup changes and labels, the writing and producing goals the band had going into the new album, the new dynamic of the three signers of the band: Mr. Rauckhors, J Man, and Ms. Jackie, how the band is dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, all the video content they are working on, and their relationship with their fans. You can order the new album here and listen to our chat below. Continue reading
Long-running modern metallers Mushroomhead have suffered the departure of co-founder and vocalist Jeffrey Nothing, a.k.a. Jeff Hatrix (born Jeffrey Lewis Hetrick). He helped form the band in 1993 in Cleveland, OH with drummer Steve “Skinny” Felton. Continue reading
Mushroomhead spent this past summer taking part on the 2014 Rockstar Enerydrink Mayhem Festival, promoting their latest record titled The Righteous & The Butterfly, in front of rabid yet eager music fans that were getting their first tastes of the band.
They just completed the first day of the infamous festival tour and band drummer Steve “Skinny” Felton shared his thoughts. “Today’s day one – a couple little snafus and technical difficulties, like this microphone didn’t work or that microphone cut out. That’s all part of it. The main thing is we’re here, we want to push our new album, push our horizons, and expand anyone who is interested in Mushroomhead’s mind. I want to show people there’s more to it than the mask. It’s not a gimmick. We’re artists. We’re not rockstars. If you like art you’ll probably dig it.”
Since their previous album, 2010’s Beautiful Stories For Ugly Children, the band had a shuffling of members, and still managed to continue to tour behind their record. But once they found new members to come in and infuse some new energy into the band, they gradually found their way into crafting songs that eventually landed onto the new album.
“We had some new members with Tommy Church (ex-Autumn Offering) on guitar, Ryan “Dr.F” Farrell on bass, and bringing back J Mann on vocals. So there were lots of fresh ideas,” said Felton.
“It’s a fresh twist on a new idea, if you will. There’s a lot of excitement. Everyone was anxious and excited to work together. We have our own studio and have multiple rooms. You can literally work on one idea with a couple of guys and work on another idea with a couple of other guys, and coming in the next day and say ‘did you hear what he did to this tune?’ It was fresh again and it was exciting. Everyone wanted to work.”
Much like any relationship, the band members found itself within a dilemma where creativity and animosity amongst band members became an issue. But with new members coming into the fold, they found a way to work through it.
“After six or seven albums and a lot of animosity between band members, anybody who has tried to keep a band together understands what I’m saying. It could be your best friends in life…but is the art coming across right? Are you expressing yourself in the right way? Does it sound contrived? Does it sound boring? We didn’t have that on this record. This album damn near wrote itself. It told us what to do. Like if it was a shitty idea and nobody cared, we knew to move on. So we focused on the good and the unknown. I like not knowing where the song is going. I like to go ‘wow I would have never thought of that Jeff [Nothing]. And Jeff is the one to put a twist on some of his vocals. He’s an odd ball and he’s brilliant at the same time. It’s so cool. The whole album was pretty much that way. I think it’s my favorite one to this day.”
Mushroomhead has been a band for 21 years, a milestone for a band coming out of Cleveland, OH and a solid fan base that has kept them afloat over the years. Felton spoke about their secret to their success.
“I think there’s an honesty to the music itself. Fans that we have, they’re smart enough to know ‘that’s contrived, that’s put together, that’s not written by them. You know the difference. That’s a filler song.’ Our new record has zero filler songs. The Righteous & The Butterfly”
One area that the band has yet to venture into is creating into print media. While Mushroomhead’s imagery is tailor made for animation and comic books, Felton has not quite felt the urge to jump into that world.
“We dabbled with the comic book a while ago. Again technology came in and print media is not what it used to be. The guy we talked to wanted to do it online comic. ‘That’s not the same! I want a comic book dammit!’ So we stopped right there. A lot of our videos are very theatrical and film-esque. We try to tell a story than guys playing drums and (does a death metal growl). I have mad respect for all the bad ass players out there. But Mushroomhead…we’re a little different. We write our own book.”
Felton concluded with recent comments stirring around the music press about Slipknot’s alleged interest in doing a tour with Mudvayne and Mushroomhead in the near future. While there are no proposed plans of such a tour happening anytime soon, he sounded very interested in such an idea if it were to come to life.
“My thoughts are, absolutely, 100% if there’s any reality to it – of course we would be down. It would be a dream come true – love Slipknot. Whether it’s media fueled or fan based…whatever…doesn’t matter. There’s a lot of similarities to those guys that goes way beyond the masks and the costumes. The music is totally different. But what we’ve been through as people, I think we share more in common than anyone would ever know. With the loss of people…shit with donning the masks at 3 in the afternoon and putting them on at 100 degrees – they know what that is, we know what that is. So I have nothing but love and respect for them.”
“Corey man, absolutely. If you ever want to do anything I would love to. And goddamn that Stone Sour record – the last one…I love it! I’m a huge fan. The last album turned me. Kudos Corey!”