Few bands make it past the decade mark—even the Beatles just scraped the milestone—but Mammút have been around since 2004. On July 12, they released their fourth studio album ‘Kinder Versions’, which will be their first to get a worldwide release. Three of the quintet—lead singer Katrína “Kata” Mogensen and guitarists Alexandra Baldursdóttir and Arnar Pétursson—sat down to talk about the new album, achieving longevity, and the creative butting of heads.
“The album is about the kind sides of things that maybe aren’t that kind,” explains Kata. “It deals mainly with love. In truth we are all lovesick people.”
Talking to the three you start to understand how they have managed to slog through all this time together. They share banter, have a shared vision of what the project is, and finish each other’s thoughts. “I don’t know if it’s unusual, but we always write everything together,” says Alexandra. “However, we all have very different tastes in music, so sometimes someone will hate something another one loves, which leads to a lot of experimentation, but in the end we come together and that moment is just amazing.”
In line with the obvious cohesion, they are all in agreement that they are a group of explosive individuals who through every creative endeavour submerge into the darkest depths before emerging together as a unit. “We have called our labels a couple of times and said, ‘We quit,’” says Kata. “When we were making ‘Komdu Svarta Systir’ we told them, ‘This album sucks.’ But they just replied, ‘Oh, guys, not again.’ They understand us now, and don’t put any pressure on us.”
Creative control has always been a Mammút mantra. They’ve fired producers and agents, and they’ve had their struggles during their thirteen years together. “The mood can be downright evil, especially when we tour, and we have gotten into fights,” says Kata and laughs. “Especially Alexandra, Arnar and I.”
“That’s true,” says Arnar. “During the Of Monsters and Men tour I was covered in bruises after you had been beating me up.” Kata interjects: “Just never in the face. We have to go on stage.”
They’re refreshingly open about their turmoils and troubles. But such honesty probably comes from sticking around for this long. “We just know each other so well, it’s no surprise when somebody says, ‘This sucks,’” says Alexandra. “It can get difficult. But in truth, when we tour we’re like siblings on an endless Interrail trip—just with a lot more stuff to carry around.”
Searching for utopia
Being around this long without ever blowing up can be tough. Some bands seem to play just a handful of gigs before reaching the stratosphere, but Mammút’s rise has been a slow and steady burn—driven in part by a light touch of megalomania.
“It’s been very frustrating at times, especially in regards to money,” says Kata. “When we were young it was fine, we all lived with our parents, but when you become an adult you have bills to pay, so I really don’t understand how we’ve made it work. But we all have complete belief in the project and we are quite a utopian band. We want to win a Grammy! And then each of us can get a spread in People Magazine.”
“And Der Spiegel,” finishes Arnar.
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