TRAVIS LOWELL OF MAMMOTHOR

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Hi Travis,
Thanks for taking the time to talk to me today.
Can you tell us a bit about Mammothor and how things got started?
Great question.  Mammothor formed in 2012.  Josh, our guitarist, decided to start a new rock band and began reaching out to people via Craigslist and through various social circles in the Boston music scene.  Among the people he talked to was our other guitarist, Dana.  The two of them quickly found that they had good musical chemistry.  At that time, the band ended up becoming a six piece group, including a different vocalist, a different drummer, a different bassist…and a keyboardist!  They put out an album three years ago that was very much blues rock-oriented.
I came into the picture in late 2014, shortly after they parted ways with the original singer.  I dealt mostly with Dana, who pushed hard to get me in the band.  I told him I liked how they sounded on the first album, but blues rock was really not my thing.  He assured me that they were going in a much different direction this time out, wanting to go heavier and with more variety.  We began working with our drummer, Nick, in December of 2015.  We finally had a core group of guys who were pretty like-minded in the direction of things.  Lori, our new bassist, actually came into the fold just a couple of weeks ago!  On the album, we used another local bassist named Dusty, who has his own group called Silver Beast.  After going through five bassists in a five year period, let’s hope Lori sticks around!
It sounds like the band are heading in the right direction now. Certainly on a musical front all cylinders are firing perfectly fine. How is it possible to jam so many different genres into one sound, but yet still sound totally fresh and individual?
Here’s the thing: just focusing on myself, Josh, and Dana for a minute…we all have very different musical tastes from one another, but they are often overlapping.  Dana and I both love Deftones, for instance, while they aren’t Josh’s thing.  Josh and I have both been into Megadeth forever, but Dana has only recently started to discover them.  I could go on and on with these kinds of examples.
One thing that Josh and I have discovered…while in the past, he got very used to having to “control” many elements of the band’s sound to be sure things have worked, he has had much better luck by allowing me to do my own thing and only makes suggestions when truly needed.A great example is the song “Elusive Engineer”.  The basis of that song was written long before I ever came into the picture.  As a matter of fact, I have a recording around, somewhere, that features the old singer performing the song in a practice session.  I consciously avoided listening to that version of the song because I really wanted to do my own take on it.  So I recorded the basic chords that Josh was playing, went home, and came up with my own melody based around the lyrics he had written.  Dana did the same for his guitar parts.  We both came back in to practice and performed an entirely different version of the song than Josh originally had envisioned.  But he loved it.  We made a few more adjustments, so Dana’s “extended solo” didn’t step too much on the vocal parts and vice versa, but in the end, we came out with a pretty good result.
No two songs come together exactly the same.  They may start out as one thing, but as we all put our personal touches on them, they start to take on a life of their own.
It is a truly great song. I must admit when I was researching your band prior listening to the material, I was sceptical that such a wide scope of influences could work. I was blown away is all I can say. The thing that I find outstanding is, that, Mammothor don’t sound typically American, more like a European vibe going on. Was this sheer coincidence or planned?
There are European influences in some Mammothor songs, particularly the Iron Maiden-like riffs that Josh occasionally brings in, but I would say any strong vibes are purely coincidental.  If anything, I’d say we share the European sensibility of being into many different styles of music.  I know that European festivals are typically varied, versus in the United States, where our festivals tend to be much more homogeneous.
The Iron Maiden vibe is there, but not overpowering or anything, if anything , it binds certain parts together. How did you manage to get such a powerful vocal range?
I’m a believer that influences play a major role in how we approach things from a musical perspective.  Luckily, I gravitated toward a lot of really, really talented and diverse artists at an early age: Mike Patton, Brandon Boyd, Greg Puciato, Chino Moreno, Maynard James Keenan, Axl Rose, Serj Tankian…I could go on and on.  I also like a lot of bass-centric, lounge lizard type of stuff: Frank Sinatra, Tom Jones…even Richard Cheese.  If you haven’t heard of him, he’s hilarious and very talented.  I went to one of his shows once and tried to record a video.  He walked out into the crowd, snatched my phone away, and threatened to take my girlfriend at the time back to his swanky hotel room if I tried recording him again.  Point taken, Dick!
What does a typical Mammothor live show entail? Is it hard to project all the parts to a live audience?
Our live shows are always a work in progress.
In regard to performing the vocal parts, that can be an issue at times, as I am the only one in the band who sings, at least for now.  I have been working with having Nick and Dana do more gang vocals, which is very helpful, particularly on a song like “Faith Healer”, which has overlapping lyrics.  We also have some songs, like “Pillar of Simeon” which benefit from vocal effects.  For those performances, I will often bring my TC Helicon Voicelive Touch 2 effects processor.  I also use megaphones for distortion.
