Sick with the flu. Sick of sitting on a cramped tour bus. And sick of his bandmates interrupting his interview.
“Dude, can I get, like, one f–ing minute to myself?” he yelled in between bouts of hacking coughs. “I mean, Greg [Tribbett, Mudvayne’s guitarist] is back here on the bus. Ryan [Martinie, Mudvayne’s bassist] is back here on the bus. Matt [McDonough, Mudvayne’s drummer] is back here in the bunk area! Jesus!
“Sorry, they’re like my brothers. Sometimes we get pissed off at each other. Sometimes we can’t stand each other,” he laughed. “But at the end of the day, we’ll apologize and move on. Because we don’t have a choice. I depend on these guys more than anyone else in my life. This is a stronger bond than most families have.”
He’s been on tour with his “brothers” since January in support of their upcoming album, Lost and Found, which stands as a huge departure for the band – both sonically and sartorially. Check the first single, “Happy?,” which blends typical Mudvayne guitar thuddery with some really intricate and downright pretty fretwork; or the twisting and churning “Choices,” which Gray describes as “the eight-minute opus.” Oh, yeah, and for the first time, the band has dropped the goofy pseudonyms and alien/freak-show makeup they rocked in the past.
And the fact that this is constantly brought up is another thing making Gray sick.
“I sound like a broken record, but I think too much emphasis was placed on the makeup. When you listen to the CD it doesn’t matter what anybody looks like,” he said. “We felt the makeup added to the live performance. Unfortunately we were like two minutes too late, because Slipknot came out and we were like ‘Oh, man.’ But that’s all that people talked about. So we decided to peel off another layer.”
It’s not hard to see why Gray is so bothered by all the makeup talk. He describes himself as “a music first, visuals second” kind of guy, a fact made even more evident when he’s pressed for details on the video for “Happy?” Like, for example, who directed the clip?
“Man, I don’t really know. I can’t even think of the guy’s name,” he said (a spokesperson for the band would later confirm that the “guy” is Lex Halaby, who’s worked with Killswitch Engage and Chimera). “I’ve talked to the director one time, and he seems to be on point with everything.”
Gray also is tight-lipped on the concept of the video, saying only that he came up with the idea, and that it’s “not a narrative” clip. But that’s the way Mudvayne always are: Protective and elusive with their work. Which is why they chose to isolate themselves when they made 2002’s The End of All Things to Come, and it’s the reason why they all moved into a house in Watsonville, California, to record Lost and Found.
“We wrote the album in four months. We moved into a house together and wrote every day. We sequestered ourselves away from our families, our girlfriends and our loved ones,” Gray said. “We went through all the things brothers go through, like ‘Pick up after yourself, what the f–?’ But being like that drew something out of us. It was like being at boot camp.
“No one came down to hang out. Some kid from down the street heard us jamming in the garage, and he came up and was like, ‘Oh man, come to this barbeque with me!’ ” he continued. “We were like ‘Sorry, man. We can’t. And please keep this under wraps. We’re here to work. We’re not here to party.’ ”
On March 29, Mudvayne will hit the road on a headlining tour in support of the album. American Head Charge and Life of Agony will open.
Track list for Mudvayne’s Lost and Found, according to Epic Records:
“Fall Into Sleep”
“Rain. Sun. Gone.”
“Forget to Remember”
“All That You Are”
“Pulling the String”
Mudvayne tour dates, according to Epic:
March 29, 2005 – St. Paul, MN – Roy Wilkins Auditorium
March 30, 2005 – Milwaukee, WI – The Rave/ Eagles Club
April 1, 2005 – Chicago, IL – Congress Theatre
April 2, 2005 – Detroit, MI – State Theatre
April 3, 2005 – East Peoria, IL – East Peoria Convention Center
April 5, 2005 – Toronto, ON – Kool Haus
April 6, 2005 – Montreal, QC – Metropolis
April 8, 2005 – Hartford, CT – Webster Theatre
April 9, 2005 – Philadelphia, PA – Electric Factory