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SPOTLIGHT ON MAMMAL

Mammal are hitting the road this Rocktober! We caught up with frontman Ezekiel Ox to chat about Halloween Hysteria, their upcoming tour, new music and so much more!

Image: Supplied.


Mammal are taking over this years spooky season, turning October into Rocktober! The four-piece are set to embark on their rescheduled east coast tour, with an exclusive performance in Queensland for Halloween Hysteria 2021.

After being forced to reschedule their tour due to border restrictions and a number of lockdowns, Mammal will finally make their grand return to the stage later this year, performing all their classic tracks with a few surprises for their fans. Frontman Ezekiel Ox shared with MILKY that the upcoming run of shows offers the band the chance to road test a handful of new songs, giving fans a dose of new music performed live for the very first time.


Kicking off in Sydney on October 20, the run of shows will continue onto Newcastle, Brisbane, Ballarat and Frankston, wrapping up in Melbourne on October 23. Their performance in Brisbane will see the four-piece take to stage at Halloween Hysteria 2021.

The funk-metallers will be joined by Spiderbait, King Parrot and twenty nine bands spanning every heavy genre, all coming together to host the ultimate Halloween party. Taking over Brisbane’s Mansfield Tavern, the event will showcase a bevy of Aussie heavy music acts, both emerging and established.

Forming in 2006, Mammal have cemented themselves as one of Australia’s most formidable heavy acts. With three records and an EP under their belt, the band have performed across the globes, playing at some of the worlds most renowned festivals and hosting their own sold-out headline performances. After an eight year hiatus, the band reformed in 2017 for a run of shows, with the first taste of new original music arriving the following year.


Read our interview with Mammal frontman Ezekiel Ox below!



Now that your tour has been postponed to later this year, Mammal are making this October ‘Rocktober’ with an east coast tour and festival performance! .


Yes! Yeah let's go with that angle. That's super positive




What can audiences expect from upcoming run of shows?


Well, I mean, it's a Mammas tour. So what you can expect is the best rock and roll show in the world. That's just sort of become pretty almost per se now. We don't really fuck around when it comes to live performance. We've got a reputation that's well earned and it's the best political rock show going around and that's what people can expect. I think in a way Mammal almost represents very much, if you look at our previous live performances, were like almost symbolic of life before COVID, you know,? Shirts off, sweaty people smashing into each other, all the boys and the girls having a really good time. I wonder if our audiences are as nervous as we are, coming back post the pandemic. We're nervous and excited,but we still think we have a lot to contribute. We also think that humanity needs rock and roll now more than ever.




How have you gone about crafting a live show after like a year of no performances to make it the best return to live music, not only for yourself, but for the audiences?


Well, we've got a new bass player. Kade Turner is amazing, so that gives us a whole bunch of new energy and that's really exciting. We were lucky enough to have some rehearsals last year, just before Christmas in Melbourne, and we have written three new songs and we've just been sort of doing it by email. I'm in New South Wales anyway, the rest of the bands in Melbourne. So the pandemic didn't really impact that too much, but I mean, not much changes with Mammal. It's very much a set and forget kind of band. We have one speed, and one gear and that's fifth gear. So for us, it's just about bringing the songs and playing them with passion and power and then the rest takes care of itself. So we don't really change much. I guess we're not reactionary. We sort of, we've been forced into it like everyone else, but then after that, nothing really changes. We just get out there and be Mammal. We wouldn't want to chance anything.




In the midst of the tour, you’ll be headlining Halloween Hysteria in Brisbane. How are you approaching crafting a set for the spooky season event. Are you going to be pulling any spooky moves or surprises on theme?


I've never been really a fan of dress ups personally, but having said that I like mirrorball helmets and that sort of stuff. So I actually, I like dressing up, but I don't like being told when to dress up. But having said that I don't know, I mean, I guess we should dress up shouldn't we? Maybe we could all dress as Peter Dutton or something really scary. That might be a bit scary though for the kids. He's a bit too terrified. Remember before the last election, when they had this news article on the front page of The Daily Telegraph, "he is not a monster" his wife had to actually say it. Not a great sign to be forced to go on the front page of the Murdoch saying, "look, my partner is not a monster". I don't know where anyone got that idea.





Which other acts are you excited to see at Halloween Hysteria?