The band has recently begun using sound clips between songs, which helps to add atmosphere to the performances.
Energy-wise, I generally like climbing up on whatever is available.  I basically fly by the seat of my pants and try to get as “in the moment” as I possibly can, given that I’ve heard all of these songs about 1000 times now.  I’ll probably break my fucking neck before we’re done.
Nick has ADHD and is starting to resemble a Tasmanian devil behind the kit.  The more comfortable he gets with the songs, the more his energy level increases.  It’s beautiful.
Josh was traditionally the more stoic one on guitar, but he is starting to come out front more and more.  I’m encouraging it as much as I can.  When he starts banging his head and singing along with the lyrics it feels good.
Dana has a good rapport with me on stage and we often trade comments between songs about God knows what.  He has a great sense of humour and can add some lightness to the show.  One time, he got pretty drunk at a big show, when we opened for Powerman 5000.  He played a little sloppy but probably had his best presence to date.  We need to experiment with those chemicals and get them just right.
As far as Lori goes, she has learned the songs so fast that I can’t ask much else out of her…yet!  Her best days with us are definitely yet to come.  She’s very smart.  She “gets it”, and she figured out what we’re going for immediately.  For now, I’m content as long as she keeps playing as good as she has been.  But in the future I’d definitely like to see her let her hair down and really get nuts.
Sounds like a high energy, not to be missed kinda show.
What’s the Boston scene like? I’ve not interviewed any bands from that area before. Is there a healthy presence of bands, or are bands and shows hard to come by?
There are quite a few bands in the Boston scene, many of which are very talented.  The bassist from another Boston area band called I Was Awake engineered and mixed our album!  But it’s becoming harder and harder these days for independent bands to get noticed.  In regard to venues, the more sought after ones are often difficult to book, as they tend to have national acts and everyone from the area beating down their doors.  We are in the process of booking a Boston show at a good venue right now for a weekend date…five months in advance!
I had no idea that Boston was so popular for music. I know booking shows in Germany and England is difficult, especially smaller, unsigned acts. Do you have any plans on touring outside of USA, or is that a goal for the future?
We would love to tour outside the U.S., although that presents its own difficulties.  I know a lot of bands have had issues due to not obtaining the proper visas, etc.  Everything is much more involved on the independent level because, ultimately, the weight of everything ends up falling on your shoulders.  I am getting married in Brasil this September and I think we might do a couple of shows out there if the timing works out right.  South American crowds are really great because their culture tends to be very laid back…they love to have drinks, sing, and jump along with music.  I’m hopeful that we can set up a show or two, even if we are forced to do an acoustic gig (due to not all members making it out).  Canada is another really obvious choice since we are so close. But ultimately, I’d love to go anywhere that would have us, as long as we can make it feasible both personally and financially.
I know the Brazilian fans appreciate any band that come and play for them. The Canadian scene is massive. I was there a few years back. The sheer number of metal heads walking down the streets is incredible, even more than in Germany. I am sure that Mammothor’s sound will be greatly received here in Europe. What are the bands plans for the near future?
I guess we are going to have to start more strongly considering Canadian shows then!  And of course, we’d love to go to Europe too.  A big part of this, at our level, is just meeting people and getting the name out there.
At this point, we are going to keep working on getting Lori up to speed, for starters.  She has had a lot on her shoulders, literally going from trying out to having to learn songs and play sets as we opened for Trapt, a major U.S. rock act.  We’re doing a couple of dates with the hard rock act Saliva next month.  That should be fun.  We are also playing out with Chuck Mosley, the original front-man for Faith No More, in July.  That will be great as well, especially since I’m a fan of the work he’s done, including after Faith No More with his VUA band.  We are actively looking into doing a little more extensive touring this Fall, possibly with another bigger rock or metal act.  We should have our second single out this Summer, which will hopefully get a few people’s attention.  Aside from all that, we are booking smaller shows with bands in the regional scene, just trying to increase our visibility.  We want to get “Devotion Lost” into as many people’s hands as possible.
Definitely go to Edmonton, crazy bunch there. I have a few contacts there still that are always looking for bands.The future looks quite bright for you guys it seems. Busy schedules are always a sure bet to proceed. I see too many bands that are stagnant, by that I mean, they release an album and then do nothing. No gigs or promo whatsoever. You guys are definitely on the right track.
It’s been a pleasure talking to you Travis. I wish you and all the guys at Mammothor the very best of luck in the future.
That’s great, Andy.  Yes, please keep us in mind for the future!  And if you ever come out to the States, try to catch us here as well…maybe I’ll even buy ya a beer!  Best of luck to you as well, it’s been great talking with you.