Drummer Brann Dailor’s intricate patterns with brainy Atlanta prog-metal band Mastodon came courtesy of an unusual childhood in Rochester, N.Y., watching his mom and stepdad’s earnest local cover band Kaper.
“They did Rush, Peter Gabriel, even the Go-Go’s and The Police — the music of the day back in ’82,” he says. “They practiced pretty much every night, so our house basically looked like the casting call for ‘Boogie Nights’ — lots of handlebar mustaches, fringe jackets, brown leather vests and turquoise jewelry.”
Even then, Dailor, 36, may not have known art, but he knew what he liked. He perked right up when his folks would slam through Judas Priest’s “Breaking the Law.”
“I really gravitated more toward the heavier stuff at a really young age,” says the lyricist-vocalist, who appears in The City with Mastodon today, playing from the straightforward new “The Hunter” riff-fest.
He says, “When they did Black Sabbath’s ‘War Pigs,’ I really liked that. It just sounded evil, so that was it. I wanted to be a rocker.”
Dailor’s parents proudly obliged.
They bought him a drum kit, faux-leather pants and took him to see Judas Priest at age 7.
“My dad didn’t live with us, but he was cool in his own right,” he says. “He was really into Mahavishnu Orchestra, King Crimson and early Genesis, like my mom was, so that was the soundtrack to my life — all this crazy prog, and I was a little sponge who soaked it all up.”
Dailor graduated to more experimental artists, like John Zorn, Buckethead, Praxis and Material — which later were manifested in recent sweeping Mastodon epics like “Blood Mountain” and “Crack the Skye,” which contained a three-part suite, plus ponderous epics clocking in at 10, 13 and 22 minutes.
“So prog was in there for sure, but we really exorcised those demons with the last album — with ‘The Hunter,’ it’s like anything goes,” he says.
“Hunter” tracks are punchier, more melodic, roughly three to four minutes long, and still lyrically twisted.
The sludge-bluesy single “Curl of the Burl” concerns backwoods addicts who sell exotic pine knots for crystal meth. “As much as I love old Genesis, I like ZZ Top just as much,” he says of the straightforward track.
The drummer says he’s comfortable with his Mastodon maturity, although it took the group a couple of records to figure out what they were.
“But I understand it now, and I can totally see where we were drawing inspiration from and how that’s developed along the way,” he says. “It’s all so … so obvious.”
IF YOU GO
Where: The Warfield, 982 Market St., San Francisco
When: 8 p.m. today
Contact: (888) 929-7849, www.AXS.com