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Austin’s The Mammoths Talk Influences and Origins: Interview

Austin, TX-based rockers The Mammoths are playing a free show on The Pour House Deck today, Tuesday, April 10th at 6pm. They have been together the past two years and for most of that time period they’ve been on tour, spreading their sound around the country. The group of hard-working musicians all have relatively different backgrounds, but their influences in music blend together blues, psychedelia, and rock & roll. They are currently working on their full-length debut.

To get a feel for their sound, check out this video of The Mammoths playing “Pockets” from their 2017 EP Golden Spell at Pisgah Brewery in Black Mountain, NC.

I got to kick it with The Mammoths on Sunday night to talk about the tour, their influences, and what to look out for in the future. The full interview is transcribed below.

David Kapsner (Lead guitar & vocals & some piano) – DK
Micheal Jekot (Guitar & vocals) – MJ
Tyler Rush (Bass & Vocals) – TR
Tim Durand (Drums) – TD

How did you guys all get together?

DK: About two years ago.

TR: Yeah, its kinda a cool story actually. We were at South by Southwest. We were a small band so we decided to throw a house party. We had this cat Charlie Crocket who’s from down there and doing really well in the folk-country scene. He needed a backing band, but he wanted to come play. At the time we had been playing with a different drummer and he was kind of fucking it up and Charlie called Tim they had known each other from California and he was like, “Hey, my friend Tim is gonna sit in on drums” and before we even knew each other we were playing and a solid groove started happening and we were like, “hell yeah.”

You guys are on tour right now, where have you been going?

TD: We started in Texas, went through the Southeast, now just kind of zig-zagging back down to Texas, about five weeks.

How did the name The Mammoths come about?

DK: We were called West Texas Mammoths before Tim was in the band, but we don’t know why. We cut out the West Texas.

TR: Every now and then in Dallas or something we would come across people that would be like “Where at in West Texas?”, so we kinda felt like liars and we had to change that.

You guys are listed at blues/psych/rock, so what some of the influences from each of you?

DK: I grew up my plants playing a lot of Rod Stewart and Elton John. I got super obsessed with The Beatles in 7th grade which progressed to Led Zeppelin, stupidly obsessed, which progressed to Black Sabbath then sort singer-songwriterter. I am definitely classic-rock influenced.

TR: A lot of my playing comes from old soul records, like everything that happened in Muscle Shoals. Like everything that happened in the 60’s, the Swampers, kinda those groovy bass lines. That kind of stuff is really important in the rhythm section. Something people can shake their booty’s to is really important to not just support the guitar but actually playing.

MJ: I started playing guitar when I was 11, playing in Austin, learning from guys around there. It was the Stevie Ray Vaughan thing. As I got older my Dad showed me Nirvana and I got into the whole grunge rock scene and now I’ve recently discovered like night beats and that kinda music. I like really melodic guitar lines and then I also like really intense Ty Segall kinda let everything go like wacko guitar solos.

So wanna run down your rig?

MJ: So I recently got a ’66 Duo Sonic I bought the body and the neck separate because I really wanted a ’60’s Fender and that was the cheapest way to do it. I have really been just tinkering with it and getting it set up and re-fretted and wired it all myself and just seeing what kind of songs I can get out of it. Playing through a Fender Bassman but I blew the 4×10 speakers in my younger days so I put 2x12s in it. Always experimenting with new pedals and sounds. Right now I have Override Fuzz, the classic stuff, recently I got a Tremelo pedal I am using a lot, Uni-vibes I like a lot. Old tape delay kind of stuff, emulations that fit on the pedal board are always fun. Main shout out would be Analog Man pedals, he started out doing mods on pedals and not he makes a bunch of his own. He is a cool guy about what kind of tones you want.

TD: So my influence is more of a jazz influence. My Grandfather played with Tommy Dorsey for years. So I kinda came from a musical background teaching musical theatre. But as I got older I found myself falling to the punk and metal scene, played in some hardcore bands. The first band I ever listened to was Pink Floyd when I was like 6 and when I packed up and moved to Texas and linked up with these guys it was exactly what I was looking for.

A lot of times I speak to artists with albums coming out and they are sort of skimming the surface of multiple genres. Do you think this album will be rooted in more blues roots, psychedelic, or rock?

DK: I think we are moving away from blues roots. I think when we first started playing we knew this 3 chord kinda thing.

So you think that it’s just coming from Austin?

DK: Yeah you know, growing up I played a lot of piano, and I was super blues piano.

MJ: Yeah we couldn’t really play anything besides blues together. Ya know 1-4-5 blues stuff and that was just 1-4-5 play as loud as you can. So we are trying to rein it in and become a lot more dynamic. There is a lot more dynamic pieces on this next album and better songwriting.

TR: Yeah we are looking to be catchy, but also experimental.

While you guys are playing live do you find yourself experimenting more or keeping things in your wheelhouse?

DK: Well its fun to go on tour say we will write the songs and we will push them in different directions. Then we will jam in between parts and make up new parts for songs and then we come back to that jamming influence from tour.

How did you guys link up with your tour manager, Matt Washburn?

DK: I think the first time we worked together it was like a 52 day run and then we got it in, did a record, and had the record out and immediately went out for 52 days, it was January to SXSW, straight through March. We had a videographer girl who is now our friend and roommate. She’s still working on it.

TR: She’s still figuring out what the story could be because we are such a new band we would just hate to miss an opportunity by putting out something that is off topic.

MJ: It’s great because it is the first tour and the first time any of us have been in these cities so we are all like pumped. Like we are in Colorado like the Bluebird Theatre, Grand Junction. We are huge in Grand Junction.

I had an awesome conversation with the band and can’t wait to come kick it on the deck later on. Stay tuned for their future endeavors, and listen to their 2017 debut So Cold below!