Mastodon first hooked up with Nick John in 2004 just before their album Leviathan
was released. He became their longtime manager, playing a crucial role in the band's success until his death from pancreatic cancer in September 2018. A huge fan of Led Zeppelin, Mastodon released a cover
of "Stairway To Heaven" to honor their fallen comrade with proceeds going to the Hirshberg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research in his honor.
Mastodon recorded "Fallen Torches" as a tribute to Nick John in Atlanta in 2019. They originally planned to drop it as a single in support of a European tour, but amid industry chaos it never got released. Instead they included it on their compilation album, Medium Rarities
, a collection of rarities, live tracks, and instrumentals released to celebrate their 20th anniversary as a band.
"We don't know what really happened to this day," Mastodon drummer and vocalist Brann Dailor laughed to American Songwriter
. "So, we were sitting on that song and we wanted to try to at least do a release. So, it was cool to include it on this album."