I'm a big, big Spiderbait fan, I just love their live show. Obviously it would be good to see Stevie and the Clowns guys and then From Crisis To Collapse are always good, maybe Outfits. So yeah, I'm really excited about the lineup. It's just great to be on such a fantastic bill, it's going to be a fantastic day. Like I said, Spiderbait are like Mammal. They're the kind of band, I don't know if I put them on a high end, but every time I see them live, it's the best night ever and that's really exciting. So I think the promoters put together a killer lineup. And I just think that its a bit of a no-brainer if you're a punter, I think you just get your ticket and go along.




It seems like it's going to be such a fun night! Hopefully borders are open and we'll be able to make it up there by October. Earlier you mentioned Mammal have a few new songs are recorded. Will audience members be hearing them on the tour? Will they be out by then?


We will be playing new songs. Particularly now that we've got a little more time, because we were supposed to be doing the Melbourne and New South Wales run, but they've been pushed back. So we will be debuting new material. We've got a couple of songs, we've got one called Lockdown, funnily enough, and another one called We, The People. We're working hard on those new songs, so it's exciting. So we're just doing the same thing shooting around the emails. There'll be some new costumes hopefully and that sort of thing, but I'm not sure. I think I've got to put some thought into the Halloween vibe now that you mention it.




So which one of those new songs are you most excited to perform?


I believe they're both pretty good, classic Mammal sound and very danceable. I just can't wait to get up there. I really don't have a preference, and the thing with what we're doing is we'll be road testing them as well. So it's a chance for the audience to show us what they like and what they don't. I guess get your mobile phone cameras out and put it up on YouTube.





The past twelve months have taken its toll on the music industry, specifically the touring sector, but also in terms of making that in person connection with audience members and creating a shared feeling and experience. How important do you think live music is not only for yourself as a musician showcasing their art, but also for the audience members who resonate with your music?


I think you just have to look at the history of humanity and the shared anthropological kind of traits that have been shown throughout the existence of humans. I mean, there's music that would have come before language, dance would have come before talking. I think that being able to play music, listen to music, share music is something that human society has been doing for tens of thousands of years. I think it's a very strange and unnatural situation we've been put in because of the pandemic and that's new to us, but it's very strange not be able to commune around music. I don't know if it's even possible to be able to put into words what it's going to mean to the band, but also to the punters that can get back out there and see music. It's not just something we like to do. I think it's something that we have to do because it's something that's a human experience that is like breathing, cooking food, weaving cloth, painting walls, talking, these are all intrinsically human behaviours and organising ourselves with this amazing technology and all these things that we have now to make music is as much linked to the people around the campfire emerging as it is to, you know, like capitalist society. It's the same thing we do. It's pretty exciting to be able to get back out there and do what it is we're supposed to do as human beings. I think it's a really exciting time, I'm sure for everybody, because it's going to be soul nourishing, you know? Whether they know or not, it's something that we need and it's just important to do what we've done, but it there's nothing quite like your next gig. You're always looking forward to it and it's been s long between drinks.




What lasting effects do you hope audience members walk away with after attending one of your performances?


Well I hope that people would see that their role and their responsibility in being a civically minded person who acts with a conscience. They want a world that is not just for some, but is for all. And Mammal's always been very big on that. We were woke well before the revolution came, you know, as far as what's happened now with the culture wars, Mammal was well and truly on the front lines back in 2006, 2007 and proudly agitating for the end of homophobia to fight sexism and just to fight racism and those sorts of things. So we expect everyone to understand their responsibilities, to be generous and civically minded and to fight for a better world because there's certainly a lot of work there to be done. We are in the middle of a culture war and I don't plan on losing it.




What has been your favourite concert you ever attended and why?


There's kind of a combination in this one. I mean, best live band I've ever seen, The Prodigy would have to be so, so, so close. I don't know if you could knock them off. But then AC/DC are always good as well. I've been lucky enough to see Rage Against The Machine a few times. My father died and he was a huge Springsteen fan, so are me and mum. My sister and her wife now, thanks to us getting that gay marriage bill through, they bought mum tickets to see Springsteen at Hanging Rock for Christmas. Me and my sister were both struggling along and we were like, 'oh, we can't afford to go to that this year', you know they were $190 tickets or whatever. And we're like, 'oh, we're not going'. And then my sister put her business card in a competition and they pulled out two tickets for Kerry and they were in the same section as my mum and my sister and sister-in-law. So we ended up getting to go and it was after dad had died and that would have been the first concert Dad would have missed of Springsteen. We all ended up there together, and also Tom Morello was playing with The E Street Band then. So I got to see my all time favourite guitar player play with Springsteen who's had a massive impact on me, and with my mom. There's something about those conditions that just came together for me. So Springsteen at Hanging Rock with the first concert he came out with after he, I think he put out an album called High Hopes and it was brilliant and it was just such a great show. So it was sort of a few factors coming together to make sort of an epic storm of how wonderful that was. So yeah, that'd be my favourite live experience. Singing Hungry Heart with my mom arm-in-arm was pretty cool.




