It's been a little over a year since Mastodon released Emperor of Sand and even though the four-piece unit is still out promoting the record, their seventh, they've started thinking about the next one, aiming to start the songwriting process in early 2019.

"We're always a work in progress, trying to figure out what we're going to do next," drummer Brann Dailor told Consequence of Sound in a recent interview. He said the band has been setting aside ideas for the future, occasionally "saying out loud what those ideas might be" and that these ideas are sometimes created during soundcheck or backstage. "You hear somebody noodling, and you're, like, 'Oh, what's that?' Whenever the ears perk up to either Brent [Hinds] or Bill [Kelliher] doing something backstage, that's always a nice little surprise," he explained.

As for when these ideas will start to take shape for new material, Dailor revealed, "Once we get home, and we decompress from the Emperor Of Sand tour cycle, sometime early next year, we'll start dumping out the riffs and seeing what's new and seeing what's fresh and what we're digging on, and then we'll just start working — do what we normally do."

Before Mastodon get a chance to decompress, they'll be on the road on a co-headlining North American trek with Dinosaur Jr. in September. See those dates here.

When we spoke with bassist Troy Sanders for our 2017 Artist of the Year profile, he hinted at a possible direction the band can go in on this next record. "I can envision us churning out a traditional rock album with some good songs on it," he said, noting, "We were joking now that nothing horrible has happened over the last nine months and if that continues over the next six months while we’re writing new material, we’re not going to be able to go into this incredibly deep wormhole of conceptual and thematic stories for the next Mastodon record. So, that would be welcome."

Emperor of Sand, in its debut week, was the highest-selling album in the U.S. Mastodon notched a Grammy win for Best Metal Performance for the single "Sultan's Curse."

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