Machine Head’s Robb Flynn

Machine Head’s Robb Flynn On #1 Albums: “To me, 95% Of The Time It Means Watered Down Music”

Machine Head frontman Robb Flynn has vowed never to try to write a number 1 record and argued that bands that do, play, “to the lowest common denominator.”
In the latest installment to his online blog, ‘The General Journals: Diary Of A Frontman… And Other Ramblings,’ Flynn, who recently accused Avenged Sevenfold of writing a, number 1 “covers album,” said that hardly any of his favorite records ever reached the top spot: “…being #1 often means playing to the lowest common denominator. It means dumbing your music down to such a level that every soccer mom and mini-van driving dad can enjoy it as it plays in the background.”
While Flynn conceded there had been some great No. 1 albums, such as Pantera’s ‘Far Beyond Driven,’ he contended they were few and far between: “To me, 95% of the time it means watered down music.”
Flynn went on to list his favorite albums, “that DIDN’T chart at #1 and never got to #1 on the U.S. charts” and pointed out that classic albums such as AC/DC’s ‘Back In Black’ and Led Zeppelin’s ‘IV’ were among that list.
“That’s right, read that again. The album with ‘Stairway To Heaven’, one of the biggest rock songs of all time, from one of the biggest rock records of all time, by one of the biggest rock bands of all time, never got to the top of the charts in the U.S. with ‘Led Zeppelin – IV’. That is f**kin’ crazy to me!?”
Moreover, Flynn pointed out that there were many bands that had reached number 1 whose careers were short lived: “…#1 doesn’t mean great album, or long-term success. Let’s not forget that back in 2001 rap-rockers CRAZY TOWN had the #1 single in-the-world (!?) with ‘Butterfly’ and sold 1.5 million records in the U.S., did 2 Ozzfests, and was managed by Q-Prime (METALLICA and RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS management) for a minute. Huh!?”
Flynn said that Machine Head, “have 6 songs done, and 2 half-songs that feel like they’re going somewhere” for their forthcoming record and that not one of them was written with the charts in mind: “From time to time, you wonder where things will end up or chart, but it never really comes on our radar. It can’t, it dilutes the priority: authenticity.”
He added: “We’ve never tried to write a #1 album in our lives. The world is too fickle, tastes change, lives change, you just write for yourselves, maybe think ahead to what might work live, but ultimately, come up with ‘what feels right.’”
Flynn said the band is currently focused on writing an opening track for the next record: “…I feel like we still need a ‘Locust’-type song. Still need an epic opener.”
He also described the completed songs: “We posted a picture of the song titles a week ago: ‘Killers & Kings’ definitely feels like a ‘track 2.’ Uptempo, will be great live, big shout-along chorus. Not sure where the rest are as of this Journal. There are some fast ragers (‘Ojos De La Muerte’), one with an old-school hardcore / ‘More Things Change’ flavor (the Manson-murder-themed ‘Night Of The Long Knives’), ‘Beneath The Silt’ has a ‘Elegy’-type vibe to me, but with way better execution, ‘Sail Into The Black’ has a ‘Descend The Shades Of Night’ sorta-feel but darker, and is the only long song of the bunch at 8 minutes, the others (for-no-reason-in-particular) all clock in at 4 or 5 minutes.
He said not one of the tracks, “scream #1” and added he was proud of that fact: “…You know why? Because we’re metal musicians, we’re supposed to be the pioneers, the ones railing against the system, the ones challenging the norm, the ones pissing people off, the ones who 20 years from now will be held in the same reverence that we now hold the classic rock artists or the classic thrash artists for testing the limits, for pushing the boundaries of music as we know it. For going where the other bands of that era wouldn’t, who were on a ‘highway to hell,’ who went faster and heavier and longer, and more intricate, more provocative, more confrontational, more ‘FUCK YOU! That’s what made that music so damn exciting, so god damn exhilarating!!
“If we’re not doing that, as artists, as metal musicians, as songwriters, then we’re just stagnating, we’re loitering.”

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Flynn’s list of favorite albums that didn’t reach number 1 went as follows:
* Back In Black (peaked at #4, over 22 million sold in the U.S.)
* Master Of Puppets (charted #128, peaked at #29, certified gold a year later, 6 million sold in the U.S. to date)
* Ride The Lightning
* Vulgar Display Of Power (peaked at #44, 2.7 million in the U.S. to date)
* …And Justice For All
* Reign In Blood (peaked at #94, six years later certified gold)
* Seasons In The Abyss (peaked at #57, four years later certified gold)
* Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying?!
* Disintegration
* Korn (debut)
* Revolutionary Vol. 2
* Antichrist Superstar
* The End Of Heartache
* Hellbilly Deluxe
* Never Mind The Bullocks…Here’s The Sex Pistols
* Among The Living
* Dirt (peaked at #9)
* Facelift
* Feel The Darkness
* Chaos A.D.
* Straight Outta Compton
* A Rush Of Blood To The Head
* Songs For The Deaf
* Paranoid (peaked at #23)
* Masters Of Reality
* It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back
* Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
* Appetite For Destruction (debuted at #182, and took over a year to eventually get to #1)
* The Real Thing (didn’t even enter the charts until 8 months after release, peaked at #11)
* As The Palaces Burn
* Slipknot (debut)
* Led Zeppelin IV (peaked at #2, yep, the album with ‘Stairway To Heaven’ never went to #1, over 23 million sold in the U.S.)