Interview: Robb Flynn Speaks To How Attack On Titan Inspired The New Machine Head Album + Getting Ahold Of Slayer Bootlegs

Factor Metal, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
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Tomorrow, Machine Head will be releasing their tenth studio album, Of Kingdom and Crown. Machine Head have been going strong for decades now, and having had the chance to listen to this new album – we are here to let you know that Of Kingdom and Crown is fucking incredible.

Of course we wanted to learn more about this record, so we were beyond thankful to hear that band frontman Robb Flynn was down to talk with us. We conducted a two-part interview with Flynn to learn more about Of Kingdom and Crown, and one of the topics we were super excited to talk about was that of Attack On Titan.

For those who don’t know, Attack On Titan is a extremely popular anime series that has captured the mainstream since its anime debut in 2013. Prior to this conversation, Flynn shared that the anime inspired the direction that this album took on.

In talking about the impact that this show had on his writing, Flynn starts off by sharing how it all started with him and his sons watching the anime together. Along with Attack On Titan, Flynn speaks to his fandom of anime, as well as another geeky property he is a fan of. He also shares a wild note about his early days as a metalhead and getting ahold of Slayer and Exodus bootlegs.

The Pit: Can you speak to the influence Attack On Titan had on this record? How did you even get into the anime?

Robb Flynn: Somewhere along the line my two teenage boys, over the pandemic, they both got crazy obsessed with anime. I used to be a super anime nerd when I was a kid; in my teenage years, I was like crazy about Akira, Macross, Robotech, and Space Battleship Yamato. I’d go to the conventions, like, I was way into it. So they then get into it and I’d sit there in their rooms watching a show on the computer, and I’m like, “Dude, let’s watch this on TV, this is badass. Like, this is so sick. Let’s do this.” And so we watched a bunch of series, but then we stumbled onto the series Attack on Titan; and for what it’s worth, it’s a really awesome super brutal and violent show, really psychedelic and weird. And just fucking cool.

The thing that really inspired me from that show was that its story arc – there is no good or bad guy. Both sides believe that they’re good and doing good, but they’re both evil and committing atrocities. And the idea of that, I was just like, “Well, maybe I could start tweaking my story to be like that,” ’cause the record’s not done [at this point in time]. The lyrics are still getting finalized; once I [started writing based off this inspiration], it was really just a trip to write it. Because here I am writing through this character, a very violent character’s eyes; he’s on this murderous rampage.

For all of you who don’t know, the concept of the record is based around two characters. Character number one, Aries, loses the love of his life, Amethyst, and goes on a murderous rampage against the perpetrators who killed her. Character number two is named Eros, who is the perpetrator who killed Amethyst, loses his mother to a drug overdose and in his downward spiral, goes on his own murderous rampage after becoming radicalized by this charismatic leader. And [both character’s] lives intertwine.

And so you know, having to write from not just one person’s perspective, but from the opposite perspective, now within a song context – it was awesome. Like, it was a trip to write like that and I just really enjoyed how it went. 

The Pit: Was there any one particular moment within Attack On Titan that stood out to you? What is it that you like about anime? Any other geeky things you are into?

RF: I mean, it was just kind of an overall [enjoyment].  Those shows are only 20 minutes long, so we’ll like binge five in a row, you know? I don’t know if I could necessarily name a specific episode because it was like 400 episodes or something, like, it’s crazy.

And for whatever reason, like, whatever storytelling that anime is, I guess it probably takes me back to being a teenager and being into that. But I also just love that it’s so brutal; now it’s fucking violent and it’s fucking awesome. It’s as violent as any brutal movie out there now, and weirder. I love it.

You know, I started off as a Star Wars nerd, like I was crazy about Star Wars. I watched it a fucking gajillion [sic] times. I had all the action figures; I’ve still got my original Mattel action figures. I had the Death Star, I had the fucking Darth Vader mask. Every Halloween I was a sand person, I was a Tusken Raider; I was like a fucking million Star Wars characters and then I became an anime nerd. And then at some point I became a metal nerd.

The Pit: Do you have any cool stories about your early days of getting into metal?

RF: As soon as I got into metal, I became friends with this guy Jim, who was already a pretty big tape trader; [he] had demos and bootlegs and imports of shit when nobody could get this shit. We just got super obsessed about it and it was an amazing time. I had Reign In Blood three months before the record dropped. 

It’s like the cassette that I had still had the hi-hat counts at the beginning of it. I had Bonded by Blood by Exodus six months before it was out. I had bootlegs of Pleasures of the Flesh and “Brain Dead,” and all [the audio was] from shows. And so I’m learning all of these sounds, like, we’re rehearsing unreleased Exodus songs because we’re jamming them off of bootlegs in my dad’s garage and shit. That’s how, to me, we got into metal.

We would like to thank Rob for his time talking to us! The new Machine Head album Of Kingdom and Crown arrives tomorrow. Keep a look out for part two of our interview to arrive soon!