the following was taken from the recent pitchfork interview with mastodon's guitarist brian kellhier(spelling?)
my theory was that brann daillor wrote most of the album and it was his sister skye who committed suicide to inspire much of the albums lyrics.
you said it was Troy Saunders who had the sister that committed suicide.
the answer lies below
Pitchfork: Does the whole band get together and think these stories up?
BK: Honestly, most of it was our drummer Brann [Dailor]'s idea. He's really behind a lot of the concepts of the records. He's a big Genesis fan, Peter Gabriel, Lamb Lies Down on Broadway kind of guy. And he's into writing these crazy ideas-- well, not crazy, but interesting ideas. So he took a trip a few years ago to Russia. I've watched a lot of Discovery Channel stuff on Rasputin, you know, and I've seen bands put him on the cover of their albums and all that crap, but this is like totally different. I think it's a lot more interesting, more in-depth.
He went to Russia and saw the architecture and artwork. Like me, he's probably always thinking, "Well how could this pertain to the band?" Also, they have a tourist-y thing you can go on where it shows you where Rasputin had his last meal and where they tried to kill him in the Czar's palace. They have the steps that he went down to the river where they stabbed him and shot him and finally threw him in the river to drown him because he just wouldn't die. So he took that trip and saw that stuff and was inspired to kind of put that into the next record somehow, somewhere.
Pitchfork: It's funny; every Mastodon album has these big, overarching concepts, but it's completely possible to listen to the records without getting any of that at all. It's not like you're throwing like Russian folk music in with it or anything like that.
BK: Yeah, exactly. It's all sprinkled in there, and it's all metaphors for other things. And you don't really see it unless you are really listening and looking up lyrics and reading into it. But it's definitely in there.
Pitchfork: Have you ever thought about making an album without sort of building this whole mythology around it?
BK: No, not really. I mean, I don't think we can now. I think we have an expectation to live up to nowadays. But I don't know, I can't imagine not having some sort of story or some focal point on the record. I think it helps us as a band, as people, to work together better. I feel like we're all striving for the same prize, the same goal. At the end of the day, we just kind of like, "Oh well I've got an idea that would tie in with this, is that cool?" And usually, everyone's ideas, once there's a common agreement of what we're going to write about, I just can't imagine writing without that. I think it would just be harder to concentrate on what we're really going towards.
Pitchfork: You guys do know that there is an old Ohio prog band called Crack the Sky right?
BK: Yeah, I think I was looking it up online when I found that.
Pitchfork: So it's just a coincidence?
BK: I'm not sure. I mean, I want to say maybe. Because I know that Brann had a sister who passed away maybe 15 or 20 years ago whose name was Skye, and I know he wanted to incorporate that in there. I guess I would have to ask him. I'm not sure exactly how he came up with that name for the record, but it might be a coincidence. I mean, there was an old like a Christian prog rock band, too, called Mastodon. We didn't know that until later. It may be a coincidence, or maybe it's not; I'm not sure.