J Mann is one of three vocalists for the industrial heavy metal band Mushroomhead. The masked group recently released their 8th studio album titled “The Righteous & the Butterfly” which entered the Billboard charts at #20. The band will also be a part of this year’s Rock Star Energy Drink Mayhem Festival. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with J recently about the upcoming tour, the new album and how he ended up rejoining the band after almost a 10 year leave from the group.
Adam Lawton: What were some of the things that led to you rejoining the band full time again?
J Mann: I think a lot of it had to do with timing and maturity. We have all grown as people. We never drifted as friends during the time I wasn’t officially in the band. I would get up there and do shows with them when they were in the Cleveland area and what not. We never lost contact we were just doing different things for awhile. We had talked about working together again and the timing just seemed to work out. We had the 20 year anniversary of the band coming up at that time and then we started working on a new record. Originally I got asked to come in and sing on just a couple songs. We got in there and it was just so much fun and very reminiscent of 1993. We all re-found our passion. Making this record was just a lot of fun. After a few weeks we looked at how many songs I was on and it ended up being like 11 songs or something like that. Being on that record led to me doing the 20th anniversary tour and things just sort of snowballed and before I knew it I was back in the band.
AL: Having not worked with the band in the studio for almost 8 years what were those first sessions like?
J Mann: A lot of it was like riding a bike but I was also working with some guys I had never worked with before. Church and Dr. F were still kind of the new guys. What was cool with those guys is they joined a band that was already established. They were instrumental in getting us back to our roots. They rained us in and brought the band back to what it was originally about. That made things very exciting for me. We all had the same goal in making a great record.
AL: Were the tracks that you sang on pre-arranged or did you bring in your own material?
J Mann: When I came aboard the band had been working on the instrumental portion of the album for almost a year. There were some scratch vocals laid down by Jeff and Waylon and I sort of filled in the holes. We all would talk after working on the songs and we all just looked at the big picture as to what would serve the song best. Sometimes Jeff was writing for me or I was writing for him or Waylon. We all worked together real well and because we have been around each other for so long we are comfortable enough to where we can work like that.
AL: What was the bands main goal with the release of this album?
J Mann: We really wanted to get back to our roots with this record. We wanted to revisit whatever it was that made us initially want to work together some 20 plus years ago. However while searching for that spark we also didn’t want to sound like some dated dinosaur. I think there was a time when the band may have gotten caught up in whatever trend was happening at the time but then we realized that we lost a lot of the things that made us who we are and what our fans liked about us. This new album brings all those things back with a fresh take.
AL: With Mushroomhead being a very visual band have you guys shot any videos for any of the new songs yet?
J Mann: We have shot one video so far. We had been sort of holding on to it until the album release but it’s out now and fans will definitely want to check that out. It’s for the song “Qwerty” and it’s got a really scary vibe to it. We shot it at a haunted house in Cleveland called The Fear Experience. Stitch who does our sampling and art design is the director there. He designed all of the rooms which was great as it was like a built in. There is a little girl in the video that was just a trooper throughout the whole thing as it took us a couple days to finish. The video is very dark.
AL: The band is a part of this year’s Rock Star Mayhem Festival. What can fans be expecting from the bands performances?
J Mann: I am really looking forward to being a part of this year’s tour. We just played over in Australia as part of the Sound Wave festival. A lot of the same bands that were on that are also going to be on Mayhem Festival. It’s going to be almost like a reunion with those bands. Of course Avenged Seven Fold who we took out on their first national tour is going to be cool to be out with again. It’s awesome to have watched those guys blow up. It’s just going to be a great summer.