Three gals, two guys, that’s MAMMÚT. An Icelandic 5 piece that’s been on the scene for around 9 years. They have crafted the art of delivering a wall of sound both live and on record with Kata, the lead singer sending out vocals akin to an offspring of Grace Slick and Linda Perry. Kata on vocals, Ása strumming bass, Alexandra and Arnar at guitar, and Andri banging the drums and percussion.
3 or 4 months after forming, they won the coveted Músiktilraunir, the annual Icelandic battle of the bands. Two years later their first album, Mammút, was released. Basic rock in the vein of the Breeders or Linda Perry topped with a dash or three of late 60’s psychedelic rock. There are times I can play Miðnæturmetall two or three times before moving on to the next track.
The second album, Karkari, has a darker feel. It’s still rock heavy, such as the terrific bass thumping on the beginning of Geimþrá, and the album ends with an instrumentally heavy track, Í Leyni, which could easily be confused for a Godspeed You Black Emperor or Mogwai song. Very heavy, very loud, and oh so awesome on a stereo.
Between the two albums and their new track, MAMMÚT did Bakkus with KEXP:
I love that the video captures Kata’s “I’m almost going to explode, but I’ll do it very quietly” way of singing, she really is awesome to see live, and the only thing I miss from this and their records is just what powerful lungs she actually has, that fire haired girl really knows how to sing. But then again, watching this band live really restores your faith in music, as even when it’s a simple riff, or slow drum line, these guys are always into it. It’s a live gig you should make a priority to see, you’ll get into it just from the energy they give off because their into it.
I want to go off-topic for a moment and bring up KEXP, the folks who did the Bakkus video. The crew that covers Iceland Airwaves from KEXP are an incredible sort. I always end up running into them once or twice during the festival as they are incredibly hard workers. Typically out late to catch as many shows as they can, only to wake up extremely early to go here and there recording Icelandic musicians for special performances all during Airwaves. A lot of material you will find on Airwaves comes from the recordings and sessions of KEXP. Last year they were headquartered at the hostel Kex, recording off-venue gigs, broadcasting their live shows, and generally having a good time.
MAMMÚT have been teasing us about new material for quite some time now, and it looks as if it’s finally going to happen. On the new single, Salt,we get those haunting vocals, and a much darker, more prominent base line. It feels a lot more like Í Leyni than their other catalog and so yes, I’m quite excited for the new album. Also, it will be in English and Icelandic, so you won’t have to go guessing just exactly what the hell they are saying, if you’re not versed in the Icelandic language.
The band was kind enough to take the time to answer my 4 vital questions, so here they are:
1. What is your favorite off-venue Airwaves, or Icelandic joint to jam at? A few year ago we played a gig in Ása’s (our bassist) basement. She used to live in a huge house in downtown Reykjavík and turned the basement into an art gallery, and there we played a secret show for a few good people.
2. If you combine all of your favorite colors (for you, add your bandmates if you would), what do you get? It would be a crazy new color. We’d probably call it “Mammút blue”
3. What are 3 of your favorite little known bands of Icelandic origin? Well we’d have to define “little known” first. If we’re talking about bands who haven’t experienced a huge international success (yet) then we’d have to say Samaris, Agent Fresco and Ojba Rasta.
4. If you could be any creature playing your favorite song, what would the creature be? And what is the song. Most likely we’d like to be a frog singing Ave Maria.