Adreanaline P.R.
Mushroomhead is one of the first bands to wear masks and play aggressive metal.

In the beginning of Mushroomhead's career, the band members wanted to wear masks and play music, said new lead singer Waylon Reavis during a phone call from a sound-check in Illinois. "That's what the band was all about then. They didn't want anyone to know who they were, like Kiss. But now we're focusing more on the music."

Reavis joined Mushroomhead two years ago, replacing vocalist Jason "J Mann" Popson, who had been in the band since 1993.

Mushroomhead's current lineup is Reavis; guitarist Dave "Gravy" Felton; vocalist Jeff "Jeffrey Nothing" Hatrix; bassist Jack "Pig Benis" Kilcoyne; keyboardist Tom "Shmotz" Schmitz; drummer Steve "Skinny" Felton; and DJ Rick "Stitch" Thomas.

"I had a lot to learn and am still learning," said Reavis. "I went from a local band that didn't sound very good to a headliner. I didn't work my way up. I was thrown into being the lead vocalist of a band that has been around for 15 years and has a heavy fan base."

Mushroomhead's history is full of trials and rewards. The band was one of the first of its type, but due to difficult negotiations with Roadrunner Records, it was beaten to the punch by Slipknot, a band from Iowa that also wore masks and played aggressive metal.

Throughout its career, Mushroomhead's fans have accused Slipknot of stealing the band's image.

Still, Reavis said he wants the fans to look past the masks and the image and get into the music.

"That's something that will always be a challenge to us," he said. "There are people who don't want us to change. And we are changing. We're being experimental, and some fans don't like what we're doing. But I want them to hear our musicality. I want them to focus, like we do, on the music."

Recording sessions for the band's new album, "Savior Sorrow," were smooth, albeitchallenging, said Reavis.

"We wrote only two songs in the studio," he said. "We had the others ready to go, and we worked at it."

Having "Skinny" take on the producer duties was an eye-opener for Reavis.

"He's an amazing musician," said Reavis. "I would sing and record my part and then go home while he listened to it. He'd work it out and find a new melody. When I go back into the studio, he'd let me listen to what he had been doing, and we'd try different things. It was great.

"He also pushed me to do things that I didn't think I could do," said Reavis. "And I tell you it sounded great on the album, and now when I play those songs live, I have to live up to those standards. And it's hard."

If you go

What: Mushroomhead

Where: Avalon, 3605 S. State

When: Tonight, 7 p.m.

How much: $15

Phone: 467-8499 or 800-888-8499

E-mail: [email protected]