At the moment, there are only dates penciled in for the east coast of Australia. Will we be seeing a national tour in the near future?


I mean, it's just so difficult to predict what we'll be able to do. So obviously the goal is to get back over to the UK. The goal is to expand to continental Europe. That's always been a goal we've already played New Zealand, sold out shows in the UK. We've done all of Australia, so obviously we'd like to get back to what we were doing. There's real challenges for the mid-level bands because it's just a very fine balance knowing when to put money out towards things and stuff like that. So I urge patience to everyone else around the country, we're doing the best we can. I just think the answer to that question is there's still so much uncertainty around, it's not even the travel sometimes it's whether or not you have to quarantine coming back, you know, we all have children, other work. It's just a shit fight at the moment, really. I mean, if we can get this tour done in October, we'll be pretty stoked. We sort of feel everyone's pain on that, we understand that everyone's struggling along, punters and bands, and we're just doing the best we can. But we'd love to get back to Perth and head up to Alice Springs and Hobart. We've been to all those places and we cannot wait to get back. It just really depends on work and public health orders and that sort of thing, and it's changing so much all the time.




RAPID FIRE



Biggest musical influence?

Mine personally, Dylan would be one of my biggest lyrical influences. Rage Against The Machine probably changed my life. Early Pantera, before i realised that they were a bit sketchy with their politics. For the other guys, I know Zane our drummer comes from very much a Slayer, Mastodon, thrash metal sort of background, and then Pete's sort of, you know, Hendricks and the blues and very much deep influences there. Kade our bass player is, like most bass players, driven by the funk and the groove. We like it funky in Mammal a lot. I think that's one of the things that sets our punk show apart is that we have that real musicality. We know how to groove. I hugely lean on Dylan when it comes to lyric writing, he kind of did everything. And so you can kind of pull any sort of style you want and you can pull out of Dylan's lyrics. So I've spent a lot of time with those lyrics.



An album that has had the most impact on you?

The greatest rock and roll album of all time is Evil Empire by Rage Against The Machine. It's just hands down. That's not even, that's not opinion. That's objective fact.


If you could create the soundtrack for any film, which one would it be?

Oh, that's a hard question because I would think that if I watched a movie and I liked it, it would be due to the soundtrack. So changing, it might mean I don't like the movies much. I think if I thinking Mammal, what film would Mammal make a really good soundtrack for, I reckon it would be something really fun and really wild and, and kind of like a Guy Ritchie movie. Something that's fun, but violent and a bit crude. It's for grownups, but it's a little bit silly. That's very Mammal. So I think I'd like to team up with Guy Ritchie on a new movie, and a Mammal can do the soundtrack. So if you can get onto guy, that'd be great.



I will, I'll call him right after this! Now, would you rather be a Spice Girl or a Backstreet boy?


That's not a hard question, it'd be a Spice Girl 100%.



What would your Spice nickname be?

Angry Spice.


The first concert you ever went to?

I was very lucky actually. I was 12 and for people who are familiar with Melbourne, my father bought us all tickets to see Bob Dylan at the Palais in St. Kilda, which is a very small venue. It's a theater and I saw Dylan play for two hours. He was off his face. The band was terrible. Dad was really disappointed and they were passing what looked like very large cigarettes around the stage. And I just thought it was terrible. It was actually really weird because Dylan is known for his up and down performances and this was one that was so strange. And then the next time I saw him in 1998 he was fantastic. So first concert was Bob Dylan at the Palais which was, I mean that's pretty cool. And then the second concert was The Rolling Stones at MCG. So I was lucky, I was blessed with parents that have pretty good taste I think.


The first album you ever bought?

A vinyl single, so it wasn't an album. The first single I bought was Like A Prayer by Madonna on vinyl single, and I'll stand by that. That's sort of resonates okay, it ages well. Assessed older. The first album I bought was To The Extreme, Vanilla Ice. He was coming hard, like a rhino with this album.


Hannah Montana or Miley Cyrus?

