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The froth levels were ridiculously high when the recent news dropped that Mudvayne and Coal Chamber would head down under in 2024 for a monster Aussie tour.
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Two undeniable icons of their genres, and two bands who have both also withstood not just the fickle nature of the music industry in general but also their own resurgences returning from their respective breaks from band life over the years, it was every metal lovers’ Christmas coming at once when the two legendary acts confirmed their upcoming tour. And if it feels like a long time coming for those of us here in Australia, the time warp for Mudvayne’s own Chad Gray was made even clearer to him personally recently, as he revealed when chatting with HysteriaMag.com.
“I’ve been waiting to get back there,” says Gray. “I mean, it’s been almost 20 years, right? I have a friend down there, and she’s like: it’s been 18 years since you’ve been here. And I’m like: what? She’s like: yeah, when you came here last time? I was 13. And now she’s getting ready to turn 31.
“I think it just gets so much faster as we get older.”
Whed Mudvayne last graced stages in Australia, the band were freshly armed with their 2005 album Lost and Found, which had debuted at #2 in North America and followed on from the monster that was their debut 2000 release L.D. 50. Since their last visit, a lot has transpired in the world of Mudvayne and the world in general, including two follow up albums, 2008’s The New Game and their 2009 self-titled full length, followed by a hiatus that would be broken over a decade later in 2021.
Having been on the road in North America, showcasing a roaring return to form and the return of their trademark facepaint, the Mudvayne legacy is undeniably alive and pumping with as much gusto as the mid 2000s. But as Gray reveals, their return has also allowed them to organically build their setlist in a way that not only satiates their legion of fans; it also has allowed them to find balance with their own favourites alongside some of the songs less travelled.
“Honestly, I don’t think we’ve even played a song off the last album yet,” says Gray. “We just got back together and we’re kind of playing all our favourites! Not that we won’t put something new in there when we get to Australia. But it was really cool when we started this last tour, we were doing Prod, which is nearly a seven minute song, and we were running over our time, because you have to be done at a certain time over here. We kept running over, so we had to pull that out and then put a song in that was half as long to get us out of that, because you got fined or whatever.
Even when I was a young kid, I was just so drawn to metal because it runs the gamut of all emotions, from helplessness to angst and anger and being pissed and almost violent. Metal music is so emotional from one side to the other, and it just always saved my life.
[ Chad Gray – Mudvayne ]
“But hopefully we’ll be able to put a couple of those kind of songs back in or some of the deeper tracks for Australia. Obviously we’re going to play Dig, we’re going to play Happy?, we’re going to play shit like that – but we want to put in some of the deeper tracks too. It seems to be what people really love about us and we love it, so it’s kind of the best of both worlds, you know what I mean? A little bit of this and a little bit of that way of playing.
“The set we were playing here, the tour we just got done with was fucking great and everybody was loving it – and people are just generally excited about us being back, period. So for us to be able to come to you in Australia, as I’ve always said: if you are going to release an album in Kenya, Africa, you need to go there and play it.
“We always have a good time there, and it means a lot for us to be able to come back and play for you guys. We really mean it.”
Re-emerging in 2021 as the pandemic started to slowly lessen its grip on the world and the music industry, the response to Mudvayne’s renaissance was nothing short of biblical, with a double whammy celebration that the sonic alchemists from Illinois had returned just when live music was also starting to be back on the menu. And while their recent American touring adventures have already been hailed as unforgettable, their confirmation of heading to Australia in 2024 has also offered an unexpected first: Mudvayne’s first confirmed shows outside of North America since ending their hiatus
“Oh man, we’re over the moon about it,” says Gray. “We cannot wait to get down there. When I heard that it got confirmed, I was just like: yes!! I was so excited. We haven’t been out of North America yet. We came out, we did the three festivals for comeback kind of thing, and then we did the tour with [Rob] Zombie last year, and we’ve been talking about new music and all this stuff.
“And then we just put everything on hold, we just did the tour with Coal Chamber again, and it was fucking great. But when I heard that we were actually going to leave North America and go to Australia and play – we were just so excited. Everybody in the band’s just really, really excited to go.
“And I’m glad we’re kind of hitting everywhere down there too. We’re playing Perth too, which is awesome. Sometimes that gets neglected a little bit, you know what I mean? But for us, it was important. It’s like: we’re going to be down there. We need to go. We need to play the whole continent.
A band who have sold more than six million albums worldwide, with three platinum albums in Australia alone, Mudvayne need barely any introduction to those with tastes spanning the heavier musical persuasions. From their jaw-dropping fusion of death metal, jazz, progressive rock, world music, and beyond, to their complex polyrhythms and time signatures that have led to the group (unofficially) credited with spawning the math metal genre, you name it – Mudvayne have likely seen it or played it since forming in the mid 90s. But, as Gray reveals, after all this time there is still a capacity for vulnerability, as witnessed when he walked back onstage for the first time in over a decade back in 2021.
