With legendary live performances dropping the jaws of music fans all over Australia, MAMMAL have risen through the ranks of the Aussie rock scene in just 3 short years. Since forming in 2006 the Melbourne band has released an EP, a live album, and most recently a debut studio album ‘The Majority’ (2008) all released independently despite numerous offers from major labels.
Having made a name for themselves back home, the Melbourne band decided to spread the love here in New Zealand playing a one off show at The Dogs Bollix in Auckland on April 24. NZRock caught up with frontman Ezekiel Oz (ex-FULLSCALE) and guitarist Pete Williamson (ex-PETE MURRAY BAND) before watching the band live up to their name with an outstanding show that had even the most conservative up and rocking!
NZRock: You guys have come a long way in a relatively short amount of time. Whats the secret?
Ezekiel: Yeah we’ve come a long way, we’re pretty hungry you know. People will say to us how far we’ve come but we feel like there’s so much more to do so its a constant feeling from the band that we’re not quite there yet, musically and just with the fan base.
Pete: Its like starting again for us tonight because its the first time we’ve been here. So it’s really exciting. It’s actually a good bonding experience for the band to go into a new place again and feel that starting again thing, get the hunger. Not that we havent got the hunger in Australia but it keeps it really real.
Ezekiel: Its a real thrill to come and have to fight for it again for us because back home now we’ve got to a point where we’ve got a fan base and that’s fucking great! I wouldn’t trade it for anything but it’s so exciting to come over here and have to prove it again. We’ve got a bit of an underdog attitude haha!
NZRock: You guys had quite a following from your previous bands. Did that interest help as well?
Ezekiel: I think probably more from the FULL SCALE angle to be realistic. I think a lot of people who came to see Pete for PETE MURRAY didn’t make the connection. But I think early on at our very first shows there was a lot of spill over and interestingly enough some of that dropped off. So some people that were into my old band weren’t really into the MAMMAL thing and then from there… it really is a new fan base.
Pete: Every time you start a band you start afresh and you’ve got to prove yourself. We just tried to write really good music that was really energized and then take that to the live realm and energize hopefully the crowd with that music. People got turned onto that and told their friends and that’s what started to grow.
Ezekiel: But it gives us experience. To put another answer to that question. What it does give us separate from MAMMAL is, Pete’s been in a group that’s gone multi-platinum and he understands the major label angle, FULL SCALE was involved with a major label angle so I think early on when the major labels were sniffing around and we got offered several deals from the majors because we were such an exciting young act, we actually knocked them back. And it’s meant more power to us, more control but also a chance to actually, within the new paradigm in this industry, to forge our own path and create our own business structures. You know, Pete manages the band, we can do our own PR and we can be our own best sort of selling point. So we did bring a shit load of stuff through from it you know because you never forget what you’ve learned, particularly the negative lessons I find.
NZRock: With your debut studio album ‘The Majority’ you used pre-sales to help fund it. Who’s idea was it to do that?
Ezekiel: It was Petes. He’s good at getting cash HAHA!
Pete: It was just an idea. We needed the funding and we didnt want to have to give up any different rights to do that. We ended up putting everyone’s names in the inner sleeve of the artwork and they really appreciated that. We got a lot of love back from them. That process has kinda shown us that our fans are very committed to it and that they actually like to be involved in what MAMMAL is doing and that’s a real cool thing you know. So we’re really respectful of that.
NZRock: What about the overseas fans? Scuzz TV in the UK is playing your music videos and I see you’re getting a lot of positive feedback on your Myspace page from that.
Ezekiel: We don’t know much about it yet beyond the fact that we know we’re getting a lot of plays over there. We’ve just enlisted a publicist in the UK which is one of the advantages of being independent – we can make moves when we want, we don’t have to wait for someone to have to approve it through a record label. We saw what was happening so we went and we looked at a few companies and found the one that was right for us. We’re going to be going over there before the end of the year.
Pete: It’s blown up you know. Sometimes in your own back yard people see it so much its just the norm. It seems like the people who have discovered it now, it’s very fresh to them, it hasnt been forced down their throats or anything and they’re wanting more. They’ve asked to have the clip put into high rotation.
Ezekiel: It’s an affirmation too because you hope you’ve got an international sound. We’ve always felt like we’re a band that is of international calibre. I think we’ll do really well over there when we go.
Pete: All the Scots and the Irish, they’re all in the UK market and they’re watching this clip and loving it.
NZRock: So how did MAMMAL get together in the first place?
Ezekiel: Nick and Pete had been working in the studio for four years. They’d been jamming on and off with different drummers and never found the mix. Pete and I were friends from high school. We say friends but it was really more like an acquaintance. We’d bumped into each other around the scene through the PETE MURRAY / FULLSCALE thing and so then when I got back from the States I very serendipitously bumped into Pete on an aeroplane. He was on his way to Perth when I was. It was actually interesting on two serendipitous levels because I bumped into my old friend Pete but I was actually the way to crew for COG at the Big Day Out who have ended up a massive part of our career and big supporters of what we do. So COG are the reason! After that we wrote about 10 or 15 songs in three weeks in Pete’s studio that he’d worked up with Nick. The chemistry always felt right. From the very first time we played together we felt this was something worth pursuing and nurturing.
