ROBB FLYNN: How 'Is There Anybody Out There?' Became MACHINE HEAD's Most Streamed Song On SPOTIFY

December 18, 2022

In a recent interview with Brazilian journalist Gustavo Maiato, MACHINE HEAD frontman Robb Flynn spoke about how the band's 2016 standalone single, "Is There Anybody Out There?", ended up becoming MACHINE HEAD's most streamed song on Spotify. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "I'm super proud of that. It's a massive accomplishment. It's kind of crazy, really, 'cause it's not even on an album. It's a standalone [single], which makes it even crazier.

"I think it just came at the right time," he continued. "I think the world was kind of going through a bunch of crazy shit, and I think that that song just tapped into something.

"I think a lot of songs have more to do with algorithms on Spotify. Like if you go to THE BEATLES' Top 10 [songs on Spotify], the number one song for THE BEATLES is 'Here Comes The Sun'. And I was, like, 'Here Comes The Sun'? It's fucking George Harrison singing, and I'm, like, 'What the fuck? That's not my BEATLES.' But somehow the algorithm made that be the number one thing. I think it's got a lot to do with playlists.

"I love Spotify and I listen to Spotify a lot, but I don't think it's a very true representation of what MACHINE HEAD's fanbase really listens to," Flynn added. "Like, there's not a single song from 'The Blackening' on there [laughs] in the Top 10. I'm, like, 'Look, Spotify algorithm, that's not even fucking correct.'"

Upon its release more than six years ago, "Is There Anybody Out There?" cracked the Top 40 on the Active Rock chart in the United States. It marked the first time any Nuclear Blast artist had entered what was widely considered to be the "official rock chart" for the United States.

In a 2017 interview with the "That's Not Metal" podcast, Flynn was asked whether "Is Anybody Out There?" was "testing the waters" on anything. He responded: "That was… I felt that chorus… I was, like, 'This fucking chorus is awesome.' I loved it, and I was, like, 'We've gotta put this shit out, 'cause this is so good.' If it was testing the waters, it wasn't really in a musical sense. It was really, like, 'Hey, can we put a song out digitally — no CD, no physical thing attached to it — and see, will it work for a band like MACHINE HEAD? Yeah, we know it works for pop bands, we know it works for hip-hop artists, but can it work for a band like us? And it fucking did — it's [MACHINE HEAD's] number two song on Spotify now, after a year, which is crazy to me, because it came at the end of a 20-month tour cycle. It came four months after it ended. And then no CD… 'Now We Die' had a video attached to it, had a record, had a huge tour, and yet somehow that song has surpassed that. 'Game Over' had all this push from [SiriusXM satellite radio's] Octane, 'Beneath The Silt' had all this push from Octane, but somehow it just came out, man, and that worked. So testing the waters in that sense was a success for us."

Nearly four years ago, former MACHINE HEAD guitarist Phil Demmel addressed the commercial success of "Is There Anybody Out There?" while explaining his decision to quit the band several months earlier. Speaking to SiriusXM's Liquid Metal, Demmel said that the shift in the musical approach on MACHINE HEAD's 2018 album "Catharsis" stemmed in part from the success of "Is There Anybody Out There?" , which included lines that were a commentary on the "white power" gesture PANTERA singer Philip Anselmo made onstage in January 2016. Shortly after Anselmo's "Dimebash" video went viral, Flynn uploaded an eleven-minute video response to the incident in which he called Anselmo a "big bully" and described Philip's behavior as "fucking wrong."

Demmel said that he didn't approve of the way Flynn handled the entire episode. "I can only speak for myself in that sense, and I had my own thoughts that were different than Robb's," he said. "And I had hoped that he would have called [Philip]."

He continued: "I don't know how much I wanna go into the details of what happened before. But that was a point of contention between me and Robb too. But a lot of that stirred from that and that kind of maybe split the band in a direction that all of us weren't going. And from that point on, it was 'Is There Anybody Out There?' And I was never on board with that song. But he went with it, and I think it kind of started a trend towards… especially after, I guess, it really exploded on Spotify, so it was getting a bunch of hits, and, 'Hey, this is working,' and, 'This is what we're doing now.' I think that's the point where we became more of a [Robb Flynn] solo project than a band."

In early November, MACHINE HEAD kicked off an intimate venue tour through small-town America as part of its "Electric Happy Hour (Live)". Dates include some tour favorites that MACHINE HEAD has had over the years such as oft-missed places Minot, North Dakota; Springfield, Missouri; Huntington, West Virginia; and Charleston, South Carolina.

MACHINE HEAD is continuing to tour in support of its latest album, "Of Kingdom And Crown", which was released in August via Nuclear Blast/Imperium Recordings. The follow-up to "Catharsis" includes the three songs that were featured on last year's "Arrows In Words From The Sky" single: "Become The Firestorm", "Rotten" and "Arrows In Words From The Sky". Much of the new MACHINE HEAD album was recorded at Sharkbite Studios in Oakland, California with engineer/producer Zack Ohren.

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