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Known as one of the sludgiest, grittiest bands in the Hampton Roads area, MAMMOTH BLACK is on track to blow up, especially because they are taking on unfamiliar territory compared to most of the other bands in Virginia beach. Inspired by punk songs, modern rock such as MASTADON, as well as more classical tastes such as BLACK SABBATH, the band has forged their own unique, dark sound that is unrivaled. Formed by vocalist Brett Lloyd, the rest of his band includes guitarists Billy Strong and Ross Becker, drummer Corbitt Carroll, and bassist Steve “Tombstone” Ross. Currently, they are in the process of planning out the release of their highly-anticipated debut album. We spoke with Lloyd and Becker regarding the bands beginnings and their approach to creating their sound, their plans to release the new album and music video, and their plans to only play shows on their own terms.

Following the breakup of your former band PILLBUSTER, how did the idea for MAMMOTH BLACK come about?

Brett: I actually started MAMMOTH BLACK while I was still in PILLBUSTER, and MAMMOTH BLACK is basically composed of all my friends that I grew up with. I grabbed Ross Becker, who is a guitar tech over at Alpha [Music] and a good friend of mine, and Corbitt [Carroll] and I had been tight for a couple years. Steve [Ross] and Billy [Strong] I kind of grew up with, so we all just started making some music. I wanted to do something different than we were doing [in PILLBUSTER].

Can you tell me about the writing process for your debut album?

Brett: While forming the sound of what MAMMOTH BLACK is, we wanted to make sure that we had a sludgy, heavier sound than what was being done around [Virginia Beach]. Some of it comes from me and Corbitt’s punk influences on it, and the heaviness comes from Ross and Steve doing their thing. Billy was also the guitarist, and he adds what he needs to. But in writing the album, we all got in a room together for a couple months, and we just wrote the songs as it came. The album is called Death Is Not Ashamed.

Have you determined the release date for the album yet?

Brett: We’re gonna be releasing it December 9 through Stoner Kill Records, and we’re gonna be working with Adrenaline PR to promote the album.

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Who did you work with on mixing and mastering the album?

Brett: We recorded it with Dick Hodgins at Osceola Studios in Raleigh, N.C. He’s the same guy that recorded the PILLBUSTER album, and we had it mixed and mastered with Brent [Lambert] over at Kitchen Mastering [in Chapel Hill, N.C.].

How would you describe your new songs?

Ross: I would describe it as a hard-hitting wall of sound. We were really trying to capture a more emotional feel to the music, and there were a lot of BLACK SABBATH roots, as well as a lot of modern stuff, like MASTADON and grungier metal sounds, which are real popular right now. A lot of us are into that, but we also wanted to form our own version and our own sound using all the influences of everybody in the band. Real heavy guitar riffs, but it’s really straightforward and easy to follow through. It’s really hard-hitting right in your face, groovy metal kind of stuff.

In August, you guys shot a music video at Shakas. Can you tell me when you plan to release it?

Brett: The actual video release is gonna be next month. We’re gonna release the first single, which is gonna be “Open Death Letter,” and that is the song the video is for. Also, we will be releasing the album cover and the track listing that day too.

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Did you have a specific concept in mind for the video?

Ross: The concept of the video was to really capture what we actually look like and what we actually sound like.

Brett: It’s a live recording because when we did the album, the album was recorded live. We got in a room and recorded everybody together. The only thing we did separately was when we laid down the vocal tracks the following day, but all the guys got in there together. So when we did the video, we wanted to make sure that everybody sees that part of the band. That we all did it together.

Ross: When you watch the video, what you hear is what we are actually playing. It’s not the CD that you hear playing behind the video. It’s us really playing the music, but when you listen to it, it is produced and mixed too.

Brett: Because you gotta have at least a quality recording.

What is your song “Death Mask” about?

Brett: That song is kind of about if you imagined being back in the Civil War era and having son vs. father, brother vs. brother, and I put myself back there and put it as a dad talking to his son letting him know that it’s okay that they have a different opinion. But each one of them is going to die for their beliefs, on what they think is right.

Earlier this month, you guys played your first show together at Retro Café in Virginia Beach. How did that go?

Brett: We just kind of wanted to get our feet wet and play in front of some people. We had some cool people on the show. Actually, Corbitt set that up and booked the whole show. He got in contact with the guys from LO-PAN, and they were wanting to come through. He made a good connection with them, and got them to come play because we love them and we think they like good music. Then, of course we invited GRITTER from Richmond to come to the show, and THE KILL CIRCUIT is also a pretty cool band in this area and always have been, so Corbitt booked them as well.

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Do you have any more shows lined up yet?

No, we’re not gonna be that band that plays every weekend. We’re gonna be that band that plays select shows when we want to play, and we want to make sure that it is the right type of show for us. We’re not just gonna hop up on stage for any show; we’re not into that. We’re just gonna take it one show at a time, but the good thing about having Corbitt in the band is he knows a lot of different bands that are out there. Ross has also been around the scene for a while and so have I. We kind of know who we want to play with and when we want to play, so that makes it more fun than trying to drag our asses to a show every weekend.

I respect that, man. Have you booked your CD release show yet?

Not yet. I still gotta get with our people handling PR and get with Joshua [Fitzwater] who runs 757 EZine, who is helping us layout the album design. We had McKinley Illustrations do a real good job on the album cover, so we’re all pumped up about that. Everything is coming together though. Everything happens in good time, and we don’t want to rush anything because we don’t need to. We’re just gonna make sure it’s right when it comes out.

For more updates on MAMMOTH BLACK, be sure to “like” their Facebook page, and check out their music on Bandcamp.

Joe Fitzpatrick

Joe Fitzpatrick

As editor-in-chief, Joe is very passionate about promoting music and culture in Virginia and DC. A resident of Fairfax, Joe enjoys going to shows, checking out local breweries, and trying new foods with his girlfriend Alex.

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