Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Sunday Conversation with Mammut

It's rare that an album captures me so quickly, so completely.  But that's exactly what happened upon hearing the aggressive postpunk of Iceland's Mammut.  Sure it's all in Icelandic, that still didn't stop the album from shooting into my top ten Best of 2009.  So naturally, we cleared some space on our red leather interview couch and invited Arnar to come join us, shoot back some whiskey, and talk about the band.

When I was a kid, growing up in a house with Cat Stevens, Neil Diamond, and Simon and Garfunkel, the first time I ever heard Kiss's "Detroit Rock City," it was a moment of musical epiphany. It was just so vicious, aggressive and mean. It changed the way I listened to music. I've had a few minor epiphany's since then, when you come across a band that just brings something new and revolutionary to your ears.

What have been your musical epiphany moments?

I grew up in a home where we listened to all kinds of music. Both of my parents are very open to everything from classical music to hard rock (not metal though) so I've never really had any musical epiphany moments so to speak. But of course I have discovered some music which completely surprised my. The latest was the not-so-new musician Neil Young.

Talk to us about the song-writing process for you. What comes first, the idea? A riff? The lyrics? How does it all fall into place?

Usually some kind of a riff or a drum beat comes first. Someone comes to a practice with a riff from home or it happens by accident while we're rehearsing. Then we just slowly build the song around that particular riff or drum beat.

Where do you look for continuing inspiration? New ideas, new motivation?

We don't really look for inspiration on purpose but of course many things inspire us, weather we know of it or not. Our environment, friends, family, news, nature etc.

Genre's are so misleading and such a way to pigeonhole bands. Without resorting to labels, how would you describe your music?

We've been described as "Pitch black pop eating colorful Skittles" and I think that suits us quite well. It's graphic and somehow fits well while you're listening to the album.

What is you musical intention? What are you trying to express or get your audience to feel?

I'd say our purpose is to entertain and give value, both to ourselves and others. We don't have any special feelings we're trying to express, everyone can interpret the music they way they want.

In songwriting, how do you bring the song together? What do you look for in terms of complexity? Simplicity? Time changes?

Usually the song making process starts with a riff which then slowly becomes a song. We try not complicate things in our songs. There's a lot of truth in the old saying "Less is more".

The business of music is a brutal place. Changes in technology have made it easier than ever for bands to get their music out, but harder than ever to make a living? What are your plans to move the band forward? How do you stay motivated in this brutal business?

It's true that this business has changed for good. It's not really anymore about being one of the very few to "get signed". Now everyone has the same chance after the internet came about. I think this change is very positive and I'd say it's easier now to make a living then before IF you are devoted to do that. We are constantly working on moving the band forward and we do that by making clear goals and working a lot turning them into reality.

Come on, share with us a couple of your great, Spinal Tap, rock and roll moments?

Hehe we've had some fun moments. One of them was when we played with Kiefer Sutherland's band, Rocco DeLuca. Afterwards we partied with Kiefer and the band. He drank a lot and was much shorter then we thought!

What makes a great song?

A great song is one which stirs up your emotions, weather it's happiness, anger, love, hate or just any other.

Tell us about the first song you ever wrote?

The first song we wrote is called "1. flokks exem" which means something like "First class eczema" (not very appealing:P). It's a long and quite boring song, but when we wrote it we thought it was great. We've often joked about releasing that song as a single just to see how people would react hehe. I doubt we'll do that though.

What piece of your music are particularly proud of?

I'm very proud of the songs "Í Leyni", "Ég Veit Hann Kemur Fljótt" and "Dýradóttir" because we wrote them under a lot of pressure in a very short amount of time. We only had 3 days until recordings and we wrote them all within that time.

Who today, writes great songs? Why?

I really like the songwriting of Fleet Foxes. They really now how to mix they're vocals together and also make really catchy melodies. I must admit that I also admire Coldplay for writing tons of amazingly catchy songs.

Vinyl, CD, or digital? What's your format of choice?

I used to lie to myself that vinyl was the best way to listen to music. But for me it just takes to much time and I really like to be able to travel with a lot of music everywhere I go. That's why I choose digital, also because it's environmental friendly, I think...

We, at the Ripple Effect, are constantly looking for new music. When we come to your town, what's the best record store to lose ourselves in?

There's a small second hand record store called Geisladiskabúð Valda. You can find all kinds of music there. If you're looking for loads of mainstream then Skífan is the place to be. But the newest and most fresh new music would be found at, but that's digital.

Any final comments or thoughts you'd like to share with our readers, the waveriders?

We'd like to tell people about a TV show which was made about our Europe tour last November. It was made by our great friend and genius Bowen Staines and can be watched here:

We'd also like to tell people that we'll gladly send them free songs when the sign up to our mailing list at

Have a great year all of you!


Stephen Frost said...

awesome interview--it's hard for me to find anything about this band, at least the track i was introduced to...particularly difficult when i don't know how to pronounce it to ask anyone! you asked good questions to get good answers...

The Ripple Effect said...

Thanks Stephen. I haven't heard anything back from the band since then. I hope they're still together. That album was amazing

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