Mammút is an Icelandic band and the featured artist of the week on The Great Unknowns Presents. While many listeners outside of Iceland may not understand a single lyric, make no mistake, they do speak the universal language of awesome rock music.
This 5-member band originally formed in 2004 with 2 boys and 3 girls no older than 16. Five years later, they are back with their second album, "Karkari" and you can hear a 4-track preview right here.
They have a distinct Icelandic sound that is simular to the Iceland band, The Sugarcubes and Bjork, but with an alternative rock kick to their sound.
Mammút has given themselves a lot of attention since they formed including winning the Battle of the Bands within just three months of coming together. They also won best album at the 2008 Kraumur Music Awards and were nominated for best album and best singer (Kata) at the 2009 Iceland Music Awards. Three songs, Svefnsykt, Geimthrá and Raudilaekur from their newest album, Karkari all made #1 on the only rock station. X-id-977. The song, svefnsykt was the 4th most played song in 2008.
With a little exposer overseas, Mammút can very well be the next no english speaking band to make it big in the world market of music.
I had a chance to speak to guitarist, Arnar of Mammút and I was able to ask some of those questions about the present and future of the band.
You and the band formed back in 2003 at such a young age. Can you describe to me, how did it all happened?
We were 2 separate groups, but Kata (vocals) was in both of them. One night she asked us all if we wanted to play with here in a singing contest.
Then we all met up at the contest, some of us had never met before then. We played together for the first time and won the contest.
Who started the band idea? After we played the singing contest it was just the natural thing to do, to start a band. Nobody really decided it, it just happened.
After Battle of the bands in 2004 until 2006, your band seemed to be off the map? Did you guys take a break from music? What happened during that two year period?
No we played a lot during that time, just only in Iceland. The band who wins BOTB always gets a lot of attention and we were asked to play quite a lot.
And, we were also just composing songs because when we won B.O.T.B. we had only made 3 songs.(ha-ha).
Are you working on a new album?
We are currently starting to compose new songs yes. We haven't yet decided how we want to have things with the new album. Since the internet things have changed a lot and it might be possible that the CD as we know it hasn't got a bright future. But we'll make songs never the less and release them, weather it's on the internet, CDs or vinyls.
The band primarily sings in Icelandic, but you speak perfect English. Lead singer, Kata mentioned in an interview last year that she wouldn’t compromise her native language and sing in English. Would she consider recording at least one track in English for her English speaking audience?
Icelandic is our language and we can best express ourselves talking Icelandic. For the moment we don't plan to switch to English but who knows what happens in the future. Our dream is to keep on singing in Icelandic but have translations of all the songs for people who don't speak the language.
That way everyone can be happy.
Any chance you’ll be coming to the United States soon?
We are currently working on a Europe tour for November. We seem to get good response there and we'll try that market for a while. But, the US will definitely be on our schedule later. We played at the SXSW festival in 2007 and that was a lot of fun, we'd very much like to come back to the US if we get the chance.
With the way the music industry has changed over the last decade, music is more enjoyable than ever, because independent artists can pretty much record what they want. The drawback is artists make less money. Does this affect your future in music or do you love music so much that you could never change it?
We think this is a great thing for smaller artists. Before your only chance was to wait to be discovered by some huge companies but with the internet you can just do it all by yourself. Regarding the less money that's only for the record sales, but you can make loads of money selling your music online if you are clever enough. And then there's also the money for t-shirts and concerts, these things which cannot be downloaded.
I'm totally disagree that downloads are killing the music scene, it's only killing the big record labels and it's making artists more creative.
Who writes the lyrics? Do the songs have a common story within the lyrics?
Kata (vocals) does all the lyrics. She writes a lot from her own experience and the lyrics are quite personal.
She does the lyrics after we finish the songs and she picks a subject which suits the atmosphere of the song.
Who are you and your band member’s influences in music?
We all have a very different taste in music so the influences must be many.
We've never discussed about influences or decided a genre or anything like that. We prefer to just make music we think sounds good.
Who’s your favorite musician?
It just depends on what I'm listening to at each time. But overall I'd have to say The Beatles and Nirvana.
Final question: Who’s your favorite guitarist?
Tom Morello from Rage Against The Machine, no question about that. He is the coolest.
If you want to get more information about Mammút, go to mammutmusic.com. If you sign up for their newsletter, you will get a free song download from the "Karkari" album.