NZRock: From your own experiences in other bands is that something pretty unusual to happen, just click like that straight away?
Pete: It’s very hard to find. One or two people yeah, but when you have a band of four people its a once in a lifetime thing.
Ezekiel: We all come from the same place, a love of high energy Rock!
NZRock: Listening to some of your songs and reading the titles, I cant help but pick up a Metal vibe in there as well.
Ezekiel: Oh yeah, even the fact that we’ve got a logo. Every Metal band has a logo. I dont think we consciously thought of it when we wanted to design a logo and it might not look like a Metal logo but I grew up listening to PANTERA. I’m a full Metal kid you know. And Pete comes from the PEARL JAM early 90s vibe but at the same time Pete will often jam out to SLIPKNOT and you’ve been right into Metal lately ay?
Pete: Well theres Metal that’s got good groove like PANTERA or LAMB OF GOD…
Ezekiel: Zane fucking loves Metal. He’s everything from CRADLE OF FILTH to METALLICA to DEICIDE. Its something we definitely hear a lot. And I think also that maybe where it comes across more Metal than most Rock is on a chops level. It’s actually got chops like we’ve sat in our bedrooms for 8 hours at some point in our lives or for six years and just fucking worked on it. And we take the piss in it too HAHA!
NZRock: So are you guys planning a second studio album yet?
Pete: Trying to write, definitely thinking about it. It’s just going to be a process of when we’ve got the chance we’ll do it you know.
Ezekiel: The second live album is going to come out so that’ll sort of tide over the fan base and give them something new. We’ve just gone through the selection process of the tracks for that because we recorded it over four nights in Sydney. But the new album, we will write it. Somethings going to happen like there’s a flood of tracks coming. We’re playing a new one tonight.
NZRock: You guys have a real reputation for your live shows, was that what sparked the idea of releasing a live album before doing a studio one?
Pete: The idea behind it was, we’re an independent band, we want to make music, we’re creating music every time we play and yet we don’t have an album. So we made the decision, lets just be really Punk Rock, we feel what we’re doing now live is good so lets capture that on tape, the energy of all these people that are rocking to us and see how it goes. It was amazing, we’d planned to record more than one show but when we listened to it from start to finish we thought that’s a really good representation of us and where we are and we think people will get into that.
Ezekiel: It’s real, there’s no edit, there’s nothing in it, it’s just the way it was. And we’re not saying hey we’re perfect. What we’re saying is hey, if you listen hard enough you’ll think it’s a good thing and you know, if its good enough for IGGY AND THE STOOGES and the MC5 then fuck, it’s good enough for us. I like turning it up and having a slab of beer with my mates HAHA!
Pete: But it worked, it paid for our first studio record and got our music out there.
Ezekiel: It also set the tone for the fact that we are a live band. We will make studio records because its a necessary thing for us to do and because we enjoy time in the studio when we get it but what we were saying to punter and business alike was take us on! Like we believe we’re good enough, one take, and it worked.
NZRock: Eric Sarafin was the producer on The Majority, how did you come to work him?
Pete: Yeah he worked on PETE MURRAY’s second record and I just really liked him as a guy and we got along great. We got along great and when we recorded that album and the EP we’d go to the bars afterwards and smoke splifs and chill out. He was a good dude. So I contacted him about MAMMAL and he heard it and said man I love it, I want to do it. And so he did a real great deal for us. He came out and stayed in my room and I slept on the couch for two weeks. He said put all of your money into a good studio, lets get the sounds right and lets do it in 12 days and we achieved all that. It was mixed in LA and it came out being something that doesn’t sound generic or like anything else thats out there at this time. We wanted to go for that timeless thing, so maybe the songwriting may be there but in terms of what we’re trying to achieve that’s what we were going for.
Ezekiel: We love the bands we play with but we don’t want to be fucking associated with them at all. We want people to hear it and go thats MAMMAL! And so we were really keen to work with a producer who worked with BEN HARPER, who worked with FARSIDE and the MIGHTY MIGHTY BOSSTONES and those albums sounded great so we figured well he can make us sound great. And Jared our sound engineer, he does our stuff live, he engineered it so we had a close link there with what we’re doing live as well.
NZRock: Is there anything you’d like to say to your NZ fans?
Ezekiel: We’re coming back you know, we’re coming back at the end of the year. We challenge people to come and check us out live. If you’ve ever liked a rock n roll or you’ve even enjoyed entertainment or cabaret, MAMMAL is a really fucken great night out and in these troubled times, $15 isn’t a bad option. We can guarantee you some showbiz HAHA!