A little over a month ago, Italy’s Ufomammut released their aptly titled eighth full length album 8, covered here, which continues to garner a hefty slab of my attention. So much so that I truly believe it is an absolute ‘must hear.’ Each album from this band is another step on an ever expanding journey: from the bulky weight of Godlike Snake to the experimentation of Oro to the forward thinking doom of Eve, Ufomammut continue to push their own sonic boundaries and find ways to make each note resonate more than the last. Plus, they’ve been together so long now that when performing together they seem telepathically linked and able to bend sound to their will. We recently had the opportunity to ask the band a few questions about 8, the importance of home and their creative energy — among other things — so head inside to see what they had to say.
Easy question up first: now that 8 is out do you guys breath a sigh of relief or is it back to writing and business as usual?
Urlo: We surely breathe a sigh of relief because we recorded the new album almost a year ago. So, seeing it released is a great moment for us. Now it’s time to focus on the live shows and we’ll bring the album to as many people as possible in these months to come!
Not counting the double Oro this is your eighth album. And turning the 8 on it’s side reveals the infinity symbol. Is there more to the decision to use 8 instead of a typical album title like you’ve done previously?
U: Everything came out of the idea that this is the eighth album for us. The number 8 is also the infinite symbol that has plenty of different meanings and, moreover, you can pronounce the title differently in every language. So, the number 8 was the perfect match for this album title!
As densely layered as your music is, and always has been, it seems that you guys are always working and constantly refining your craft, is this the case or does it all come together at recording time and on the road?
U: We try to compose and record every album in a different way, trying to do something different from what we’ve already done. The evolution of 8 has been very peculiar, because it’s been the first time we recorded all together. Also the writing process has been different from the past, we started from one song to create the other and we worked a lot on the idea of being able to play everything live for the recording sessions.
Something I noticed on Ecate and now with 8 is that even though there are a couple tracks on each that stretch out time wise you have opted for packing more music and writing into shorter songs. Is this intentional or did the writing for these albums fit that approach?
U: Everything comes natural to us, there’s not a plan when we create our music.
Speaking of writing, I’ve always wondered what that process is like for you once the idea is hatched for a new album. As long as you guys have worked together does this process flow easily?
U: Usually we’re very, very quick in writing new material. The songs come out and we just follow their path. We start from a riff, an idea and we work on that little by little,until we reach the final shape of the song, adding synth at the end. This time, as I said above, it took a little more time than usual because we wanted to be ready for the recording sessions.
8, at times, is a little more aggressive than Ecate. What was your collective headspace going into this album versus some from your past? Further, do outside influences come into play at all?
U: The idea was to follow the opposite way a lot of bands follow: the more you grow, the weaker you become… we wanted this album to be pure energy, we wanted it to be an evil album, something thick and psychedelic in a different way from the previous works. A lot of influences came to us, as usual, from different ways, not only music, of course.
The band has a very unique and distinctive sound and tone. Take “Psyrcle” for example, after the first minute and half or so when the full weight of the guitar and bass emerge the tone is incredibly thick. Or “Fatum” where it’s just one heavy riff after another. Even going back to Godlike Snake and Eve, the tone has really never changed. So it would seem this is somewhat your signature, or at least something you’re comfortable enough to return to again and again, would you agree?
U: I think our sound changed a lot during the years. We surely kept the “layering process” you’re talking about. We always try to develop our sound, especially live, trying new and different solutions.
The vocals have always been part of the fabric of each album. They’re not the focus of each song, rather they present themselves as another instrument. Aggressive on Ecate, echoed and far away on Lucifer Songs and here on 8 they sound as if they’re underwater which really offers a tremendous effect to the overall outcome of the album. How do you decide which approach to take and do you agree the vocals are there as an instrument rather than being the limelight?
U: Vocals are very important for us, as you said, they’re an instrument that has to create atmosphere together with bass, guitars, drums and synths. We usually try to develop different ways of singing, trying to give the songs a new and different atmosphere from the previous albums.
With so many layers in your music we could talk for days about the make up of each album. One thing, among many, that’s been a constant is the tribal feel to your songs. Is there a deep band connection to this tribal aspect?
U: Never thought about this. Well, we’re a sort of family, so we’re a little tribe. We think music is something sacred, a holy grail around which our lives grow. So, every album is a stone we put on the altar of Music. And it’s a really tribal thing, I guess…
Many of your albums were recorded, or at least, practiced at SOMS in Sarezzano. Watching the footage from 8 it appears you were in a studio. Did you revisit SOMS for this album at all or was it strictly in the studio? And if in studio how was it different than the SOMS experience?
U: We recorded a lot of albums at SOMS, it’s true. And probably we’ll record more in the future. There’s not a rule. We recorded Eve in a studio, for example. This time, with 8, it was time to enter a studio again.
Following Ufomammut for all these years your homebase seems to be a huge anchor for everything you’ve done thus far in your career. How important is it to you to stay close to your roots? And how does this inform/affect your music?
U: It’s very important, because everything comes from here. We’re lucky enough to travel and meet a lot of people and different cultures. This brings us a lot of energy and coming back home is good to refill energy for discovering more of what’s outside. Since the beginning we travelled a lot and we still are.
You’re embarking on a European tour soon and I’m assuming a possible US tour to follow? After this touring cycle what’s next for Ufomammut?
U: The European tour is almost over and it’s been a blast. We hope to tour the States next year for sure! Then it’ll be time to work on new projects. We’ve some personal ones right now (Vita is playing with Sonic Wolves and Rogue State, Urlo and Poia are playing in Farwest Zombee and Kton and Urlo is preparing his first project called The Mon) but we’ll be focusing on new Ufomammut stuff very very soon:-)
Thank you all for taking the time to do this interview. Anything you’d like to add?
U: Thanks a lot and see you soon in the States!
Many thanks to Ufomammut for their time!