Sitting in the Naked Cyber Café in downtown Edmonton, NAIT electrical students Benjamin Stivicic and Patrick Santos look every bit the part of a rock and roll group. Together, the pair make up Edmonton hard-rock band, Fear the Mammoth.
While their band only began a short two years ago, the two have been friends since childhood, meeting when Stivicic moved in next door to Santos in Grade 5. When the group originally formed, they were heavily influenced by MGMT and had an indie synth/indie pop sound. But as the band gradually dwindled from five members to two, their genre began to morph as well.
Now they credit their inspiration mainly to Death From Above 1979 and Royal Blood but also hold the White Stripes and the Black Keys in high regard. They try to always have a lively, dynamic stage presence and they “just really love playing really fast, aggressive music.”
They “try to be as energetic as possible” and are in it to have fun, which, in turn, lets their audience have a great time as well. They fondly remember many of their shows, but specifically reminisced about their show at the Bro-tel Music Festival in Jackfish Lake. The stage was set up as a living room of sorts, with an elevated stage for the drum kit that had a couch in front of it. During the set, Stivicic climbed up on the stage and attempted to jump over the sofa but his foot caught on the edge, he did a barrel roll and ended up on his back, where he stayed until the end of their set.
Santos also looked back on their most recent show at Bohemia, where he tore a hole in the skin of his bass drum. Not a band to be deterred by setbacks, Stivicic extended the song long enough for Santos to flip his drum around and jump back into the song in time for the chorus. Santos works on a fairly basic kit in general.
“Once you start lowering your resources, your creativity really comes out,” he says.
Both he and Stivicic write their music, with Stivicic writing 90 per cent of their lyrics and both of them writing their own guitar riffs.
Their songwriting sessions are very improv-based and involve a lot of trial and error. They constantly revisit old material.
In the case of their song, “Government Man” (which they almost scrapped completely) Santos came back to it, added a chorus and mashed two parts of the verse together. They then sped it up and found something they liked out of it. On their songwriting process, Stivicic remarked that he “think[s] it’s random. It’s the randomest thing ever,” but however they reach their final product, it certainly works, as the band has begun to make a name for itself in the Edmonton music scene.
If you’re interested in hearing their music, Fear the Mammoth recommends coming out to see them live, as nothing can really compare to it; however, their music is also available on Spotify, iTunes and Bandcamp. You can see them perform at their upcoming shows on Nov. 25 with NoSuchThingAsGhost, and on Nov. 26 with Dead Friends.
– Nikita Eleniak