Recommended Aussie Band:HORIZONS EDGE | Melbourne Power Metal | Listen

Interviews : “We’re committed to writing new music” – An interview with Ezekiel Ox (Mammal)

By on January 7, 2019

In the late 2000s, the name ‘Mammal’ was everywhere in Aussie rock circles. The high-energy Melbourne quartet was selling out big venues across the nation, playing big festivals and generally building unstoppable momentum and profile on the local scene. The industry was taking notice, and international eyes and ears were starting to point in their direction. Slogans like ‘Australia’s Rage Against the Machine’ were being bandied around. Their star was very much on the rise.

Then in late 2009, much to the shock and horror of their burgeoning legion of fans, an announcement went up on their Facebook page stating that internal differences had split the band asunder and they were calling it a day, just when they were on the tipping point of superstardom. The outcry was painful and angst-ridden.

A long seven to eight years past, the individual members involving themselves in many and varied other projects. Then, in mid 2017, there was a stirring in the Mammal camp, some teasing activity on social media before the official word went out, the members had patched up their differences and were making a comeback. A Melbourne show was announced, then an Aussie tour, new music was released, they even flew to the UK for a sold out one-off show in London. They have even since inked a new deal with major international tour promoters the K2 Agency (who work with Devin Townsend, Meshuggah and many more). The great beast was back in a huge way.

I sat down with the band’s over the top frontman Ezekiel Ox at his home in Melbourne to discuss the immediate past, present, and future of this storied but exhilarating rock act.

“I’d made the bold statement that I’d never play in Mammal again,” Ox laughs, “for those of you who haven’t seen the T-shirt!

“What it came down to was that I called everyone in the band, because I hadn’t spoken to them in seven years,” Ox recalls, “there’d been some bitter words spoken in between times I guess. It wasn’t a conversation I thought was going to lead anywhere, everyone was a bit defensive, I felt really isolated, which is kinda how I felt when the band ended. So I called them up and said ‘I’m sick of that feeling and I think that’s impacting on our legacy and I think we should at least be able to have a meal together and bump into each other and be civil.’

“I also wanted them to know that I had reflected on some stuff that I wasn’t completely proud of. So, of course, they opened up and shared what they felt when it went wrong, as reasonable people do, which they all are. I guess it’s a lesson for anyone out there who are missing someone who they care about, someone who’s angry but has got through their anger after relationships end.

“Sometimes it can pay to just pick up the phone, that’s all it needs.”

Going into those conversations with minimal expectations, the discussions inevitably turned to what the future might hold, and things became unanimous very quickly. “Everyone was pretty keen to get the band back together straight away!” He laughs, “It was a very easy process, we were back in the jam room within a week, and we announced our first gig back a week after.

“It was an amazing ride, the first time round, it was a remarkable explosion, and it kinda has a life of its own, the band. But (getting back together) was as simple as that, a phone call, pick up the phone. To be fair, the guys had called me up once before and offered to get back together a few years before, but I’d made that statement!” He laughs again.

To some extent, the fact that a few other bands in the broader Aussie alternative rock scene were re-forming after serious time apart was inspiration for Mammal to do the same. “it was just time, after seven years, maybe it was a seven year itch?” He speculates, “Cog were doing it, The Butterfly Effect were doing it, but I think what we did was slightly different, we really committed very early, we didn’t do a lap of the country, we could have made a lot more money. We just decided to do one gig in our home town to take the pressure off, to see if that went well, without possibly having the pressures and triggers of being on the road.

Something they were never going to be when getting back together was some sort of nostalgia act, living on past glories. There was always going to be brand new music involved. “When we made the decision, it was like ‘we need to create’,” he remembers, “so we got straight back into the studio, and when we did that next run late last year, we were already debuting (new track) Virtue Signalling that we’d started writing very quickly.

“We’re committed to writing new music, and we’ll be going back into the studio on January 15th, I can give you that little scoop!”

The band are working with several local and international luminaries on the production of their forthcoming new album, including American Gene ‘Machine’ Freeman, who has an illustrious back-catalogue of work, including working with Lamb of God, Clutch, Fallout Boy, several prominent Aussie bands and many, many more.

“Machine has produced some great records,” Ox states, “such as (Clutch’s) Blast Tyrant and I think (Lamb of God’s) Wrath, which is when they really defined their sound, so we were really interested in working with him, and we pursued it. We produced our track and he mixed it, and he was wonderful to work with. So we’re definitely interested in working with him again.

“But the new record should be coming very soon.”

Always makers of very strong political statements in their music, the band are back to shine a light on political corruption, racism, sexism etc with their lyrics and imagery as well as to blow people’s minds with their high-voltage rock. “To all the Mammal fans out there, we’re making good on our promise to come see you again and put out new music,” Ox states, “we’re here to be a force, be creative, not just do laps. Politically, things have changed, so we need to be aware of that and be focused on that.

“That’s why I wear my ‘Nazi punks fuck off’ tee-shirt,” he laughs, “Fuck Nazis.”

For more information on Mammal and their upcoming new material, head to the band’s official website. www.mammalband.com

About

Rod Whitfield is a Melbourne-based writer and retired musician who has been writing about music since 1995. He has worked for Team Rock, Beat Magazine, themusic.com.au, Heavy Mag, Mixdown, The Metal Forge, Metal Obsession and many others. He has written and published his memoirs of his life and times in the music biz, and also writes books, screenplays, short stories, blogs and more.