By MIKE CHAIKEN
After 20 years as a band, Ohio’s Mushroomhead has a top 20 album.
It’s latest, “The Righteous and the Butterfly,” which was released on May 13, flew up the charts immediately after.
“I’m pleasantly surprised,” said the band’s drummer Steve “Skinny” Felton in a phone interview from his home in Ohio. “I’m honored to be listed (on Billboard’s chart).”
But, said Skinny, who was prepping to head out on the road with the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival (which comes to Connecticut July 27), Mushroomhead never vied for validation on the sales charts.
“We’re just doing our thing,” said Skinny. “It’s not about the report card.”
“We made an album, we can stand behind,” said Skinny. “It’s something we can be really proud of.”
“We did it for us, artistic expression, and art,” said Skinny. “People really understand that and it’s been well-received.”
Skinny— who is joined in Mushroomhead by fellow drummers Robert Diablo and Stitch; vocalists J Mann, Jeffery Nothing, and Waylon; guitarist Church, keyboardist Schmotz, and bassist Dr. F— said the band hasn’t made any left turns on “The Righteous and the Butterfly” to achieve its success. Instead, he said, the band is simply building upon what it’s been doing all along.”
The arrival of fresh blood (and returning blood), however, did help things along this time around, said Skinny.
First of all, said Skinny, singer J Mann has reunited with the Mushroomhead family. And both Church and Dr. F are new additions to the collective.
Also, the new album’s songwriting is a reflection on some of the personal travails of Mushroomhead.
Press materials explain the title of the album “The Righteous and the Butterfly” is a “dedication to original guitarist, J.J. Righteous and the band’s former photographer (and drummer Steve ‘Skinny’ Felton’s wife) Vanessa Solowiow who both passed away too soon.
“J.J. was a key member of our band” said Skinny in the press materials for the record. “He played on the first three records and Vanessa was our photographer and the mother of my children. They were both huge pieces of Mushroomhead and this record is dedicated to them.”
Even though J.J. had left the band, said Skinny in his phone interview, the two of them still kept in touch. And musically, “We were always on the same page.”
Vanessa and Skinny had been together for 10 years. And in many ways she was part of the band, the drummer explained. For instance, Vanessa’s voice even appeared on an introduction to one of their earlier songs.
“I miss them dearly,” said Skinny. “(The title ‘The Righteous and the Butterfly’) is a direct salute to those guys,” said Skinny.
As for the reaction of the audience to the new album (aside from the chart success, Skinny said “A lot of fans are really digging it.”
Interestingly enough, said Skinny, “Everyone likes a different song, which is great.” He said this means there is no filler on “The Righteous and the Butterfly” and each track stands out on its own. Even at the record label, Skinny said the execs all had their own favorites.
As noted Mushroomhead is coming to Hartford as part of the 2014 installment of the Mayhem Festival. However, this year won’t be the first time Mushroomhead has been part of the traveling metal circus. Skinny said Mushroomhead filled in for a couple of dates during the 2008-09 edition. However, this year will be the first time the Ohio-based band has been part of the entire tour.
For Mushroomhead, the tour is a metal band reunion of sorts. Skinny said the band did a few dates with Korn. And Avenged Sevenfold and Mushroomhead “go way back to 2003 before they were huge.”
Mushroomhead has been allotted a 25 minute slot on Mayhem so it will be essentially a “best of” set list with a sprinking of new material and classics, culled from seven albums, said Skinny. And as the tour continues, Skinny expected the band’s set list will evolve.
Mushroomhead appears with the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival on Sunday, July 27 at the Xfinity Theatre in Hartford. The bill includes Avenged Sevenfold, Korn, Asking Alexandria, Trivium, Cannibal Corpse, Suicide Silence, Body Count Featuring Ice T, Miss May I, Emmure, Texas Hippie Coalition, Veil Of Maya , Upon A Burning Body, Darkest Hour, Ill Nino, Wretched, Islander, King 810, and Erimha.
For more information on Mayhem Festival, go to RockStarMayhemFest.com. For more information on Mushroomhead, go to Mushroomhead.com
By MIKE CHAIKEN