Monday 9 April 2018

An Interview With Tunguska Mammoth

Canadian Sludge/Stoner Rockers Tunguska Mammoth return after a 5 year absence. The band will be releasing their epic new album Breathless in May 2018 via Deathbound Records

Breathless has a heavier and progressive sound compared to their debut album. If you’re into bands such as Baroness and Mastodon then Tunguska Mammoth are definitely worth your time.

You can read my review of the album here.

I was asked to do an interview with the band and I wanted to find out the reasons behind the long absence and what inspired them to create their new album.

You can find all that and more with this cool interview.

Hi guys. Thanks for doing this interview. How are things with you today.

Very good! We had a lot of good feedback on the first single, Kings and Queens, and we can’t wait to release the full album!

Before we discuss your new album. Can you give a brief overview of how the band formed and where it is today.

Tunguska Mammoth was born in October 2010, from a group of friends already playing in a cover band. We released a 3 songs EP in June 2011 that we recorded in our rehearsal room. We then released our first full album in 2013, and it includes the re-recorded songs from the EP. After promoting the album we started working on new songs. In 2017 we entered the studio to record our new album, which will be released May 11th.

Why did you choose Tunguska Mammoth as the name for your band.

Cuz it’s badass, isn’t it ? We searched “Loudest event on earth” on google, and added a big hairy animal name to it.

How would you describe your overall sound.

Somewhere on the edge of the stoner/sludge scene and the more traditional metal scene. It’s really riff-oriented, to say the least. It’s a bit like you said yourself, Steve : fast-paced stoner/sludge metal.

You’re about to release your excellent new album – Breathless – What can people expect from the album. As it’s quite different to your previous album.

A lot of bands say the same thing when they release a new record: it’s more mature, and songs feel more natural and less constructed. And it’s no exception for us. Breathless is more complex, more refined and more researched than the first one. We’ve learned a lot from the writing the first album, and you can feel the departure from the very “raw” compositions from that era. We also changed course on the vocals, we focused instead on using the singing as an integral tonal instrument instead of wall-to-wall screaming. It gave a whole new dimension to the band’s sound that we’re more than happy to exploit. All in all, Breathless forgoes the “rock” and “raw” sound of the previous record, and now aligns with songs like “The Plan” and “Ashes to Dust” from that album.

What are the main themes of the album.

Breathless was approached differently from the first record. Whereas the first was a concept album about a mammoth-lead apocalypse, the new one has not a single song related to any other, so there's no more narrative track, no story arc, no concept anyhow. It's more about personal struggles, illnesses, and a grim outlook on life in general. We thought it would be easier to write than a concept album where you have to tie all the songs together somehow, but it was as hard: each song has to stand up on its own. Also, for The Yellow Sign, we adapted passages from the famous The King in Yellow from Robert W. Chambers. It was a first for us, and also a good exercise in adaptation.

Who is releasing the album and what formats is the album being released upon.

Deathbound Records will release the album digitally, and we will release a CD in limited edition (only 200 will be made).

What influenced you when writing and recording the album.

Of course, all the bands that get featured and reviewed on blogs like Outlaws of the Sun inspire us as much for the writing as for the sound, but we add a generous serving of hard rock and heavy metal too. Everyone in the band is aligned on different styles, too, so that’s why you can hear hints of black metal, hints of progressive, and so on.

Was recording the album an easy or hard experience.

This was a demanding experience, because Pierre-Hugues, who also drums for the band, took care of the recording. It needed several evenings and days of work during the summer and fall, and we all have busy schedules outside of music, which made the recording process pretty complex. As for the vocals, it was also necessary to work a lot in the studio, since the texts were finished after the beginning of the recording process. It was thus necessary to make sure that the melodies were good, and that the final result was up to our expectations.

Moreover, Pierre-Hugues also mixed the whole thing, and as he requires no less than the perfection of himself, he worked countless hours on the product to reach the final product with a sound that appealed to the whole group, despite everyone's differing preferences.

It’s been almost five years since you released your last album. Why the long wait for a follow-up record.

We’re slow! And we must say that we had a few shows in these last 5 years, which slowed our pace for writing, too. It took about one year to record, mix and master the album. Add to that a delay to make sure we’d release the album at a good time of the year, when we can tour without fear of riding in a snowstorm.

Breathless has a different sound compared to your last album. Was that because you’ve evolved as musicians since that album. Or did you just want a different style of sound.

It’s definitely both. Of course, considering the timespan between the two albums, we matured as a band and individually. Also, we managed to refine our sound live. Learning from this and after the experience of the first album, we managed to have a great balance between instruments. For Breathless we really wanted to have a clearer and more present bass, separate it better from the guitar tones. We think we succeeded and it sounds really great!

What is the song-writing method in the band. Is it a group collective or down to one individual.

A mix of individual and group contributions. Some songs have practically been made by one person (and still later adapted by the group), and others are the result of a collective effort where each member contributed ideas for songs.

Will you be promoting and touring this album heavily. Or will you just be focusing on gigs closer to home.

It will be mostly shows near home, weekends here and there. We would like to go further, but we don’t want to leave for several months and let go of our jobs. If we go further, it would be for a short tour or for an interesting opportunity, like getting invited to a festival.

You’re from Canada which has a very good reputation indeed amongst the Doom/Stoner/Sludge Metal community. What is the current state of the Canadian Hard Rock/Heavy Metal scene. Do you have an active community where you can put on regular gigs.

Canada is so big that going to play in the west equals debt. There are some cities that are actually interesting, that we would like to visit, but they are so far from each other that one should make sure to have concrete guarantees to go there, and let’s just say that it does not happen often.

Do you have any plans to travel and play abroad in the future.

We are open on whatever plans that could happens, but we are not currently planning anything.

The album cover is very cool indeed. What’s the story behind the album cover. Who designed it and how much input did you have into the final design.

The photo was taken by Maxime when he was on his way to his home town to see his family. It is a lake / marsh near the road. You can even see it on google maps at the following coordinates: Latitude: 46.53576 | Longitude: -73.783663. This is the “Lac Pigeon” lake. Maxime later worked with different filters in order to help find a direction to take, and Paolo took the photo to turn it into album art by adding graphic elements, changing the contrast, colors, etc. It is therefore a cover made 100% by the group, like most elements of the group. It's very DIY.

Thanks for doing this interview. Before you go do you have anything to say to your fans. Best of luck with the new album.

Thank you for giving us the opportunity for this interview, and thanks for the reviews and all. It’s thanks to blogs and medias like you that we can make ourselves known throughout the world. And for our fans, and our future fans, thank you for supporting us. Whenever we sell our t-shirts to a faraway country, it’s like a solid pat on the back, and it gives us the courage to continue and to release new songs (even if it takes time!).

Words by Steve Howe and Tunguska Mammoth

Thanks to Olivier at Deathbound Records for arranging this interview. Thanks to Tunguska Mammoth for doing this interview.

Breathless will be available to buy on CD/DD via Deathbound Records from May 11th 2018.