OV Recommends: The Mammoths

Today I spoke with David Kapsner, a singer and guitarist for The Mammoths, a local Austin band with a sound lies at the intersection of country, metal, and rock.  The band has just cancelled their San Antonio show due to the devastation and dangers of Hurricane Harvey but after playing at Stubb’s on Friday they plan to hit the road for their second tour this year. Their tour spans from Georgia and Mississippi all the way up to New York City and back just like their earlier tour this year in February 2017 except now they are able to enjoy the experience with better venues and larger audiences.

The band has just released a new song, recorded new covers, and recorded originals songs this year.  So far, they have one music video out for their song “So Cold” and they are prepping to shoot even more when they return from their second tour.  In fact, the profit from their February tour is funding their next follow up project.  Songs such as So Cold, Pockets, Capture You and more captivate the listener with imagery such as hands in our pockets, rainfall, and being cold with a loved one to do what is best for each person in a relationship.  These bluesy themes were delivered over a chorus of guitar riffs and vocalists with breaks that build back into wailing hooks. It is no wonder this band is gaining traction so quickly.  But how did this momentum all begin?

Growing up in Austin

Three of the current band mates grew up in Austin and played in a band together since high school. David grew up listening to classic rock such as Led Zepplin and the Beatles. He also credits Shakey Graves and Dr. Dog for influencing his style as a singer songwriter.  Michael, the lead guitar player, builds his own guitars so he can rock out like Nirvana and Jimi Hendrix who profoundly influenced him musically.  Tyler, the bass player, sports a signature mustache as he grooves with a funk influenced by Etta James.  Finally, Tim is their drummer from New York who joined the band later, grew up on classic rock and toured with metal rock bands that rounds out the sound of the Mammoths. Upon graduating college, the members of the band worked corporate jobs in Austin, Houston, and Dallas while playing gigs on the side.  Specifically, David worked for a real-estate company in Houston where he would commute for vocal lessons during his lunch break.  After seriously considering his lifestyle and realizing that he did not like what he was doing, David quit his corporate job and moved to Austin with his band-mates.  Here, they all sleep on the same floor of their now-soundproof living room that used to be a noise compliant famous jam room.

the struggle and rewards as starving artists

Although the band has seen tremendous progress in the last two years, the pursuit of their dreams has not come without struggle.  Everyone in the band works part-time jobs on the side to pay for rent while most of their income from music goes to funding tours, meals, studio time, management, and related expenses.  One of them drives for Uber, another is in medical sales, the third does landscaping, and the fourth works as a chef. They finally got studio time with Rob Baird and other well-known genre taste makers, but this connections came after the sacrifice of three to four nights a week on tour in Texas and countless hours rehearsing in their shared home. This type of close-quarters relationship makes the band more like brothers who from time to time can get on each others nerves. No drama between these artists ever lasts two long because they are really grateful for the privilege of having an audience and touring which many musicians only dream of doing. Ultimately, the goal is to spread positive messages and love with their platform. Essentially, the goal of their tour goes beyond music.  “You have to make good songs,” says David, “It’s important to talk to people after the shows, be a human, and connect with people.”

Keeping a balance and maturing artistically

For the members of the Mammoths there is no plan B. They have sacrificed the trajectory of a normal life for the unpredictable dream of a career in the music industry.  With most of the band members pursuing music full-time, they must actively attempt to balance chasing the potential future with living in the moment.  Most of the band mates turn to yoga, meditation, exercise, and romantic interests for relief from the constant focus on their music careers.  All in all, music to the Mammoths is a time stamp of what was happening in their lives.  “If you move people and they remember your words you are doing something right,” said David. With song topics that have evolved from fleeting love and surface level worries to deeper revelations and catharsis, The Mammoths are poised to navigate the uncertain path of music and sound at the intersection of country, rock, and metal.