Makeup-free Mudvayne rages against the machine
In the CD booklet for his band's latest release, Lost and Found, Mudvayne vocalist Chad Gray relays the usual thank-yous to family and friends, musical colleagues, and business associates. Then he adds: "To those who have tried to hurt us in our past, present and future”¦fuck you all!" On the line from his home in Redding, California-where he's packing his bags for a tour with Korn that hits GM Place on Saturday (March 4)-the singer reveals that his liner-note rage wasn't directed at anyone in particular.
"It just refers to the gamut of people who try to build you up because they just want the satisfaction of tearing you down," he says. "So it's just kind of a way to say, 'We're doing what we're doing, and this is the right path for us, we don't care what anybody says.' "
From Lost and Found's feverish firestorm of an opening track, "Determined", it's clear that the iron-lunged Gray isn't shy about letting his emotions be heard. At first listen, it appears as though rage is a driving force of his band. "I don't really know that our music is as angry anymore as it is frustrated," he points out. "I think in the early days music was the outlet to exorcise demons and just get things out of ya, but now that I've gotten older and wiser it's more pent-up frustration in the way that America handles certain things, and the way that America's viewed by other countries. It's very frustrating because we leave the door open to be picked on, but you can't really blame the population in the United States as much as you can blame the people that run it."
Happy to do just that, Gray vents on the powers-that-be in America during Lost and Found's longest track, the eight-minute "Choices". "Leaders are guilty of nothing," he sings, "They're perfectly insane/But if they'd point the finger at themselves, who would be left to blame?")
Since its 2000 major-label debut, L.D. 50, Mudvayne has moved more than two million units of its three CDs worldwide and become a favoured concert act among nu-metalheads, many of whom got their first taste of the band when it played on the Summer Sanitarium tour headlined by Metallica in 2003. On Lost and Found, Mudvayne takes a progressive-thrash stance that's similar in some respects to Master of Puppets-era Metallica, but with fewer guitar freakouts and more screaming. The harshness of Gray's vocal ministrations makes you wonder if losing his voice has been a common occurrence.
"In the early days, yeah," he replies, "not as much anymore. But I think it's just a part of your conditioning or whatever. If that's what you do and that's what you're expected to do every night, then your body naturally acclimatizes to that. But I mix it up a lot too, with singing, yelling, and screaming."
Gray says that his fave metal act right now is Vancouver's own Devin Townsend, whose demented on-stage antics continue to inspire him and his bandmates. But if you're expecting Gray to heighten the dramatics with full-on grease-painted face, as he has in the past, there are no guarantees this time around. "We used to wear it [makeup] just because we wanted to add a theatrical element to the performance," he explains, "but we just kinda felt like we were boxin' ourselves in. You should always evolve as an artist, and we felt that it was time to take it off and let people come closer to us, 'cause there's only so close you can come to somebody that's covered in makeup and blood."