Please list all of your band members and their roles in the band.
Mammoth Cannon is: vocalist Lewie Lewis, lead guitarist George O’Brien, lead guitarist Sammy Hodits, bassist/backing vocalist Dan Johnson, & percussionist Nic Stephens.
For starters, what bands were you guys a part of prior to Mammoth Cannon? How long has the band been around?
Mammoth Cannon has been an idea for around 2 ½ years now. The concept for Mammoth Cannon began in January of 2015, with members living 1000 miles apart at the time. It was decided we would relocate to the same city, our hometown in Central Illinois, in order to fully realize the idea. In October 2015 we made the move, & began our first rehearsals. January 15, 2016 gave birth to what our fans now know as Mammoth Cannon.
We have been active members in the Central Illinois music scene for upwards of 15 years now, & we played in multiple local bands through the span of that time. None gaining much recognition nationally, but nonetheless helping the progress of what the Central Illinois music scene is today. Bands we played in include Blue Letter, The Brethren, Grizzly, Canadian Customs, Scavenger, Onward Forward, Enthronement, Moses The Raven, Rinoa, & Haight/Ashbury.
What’s the origin of that name and have you changed the band’s name before?
Our name is something we are very proud of. When we began the creative process of choosing what our name would be, we all had the inclination to convey the sound of our music through our name. We already had a very good idea of what we would sound like as a whole, & when we generalize it, we like to say it’s big & loud, the way rock n roll should be. Mammoth Cannon quite literally comes off as big & loud, & we feel it’s quite original. We have never changed the name, & we don’t ever plan on changing it.
There is a bit of origin behind the word ‘Mammoth’, however. A previous band that members George & Nic were in, Canadian Customs, released an EP titled ‘Mammoth’, & for one reason or another, the word has stuck with them, & has been tossed around ever since. It’s a great word to convey the sheer size of something, or at least what we hope it can become one day, & pairing it with the word ‘Cannon’ adds a whole new element of intensity. Not to mention, the visuals you get from ‘Mammoth Cannon’ can be really great. We love the art that’s been produced for us, & we’re excited to release more of it.
On a humorous note, we’ve been asked if we’re called Mammoth Cannon, because each member of the band has a, well, Mammoth Cannon...but that’s for us to know & the world to find out.
Who writes your songs? What are the main themes or topics for most of your songs and do you think these topics will change over time?
Musically, we write our songs as a unit. Each person brings their own ideas to the table, & we work with them together. Generally, guitars & bass find melodies & riffs to work with, & percussion works on dynamics & structure. Lyrics are written exclusively by Lewis, with the input of the whole band through the entire process. Vocal patterns, pitches, harmonies, & overall tone come mainly from Lewis, also, with input from the whole band.
The topics of our songs are very relatable. We like to stay away from the abstract use of lyrics, & be more up front with listeners. The ideas are centered around the current events & emotions & thoughts of our everyday lives. Nothing out of the ordinary, but simply the ups & downs of what life has in store for us all. Everyone needs a voice, & we believe we can be that voice for many.
What bands are currently inspiring the music that you’re making?
We listen to a pretty wide variety of music, while all being drawn to the same roots & soul of gritty rock’n’roll. Bands you would find us listening to & studying would be He Is Legend, Incubus, Between the Buried and Me, Tom Petty, La Dispute, Hail The Sun, Polyphia, Motley Crue, KISS, & many more, not to mention a multitude of other artists in different genres outside of rock’n’roll. There is something to be learned from every successful artist, & we want to embrace that.
Was there a particular band/artist or concert that inspired you to start a band?
We all have our favorite artist from when we were a child. Most of them can be found in the answer to the question above. It goes without saying, the bands that influence us the most now are the bands that have always influenced us the most since we were young.
What really gave us the drive to play music though was our hometown venues & local bands that were playing before us. We can’t give enough credit to Wake The Dead in Decatur, Illinois & Black Sheep Cafe in Springfield, Illinois for giving us a place to go to express ourselves & fall in love with music at such young ages, & all the bands that gave us the motivation to get on a stage & play. You can’t match the beauty of an all ages, all genres music scene. It was beautiful.
What do you do to prepare for a show? Any flexing, exercises, etc …
Ironically enough, we all sort of had the same pre-show routine coming into this band. You can probably credit some of that to us playing in bands together before Mammoth Cannon. We don’t do anything really unorthodox like chug a bottle of whisky 5 minutes before we go on or anything like that, but we do have a fairly dedicated routine. We meet up about an hour before our set. We stretch for about 10 minutes, then we warm-up for about 30 minutes. After that, we all like to have about 10 minutes to individually clear our heads & thrust ourselves into our performance before we’re actually on stage, basically psyching ourselves up, most of the time pacing back & forth silently, haha. Then we take about a 5-minute huddle to get each other pumped, & fully connect that energy between us. Then we’re side-stage for the last 5 minutes before we play watching the band before us close out their set. It’s good to remove yourself from the show for a bit, in order to get into your own head & get to where you need to be mentally to perform your best. A pre-show ‘itinerary’ is great for us.
What has been the biggest highlight of the band’s career so far?
The greatest highlights of our career have definitely been the tours we have been on. In our year & a half, almost 2 years, of playing, we have been on 3 tours, ranging from 9 days to 18 days, spanning across the South, Southeast, East Coast, & Midwest. We are very proud of making these happen completely independently, & we can’t wait for our next 3 planned for the rest of 2017.
We are also very proud to have written an EP, “Ten Tons”, that sold over 1,000 copies in the first 6 months, not too shabby for a little local band in Central Illinois, & for writing our full-length record, “EXILED”. Putting out 15 tracks in a year & a half was a daunting task for a brand new band, but we overcame the obstacles & made sure to give our increasing fan-base what they wanted. We’re so grateful for them, & we would not be in the position to continue this band if it weren’t for them. We love you all.
We were given the great opportunity to join an old Victory Records band, The Junior Varsity, on the first show of their reunion tour in their hometown of Bloomington, Illinois. We can’t thank those guys enough for that. We were also given the awesome opportunity to open for the up-and-coming alt-rock band, Typesetter, in Nashville.
Also, last, but not least, a huge highlight for us has been beginning to work our new PR Agent, James Lloyd at Carry The 4 PR. He has given us opportunities we never thought we would even hear about. We owe him a great deal of gratitude.
We have many plans to add much more to this list by the end of 2017 & the coming years.
If you could tour with any bands, past or present, who would they be and why?
This list is pretty similar to our previous answers about what bands influence & inspire us. The reason these bands are who we idolize is, because they have made impacts on their individual niche of rock’n’roll in a way that no other band has done. You can say that for many bands, but these are the ones that stand out for us. Through member changes, lack of funding, bad press, addiction, lack of motivation, & anything else that these bands have been through, they are still at the forefront of rock music, making a difference for all of their listeners. Whether it be new music, or simply helping promote the power of music, these bands have the ultimate ambition & passion. We highly recommend checking all of these bands out if you never have.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
We would just like to thank Kill The Music & Carry The 4 PR for giving us this opportunity to tell a little bit about ourselves. Check us out at all of the links listed, & make sure to catch us the next time we’re near you. We’re just a small local band that wants to write & play some music for people to listen to, so that’s what we’re doing. Don’t ever let anything get in the way of your ambition. Following your heart can lead to a reward you may have never imagined. Thanks for reading about us, & we will see you soon!