By Ferdy Belland
“Since the beginning, we tried to find our own language and sound,” says vocalist-bassist Urlo of Italy’s astounding power trio Ufomammut.
“We were inspired by a lot of bands, but we never tried to copy their sound. They were a starting-point to evolve from, and find a way to create a style. We’re very happy when people tell us we sound like Ufomammut – because that was the main goal. There are many good Italian bands, of course, like Morkobot and Zu – but we feel more a part of the world music community, as an international band. Since we started, we tried to tour outside of Italy to bring our music to as many people as possible. We believe it’s good to move between genres. It’d be boring to always do the same thing.”
Boring? Ufomammut certainly is not. Since 1999 the band (which also features guitarist Poia and drummer Vita; no surnames given, or needed) has ridden a fine balance between the oftentimes (and unnecessarily) divided elements of stoner-rock, doom metal, psychedelia, and sludge, forging a unique sound all their own across a whole shwack of full-lengths, compilations, and anything else they set their sonic imaginations to. Said imagination shall be featured at this year’s Sled Island Festival, and Ufomammut promise not to disappoint. They also promise not to be tame or quiet.
“We’ve already toured Canada twice before, and we always had a great time,” says Urlo. Our first tour was in 2014, when we played at the FIMAV Festival (in Victoriaville, Quebec). Then we came back the year after with Usnea and had great shows in Toronto and Montreal with our friends Sons Of Otis.”
Ufomammut’s sound relies on the use of droning synthesizers and otherworldly sound effects as much as distorted riffery and thundering drums. Fascinating lyrical tales containing spiritual imagery and storylines drawn from pre-Christian mythology as much as post-Catholicism mark the band as the latest in a long line of singular Italian art-rock that stretches back to Le Orme and infuses bands as diverse as Osage Tribe, Goblin, Paul Chain, The Black, and Black Hole. The fact that they perform in front of mesmerizing conceptual films projected on backdrop screens while all the aural mayhem is unleashed? Well, that never hurts. Maybe it stings a little, but hey – pleasure is pain, no?
In the true traditional spirit of Italy’s rich and ancient arts culture, the multifaceted Renaissance-Men spend their non-Ufomammut time helming the Malleus Rock Art Lab, where their equally amazing skills in graphics and illustration (on par with the works of Arik Roper and John Dyer Baizley) are put to the easel and the canvas. They’ve designed screen prints for a truly incredible who’s who of the world’s rock giants, including the Foo Fighters, the Black Keys, the Deftones, Iggy and the Stooges, Robert Plant, Queens of the Stone Age, the Melvins, Crosby Stills & Nash, Sleep, Linkin Park, the Prodigy, the Mars Volta, the Dresden Dolls, Mogwai, Motorpsycho, Monster Magnet, Muse, Sonic Youth… even (get this) the Volvo Corporation. Holy Shit!
With all this unstoppable creativity endlessly boiling over, the focus turns back to Ufomammut’s writing process among the three band members.
“We don’t have any set rules for creating music,” says Urlo by way of conclusion.
“We usually try to do it all together. If a riff or an idea comes from one of us, we’ll put it all together in the rehearsal room. We enjoy working on our stuff, recording it and changing it around until we think it’s the final version. I write all the lyrics, and the synths and effects are usually played by Poia and myself. We’re quite quick when we’re writing our albums. We usually work on them when we’re relaxed between tours and gigs.”
Ufomammut perform at Dickens Pub as a part of Sled Island Festival on June 21 (Calgary)Dickens Pub, Sled Island Festival, Ufomammut