Miley Cyrus! I was really impressed with what she did through the pandemic. I love what she's done. I think that there's a sort of a tendency for people to hate on pop. And that's understandable because they're cringe and it can be overly sweet and pure. I just think that she's an amazing talent and I also love what she did in Black Mirror and those sorts of things. I think she's someone that, whilst it's manufactured, I don't think you had to manufacture her. She she's just a real talent, you know. I love all those covers she did and she did all the metal stuff, just really showing off. I've always been Miley Cyrus fan.



Same! There's that Metallica cover album coming out and she's covered Nothing Else Matters and Elton John's on it with Yo-Yo Ma, Robert Trujillo, Chad Smith and WATT.

Well, it's funny because I was 12 when I got into Metallica, that was 1992. So for someone her age, like I'm 41, it's all started coming out before they were born. It's it's retro, it's nostalgia. As much as it feels like my youth, because I was there when Black Album was released and Upload and Reload. So we were sort of there for the transition into rock and roll. But to that slightly younger generation, it must just feel like Led Zeppelin or something, like a band that I used to think, 'oh wow, these bands that were around before I was born', and I love that. I love that that's happening because Metallica deserve that as well. They're another band that I think there's bands that you just cannot have an opinion on, I certainly wouldn't bother. They get to do what they do and Metallic is one of those bands. So it's great to see new generations of artists coming to such fantastic music as well. Because those first three or four albums of Metallica are just going to remain untouchable.

An artist you think has had the most influence on the music industry.

I think you can look to someone like John Butler who is an example from an industry level of how an independent empire can be built. And I think he modeled things really strongly in a post record sales world. I remember seeing John busking at the Fremantle markets in 1999, and I just think that, he's got the John Butler Seed program he's giving back to the industry out of his own, he's the guy that does what everyone says they would do if they had money and he's built that himself, he controls it. And I think that in the modern world, independence and control, of publishing and those sorts of things, when you've got a good show, like John Butler has such an amazing musical facility to build something around you can just have that integrity and you can build a really strong business. So I love what John Butler's shown. I mean, to be able to then turn around and give back is something I would like to see happen in the industry more so it's not, as you know, it's not such a shallow money trench, to quote Hunter S Thompson, 'where pimps and thieves run wild' I think was what Thompson said. That is very much, I mean look what's happened with Sony in the last week. You know these are things that we've known about, for a long time and these sort of practices are not going to be the way it's going to move forward because the future is female, the future is diverse. And the sort of old white cunts of the Australian music industry their time's up. We don't, no one wants to hang out with them. You know? As I become a middle aged white guy, and I know, it's not, it's never been, how we wanted it modelled. So I think independence, respect, integrity and not exploiting people is the way I'd like to see things modelled. And John Butler's the epitome of that, and apart from that he's just a fucking amazing musician. That's what it has to be built on.

What advice would your current self, give your future self, for a year from now?

I don't know, just like work hard and listen to your Mum. I mean, I don't really change with the way I do things, I mean, really it would just come down to my health because I've recently been diagnosed as a type late onset type one diabetic. And my advice to myself would be look after your bloods and don't go blind and lose hands and stuff because I've got an 11 year old son. But I don't really spend much time thinking back or forward. I'm very much present. That can be to my detriment sometimes, but I like to just live in the now, I don't know what challenges my future self will face. So I find that a difficult question to answer, probably just keep going man, you're killing it. You're doing super.

The moment you knew you wanted to be a musician?

I don't really have a memory of it. My Mum and Dad said, I used to pull myself up on the couch before I could walk and dance when they put records on. I was always singing. I remember being 12 and I walked to school, it was the first year of high school and I would have these conversations in my head with famous people when I walked to school. And I remember having a conversation with Bob Dylan in my mind, we were talking, "oh, it's great to see you Bob." I said, "fantastic to see you" in my fantasy world. And of course we'd these amazing conversations about all the big things in my 12 year old mind. And then I realised that I asked Bob Dylan, one of the questions I asked Bob Dylan, in this conversation in my mind was, why did you change your name from Robert Zimmerman?

And I stopped and I pulled myself out of the fantasy and I thought I'm going to change my name one day. And I think that was when I realized in that moment that I wanted to be a front man in a band and not so much be known as a musician, but as a front person, which would lead to me being a band. So I reckon about twelve years old, in year 7 was when I thought, 'yeah, I'm going to do this. I'm going to change my name. I'm going to get a microphone. I'm going to change the world'.