“Honestly, when you talk about nerves – I always have nerves,” says Gra. “I always have had nerves, and I always will have. I’m sure the day I don’t have nerves would be the day that I need to hang it up, you know what I mean? Because the nerves…part of the nerves is the excitement. The excitement, and the vulnerabilities, which is awesome.
“It was crazy putting this thing back together after so many years apart. We disbanded for a decade, so just starting to have the talks again and us getting familiar with each other again and catching up, blah, blah, blah…but it was cool, man. It was really cool to step back on that stage again, the excitement was real. People were genuinely happy to see us walk back out on that stage, and we just give them everything we’ve got.
“I give it everything I’ve got no matter how I’m feeling, no matter what. It’s my job. It’s my responsibility to get out there and just tear it up as best I can. I mean, that’s what I do,
“Us just playing our music is so important to us. It transcends. It’s like there’s an energy that’s going back and forth between us and our crowd every night, man, just one moment to the next. It’s like from you to me, to you, to me. That’s how it works, and it’s just this crescendo that’s ever-growing throughout the whole performance, that we’re all feeding off each other. And I think that that’s why metal music is so therapeutic and so cathartic.
“Even when I was a young kid, I was just so drawn to metal because it runs the gamut of all emotions, from helplessness to angst and anger and being pissed and almost violent. Metal music is so emotional from one side to the other, and it just always saved my life. It was always such an important component of my life and my being and who I am, so I love to get on stage and deliver that.
“I get it all the time. People are like: oh my god, your music, all these years, man, you saved my life. And it’s like you look right back at the person saying that you saved mine. It’s really cool and it’s really special, because I’m just carrying the torch from the people that inspired me. I’m carrying the torch until I hand it off to the people that I’ve inspired. That’s exciting.
“Whether you’re the person standing in front of me or you are me, I’m giving you something, you’re giving me something back. There’s this level of support that we lend to each other, and I think it’s so important. It’s so powerful. The catharsis is real, it’s cathartic, it’s therapeutic, and it’s kind of built to save lives, man. It’s good, good stuff. I say some people go to therapists and some people buy concert tickets!”
And as talk turns to Gray’s own personal favourite Mudvayne cuts, it’s clear that this burning passion for his craft and music in general is more than well-placed words. Balancing just the right amount of fan service in their setlists with their infamous and momentous live production, the Mudvayne experience from the outside has never once reeked of a group seeking to endear themselves to the masses; rather, it’s an authentic coded ability that the group have fostered and galvanized alongside the face paint and savagery.
“My emotion on stage and what I do is very real,” says Gray. “Life has a way of having everybody hold so tight onto every single thing, just the struggles and stuff like that. And one of the things that I think is important about what we do is, and something that I constantly preach is: I want you to leave everything outside. I want you to leave all life’s worries and problems and bullshit outside and come in because I feel like we deserve a break. Come in and just open your hand and just let go of everything and enjoy this space and time, all of us together as one. I love to get up there and just kind of open my hand and lose my shit. And people seem to like to watch me do it.
“One of the songs that I really feel is very cathartic for me to play is Nothing To Gain,” Gray continues. “That song, to me, is salvation. And there’s a lot of different songs like that, Dull Boy, I love, we just started playing Fish Out Of Water, we’re playing The New Game, we’re playing some really heavy shit. And we’re playing the songs, like I mentioned earlier Prod – they’re not aggressive. And sometimes those are some of my favourite songs to play.
“We’re also Severed and deeper tracks off L.D. 50, all those songs are really special. And in general all of our songs are very special, each one has a different thing because each one, again, is exploring different emotions, so I just kind of roll through it.
“They’re all really special, but Nothing To Gein is one that’s like…I was talking to Greg [Tribbett] about it and I’m like: it really sucks because that song now, it’s such a fan favourite, if we didn’t play that song – people would be would be pissed off! But it’s so funny because that was on L.D. 50, and that song wasn’t a single, there wasn’t a lot of emphasis put on it or whatever. But just through time it has become one of those special songs for everyone. It’s just a special track.”
And while no official plans have been cemented yet between Mudvayne and Coal Chamber for what they’re hoping to tick off their Australian bucket list, one thing is definitely guaranteed:
spontaneity and seeing where the adventure takes them.
“Absolutely, absolutely. Being spontaneous is something I’ve done down there before,” says Gray, “and it always works out.”
Catch Mudvayne at the following dates:
Wednesday, February 14 // Fortitude Music Hall // Brisbane
Friday, February 16 // Hordern Pavilion // Sydney
Saturday, February 17 // Festival Hall // Melbourne
Monday, February 19 // Hindley Street Music Hall // Adelaide
Wednesday, February 21 // Metro City // Perth