© All Photography by Dan Shaw
The Ghost We Caught On Film is Ash Mammal's second outing and their most audacious yet: visceral, pure, honest and brilliant, and most importantly exploring new territory. We caught up with Ash Mammal to find out their story...
Welcome Ash Mammal give us a round of the band for the 3rd readers?
We’ll keep it short and sweet. Cass: Vocals/guitar, Anya: Drums/vocals, Jeeves: Bass, George: Guitar/Egg shaker
How did it all start?
We’re all artists and we were brought together through that, we met at an art class we all attended. Cass and George were always working on creative projects like graphic novels and stories, I guess music was kind of the inevitable next. Anya was asked to drum because of adequate playing in their school’s production of Hairspray and Jeeves joined later, and that’s when we officially became Ash Mammal.
The best thing was that none of us knew how to play instruments at the start, we learnt together. I think we’ve all found that playing with other musicians is the best way to learn and develop your own style. Our ambition has always just been to play music. That’s kinda all we want to do. We want to have a nice time and be friends and play music. But I guess to be able to live comfortably doing what we love would be the ultimate dream.
Looking back we found that the Body Dysmorphia has a resigned sort of happiness to it, but it's so melancholic too. Is this record a particularly happy or sad one for you?
We all use our music to express our emotions, which obviously creates clashes from the get go, because we’re four very different individuals with our own stuff going on. Really though, we think this works in our favour because we can meet somewhere down the middle and turn our emotional messes into a cool thing. With Body Dysmorphia, I’m not sure what was going on in that time, it seems like an eternity ago. Some of us were struggling with self-expression and gender identity stuff that really helped fuel a lot of the energy we put into the EP, and at the same time, things with the band were really starting to get serious. We started realizing we might be able to pull this off, and we started putting the band before a lot of other important things.
Are we going to follow the same path as everyone else, or got out on a limb? Are we going to do something different, or something safe? None of us were feeling super secure in mind, in body, in future. I think you can tell that in the EP. It’s neither happy nor sad, just a little bit confusing.
"We also feel that the new songs are more honest, have a lot more complexity, and just generally better"
To the new record. You have written "New life, new religion, new album" on social media. What should we expect from the new tunes?
It’s kind of a concept album, but it’s also kind of not. During the uninhibited writing process we tend to get ourselves trapped in, you can never really know what the song’s going to turn out like...it’s like throwing lots of paint on a canvas, and then all the weird psychoanalysis stuff comes after we’ve written it. We do what comes naturally and then assign meaning to it. The "New life, new religion" thing kind of links into the concept for the album, which is kind of about a weird cult, but again, we want people to interpret it in their own way. We also feel that the new songs are more honest, have a lot more complexity, and just generally better.
Fresh Veined Skin is a great single. It left us wanting more...
The song is almost about wanting more, that itch you can’t scratch, and never feeling satisfied. We can’t describe what we feel all the time, during recording it was like the smallest things could tip you into weird shit. We had been playing the same songs for three months straight, sitting in the same rooms, with the same people and the same noises bouncing around our heads. It gets to a point where you don’t feel creative, it gets draining, but you just have to push on and keep writing.
Has the attention from BBC introducing really been a plus?
It’s been really reassuring actually, to know that someone within the industry is actually taking us seriously. Having that official backing just gives us a feeling of stability among all the tangle of emotions the band has created. It’s easy to forget that there are two sides to a career in the arts. Firstly being the creative side, where you spill your guts out into your work, and then the business side, where you have to sew yourself up and put on a tie and try to convince somebody that you are worth something.
"I think one of the problems is that we really only have one huge Leicester band: Kasabian, and they have an image that a lot of Leicester bands try to fit into, you can’t really avoid comparison no matter what genre you are, even if you sound nothing like them"
How's the Leicester music scene right now? We very rarely come across bands from that side of the East midlands...
Sometimes we want to scream in frustration. Leicester is a tricky one, there is a lot of great people trying to do a lot of great things, but not enough people doing the same thing to make a scene. We’re lucky if we’re on a show with a band that works with us. We kind of have to have close friends in our fellow bands, being in the Leicester music scene is kind of like living in a small rural village. Everyone knows everyone and is very involved and aware of what they are doing, there’s a lot of animosity around, but we are a community and we have to work together because our audiences are often the same.
I think one of the problems is that we really only have one huge Leicester band: Kasabian, and they have an image that a lot of Leicester bands try to fit into, you can’t really avoid comparison no matter what genre you are, even if you sound nothing like them.
Are you self-releasing the album? That tends to bring a different atmosphere?
As of right now we are self releasing, we’ve got everything set up online for release on the 1st of October, in time for the album launch on the 8th at the O2 Academy Leicester. In the lead up to the release we’re just buzzing, so many ideas we all have, we honestly can’t wait. In terms of recording, It’s obviously going to put a strain on our relationships and creative fuel. Such a great but tense atmosphere, it’s fucking lucky we’re all such good friends.
There’s a church opposite the house we recorded in, and one night they lit a huge bonfire and you could just look out of the window and see Christ’s burning silhouette against the night sky. That was the session we recorded the vocals for Laid Down After The Funeral.
George: There’s something about Jack White and his need to make things ten times harder for himself. He has this thing with putting his guitar picks as far away from himself as possible on stage, so that if he drops one mid-performance, he has to dart across the stage to get a new one. It’s about creating drama for yourself, a good live show is all about drama.