The Meet The Band spotlight this week shines on the Arkansas sludge/doom trio Mammoth Caravan. Their debut album is Ice Cold Oblivion. Vocalist/bassist Brandon Ringo introduces us to his band.
Chad Bowar: Give us a brief history of Mammoth Caravan.
Brandon Ringo: The band formed officially on July 4 of 2022 when Robert, Evan and myself decided we wanted to come together to create a sludge metal project. We had two songs written and recorded after our first practice and we turned them into a promo EP and we also got our first show offer. On August 22 we played our first show with Telekinetic Yeti and White Hills thanks to our friend C.T. from Rwake. In November, we recorded the six songs we had written at the time with Jason Tedford at Wolfman Studios in Little Rock and now we are working on playing as many shows as time allows to bring those songs to as many eyes and ears as possible.
Describe the songwriting process for Ice Cold Oblivion.
Our guitarist Evan is incredibly talented and a prolific songwriter, so the process usually starts with one of his riffs and Robert finds a beat he likes that matches it. Once the riffs and rhythm are in place I add vocals where it feels comfy and then we play them as many times as possible to get it all locked in. In the instance of the song “Frostbite” the phrase “encased in ice” came to me as soon as I heard Evan’s riff, which was a very fun moment.
What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
I’ll never forget the sensation of hearing the finalized instrument tracks laid down when the time came to track vocals for the album. The energy from hearing what we had just done really pushed me a lot harder while tracking vocals and it was incredibly fun.
How would you characterize its style/sound/genre?
The easy description for our sound would be doom/sludge because we all love bands like Electric Wizard, Crowbar, Eyehategod and Conan, but it’s inspired by much more than that. Our non-obvious musical inspirations range from Carrie Underwood and Ginuwine to John Cena and Full Of Hell.
What’s the album’s lyrical concept?
There’s no real overarching concept, but all of the songs are about either the ice age, mammoths or primitive hunters in the ice age looking for mammoths. All of the lyrics were written based around the song titles that were chosen and the riffs that were created, but the underlying meaning of them is very subjective. But mostly the songs are about mammoths n’ shit.
What led you to go the independent route for the album’s release?
We earned the money for the recording by playing shows and selling merch and we have all the tools at our disposal to put the album out ourselves, so we decided to give it a shot and see what was possible. Signing to a huge label would be fun, but being able to keep everything in-house is extremely rewarding also.
What are your goals and expectations for the album?
Our expectations are that when someone hears the record for the first time, they are left with a feeling of ‘holy fuck that’s so heavy!’ My number one goal was to create something that fills me with joy every time I hear it and I think we thoroughly accomplished that with this album. Anything that comes aside from those things is just gravy for us.
How was the video shoot for “Petroglyphs”?
It was one of my favorite moments of being in this band. Machete Eddy is one of my musical heroes, so getting to make a video with him was so fun. We asked him about shooting a video for us and he absolutely killed it with the narrative. My other favorite part of the video was getting to include Robert’s dog Merle, he is a literal angel. Also shout out to Sagan for doing an amazing job.
What has been your most memorable Mammoth Caravan live show?
We have played shows with some really cool bands, but for me the most memorable was our second show, which was with Kaonashi. Before I moved to Little Rock I set a goal to play at Vino’s because I’ve seen so many cool shows there. Getting to finally stand on that stage and play heavy metal was a massive dream come true and I’ll never forget that feeling as long as I live.
What are your upcoming show/tour plans?
We will be playing with Bongzilla and Deadbird on March 18 at Whitewater Tavern in Little Rock and we’ll be releasing our record and will have brand new merch. We will then hit the road and be playing anywhere we are able to. Check our Instagram and Facebook for more information on upcoming live shows.
How’s the metal scene in Little Rock?
Little Rock’s music scene has always garnered a lot of attention due to bands like Pallbearer, Rwake and Living Sacrifice, but now the scene is thriving more than ever before with a huge influx in death metal. Thanks to bands like Terminal Nation, Morbid Visionz, Pantheon, Severe Headwound and Open Kasket, it’s not uncommon to see a packed room on a random Tuesday night at Vino’s. The Whitewater Tavern is also a legendary venue in town that has hosted bands like The Atomic Bitchwax, Eyehategod, Deadbird, Weedeater, Conan, Monolord and many other legendary acts of various genres.
What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
Currently in my 6 disc changer in the car, I have Thantifaxath, Danger Doom, Christian Mistress, Confessor, Morbid Visionz and Monster Magnet.
What are some of your non-musical hobbies and interests?
I love watching wrestling, writing, recording podcasts and working on movies with my friend and ex-bandmate Mitch Laing.
Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
This band was formed by three people going through very tough transitions in life and we found each other at the perfect time and everything that has happened since has been pure serendipity from sharing the stage with Spirit Adrift to getting included in Decibel. This whole journey has been a dream come true and we’re grateful for anyone who gives our music their attention.
(interview published February 25, 2023)
Watch Mammoth Caravan – “Petroglyphs” Video