Home / Music / Artist Interviews / INTERVIEW: ATL-Based Indie/Post-Punk Outfit, MammaBear

INTERVIEW: ATL-Based Indie/Post-Punk Outfit, MammaBear

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “My House?”

I (Kyle) wrote “My House” on Thanksgiving on my mother’s screened in back porch. It came to me quickly, since it’s pretty simple, musically. It’s kind of a lyrical musing on the current state of our society here in the US. I wanted something funky and driving that would make the album kind of aggressive.

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

No, it’s more of a stream of consciousness, primal scream dealing with apathy, vanity and mediocrity against the background of a self-obsessed society. I don’t mean to sound preachy. I’m guilty of all the charges brought about in “My House.” I just kind of wanted to document some of the lesser virtues of the 21st century.

How was the filming process and experience behind the video?

We filmed “My House” with Nick Rhodes of Coalesce Films at our drummer, Troy’s house. We shot it in a single day and had a lot of fun with it. I really enjoy sticking gags into our videos. I’m not sure if they come across or even if they’re funny, but I like laughing at what we are doing. It’s not brain surgery and should be taken as lightly as possible.

The single comes off your new album SAY – what’s the story behind the title?

The title came to me while we were making the album. MammaBear’s second album, Chocolate, was dense and dramatic with more instruments than we had players on stage. As a three piece, we could really only manage to play two or three songs off the album. While making SAY, Dave wouldn’t let me redo certain takes that he felt had a lot of personality. We ended up keeping more of the “personality” takes over the “perfect” takes, which gives the album a devil may care attitude. SAY means, be yourself and don’t look back.

How was the recording and writing process?

SAY was recorded at David Prasse’s building in East Atlanta. Darren Dodd, Troy Wolf and I all contributed to the drumming on the album, but Darren is the one playing drums on “My House.” We tracked it, live, in only a few takes. I added bass later that day and tracked the vocals some time later on.

What’s it like working with David Prasse and how did that relationship develop?

Dave and I have known each other for a long time but recently he saw MammaBear play at Smith’s Olde Bar and made the comment (which a lot of people make) that we don’t sound like our records. He heard a Sex Pistols thing in the live show and asked if I was interested in making an album that sounded closer to what we do live. It was something I had been thinking of quite a bit at the time, so I jumped at the chance.

How much did he get to influence the album?

Dave had a lot of influence on the album, but he mostly wanted to capture who we are. I’m not a gear head and never have been one, so I let him choose, or rather never interfered with his choice of amps, guitars, and gear we worked with. I knew what I wanted to hear and he had a pedal, amp, or instrument for all of my requests.

Was it easy to have two voices guiding you guys throughout the process?

It never felt like a two voice thing. We worked well together. The only friction we ever faced was when I would get mad at myself while recording the vocals. Dave had a great attitude and was always positive. We laughed a lot and sometimes talked longer than we would track. He has become a trusted friend and mentor to me. I’m very thankful for our encounter at Smith’s and his invitation to make this album with him.

What made you want to go for a 60’s tone and what is it that you find so fascinating about this decade?

Do you think it’s 60’s sounding? We really didn’t have a particular sound in mind for the record. We did blow a few amps before we finished, and we tracked it over the course of a year or so. We dropped 5 songs off the album before they were even finished. The gear we used varied from song to song with only the drums, an old maple five-piece kit, being consistent. There are some similarities on the album to practices used back before the digital era, 60’s if you will. We didn’t track analog but we committed to takes and used minimal overdubs. 90% of the stuff you hear on the album is a single guitar, bass, drum, or vocal take, without repair. We also used only tube amplifiers, mostly vintage, real instruments, kept mistakes and avoided pedals and effects that might date the recording.

What role does Atlanta play in your music?

My youth was spent in Atlanta. I was steeped in the scene; jammed with artistic, motivated, and energetic artists, many of which are household names now, and their talent, passion, and dedication has never failed to impress me. Many of my favorite bands have been from Atlanta and I’m pleased to be a part of this generation of DIY musicians.

What aspect of love and loss did you get to explore on this record?

Every MammaBear album, and this is our third, deals with a range of emotions that we all go through throughout our existences. I don’t censor myself and could never simply write a song about partying or the “rock and roll” lifestyle. It’s been done and it doesn’t inspire me. I find myself drawn to people and what makes us tick. I do not believe in pandering and don’t know how to write a song that has a catchy, two word, make you feel good chorus. I don’t really think that’s the point of music. Rather, that’s how it’s been sold to people that don’t understand music as an art form. Real music is complicated and murky, either musically speaking or lyrically; sometimes, and rarely, both.

How did you go on balancing the dark undertones with the much brighter ones?

If you’re talking about actual sonic tones on the album, Dave would be better suited to answer your technical question. I will say that I trust my ear and ask for tweaks until I’m pleased with what I hear. Lyrically and musically I find it quite easy to have an album filled with a range of emotions and sounds as I’m an emotional person and write accordingly.

Where else did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

I’ve been writing and recording music for years. I’ve played with countless people and have tried to soak up a bit from all of them. Inspiration comes at the damnedest of times and I find it handy to have a recording device on me at all times. Like I said earlier, I didn’t have a cohesive idea of what SAY would be while we were making it.  We just added 2 or 3 songs at a time until we thought we had something that resembled an album. I had about 20 songs slated for the record and we only got to about 15 of them. We kept 10 of those. A few of the scraps may see the light of day later on, but I doubt it.

Any plans to hit the road?

Glad you asked! We have a string of shows starting in May…

May 7th   Atlanta Ga. at Smiths Old Bar w/ Hey Guy! (featuring Boris Pelekh of Gogol Bordello) and Sex Farm

May 8th   Charlotte NC  at Snug Harbor w/ The Buisness People

May 12th  Philadelphia PA  at Pharmacy w/ Sleepmonster and Hedera

May  13th  New York  NY at Coney Island Baby

May  16th  Pittsburgh PA at Mr Smalls Funhouse  w/ Scott Fry Experience and Weird Paul

May  17th  Cincinnati OH at Urban Artifact

May 18th  Louisville KY at  Mag Bar w/ Robby Cox, Further South, and South City Revival

May 19th  Nashville TN at the Basement w/ Hurts to Laugh and The Dead Deads

Come one come all! Buy us a drink.

What else is happening next in MammaBear’s world?

We have 2 more music videos ready for release, and they will be coming out shortly so keep an eye or two open for that madness. We will be playing shows through the East Coast and Midwest through out the year after our May run and we’ll be recording another album just as soon as the label lets me. Good luck and thanks for the love! Humans, check out SAY and follow us on the socials, call your parents, open the door for a stranger!

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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