Is There Anybody Out There

Album: single release only (2016)
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Songfacts®:

  • Machine Head's first new release since the arrival of Bloodstone & Diamonds on November 7, 2014 is both aggressive and mellow in different parts. The track was recorded in October 2015 at Trident Studios in Martinez, California.
  • Regarding the lyrics, frontman Robb Flynn said, "The song is about love, loneliness, racism, and not getting what is going on in the world/America. It's very much about current events, but applies to a bigger picture."
  • Robb Flynn wrote the original lyrics to the song in late 2015, but was unhappy with his original demo as he wanted the vocals to sound angrier.

    On January 22, 2016, Flynn performed at Dimebash alongside Phil Anselmo and a number of other notable musicians. During the event, Anselmo appeared to make a Nazi-style salute, which shocked those who witnessed it.

    Flynn re-wrote part of the lyrics to include lines that comment on Anselmo's controversial action. "I went in two days later to take one more pass at the vocals and try and get a more pissed-off performance, and I started singing the words that I had on the second verse, and I just wasn't… angry," he explained. "I wasn't feeling it, and so I wrote a whole new second verse about how f--king appalled I was that he [Philip Anselmo] did that."

    Flynn added: "I haven't felt connected to the metal community for some time now. I don't get where things are going. And part of this song is about that: that I don't get where it's going. And him doing that s--t again - and this is again; this has been happening for twenty f--king years now, but I never had to stand on stage with the dude. But, you know, I sang some pretty pissed-off lyrics for that second verse. And everybody wanted [the vocals to sound] more pissed; they got more pissed."
  • Robb Flynn originally wrote the song on a plane home after an eight-week tour of Eastern Europe. He recalled during an appearance on SiriusXM's Octane: "I was in a total song rut; I didn't even wanna write new music. And then I was on this plane and I had this vocal melody going through my head, and I was, like, 'What is this?' And I just pulled out my phone, because nobody carries a lyric pad anymore [laughs], and I started typing 'em into the Notes [app] on my iPhone.

    So we got home, and I started putting it together with everybody, and then I was, like, 'Let's record this, man. We've got this inspiration, we've got this fire right now. Let's just go in and document it and see what happens.' And we didn't really know where it was gonna go lyrically - it was kind of all over the place - but I just felt like the hook itself was just so big and so strong that I had this fire under my ass to get it done."
  • Asked during an episode of the "That's Not Metal" podcast whether the release of "Is Anybody Out There?" was "testing the waters," Robb replied:

    "I was, like, 'This f---ing chorus is awesome.' I loved it, and I was, like, 'We've gotta put this s--t 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 f---ing did."

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