Danny Carey and Jimmy Hayward are laughing. That's probably because the famed Tool drummer and Jonah Hex director have every reason to be in a good mood: On February 9th, they'll finally unveil the self-titled debut from their hotly-anticipated supergroup, Legend of the Seagullmen. Featuring Carey on drums and Hayward on guitar alongside Mastodon guitarist Brent Hinds, Zappa Meets Zappa bassist Pete Griffin and mysterious vocalist David "The Doctor" Dreyer," among others, Legend of the Seagullmen first came to public attention in a February 2015 Rolling Stone article that leaked two of the band's early demos online.
And lest you think this nautically themed, conceptually outlandish prog-metal outfit is some ill-advised boardroom concoction, Carey assures Revolver that nothing could be further from the truth. "This is not some supergroup thrown together by a record label to make money," he says. "This is just buddies playing music that comes from the heart. We'd do it whether we made a record or not. And we're gonna keep doing it as long as we're having fun."
Before the album drops, Legend of the Seagullmen will open for Primus at the Fox Theater in Oakland, California, on New Year's Eve. "We're gonna be in full costume," Hayward enthuses. "And we have a 17-foot deep sea diver with a glowing skull who walks around onstage with us."
"I haven't even seen it yet," Carey chimes in. "But I'm already impressed."
HOW DID YOU TWO MEET?
DANNY CAREY Me and Jimmy live in the same neck of the woods here in Hollywood and we have some mutual friends, the Skinny Puppy guys — they're from Vancouver and Jimmy's a Vancouver boy — and eventually we just ended up in some of the same places and hit it off. Then we started hanging and jamming in his studio and in my studio — that was years ago.
JIMMY HAYWARD Yeah, that was maybe a decade ago. We're old as shit. [Laughs]
IT SEEMS LIKE THIS LEGEND OF THE SEAGULLMEN ALBUM HAS BEEN A FEW YEARS IN THE MAKING — THE DEMOS WERE LEAKED IN EARLY 2015. WAS THAT JUST A MATTER OF LOGISTICS, OR DID THE MATERIAL NEED SOME TIME TO GESTATE?
CAREY I guess it was a bit of both. We're all busy people, so it's always hard to find a window where we can all get together, but there really hasn't been that much time spent slaving over it. Doctor and Jimmy are the main composers of the band, and the lore and concept were already pretty solid and put together.
HAYWARD Yeah, we were already playing together and having fun. We were already working on this stuff, and Brent was involved early, so it just kind of naturally evolved. It wasn't a set plan. I wrote a song, then Danny played on it, then Brent played on it, and it just snowballed from there. Eventually it was like, "Fuck we've got an album's worth of shit. Let's do this." And here we are.
ROLLING STONE ENDED UP LEAKING THE DEMOS. HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?
HAYWARD We didn't have anything to do with that Rolling Stone article. They caught wind of [the band] because me and Jack Black were doing an OFF! video on [Tool bassist] Justin Chancellor's property with [OFF! guitarist] Dimitri Coats. There was a Rolling Stone reporter there, listening to us talk. And Danny was actually in another OFF! video I did, because I make him be an actor and put on ridiculous outfits and do rad shit. [Laughs] So Rolling Stone caught wind of it, and we had set up a little site with a couple of demos on it for labels to hear, but I thought it had been taken down. On the other hand, we're stoked that they did the story. I just wish we could've given them the real music.
THAT ARTICLE SAID THAT DIMITRI WAS PLAYING GUITAR IN THE SEAGULLMEN AND THAT YOU [JIMMY] WERE THE PRODUCER. DID THEY HAVE THAT WRONG, OR WAS DIMITRI INVOLVED AT ONE POINT?
HAYWARD Yeah, they had it totally backwards and upside down. I do produce the music, but I write most of the music and play guitar amongst other instruments. I think because I'm known as a director and a writer, they just naturally assumed that I don't know how to do anything else. [Laughs] Like I'm sitting there in jodhpurs on a lifeguard chair going, "Action!" But no, I actually write the music and have a deep musical relationship with Brent and Danny. A lot of this came together from my musical interactions with Brent, too.
BRENT INTRODUCED YOU TO THE DOCTOR, RIGHT?
HAYWARD Yeah. I was doing a movie called Jonah Hex, and I brought Mastodon in to do the score with Marco Beltrami. Brent and I bro'd down super hard and he introduced me to the Doctor, and me and Danny were already playing together so we all came together like Voltron. Dimitri is a close friend of ours, and he's obviously in OFF! with Keith Morris, who taught me how to hate cops and teachers and shit. I've had a Black Flag tattoo on my arm since I was a kid — love that shit. I don't make music videos, but when Keith Morris asks me to do something, I'm like, "Let's go." So Dimitri was helping us out in the early days with getting sponsorships and stuff, and there's a photo on my Instagram of us in the rehearsal space and Dimitri's got a guitar on. He was jamming on a tune with us, so I think they thought he was in the band.
THE DOCTOR ORIGINALLY STARTED THE SEAGULLMEN WITH HIS BROTHERS, DIDN'T HE?
