Trick Mammoth formed early in 2013 and have been gaining a sizeable furry foothold in their local Dunedin live scene since. The trio of songwriter and vocalist Adrian Ng, vocalist and guitarist Millie Lovelock and drummer Sam Valentine are prolific, with Lovelock and Valentine active in other bands as well. Amanda Mills caught up with the three over coffee just ahead of the release of their debut (vinyl) album on Fishrider Records, to enquire about the origins and future evolution of this southern errm, hoax pachyderm.
Adrian Ng and Sam Valentine met at primary school and as adults have enjoyed a varied musical collaboration that includes now defunct local group Mr. Biscuits. They encountered Millie Lovelock more recently, when she was in Astro Children whose debut album ‘Proteus’ was produced by Ng at Dunedin’s Attic Studios. Valentine and Lovelock both liked Ng’s demos, and they decided to form a band together. And the band name?
“I guess I was just trying to think of a name that hadn’t been taken, and was okay,” Ng ruminates.
Richard Ley-Hamilton, the (brand) new live bassist for Trick Mammoth, also used to be a part of Mr. Biscuits, and is now in Males along with Valentine. Trick Mammoth are about to release their debut album, ‘Floristry’, and are planning a UK release for early 2014.
Ng is songwriter and architect of Trick Mammoth’s indie-pop sound, though he values his band members. Aside from their input he doesn’t consider his music influenced by anyone.
“I don’t really think about it. I just write music, and that’s how it sounds.”
My ears can some outside sounds seeping in – the lilting alt pop of Delphine (With A Purpose) is reminiscent of Scottish indie-pop band The Vaselines I suggest, to which Lovelock laughs.
“I’ve been compared to The Vaselines before. Maybe it’s me!”
Musing about the band’s sound Valentine naturally concurs.
“The sound of the band to me is just the sound of Adrian, really.”
“We have an idea of what [he] writes as well…” adds Lovelock. “So we imagine [him] being really inspired by movies and stuff.”
Ian Henderson signed the trio to his Fishrider Records label, home of Opposite Sex, The Puddle and Prophet Hens. It was a deal they couldn’t refuse, as Ng explains.
“He offered to put us out on vinyl! It’s pretty hard to say no!
“It’s what I romanticised a record label would be like,” Valentine explains, in praise of Fishrider. “You’re like, ‘Oh, Ian, I need this piece of gear,’ and he says, ‘I’ll drop it over to your house in 20 minutes’… Or like we arrive at his house for practice, and he’ll just cook us food. Ian’s amazing.”
I ask if they have similar hopes about overseas exposure as Opposite Sex and Prophet Hens have enjoyed with influential gatekeeper stations such as the BBC. Valentine is aiming higher.
“I’ve definitely got way bigger ambitions than to get played on BBC… it’s just not the end goal.”
“I want to be at a stage where we can make a living out of it… that would be great for me,” Ng adds.
‘Floristry’ was first recorded with Henderson, and then again with Tex Houston as Henderson’s version didn’t work for them. The band are thrilled to have Houston on board, and the second recording was quick, and enjoyable according to Valentine.
“The recording process itself wasn’t that stressful. It only took two days, pretty much, to do the basic tracks.”
The idea of the album being self-titled was bounced around, but ‘Floristry’ was right. It is intrinsically linked with the trio as it was the title of both one of Ng’s early tracks and his first collection of demos, although his explanation is more, well, lyrical.
“It was just a nice, beautiful word. And flowers come up in the lyrics… It just seemed when we finally settled on it, it was obvious. It’s the only time we’ve been able to use it as well, as the song Floristry is on it,” Ng laughs.
Trick Mammoth will record an EP of new material in December. Further plans are undecided as Lovelock is going on student exchange to Montreal for six months and Valentine is also set to travel. After that though Ng is certain they’ll be back, that is if he doesn’t move to Melbourne next year.
“I don’t see us in Dunedin. In the longer future [we’ll be] hopefully still doing music on some level, and doing well. Hopefully.”