So, How Was Your Decade is a series in which the decade’s most innovative musicians answer our questionnaire about the music, culture and memorable moments that shaped their decade. We’ll be rolling these pieces out throughout December.
“What the hell happened in the last 10 years?” Brann Dailor asks Rolling Stone over the phone from Atlanta. In the past 10 years, the drummer released three records with Mastodon — The Hunter (2011), Once More ‘Round the Sun (2014) and Emperor of Sand (2017). The Atlanta metal outfit would be nominated for a Grammy each time, and they’d finally win a Best Metal Performance statue in 2018 for “Sultan’s Curse.” They’d also appear as extras on Game of Thrones on Seasons five and seven, and contributed “White Walker” to the Catch a Throne: Vol. II mixtape.
Of course, Dailor had his share of downs too — like the time Kiss stuck him with a bar tab of $350 in Brazil. He reflects on the last decade and breaks it down for us. “I did my research,” he says. “I feel like I’m ready.”
My favorite album of the 2010s was: I think it’s a tie for me. CeeLo Green, The Lady Killer. I don’t think that CD — it was 2010, so it was an actual CD when it came out — left my player for a couple years. I would sing along in my car, top of my lungs to a bunch of those songs. And then Blackstar by David Bowie. That was one of my favorites. I listened to it nonstop when it came out. Really, when it came out I was like, “Oh man, maybe he’ll go on tour and I’ll finally get to see him!” ‘Cause when he went on tour in 1994 with Nine Inch Nails, I didn’t get to go. And I remember I was working the night shift at a mini-mart in Rochester, New York. And all my friends came in after the show and were like “Oh my god, David Bowie was so fucking awesome.” But then, the next day he died. It was horrible.
My favorite song of the 2010s was: This was equally super hard, like most of these questions. I’m gonna say “I Appear Missing” by Queens of the Stone Age. That song in particular within that album — even though I love the whole album — that song was the standout for me. It gives me all the goosebumps and all that good stuff.
The craziest thing that happened to me in the 2010s was: This was also a tie. I’m going to say, being an extra on Game of Thrones and winning a Grammy. Two pretty epic things, I think.
My least favorite trend in music this decade was: Mumble rap. I don’t really listen to it, but when it comes on I’m like, “I hate this.” I don’t want any beef with any mumble rappers, of course. That’s not my style, but it’s just not for me. I like some hip-hop, but I feel like even the name of the style just sounds lazy. I feel like it pulls the genre down a notch. Because rapping is about being an intelligent lyricist. Those puzzles of putting words together. You have so many talented hip-hop artists out there and rappers that work so hard, like Kendrick Lamar and Eminem. [It’s] this real, incredible art form, and then there’s that whole other side of it with mumble rap. You could just mumble two words and just have this simplistic beat underneath it. But, I mean, people like it. So I guess they’re doing something right.
The TV show I couldn’t stop streaming in the 2010s was:Breaking Bad. I think it was pretty incredible and I binged it.
The best new slang term of the decade was: I’m gonna go with YOLO. How stupid is that? That’s the moment everybody realized that they only live once. Like, “This is it. I better get out there and start taking pictures for Instagram then.”
The best live show I saw in the 2010s was: Lionel Richie at Bonnaroo [in 2014]. He blew me away. He was so good and so funny in between songs. I was like, “Wow. This guy’s got a shtick.” He kept having this person bringing over these wine glasses with strange-colored liquids in them and he would take a drink out of it and spit it out. He had this whole show within a show going on.
The most surprising encounter I had with a fellow artist this decade was: I bought a margarita for Paul Stanley from Kiss in Brazil. We played this festival called the Maquinaria Festival [in 2012] and then we were staying at the same hotel. I saw Stanley and the guys sitting at a table. So I went over and I said, “Does anybody need a drink?” and Stanley raised his hand and said, “I’ll have a margarita!” I got the whole shebang; one of those big crazy margaritas [that] had umbrellas and flowers in it and everything. And then those guys stuck me with like a $350 bar tab and they all took off.
The best book I read this decade was: What is the What by Dave Eggers.
Something cool I did this decade that nobody noticed was: Again in Brazil, somewhere near Manaus, I went swimming with pink river dolphins [and] fed them fish. Nobody knows I did that, and it was really cool. It was crazy, because you’re swimming in the water and the water is like super murky, so you can’t see and then all sudden they just appear out of nowhere and they slam into you and stuff. It’s pretty wild. I highly recommend it.
The misstep I learned the most from in the 2010s was: Not to pass out at a party that Dave Lombardo from Slayer is at, ’cause he drew a penis on my face with a marker. It was right after the Big Four did a Coachella thing [in 2011], a couple days before we started tracking our album The Hunter. And at a party with Lars Ulrich and all those guys, I passed out like a good boy. And I woke up, walked over to my hotel room and I had a penis drawn on my face.
The best outfit I wore this decade was: It has to be the balloon suit that I wore to the Grammys [in 2015]. I wore a suit that had balloons all over it and people thought I was like, “Oh, he’s totally trolling the Grammys.” I thought it was a cool-looking suit and it was fun and festive. And that’s what the Grammys should be about. I don’t like wearing tuxedos. They make me uncomfortable.
The most “2010s” moment of the 2010s was: Pokemon Go. It was very 2010s, because it was this interactive thing and people died. It’s so bizarre. You could see people walking around in nature, like I was on a mountain and I guess there must have been something on the mountain. There’s so many extra people walking up Stone Mountain in Georgia. And there’s people just staring at their phones like walking up this mountain. I’m like, “You’re gonna fall off this mountain and die. Because you’re looking for fucking Pokemon Go.”
My biggest hope for the 2020s is: I’m gonna try to keep my life together and I’m gonna try to keep from mentally collapsing. And I’m gonna try to keep writing music and recording music and pretty much just do what I’ve been doing. Try to write a kickass Mastodon record within the next few months, and it will probably come out in 2020. So I’m hoping for continuation of what’s been going on the last 10 years. More of the same, please. Thank you.