After a tough period… Mushroomhead managed to get things together and present themselves stronger and more determined than ever. Their new album contains all those elements from their past which have been mixed up with today’s things. The band’s clean vocalist Jeffrey “Nothing” Hatrix, talked to Grande Rock about the band’s new era, the hard times of the past and their future plans among others…
Mushroomhead band pic
Hey Jeffrey… so glad to have you on Grande Rock dude…
J: Thanxx, happy to be here!
So first things first. “The Righteous & the Butterfly” marks J Mann’s return after a 10-year absence. How was that accomplished and do you think that now was the best time for both parties?
J: It was a longtime coming. We had done a few dates on and off over the years and also lost a couple people who were very important to what made us Mushroomed, today. Losing people that were a part of you can bring a new perspective to anything you are involved in. As a whole and in its remaining parts. We also parted ways with a couple of members who didn’t share in the founding members’ vision of what Mushroomhead was always meant to be. October 23, 2013 was the 20 year anniversary of the very first night: J Mann, Skinny, Shmotz and I shared a stage. Bringing this group back together at this time, just made sense.
The album introduces three new members. The guitarist Church, the bassist Dr. F and the percussionist Roberto Diablo. Why did Big Benis (bass) & Gravy (guitar), the previous members, leave the band and which were the criteria to recruit the news ones?
J: I believe as I said in the previous answer, that Pig and Gravy both saw our future in a far different way. This unfortunately was definitely not a case of: “Less Is More”. The writing process had grown stale and somewhat predictable. At times it had become a struggle to hope for anything beyond the status quo and we as a core, have always been about our music as Art. Putting in studio time isn’t about punching a clock and expecting overtime pay for extra work or expecting a full-song writing credit, for a couple riffs. This is by far a case of: “Addition by Subtraction”.
Robbie, Church and Dr.F., hit the ground running like they had been in MRH for life. R.D. picked up where L.D. had left off, pounding Waterdrums as well as doing some live drumming in Skinny’s stead. Church and Dr. F. write, record and track, also in Skinny’s stead, from the heart and because like us, music is their life and because of this, Mushroomhead is the best it has ever been.
Do you think that this new-line-up with the J Mann – and three vocalists on it – can work better than in the past? Is it challenging after all to work with new members?
J: Yes it can and does work. The 3 of us share the wealth. We don’t sing over each other we co-exist in much the way J and I did on “Self-Titled” and “Superbuick”. But this is even better because Waylon adds to, as well as enhances the styles of each of his predecessors, while bringing more range and at times, more force. We as a band have unlimited potential and confidence in who we are as a whole. This wasn’t at times the case. But we have, learned from our mistakes and 2014 has eclipsed any other year and we are far from thru.
I read that the album is dedicated to the guitarist John “JJ Righteous” Sekula, the band’s photographer and Steve’s wife Vanessa Solowlow, who passed away. This is where the album’s title “The Righteous and the Butterfly” refers to, right?
J: Yes both JJ and Vanessa meant a lot to who we are now. John was the 4th member of MRH, ever and was a big part of our sound on the first 3 Records. Since I met him when he was14, Rock ‘n Roll was his life. This lifestyle and its excesses can unfortunately take talented people, way before their time. Vanessa not only took our pics she also created the packaging of “XX” and “XIII” along with a lot of our merchandise and promotional designs. She too was unfortunately taken from us, mid-flight. R.I.P.
How different was it to work on a new album without your original guitarist at the first place and how did you overcome it?
J: We have always been about change. Member changes are a way of life for any band. We for whatever reason have had more than most. Our core has remained the same. JJ had a wide ranging style and Gravy had a more singular one. It brought about some great songs but it was time for a change. Church comes from a place reminiscent of what John brought to the table. So it feels much more like home. I look forward to seeing what future releases bring.
How did the cooperation with Just Mic on “Childlike” and Jackie Laponza on “We Are the Truth” come to be?
J: As with J Mann being back on board, Jus Mic is a part of J and Skinny’s side project. 10,000 Cadillacs. We are very fortunate to have his soulful, heartfelt vocals a part of our album. Jackie fronts a local Cleveland, Ohio band called: UnSaid Fate, as well as being Skinny’s fiancé/wife, so the guests on this one are very much in house talent.