HAYWARD Yeah, but that was a very different thing. Doctor and his brothers and some of his homies came up with the concept and kinda messed with it a little bit, but they didn't take it very far. What we're doing now is all different music and different people. Doctor and his brother moved to Atlanta years ago and started doing heavy art rock shit. That's where his relationship with Brent Hinds begins. He always had this passionate idea to do this band, but it just took him a few years to meet us dudes and have it all come together. He's a production designer, too — he does all those Southern rap videos you might've seen. It's ironic that he has this heavy rock band while he's doing these video shoots where he has to get guys gold crowns and, like, Bengal tigers and shit. It was just fate that Brent brought us together.
WHAT'S UP WITH THE NAUTICAL THEME?
HAYWARD Doctor is from Cocoa Beach, Florida, and so I think that's where the whole nautical thing comes from. And people have been calling me "The Admiral" since I was in punk bands as a kid. We were both always around nautical shit. The Doctor has a huge storyline behind the Seagullmen that we kind of streamlined down when we put the band together as it is now. There's all this lore that goes through the music. All the tunes are connected into a story, and we've almost written another album's worth of tunes where the story continues with all these characters, like the Seagull God King and the Fogger, which is Danny's character.
CAREY The reason I got sucked into the band is because I grew up on all that proggy shit, when every band had to have some grandiose theme behind it. It's kind of retarded, but when all that locks together, it makes it fun. I've always loved concept bands — something that draws it together beyond a regular bar band — and this has a great concept.
HAYWARD Danny loves all those bands that run around in capes with, like, lutes and shit.
BRENT HAS SOME EXPERIENCE WORKING WITH NAUTICAL THEMES IN HEAVY MUSIC ON MASTODON'S LEVIATHAN ALBUM. DID HE HAVE ANY INSIGHT TO OFFER IN THAT DEPARTMENT?
CAREY It's funny you brought that up, because we never even thought of that when we were doing this stuff. But I remember asking the Mastodon guys about that when I first met them years ago, like, "Where does all this nautical stuff come from?" The whale rock of Mastodon is still kind of a mystery to me. Isn't Brent from Alabama originally? And Brann and Bill are from Rochester. Not a lot of salty brine there. But I love that band, man.
HAYWARD Yeah, we never looked at the connection between Leviathan and what we're doing. You're actually the first person to bring that up. Shows you how smart we are! [Laughs] But as far as Brent, he just gets it. He's such a visceral, passionate, in-the-moment kind of dude — and one of the most incredible musicians I've ever worked with.
I HEARD THERE'S A CHARACTER NAMED REDBEARD INVOLVED IN THE SEAGULLMEN STORYLINE. IS HE BASED ON THE OTTOMAN NAVAL COMMANDER FROM THE 1500S?
HAYWARD Yeah, that's Brent's character. He's a 400,000-year old pirate who was summoned by the Seagull God King into the future. The Doctor came up with all that stuff. You know how Peter Jackson took The Hobbit, which is basically a pamphlet, and turned it into like three trilogies? Doctor's got some seriously interconnected stories like that. I'm a writer and filmmaker, so I helped him streamline it. But then we kept adding all these new characters and band members. We're actually doing a pretty heavy-duty music video that's all about Danny's character, the Fogger.
WHAT DOES THE FOGGER DO?
CAREY He's like a protector of all things homely in the nautical world. I deal karma on people doing injustice to whales and overfishing and whatnot.
HAYWARD Like the dudes who cut off sharks' fins and throw them back in the water to drown. The Fogger sucks their souls out with his third laser eye. He also turns into a 400-foot giant.
WHAT ABOUT YOUR CHARACTER, JIMMY — THE ADMIRAL?
HAYWARD I'm the guy who knows all the other guys and pulls them together. I've got, like, a cigarette holder and a machine gun. People have been calling me "The Admiral' since I was a kid because I was always into boating and shit. The guys in my old punk bands would make fun of me because I'd come to rehearsal after sailing all day. When the Doctor and I got together he started calling me "The Admiral" and I was like, "Dude, everyone already calls me that." But we're doing a tune about the Admiral on this next record that's got, like, helicopter battles. We're gonna bring in some jazz and big band elements. [Laughs] Danny Carey is a bit of a jazzerciser, if you know what I'm saying.
CAREY I was a jazz dork, a jazz salad-tosser for years in college.
THE SEAGULLMEN'S WEBSITE SAYS, "THE BAND'S VISION INCLUDES LASER BATTLES, RECORD EXEC HELICOPTER SHOOTOUTS, WEED SMOKING AND BALL KICKING." IS THAT AN ACCURATE ASSESSMENT OF WHAT YOU'RE GOING FOR HERE?
HAYWARD [Laughs] Is that what it says? I can get behind some of that.
CAREY I like the ball kicking.
HAYWARD That description is a little arch, maybe. But the more serious we take it, the more funny it is for us — if that makes any sense. We enjoy all the lore and stuff, but we take the music super serious for real.
CAREY The rest of it is ridiculous.