Q + A With Pete Williamson From Mammal

Bringing the noise and funk in incomparable Mammal fashion, the Narrm neo punk/funk warriors return today with a swaggering new single The Penny Drop. Launching with a free show at 170 Russell (Melbourne) on February 9 with support from I Built The Sky (solo) and Bushido, and accompanied by a gleefully colourful and chaotic music video, The Penny Drop also offers a further peek into the group’s forthcoming new album of the same name, with Mammal’s sophomore album The Penny Drop officially due out on Wednesday March 6, available on vinyl, digital and CD formats depending on how you like to face the funk. We caught up with Pete from Mammal to get all the latest

Hi, thanks for taking the time to chat with Hear 2 Zen, what have you been up to today?

Today I have been super busy trying to pull together all the final bits needed for our album pre-orders packs, the support has been so great and we really want to deliver to everyone the packages as close to release date as possible.

Tell us about yourself, how long have you been performing/creating music for? 

I started guitar really young and always had a passion for creating original music. I found the music of the 90s grunge period really inspirational and obviously as you get older you branch out to be influenced by all genres of music. 

I have been writing and playing music with Mammal since we formed the band in 2006, though there were several other false starts trying to get a good band together leading up to this. 

Who are your greatest inspirations?  Why?

I love listening to music creation podcasts, like those with producer Rick Rubin, but as we are talking Zen I would have to say Dr Wayne Dyer. His work has been very influential on how I try to approach the art of music. There is several self help people I could mention but his work just struck a chord with me. To roughly quote one of his teachings, “Don’t die with your music still in you”. Just hearing this as a musician is enough to keep pushing and creating, to live on purpose with a knowledge of why you are here and what you can offer the world. 

How do you create music?  Are you lyrics/story driven, or does the music/melody come first?  Explain your process.

I try and actually use a process called automatic writing. Trying to clear the mind and let the ideas just flow from source. The process to write this album was really driven by the guitar riffs. I would sit down and just play, trying to clear my mind and let things just happen on the guitar. I would be recording this to Pro Tools and if anything happened that was cool I would work out the bpm and set up a click track. Then once I had a click track and the idea/riff down I would push myself for as long as possible to try and find any other riffs or inspirational parts that could link up with the initial idea. Sometimes you get so far off track that you might have a few songs worth of riffs or the riffs at the end of a writing session like this are way better than the original riff that started the session…on and on.

The band process from here was then to give the riffs with a set bpm to our drummer Zane and he would write drum parts to them and structure a song as he felt it needed to flow. This rough song of guitar and drums then came back to me and I would see if I could improve it or not. Once we had something we liked we then had our singer Ezekiel improvise over the top, edit that and refine.  The final stage was for Kade on bass to write his bass lines.

What has been your greatest challenge so far in performing/creating music?

The biggest challenge has been the personal relationships. Music in your bedroom is easy but getting out in the big wild world with other people in stressful situations and often on lack of sleep is hard work. It can strain even the best of friends and you have to know how to find quiet time and time away from the craziness. 

Tell us about your new album The Penny Drop, how did it come about?

The new album was obviously a long time coming. We really love to write albums as when you have a larger body of work it gives you more chance to find those super special musical moments. We actually had a false start recording an album that hasn’t seen the light of day. That false start taught us some lessons on how we needed to change our process and try to not over think it too much. Plus to be kinder to each other in the process. 

What messages do you hope the audience will take away from your album?

If the audience can put on our new record and feel energised and inspired that will be amazing. So much of our energy has been poured into the music and you should definitely listen to it at volume.

What advice do you have to artists who are just starting out?

Always keep learning and improving your craft. Music is a journey and the joy comes from the creation. Social media stats or chart positions don’t bring you the joy like writing a great part or song. Don’t get caught up in what other people are doing and stay true to yourself and most importantly have fun!

Tell us your favourite Zen practice.

I was lucky enough to just get back from a holiday in Fiji, the snorkeling there was amazing. I spent hours in the ocean world just exploring and being in awe. Time honestly did cease to exist. Now I have to somehow harness that experience and bring it into my everyday meditation.