Welcome to a brand new session! I won't lie, we've been looking forward to this one for a while. Fresh from a blistering set at The Great Escape Festival down in Brighton and the release of the much-hyped AU EP, Mammal Club dropped into Blank studios to record a live session and an interview.
The name Mammal Club, where did it come from?
The idea behind the name was something that was deliberately ambiguous. I liked the idea of it either being a club for mammals, or a club, used to beat mammals over the head. Also we liked the idea that really the evolution of mammals was a special thing. It seemed clinical to class ourselves as 'human beings' when we all evolved from a common descendant. It left us isolated from the rest of mammalia. We liked the friendlier sound of 'Mammal Club' as an inclusive classification of all mammals rather than separation in to sub-species.
Talk us through the evolution of Mammal Club...
Me (Wilson), Colin and Calum all went to school together. In fact we all studied music together. We studied the music of Planet of the Apes, and Robin Hood Prince of Thieves. This genuinely brought us together. I really like the fact that without Kevin Costner or Charlton Heston, Mammal Club wouldn't exist.
Anyway, after dicking around for a bit, we met Adam, through recommendation, and found out he also loved Robin Hood Prince of Thieves. We spent a long time together rehearsing, writing, and re-enacting large sections of the script. After a year of being locked in our rehearsal space, under Byker bridge, we finally released Mammal Club Live, for other people to hear. Luckily people comprehended what we'd been doing, and we've been gigging and writing since.
Science plays a huge part in our sound. I find a lot of unmined beauty in science. It's an absolutely fascinating place, and has the capability, as with no other subject I've found, to completely and legitimately blow my mind. I know this perhaps sounds a little bit twatty, but if we spend 60% of our awake life under a bridge arch in Byker, I'd say we safely spend 35% of the rest of our time, reading, watching or talking about popular science... As for the other 5% we say horrible things to each other, and eat humous.
Your sound and song structures are quite complex and intricate, was this a conscious decision or something that happened naturally?
I feel that sometimes popular music can be a little bit insulting in its simplicity. It almost suggests that your regular music listener can't handle a cross rhythm, or dissonance, or interesting phrasing of a vocal line. What we try and do with every component part of every song is make it interesting. If it isn't doing something interesting or necessary, then I really don't see a point in it being there.
I think the reason it maybe feels complex is because it is layered so thickly. You can hopefully penetrate (penetrate is a funny old word isn't it?) to several different depths. Someone who is really looking for something complex could delve deep enough to get something really complicated out of it, where as if you just need to nod your head, it hopefully can fulfil a role too. I think if popular music (by popular music, I essentially mean any music that isn't filmic) becomes so complex that is becomes difficult to listen to, then you have failed in writing a piece of music.
What bands are you listening to at the moment?
We dig Holy Mammoth and Grandfather Birds locally. More widely, I can't stop listening to Baths, Gold Panda and Christian AIDS at the minute. Be prepared for our next release to contain ridiculous, aggressive side-chaining. Also look out for Jai Paul. His initial demos sound UNREAL. He is about to be XL's next project. As with any XL release, it could go either way, but if it goes the right way and he ends up class, then I told you about him. If he ends up shit, then I told you he'd be shit...
What's your scope on the North East music scene, do you find yourself pulling towards other cities?
Newcastle is quite an insular scene, but it's a special city for me. I'd be scared to see what living somewhere else would do to my writing... Plus I've just signed up for a NUFC season ticket for the next 10 years.
No seriously though, I think London is a necessary evil for any band that wants to make a living from what they do. We can't avoid it, but certainly I think being up here can work to your benefit in the long run. It's a funny one but I think this isolation can be good for a band. I mean the title of 'the best band in Newcastle' to me feels a bit like being 'the tallest dwarf', because in reality you only have to be better/taller than about six other bands/dwarfs, but I guess that title would hold some clout in London.
The EP has just been released, any plans for tours and gigs or future releases?
We went on our pre-release tour last month and we're gigging all the time. Best place to find our dates is on mammalclub.com. As for our next release, we're working on tracks at the moment. We think it'll be a single in about September, but nothing set in stone yet. We're in a good position with our label, who, because of the success of the EP, have told us we can release what we want... We were talking about publishing a book just to test how far we can push it, but we'll probably stick to music for now.
Check out more from Mammal Club at their profile.