How did you decide to cover Adele’s “Rumor Has It”? Fine cover but weird choice especially for the rock/metal fans huh?
J: Skinny and Dr.F. were throwing ideas of artists to cover back and forth and came to Adele and I believe The good Dr. came up to our then above the studio, studio and laid down the basic tracks. To our new, heavier rendition. We tried a few different takes and were pretty happy with the finished piece. I feel covering songs in different genres and making them your own is so much more rewarding. To me this is the biggest departure from metal and still made metal, ever.
The album features 13 songs, one cover and 3 different track mixes. The album also has a great diversity. That’s a crucial thing with long-running albums. If they miss diversity they tend to become boring. Did you plan since day one to make it that long and give it a music variety too?
J: Yes and I feel this has been, very much the Mushroomhead way for our existence. I used to be a fan of a lot of bands, without naming names and it got to where upon coming up with a formula that worked for them, it became recorded carbon copies baring the band’s name. I feel fans deserve much more. If it takes a few moments to be recognized from song to song, so be it. I, as a fan, prefer the wonder associated with a new release. Not the disappointment of redundancy.
I’d like you to give us a small hint about each track
J: “Our Apologies”: This track is for anyone who thinks we owe them an apology. Take that as you may. We are not sorry.
“How Many Times”: Life is about leaders and followers. Good and bad, right from wrong. “A wolf in sheep’s clothing”… An Angel can fall, just like Icarus... From a hero, to a goat.
“Devils Be Damned”: People can work so hard, to be something they’re not...
“Qwerty”: We can give everything for a cause we believe in. Blindly following, bodies wallowing in our forefathers’ mistakes.
“Portraits of the Poor”: Some just can’t resist, ruling with a fist. Pieces, puzzles lost, teeth and bone, bloodlust... Beats and muffled tones, Hell sure feels like home.
“Childlike”: While walking in the door, the world can be such a beautiful place... The exit sign, can play tricks on your mind.
“This Cold Reign”: Tyrant, God, Murderer King... Laws can have such horrible interpretations, when a madman pulls the strings.
“We Are the Truth”: With a never ending supply of Pawns. War can’t ever be truly won.
“Son of 7”: Seven Deadly Sins, inside of all of us, alive. We get by with hope and fear and doubt and yet, there are those, who choose to act them out.
“For Your Pleasure”: This song since the 1st time I worked on it. Spoke of JJ. Its working title and the music notes on the cover in are “Righteous”. His life was a “Rock Concert” making him so high & sadly... falling so hard.
“Worlds Collide”: The eternal battle has caused souls to choose sides. Blood spilled forever, in worship and or slavery.
“Graveyard Du Jour”: We are living thru a slow burn, to be closely followed by a massive melt down. There are stacks of cheap coffins made to accommodate many bodies, why?
“Out of My Mind”: Campaign promises ‘til I am blue in the face. They are always the same, from just a different name. Fool me once shame on you...
You drummer Steve Felton once again took care of the production along with you longtime partner Bill Korecky. I guess Steve knows the kind of sound Mushroomhead should have better than anyone so there’s no point in trying anything else. He did deliver a superb production indeed.
J: Thanxx and yes (Steve) Skinny and Bill are and have been a great team and (Tommy) Church and (Ryan) Dr. F., helped this time too. We have a good process that works for us. In house, in our time. It was fun working with Johnny K and Matt Wallace and having those outside perspectives too. I would never say never but either way, we are in good hands and thanxx, Willy Whitelegs!
There’s a new video for “Qwerty” out – as we speak. Are there any plans to release any other videos in the near future? If yes, for which track(s)?
J: Yes, we release the video for “Out of My Mind” tomorrow and we have plans I hear to do at least 2 more. (i.n.: The interview took place a couple of days before the video release...)
Being around for most than 20 years and since you were one of the first bands that started the whole mask-costume-creature-weirdo thing back in the early 90s (influenced by some great 70s acts too) – do you believe that the fans & press didn’t give you the full credits for this and conversely Slipknot took advantage of it at full force? And what about that “conflict” between your fans and the Slipknot ones over the years…?
