What are your memories of the original Burn My Eyes cycle? And how have you changed – as a person and as a performer?
“Well, we were a club band back then. With Burn My Eyes, it felt like we exploded – over there [in Europe] in particular. We went from playing 500-cap venues to having to headline Brixton Academy. It happened fast. We had to rise to the occasion. Granted, I had been playing onstage for a long time already at that point, in thrash bands and the like, but as a performer I had to take it to the next level. I look back and remember that we were just so fucking angry. We were out of our minds, drinking and drugging, getting into fights and getting arrested. It was a crazy time, a really crazy time. We had this real youthfulness about us. We brought a sort of street vibe to metal that I’m not so sure had really [been present] up to that point. I would never really consider us a hardcore band – or a even thrash band – but we were playing with a lot of hardcore bands at the time and it [brought that attitude] out!”
How has your approach to those songs changed over the two and a half decades living with them since?
“For the songs we’ve played a lot, it’s changed. When it comes to Davidian, I’ve probably played that song around 3,000 times at this point. It’s not like I see that come into the set and think, ‘Oh, we’re playing Davidian! Rad!’ For me, it’s a song that I’ve played for 25 years now and I just give it my best. It’s not really about whether I enjoy it or connect with it. I don’t necessarily get that same kind of thrill or excitement, but I understand that that shit is what the Head Cases are waiting for! For me, it’s just about killing it, playing it as heavy as possible and delivering about 110 per cent. Beyond that, though, what’s so great about this thing is that we get to [see all those often-played tracks up alongside] those songs we’ve not played in two decades. With those songs, it’s going to be like playing new material for the first time.”
What else about these shows excites you?
“I think what’s really cool is that this is still going to be in the ‘An evening with Machine Head…’ format. It’s still going to be that extended presentation. The reception to that format has just been incredible. It’s been wildly popular, wildly successful, people fucking love it. And we love it. It’s going to be two and a half to three hours. Some nights might even be three and a half. No opening band. It’s like a Paul McCartney show or a Bruce Springsteen show. The first hour and a half of this will be ‘modern Machine Head classics’ performed with Jared, myself and two yet-to-be-determined musicians. Then the next hour will be the line-up with Logan and Chris playing Burn My Eyes front to back, without interruption. Then we’ll probably play a couple of cover songs and close out with something big like Halo. That full play-through is so exciting. It’s the first time in history that’ll have happened. Even on the original ’94-’95 tour cycle we didn’t play all the songs live. We didn’t have the technology to [do them all justice] back then!”
What is it that you love so much about the ‘An evening with…’ shows?
“It’s just such a challenge. We try to mix up the set. We try to throw in at least a couple of new songs every night. It feels like we’re gonna need to do that even more going forward. It’s really about mixing things up and keeping your brain in motion. I feel like we’re really able to create this atmosphere, this Machine Head world. We’re not under the time constraints of most bands. We can pace the set better. We can dip into the songs that we wouldn’t be able to were we playing a 45-minute festival slot. Also, the fan reaction is awesome. Just hearing how this bunch of people love it is such a great feeling. There’s a little bit of pride there, for sure. Beyond that, it’s about knowing that if the show fails, it’s all on you. If it succeeds, that’s all on you, too. There’s that risk, and that [reward]. Metal bands don’t normally do this kind of shit. We didn’t really know what was gonna work when we started. When it did, it was a great feeling.”