Ufomammut – Unidentified Flying Mammoths
Ufomammut – Unidentified Flying Mammoths
Italian post-rockers Ufomammut are a difficult beast to pin down. Mixing doom, drone, psychedelic, ambient & progressive elements to a healthy dollop of the Stooges, Ufomammut appear to be here primarily to confuse & frustrate all budding genre classifiers. The magik power trio have released 3-LPs to date: debuting in 2000 with Godlike Snake – following that with Snailking (2004) – then dropping 2005’s breakthrough masterpiece, Lucifer Songs - the latter firmly establishing Ufomammut as a truly international concern. Mixing heady noise sculptures with trippy visuals is another unique aspect to Ufomammut’s game - & Lucifer Songs comes equipped with DVD-housed bonus ‘sight & sound’ footage with both the vinyl & CD formats – providing a tantalizing glimpse of the glorious spectacle of Ufomammut live.
Jean Encoule recently caught up with Ufomammut’s vocalist & bass player, Urlo, to bring you this:
trakMARX - How did Ufomammut begin?
Urlo: Poia and me played in a band called Judy Corda till 1999, till the drummer left because of lack of interest. We started playing as a duo, me on drums & Poia on guitar. We created the core of Godlike Snake together. Then we recorded some tracks with Tavor – then, at the beginning of 2000, Vita joined the band. A simple story ;-)
trakMARX - What are the aesthetic issues that fires the group?
Urlo: We've always tried to play something personal, something coming directly from our minds and tastes. Never thought about trying to play like someone else - or playing to fit a genre...We've always worked on the creation of our own identity. We'd like to think that one day someone will say that once there was a band playing its own music in the underground of the World...:-)
trakMARX - Our best guess at the literal meaning of the name Ufomammut is ‘Free Mamouth’ in English. Are we anywhere near close - & what is the significance behind the name?
Urlo: Ufo is for Unidentified Flying Objects (UFO) - while Mammut is the Italian word for Mammoth...the two words represent our music: heavy and ancient! We are like mammoths - but at the same time, mysterious and futuristic, like UFOs.
trakMARX - Your love of Pink Floyd, Neurosis & The Beatles has been documented elsewhere - what other artists hold a special place in Ufomammut's heart?
Urlo: A lot of artists, not only musicians. In a scattered order I could say Kubrick, Jodorowsky, Crowley, Motorhead, Kozinsky, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Kenneth Anger, Moebius, Warhol, Pazienza - and many, many more. I think everything is an influence for us, we absorb like a sponge:-)
trakMARX - Lucifer Songs has established Ufomammut as a truly international concern - does it feel like you're flying the flag for Italian rock and roll?
Urlo: Italian rock & roll has got some problems... but lots of good groups are forming nowadays in Italy: Morkobot, Lento, Larva - and so on - and then there are some names like ZU and Ufomammut that are internationally known. But, to answer the question, we're not representing a nation. We play for ourselves. I don't think music has flags...(I hope!).
trakMARX - How would you describe the current Italian underground scene?
Urlo: The situation in general is still not so good...lots of bands are too similar to what comes from abroad, there's a lack of originality...There are good bands – like the aforementioned ZU, Morkobot, Lento - and a few more - but there's too much shit in the mainstream closing the doors for the underground...let's also say Italy is a country of fashion;-)
trakMARX - & what of the overground mainstream?
Urlo: No words... I think I just can say Ramazzotti or Zucchero to make you understand...
trakMARX - You have voiced your reluctance elsewhere with regard to being forced into genre boxes & pigeon-holing in general - astutely pointing out that these confines actually only benefit major record labels & the industry as a whole - with the lines between varying types of music blurring daily - are we witnessing the death of the word 'genre'?
Urlo: I don't know... there are lots of groups compromising their originality by forcing their music into little boxes - all playing the same thing. Groups like Isis, Pelican, Red Sparowes and so on...one of them would be enough, for example... Or groups like sunn0))) and Boris, doing the same thing Melvins and Earth did 15 years ago...And so on. And the ridiculous thing is that magazines waste lots of pages about the genius of these genres...I think there are lots of interesting groups around that are not considered today because they don’t fit a genre – or in other words, a fashion...
trakMARX - Tell us about Malleus & the visual aspects of Ufomammut.
Urlo: Malleus is Poia, Lu and me. It's 2/3 of Ufomammut. Music and visual art has grown together and today, where there's Ufomammut - there's Malleus. As Malleus, we've worked on the visuals for the last LP – Lucifer Songs - creating a sound-scape for the entire record - all the songs represented by videos. It's what we do on stage - we always had projections running behind us. I think music and videos are one entity today. Music is visual.
trakMARX - What's the story behind your label - Supernatural Cat?
Urlo: Supernatural Cat is the label of Malleus Rock Art lab. We've started with Ufomammut - we wanted to create something cool - a series of CDs and LPs - totally handmade, screen-printed and numbered: collector items. We wanted to carry poster-art into the records - we want to put back the right values to music. Malleus is not only about great groups -we're producing Morkobot right now - then Lento, FarwestZombee, Ufomammut – but also great packaging. You can check some sounds at:
The new Morkobot stuff is a limited edition CD and 10” - 500 copies - all handmade - in 3-different colors - with a hand-printed booklet on the inside and so on. Great value!
trakMARX - Where do Ufomammut feel most content - on stage or behind a mixing consol (audio or visual)?
Urlo: I prefer to stay behind a mixing consol, creating and experimenting with music. Playing live is cool - but you've always to repeat the same songs;-)
trakMARX - Considering the success of Lucifer Songs, how is work going on the follow-up - & can we expect any surprises next time out?
Urlo: We're thinking about the next album. We want to go on starting from the last note of Lucifer Songs - to create a new chapter of our music, developing a totally different album. We're also thinking about acoustic versions of some of our songs, we’re working on a series of old songs, rebuilding them in different ways, very psychedelic - in a synth way.
Besides this, FarwestZombee is ever growing - it's a side project with Me, Poia and Ciccio (our sound engineer) - together with Morkobot: distorted soundscapes, slow and subtle drones, repetitive circles, eerie and fearful lines in a evil and loud atmosphere:
So, lots of things moving!
trakMARX - Any plans to play the UK in 2007?
Urlo: Maybe, we've to see when the record will be ready. But we hope so.
trakMARX - And finally, where next for Ufomammut?
Urlo: Don't know. I only hope people will go on listening to our music, knowing we play like Ufomammut.
Jean Encoule – tMx 28 – 01/07
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