Maylene and the Sons of Disaster have been tearing a trail across the music scene since their formation in Birmingham, Alabama in 2004, with a gritty, atmospheric take on the Southern metalcore sound and a concept and image based around the bloody legend of 1930’s criminal Ma Barker and her sons. Their latest album ‘III’ was released in June and vocalist Dallas Taylor took a few minutes to answer some questions about the new recording…
So fill us in on the past few months, you went off the radar to start writing the new album late 2008 – did you spend all of that time in the studio or did you take some time out to readjust? What did you get up to?
We went straight into the studio, and started pre production. We spent about three months in the studio this time.
Was writing the new album a fairly easy process? Did you feel ready to get some new tunes together or was it tricky to move on from ‘II’?
We where excited about getting some new songs together, but it was also very hard, and tricky writing new songs with pretty much all new guys. We just wanted to make sure we kept our old fans, and tried to gain a lot of new ones, so it was very tricky.
The new tracks that have gone up online, in particular ‘Harvest Moon Hanging’, show a real progression with some very different vocal styles and arguably a cleaner sound overall. Is this the direction you’d always planned on going? Were there any new elements or experiments that you really wanted to try and fit in this time around?
We really just went for whatever came out. We did want to go for a cleaner sound on some songs, and we really just tried to take it a step further in all aspects of Maylene.
What other music were you listening to while you were in the studio? Did you mostly stick to the classic or were you discovering anyone new?
I was listening to a lot of classic rock while we where in the studio. A lot of Molly Hatchet, The Marshal Tucker Band, Tom Petty. I really didn’t discover any new music while I was in the studio.
Outside of the music, do you think this third album was influenced by anything else? It’s quite a tumultuous time across the world, but did you try and ignore that and just focus on the songs that you wanted to produce?
We were definitely influenced by being gone on the road, and how hard it is sometime. Also a lot of influence was just about having new members, and just the challenge to keep on going when life throws you hurdles in your way.
Coming back to the beginning of the band – the Ma Barker story. It’s a really powerful tale, what drew you to it in the first place?
I grew up close to where her, and her youngest son where gunned down. I just love local history, and I also think her story is a pretty crazy one.
In earlier interviews you commented on seeing re-enactments of the Ma Barker story as a child, which would surely stick in anyone’s memory, but who brought the idea to the table that the story should shape the ‘persona’ of the band?
I guess it was me that brought the idea, but all of the guys helped come up with the ideas, and I pretty much shaped some of the song lyrics around it.
Maylene as a band has always been presented with a real ‘backwoods’ feel, from the tunes right through to the artwork, do you think that this comes purely from the influence of the area you grew up in?
I would say this does have a big influence on how we portray our band, we just a very proud of how we where raised, and where we grew up.
Sometimes with your albums it feels more like listening to the score for a film than just an album. Do you think it’s important to bring a whole package, a personality, along with your music that people can really delve into and explore instead of just a disc of songs with a booklet?
I like the idea of making records this way. It makes it a lot more interesting than just listening to a regular album. I feel it makes it also a story which is fun to get into if you are into that, and if not we also just try to make it an enjoyable record.
What about your fans, do they come at you expecting to meet a group of mud and blood soaked rednecks? Are there any groups or nationalities that you’ve met who really surprised you with their reception of you?
I think sometimes people think we are like that which is funny, we are pretty much normal guys, who happen to be proud of where they come from. I really haven’t met any nationalities that have really surprised us with liking the band. I think we just try to make our music open to a lot of people in different ways, and different songs.
So what’s on the horizon for Maylene now that the third album’s out, are you sticking to touring the States or are you planning on getting across to Europe anytime soon?
We will be doing a lot of touring in the states, but we are trying really hard to head over to Europe before the end of the year.
Is there anyone up and coming that you’d really like to go on the road with if you had the choice?
I think we would really tour with anyone as long as we are on the road playing music it really doesn’t matter the style, or the sound of the bands we tour with. We will pretty much tour with any band.
‘III’ is out now on Ferret Records, and Maylene are on tour all over the US for the rest of the year.
MAYLENE AND THE SONS OF DISASTER
“Darkest Of Kin”