J: The whole Masked, Make-up, Costume Genre started long ago with Alice Cooper, Kiss, the Residents, etc. and was championed again by Gwar, Mr. Bungle and recently Mushroomhead, Slipknot, Mudvayne and more. We have always believed that a show, should be a SHOW! Fans deserve a multi-sensory assault. Sonic stimulation shouldn’t be enough and what is exciting about watching a band that could just as easily be crew? As far as any feud goes. Media has always made it, or pushed to make it more than it ever was. Many times trying to fuel the fires intentionally. Fans are very loyal to the bands they like. Members of both sides have said they are over it and that it was never really between the bands. Let’s all, move on.

Mushroomhead are moving forward, that’s obvious. Hence, what are you future plans and what is that you wish to achieve that you haven’t so far?
J: More releases, more tours, Festivals all over the world with more of our favorite artists... Hopefully the world, like the music community for the most part can share peace. Power and Greed should give way to: Love & Co-Existence! We have enough going against humanity without pointless War. Just imagine, the Multi-National Mosh Pits! Let’s do this.
By the way, since there are various “experts’ opinions” about the band’s music style – do give us your own definition…
J: We are a band without genre. Whatever we are feeling, at any given moment. We write and track, for us. We throw everything at the wall and see what sticks. If you like it, great. If you don’t great. What would be the point, If everyone loved everything? We used to use the slogan: “Mushroomhead, the Band that Everyone Loves to Hate”! I love “The Righteous & The Butterfly” and my band Mushroomhead and... at the end of the day, that’s all I care about.
A few weird questions and we’re done !!! Do tell us how did you come up with the band’s name back in the day…?
J: The story is kind of a drag, Gravy was in a cover band and Skinny and I happened to be at one of their shows, the other guitarist in his band had a strange haircut. A bowl cut with a Rat tail. Gravy said: “He looks like a Mushroom Head”! Skinny and I looked at each other and said: “That’s It”. Now go back to using your imagination. Those origins are much better.
Which are the bands and the movies/characters that influenced you to adopt each creature/fictional mask/costume for the band’s image?
J: Street Trash, Blue Velvet, Skinny is his nickname from childhood, Mr. Murdernickle is my nickname for Joe’s real last name Kilcoyne, etc. the masks and costumes had no real correlation to the movies or name origins. They were from our imaginations just like the songs. The names had meanings to us or were just off the top of our heads.
What has changed in today’s music industry and how do you see the “Views, tweets & Likes” mania of our time?!!
J: The internet has given and it has taken away. File sharing has made label and band expectations impossible to reach and in some cases have cost jobs and or careers. Record sales and tour support are a thing of the past for the most part. If you aren’t self-sufficient, touring and just surviving can be next to impossible. Social networking is an oxymoron. People don’t go out anywhere near as much. They can’t function or be themselves without a keyboard to hide behind. A Rock Concert was the epitome of a social event. Now a chatroom is. Everyone being something they’re not. It’s sad. I hope things change before listening to Music is sitting alone with a pair of headphones.
Imagine that you’re living in a post-apocalyptic world – like the one in “Walking Dead” What would you choose to be? A survivor – who fights every day for his life or a zombie who seeks out survivors to eat them and why?
J: A survivor. Giving in instead of carrying on is a cop out that’s not in me. Mushroomhead has survived going on 21 years. Post-Apocalypse fans are gonna want to Jam too!
Which character from the “Game of Thrones” would you have been – if you lived in the Seven Kingdoms? The other guys from the band?
J: Skinny watches Game of Thrones, I am more of a Horror, Thriller, Murder show fan. I would be Dexter, or Daryl on “The Walking Dead”, Joe on “The Following” or Norman on “Bates Motel”... Eph on “The Strain”. Something covered in Blood. Game of Thrones is cool though. Much darker than “The Lord of the Rings”… F Fantasy, give me Slaughter!
Which of the Seven Deadly Sins do you reckon is the one, that’s more likely to send you straight to Hell, in the afterlife?
J: None. I will be energy, sorry if I bored all the believers.
Imagine that your wife/girlfriend is selling your whole album-collection just to buy an expensive ring for herself. How would you react? 
J: Well done Honey! I’ve heard em all. Hello YouTube!
Time to close Jeffrey. Thx for talking to Grande Rock & for the music fella! Any last words? Take care dude…
J: You’re very welcome! And yeah watch: “Qwerty” and “Out of My Mind”, pick up “The Righteous & The Butterfly” and tell the promoters there to get Mushroomhead! Thanxx for the time and have a good one. Peace, JN…