Mammoth Grove crafts psychedelic soundscapes

By Nivedita Iyer

Great things come in small packages. This Calgary band might be a three-piece, but it packs a girthy sonic punch as gargantuan as their name suggests.

The people behind Mammoth Grove are vocalist and guitarist Devan Forster, bassist Rob Shepherd and drummer Kurtis Urban. Their deep, grinding bluesy grunge sound is derived from a combination of a classic-rock upbringing and being influenced by other underground stoner-rock bands that their tastes point them toward today.

“It’s guitar-driven, and I suppose loosely blues-based, rock ‘n’ roll,” says Forster of Mammoth Grove’s sound. “This all stems from growing up and listening to lots of Black Sabbath and Zeppelin and AC/DC — the staple classic bands.”

Mammoth Grove work hard to be able to use their instruments as a tool to communicate beyond solely notes and rhythm.

“Your sound is an expression of who you are. That’s why you’re so meticulous about what’s coming out of your amplifier, because it represents an attitude you have, or what you’re feeling that day, or what you want to communicate as an emotion to people,” says Shepherd.

“For me, at least, it’s one of those things where all of a sudden what we sound like or what we’re trying to communicate transcends the actual audible noise that we’re making, and you’re hoping that your tone represents something more.”

That ‘something more’ arrives in the form of freedom to improvise, which is created through the dynamic relationship between each of the band’s instrumental components.

“There’s a point where you know the music is free to do what it wants, and at that point it’s a beautiful thing to be in a band where all three of us just follow it,” explains Forster. “That cosmic knot allows us to know what’s about to come.”

“We listen really well to each other and let the instruments talk to each other,” adds Shepherd. “We listen to each other, and all of a sudden we’re complementing each other in that regard.”

Mammoth Grove is clearly a project which is very close to the hearts of its members, much like they are to each other. If there is one thing they stress, it is that their electric friendship is the core of their music — this deeply-entranched connection is why they create. As Shepherd puts it, “Mammoth Grove is so unique to the genre. It’s such a rich culture of writing and sharing ideas that we can gloss and glean from each other.

“Mammoth is a culmination of so many experiences and outlets and we can just self-indulge in ideas and sounds — Mammoth Grove gets to be the chubby kid eating the cake.”

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