Lawrence pop act Mammoth Life has been an intriguing part of the local landscape ever since its debut six years ago. Whether playing an album release or simply a Thursday night at the Jackpot, the band is meticulous in its presentation. The members dress in uniforms that are more akin to costumery, visually calling to mind a blend of '60s hippie and 16th-century dandy.
Recently, the band has pared down from what would at times be six or seven members onstage to a simple duo, consisting of husband and wife Nicholas and Elizabeth Goss. They release their newest recording, the EP Rock N' Roll Kids, tonight at the Jackpot (Cloud Dog and Cowboy Indian Bear open).
It's also the band's farewell local performance, as the Gosses are moving to San Francisco at the conclusion of the tour in support of Rock N' Roll Kids
We emailed with Nicholas Goss recently about the band's new EP and upcoming move.
click to enlarge
The Pitch: How does the Rock N' Roll Kids EP differ from your past releases, which have been quite lush, if not outright baroque?
Mammoth Life's brand new release is not unlike any of our other past releases. To this day we are still consciously in a state of becoming (artistically speaking); arriving while at the same time departing -- priding ourselves on experimentation and progression, while under the same breath cherishing approachability as the focal point ingredient.
We've recently discovered less is more. The Rock N' Roll Kids EP is still lush with instrumentation, only now instead of working with multiple musicians to lay down strings and orchestral instruments, we are now leaning on just Elizabeth and I to fill out the records with a wide range of multiple organs and organ patches: some box acoustic guitar, and heavy crunch style beats. Ultimately we're streamlining the turnaround time for arranging and recording our songs by relying more on ourselves and less on others in the band.
Imagine Eurythmics via 1983 playing "Intervention" by Arcade Fire.
What's the impetus behind the move to San Francisco?
I don't know what it is pulling us or what we are doing to be quite honest...it is for me, though, something of a spiritual calling. I feel it deep in the pit of my chest, and though it doesn't completely make sense, I feel that it is something that we must see through; we have to. We'll be residents there in October 2011. Lawrence has been home for 7 years; we're Midwest kids and we'll never front on that. But while we're young, we need to continue to make these moves and lay more grooves. We feel that there will be more opportunity in a bigger city and we are thankful for those who have been supportive and understanding of our decision.
click to enlarge
Is it related to the fact that the band has substantially pared down its numbers since its formation?
Yes, we've shed a lot of weight over the past year and as a result, we are now able to be more agile and competitive. It is freeing to not be limited by so many schedules and differentiating agendas. Mammoth Life's early career is something that Elizabeth and I cherish as sacred, but that said, we've never kept it a secret either; ML's sound and membership will always be revolving -- "kaleidoscopically," if you will. That has been our goal since day one.
What are the plans once you two are out on the West Coast?
To do what we've always been doing here in Lawrence: documenting, performing, traveling, and being.
Before you leave, you've got this farewell show. Any special plans for it?
This is our release party for the new EP as well as the summer tour kick-off. Satisfying Records and 90.7 KJHK are presenting it. Elizabeth and I wanted to showcase two of our favorite Lawrence groups; Cowboy Indian Bear and Cloud Dog. Mammoth Life Apparel (aka Neil Goss) will be debuting not only new uniforms for Mammoth Life, but new uniforms for Cloud Dog as well!
What particularly do you remember about your time as an area band?
Being given what felt like the holy grail of a breeding ground for a young indie/DIY group to grow up in. Having a healthy local record store and venue in Love Garden, an uber-hip local radio station with KJHK, a local pressing factory for shirts and packaging via Leslie Kay, Mass Street being the centralized heartbeat that it is for venues, social interactions, and movement, what was once the mighty publication Lawrence.com.
You've got community cork boards around Mass, which is so helpful, too. Ultimately, my feeling is that if you are going to figure out how to be in a band, this is the place to do it; the tangible avenues are right in front of you.
During 2005-2011, we felt that we got to experience a very special moment in the Lawrence music scene history. So many great shows and releases were made by so many unbelievable groups during that time: White Flight, Ad Astra Per Aspera, Boo And Boo Too, Hospital Ships, Andrew Morgan, Fourth Of July, The Billions, SSION, The Noise FM, Ghosty, DRI, The Spook Lights, Drakkar Sauna, etc. The list literally goes on and on.
So many people have come together in every shape and capacity to deliver a truly unique scene. What we will miss most about our time here is sharing in on what we felt to be a pretty special Midwestern scene.
Anything you'll particularly miss?
Easy: Mass Street.