Party On, Dude: Mastodon’s Bill Kelliher on the ‘Bill and Ted 3’ Soundtrack & Mastodon Rarities

One of the few moments of levity during this awful pandemic was the release of the third and final Bill and Ted movie after a roughly three-decade hiatus. Bill & Ted Face The Music – which finds our hapless but lovable heroes trying to avert the apocalypse by finally writing a song to unify the universe – was praised by fans and critics alike. While the earlier Bill and Ted films featured songs by KISS and a famous cameo by Jim Martin of Faith No More, we are happy to report that the characters and film have changed with the times. Bill and Ted are dads and good husbands, even if the music career hasn’t worked out. There’s no hair metal but two of metal’s biggest current bands – Lamb of God and Mastodon – wrote new songs during the pandemic for the soundtrack. Who wouldn’t want to be featured next to the legendary Wild Stallyns? Decibel talked to Mastodon’s Bill Kelliher about the soundtrack and what else the band has been up to during the pandemic (read our earlier Bill and Ted chat with Lamb of God). Station!

Were you a big fan of the Bill and Ted movies growing up?
When Bill Ted came out there weren’t any goofy movies about teenagers like those characters. It was a predecessor to Beavis and Butthead and Wayne’s World. It sort of embodied how our generation was trying to be cool. We thought it was pretty funny and it just spawned a whole generation of movies.

Do you remember where you saw it the first time? Were you a hardcore fan?
I wasn’t a hardcore fan. I did see it in the theatre but I don’t remember exactly where. I’ve definitely seen it a few times but I wasn’t a crazy fan. I did see Bogus Journey when it came out but don’t ask me to differentiate between the two (Editor: in Excellent Adventure, they go on a trip through time; in Bogus Journey, they end up dead and in Hell).


How did Mastodon end up on the Face The Music soundtrack?
The music director was a Mastodon fan and wanted to see if we could be a part of this. The band is always interested in things like movies or soundtrack appearances. We’re always down for that. At first, my reaction was: “there is a new Bill and Ted movie? That’s a pretty old franchise.”

Did you know they were casting the characters as middle-aged or did you think it was a reboot?
I wasn’t sure. Keanu Reeves is going to go back to being Ted? Isn’t that a stretch? He’s an entirely different actor now with a career behind him. I was very intrigued to see what they would do with it. I bought it (the film) the night it came out and it was entertaining. I watched it with my kids and my wife. It was well done and I like how the daughters are the ones that give them a chance.

What kind of guidance did you get about your song “Rufus Lives”? Rufus is Bill and Ted’s mentor and a beloved character in the Bill and Ted universe.
George Carlin was such an integral part of humor growing up. We wanted to honor his memory and that’s how we did it – with the song title.

Were you able to see any of the film before writing the song?
They let us watch us a short clip and said to imagine people blasting out of hell in a van and a fast-moving rocking song. We’d just written a song like a week before we got the phone call and I was like: “obviously it should be this song because this is a rager.” I could totally see it being in the film so that’s what we chose. It went back and forth a few times and they thought it was a little busy with a lot of notes. But that’s sort of what we do and who we are (laughs). They wanted to change a little bit to fit the movie better so we had a little back and forth but that’s normal. We came up with a compromise.

Are any other band members big fans of the film?
Brent [Hinds] has a “Wild Stallyns Bill and Ted Forever” tattoo on his lower back. He is a die-hard fan.

He must have been excited about this.
He was really stoked. He couldn’t wait.

The Medium Rarities collection came out just a few days ago. Were you planning on putting this out or did the pandemic allow you to get this material together?
We had a lot of stuff in the vaults didn’t know what to do with it. It was obviously a good time to release something because we weren’t doing anything. “Fallen Torches” was ready more than a year ago. Once the pandemic hit we had no excuses and the band said they had an idea for a rarities type soundtrack. It would include live and instrumental stuff all on one record. It was a good time to release songs like the cover of Metallica’s “Orion” which had never been mastered properly. A lot of bands do a best-of collection but we wanted to give the fans some new stuff and things they haven’t heard.

Did you have a lot of material to work from? Did you have to cull anything?
We put out most of what we had but we did have to pick and choose when we started to get around 16 or 17 songs. We do have more unreleased stuff.

I understand you’re also working on a follow to Emperor of Sand. Have you been productive during the pandemic?
We’ve definitely used this time to work on the record. We had most of the material written before the pandemic hit. We are in good shape to get into the studio. I’m hoping we can get into the studio next month and knock it out. Quarantine has led to a lot of interesting work from musicians.