Doing the Thing Right: Gonzo with The Mammoths
Photo Credit: Susan La Torre
"If the thing's worth doing, it's worth doing right" famous words of Hunter S. Thompson, revered journalist, political commentator, hero to many, enemy to some, and something to all. Thompson founded a genre of journalism known as "Gonzo" journalism, in which the author immerses themselves into the events that they are covering. We thought it would be a great piece and tribute to the late legend. When we asked David Kapsner, lead singer of The Mammoths, he immediately said "Hell yeah!". What follows is a strange and wild ride of coverage chock full of grit from The Mammoths' show at Executive Surf Club in Corpus Christi, Texas on 9/1/2018.
The Mammoths are: David Kapsner: Lead Vocals, Guitar, Organ, Michael Jekot: Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals, Tyler Rush: Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals, and Tim Durand, Drums, Backing Vocals.
We arrived at 6:00pm to take pictures of the stage and setup. We promptly ordered drinks and awaited The Mammoths for their soundcheck at 6:30pm, they would take the stage at 9:00pm. The Mammoths had earlier asked
us which beach was closest to the venue, and arrived still wet and in their swimwear for the soundcheck, unfortunately there is no photographic evidence to prove any of this, so in the words of every med school dropout doctor, you're going to have to trust me. Have I ever steered you wrong?
Turns out we do have photos (it's amazing what you find when you look for it, see below), so you if you trusted me, congratulations. If you didn't, where's your sense of adventure?! As I was saying, the band did their sound checks for all the guitars, bass, drums, mics, and keys (as shown on the right). While this happened, the crowd looked on confused, wondering if this was some sort of experimental granola band that specialized in the repetition of sounds that could not possibly be played together. The band chatted with a few in the crowd to reassure them they were professionals and this was strictly procedure before the real business was to take place.
After sound check had finished, The Mammoths changed out of their swimwear and we sat down to catch up over drinks, dinner, and laughter. This also featured an interview, during which we talked about The Mammoths upcoming tour in October of the Southeast in which they will hit some cities they did not play on their summer tour. They also discussed an upcoming West Coast tour, a first for the band, that will be anchored by performances at Off Beat Fest in Reno, Nevada and Freakout Fest in Ballard, Washington State.
After this, The Mammoths said they will hit the studio to record their much anticipated full-length debut album. The Mammoths and I tend to agree on the difference between albums and EP's. The former is a large work that is meant to go together and is often tied together by a theme or some meaning. Whereas EP's are just collections of songs put onto a recording. They seemed very excited about this journey. Especially when discussing their producer Jeff Saenz of Modern Electric, who has produced work for Leon Bridges and a score of others. They all agreed that they like Saenz's hands-on approach to production and how he challenges them on song structure, etc. They also appreciate that he has taken the time to see them live on many occasions to get a sense of what they are about, rather than simply imposing his opinion on them.
Next, over a few more beers and conversation, we filmed segments for our YouTube special "Talking Gear", which you can see here. We listened to the opener, the Jimmy Willden Band who were absolutely fantastic performers and
great humans all around. We'll be doing a future piece with them as well. When it was almost time for the Mammoths set, they revealed to me they had to do vocal warm-ups and asked me to sit in (and before you ask, no I didn't sing, I can still hit those highs though). It is hard to describe this experience accurately, so I decided to record it, you have to watch this:
What a show! And that was just the warm up, literally! With a renewed sense of purpose, as the time approached for their set, The Mammoths (and due to proximity) stormed out of the van ready to storm the stage and kick ass (though I promptly sat down to observe this).
The Mammoths won over the crowd in minutes. After which, they made the mistake of offering a free t-shirt to anyone that would get the band a round of tequila shots. Needless to say, they had way more tequila shots than they expected on their hands (I fell on the sword for them a little in this endeavor). They played fantastic covers of the Beatles ("I want you"), Stevie Ray Vaughan ("Lenny"), and Elvis ("Houndog"). The audience of course loved these, but they loved their originals just as much. The audience repeatedly turned to one another impressed with The Mammoths' abilities. Upon closing out the set, the band took time to take pictures at the merch table with newly minted fans (of which there were many).
We said our goodbyes, and discussed the bands upcoming set at OtraFest at House of Rock later this month. The Mammoths made the long drive back to Austin, Texas that very night. As the wave broke and the night ended, one thing was clear, both The Mammoths and I had left our marks on the Executive Surf Club, figuratively and literally.
FMI on The Mammoths visit http://themammothsmusic.com/.