Track By Track: Trick Mammoth
Dunedin indie pop trio Trick Mammoth sprang up around songwriter ADRIAN NG, whose love of movies informed their debut album ‘Floristry’.
I wrote ‘Baltimore’ in the spring of 2012, during the last days of September. I remember struggling lyrically so I paraphrased the first line of a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald called ‘Benediction’. To me personally, it is more mentally vivid than it is visually. The narrative centred on inner conflict as opposed to physical detriment.
The song was preceding the band, and was comprised of just me at the time. So the first recording of ‘Baltimore’ was an acoustic version. It was originally set to be released on an EP titled Subaquatic which I had been working on around that period. However, I decided I’d much rather try a band-orientated approach. Sam [Valentine] and Millie [Lovelock] were interested so they joined me, and this became the early stages of what Trick Mammoth is today. At the end of October we recorded a demo at The Attic, which would later appear on the Baltimore [Demos].
‘Pinker Sea’ was actually written in 2011, but it was dug up and reworked around the same time as Baltimore. I was trying to convey a state of helplessness, so much so that the protagonist implodes to a point of collapse. I imagined a character wading slowly into the sea, wanting to float away but instead sinking beneath the water. The pink is a reference to both the evening sky reflecting off the surface of the water and to connote death, pink being the result of blood dilute in water.
This song is kind of a ‘Pinker Sea’ part two, in terms of theme. Except from the point of view of a spectator. I was trying to paint, as sick as it sounds, a visually rich suicide. The human mind can only take so much, and it’s always interesting to me when those feelings overwhelm. When you become trapped in a subjective view of the reality around you. I also wanted a more angular ’90s vibe. This was the first song I wrote after the band was actually starting to practice regularly and looking to play shows.
‘Delphine (With a Purpose)’
This song is one of the more narrative-based songs on the album. It was one of four songs – ‘Cold Dalmatian’, ‘Week End’, ‘Days of Being Wild’ – that was written one week before we started recording the album. It’s centred around that Holly Golightly quote: “Because no matter where you run, you just end up running into yourself.” Delphine is sort of a metaphorical assassin, she kills people in an attempt to leave her former self. The day before recording, the song still didn’t have a set drumbeat. The floor tom is Sam’s ode to Veronica Falls. “Shall I Veronica Falls it?” This was also one of the first songs I wrote with no intention to do vocals on, which was very nice. To me, this feels like Millie’s song. She owns it.
I wanted to write a love song that could be synced into a romantic comedy. Questionable aim? Perhaps. At the end of 2012 I had just returned home for Christmas and my parents were hosting a massive party downstairs. I retreated to my room and finished the basic outline of the song. The Vespa is a reference to the Audrey Hepburn film Roman Holiday. Specifically the scene where she and Gregory Peck has a joyride around Rome. I remember wanting to have a big chorus which was triggered by quiet/loud dynamics.
This song was written in early 2012 while I was watching a film called Melancholia. There was one particular scene I was trying to capture where Kirsten Dunst was walking across a lawn. Her body was entangled with roots, causing her to drag this mass of plant life behind her. I wanted to write something that could emulate that feeling of tiredness and malaise. An acoustic version of this song was also the first official release under the name Trick Mammoth. It came out on a Muzai/Attic compilation around the middle of 2012.
During early September 2012, I released an album of acoustic demos. ‘Floristry’ was taken from that collection of songs. I was going through a phase where I wanted my songs to be more abstract rather than conversational. So I think this song comes across as more of a poem. To me, it builds upon the idea of stagnation and reclusion. Being stuck in a place and because of that being stunted from any inner development. Also, the feeling of being nostalgic and warm for a place but at the same time smothered by security.
With ‘Cold Dalmatian’ we really wanted to capture bands like Dinosaur Jr., Smashing Pumpkins, Pavement. We wanted to be heavy. Of course, the lyrics border on twee. But you know, I try to get away with it. I guess this song explores the endless cycle of losing people, finding people. How people get less special, how in a way people die without really dying. How sometimes you have to meet someone all over again. Time stops for no one.
‘Days of Being Wild’
This is primarily a song about nostalgia. For me, it’s a snapshot of youth and that experience of really getting to know someone and treasuring that time. It’s named after the film Days of Being Wild by Wong Kar Wai, who makes some of my favourite films. It’s all blurry, dream-like.
I didn’t really want the album to be such a celebration of sadness. So ‘Week End’ is just about being at a period of your life where you just want to wind down for awhile. But also about capturing these special moments with your friends or loved ones. Moments where you think to yourself, ‘I am so happy to be here, there is nowhere else I’d rather be.’ Ignoring the tiredness, any awfulness and just being transcendent of that. The sweetest sentiment to me has always been, ‘I don’t care what’s happening, that I’m kind of cold or worn out, because you’re here.” That is sort of what I tried to express with this song. Also it has that awesome mantra at the end, which is kind of dorky but I enjoy it.