Mastodon are collecting unemployment benefits to pay their crew

"Mastodon is a business and we have employees. We’re all out of work"

Mastodon guitarist Bill Kelliher has revealed that the band are collecting unemployment benefits in order to pay their crew.

Speaking in a new interview, Kelliher discussed the effects the coronavirus is having on the music industry and how it’s impacting the livelihoods of musicians and their teams, adding that he’s been forced to collect unemployment to help pay the band’s out-of-work crew.

“There’s no money coming in,” Kelliher told the Metal Sucks Quarantinecast. “There’s no big royalty cheques that just come in every month. And that’s the truth… because people don’t buy the music.


“I mean, there’s a little bit of residuals from publishing and stuff, but it’s peanuts. It’s nothing. It’s quarterly payouts of a couple thousand dollars… if we’re lucky. And it’s all taxable money, just like everybody else.”

He continued: “Just say to yourself, ‘Imagine if you couldn’t work for over a year.’ I mean, I’m on unemployment. Because I own a few businesses. Mastodon is a business and we have employees. We’re all out of work. And we had the option to apply for unemployment; we pay into it [through corporate unemployment taxes], [so we] might as well use it if it’s there because if I didn’t have it, I wouldn’t have any income at all.”

Bill Kelliher of Mastodon. CREDIT: Scott Legato/Getty Images

Elsewhere in the interview, Kelliher shared his thoughts on the future of touring, saying that it may never be the same again.

“We’re not selling records, we’re not touring,” he said. “That’s where all our income comes from: getting up every day and going up on stage and playing for an hour and doing it over and over and over all over the world. We can’t do that right now and I don’t know if we ever will be able to do that again.

“In some capacity [we will be able to play live again], but even if they can get everybody’s shit together as far as promoters and booking agents and venues and all that stuff, it’s going to be like two years [from now]. And when they do, if they’re even still open, how are people going to pay their rent on a club that they own [during the down time]?”


He continued: “If no-one’s going there for a year, two years, I mean, these places live paycheque to paycheque, I know they do. They’re not just owned outright by the promoter or whatever, it’s a whole network of people.”

Earlier this month, members of Mastodon, Megadeth, Baroness and Mutoid Man joined forces for a rousing rendition of Fleetwood Mac‘s ‘You Make Loving Fun’.

The video of the performance features former Megadeth guitarist Marty Friedman, Bill Kelliher of Mastodon, Johanna Sadonis and Nicke Anderson of Lucifer, Nick Jost of Baroness and Stephen Brodsky of Mutoid Man.

It also features appearances from Gwarsenio Hall and Hard Melissa, the alter-egos of comedians Jordan Olds and Emily Panic, respectively.