Spooky season is approaching rapidly, a bright light at the end of a long and arduous tunnel as bands and fans rev up for Halloween Hysteria 2021, a 12-hour long metal, rock, and punk music festival that promises to bring the dead back to life – the dead being the state of the arts in Australia.
With a mega line-up of old and familiar faces (plus a bevy of youngsters coming through) including the legendary Spiderbait, heavy hitters Mammal, and thrashers King Parrot, 34 bands will take to Mansfield Tavern in Brisbane's inner-east to bring punk, rock & roll and metal to an audience of eager music lovers.
The range of bands at Halloween Hysteria runs the gamut of every heavy genre: from contemporary metal (From Crisis To Collapse), punk to make your hair fall out (Flangipanis, Fangz), every 'core and every score (Stepson, Gravemind), fem fatales (Smoking Martha, Redhook), and jams to smoke a blunt and pass out to (Black Rheno).
The past year has been devastating for the arts industry worldwide, but Mammal have weathered the storm like stalwarts, drawing on their 15-year history as one of Australia's most prominent political, bluesy, punk-rock bands, to return in style.
"Killer line-up," lead singer and frontman of Mammal, Ezekiel Ox says when asked about what he's most looking forward to at Halloween Hysteria.
"I just can't wait. I mean, you know you're in for a good show with Spiderbait every time. It's always good to see Stevie [Williams] and the guys from Clowns, and we're just stoked with the bill. It's going to be a great night."
What Mammal is most looking forward to is getting on stage again. After a tumultuous year, the group, made up of Zeke, bassist Kade Turner, guitarist Peter Williamson, and drummer Zan Rosanoski, are ready to rumble again, with three new singles and a slew of live shows coming up towards the end of the year.
"People saw what we had – still the best live show in the country," Zeke says about the group's return from an almost decade-long hiatus in 2017.
"What we have in store is what we always have in store: a unique, legitimately rootsy, bluesy, political, punk-rock show that's guaranteed to turn heads at the very least, if it doesn't send you flying into the crowd barrier with great force."
For Zeke, playing live is a huge part of his spiritual world, as is juggling a job and a current law degree.
However, the most soul-nourishing thing to him, and currently the most anxiety-inducing, is playing to a live crowd and seeing faces react as Mammal's wicked vocals, soul-punching drumming, socially conscious lyrics, and pulse-quickening guitar work get the audience moving.
If you've heard their previous hits like 'Slaves', 'Community', and 'Smash The Pinata', you know what's in store for their upcoming shows.
Zeke admits they're a "set and forget band" with traditional funk roots to get the dancehall moving, and that they got their musical sound right from the beginning. "We obviously lean pretty heavily on our teenage influences, which is '90s rock," Zeke says.
"I don't know if we've really progressed as much as we've got a sound and that involves funk, and hard rock, and punk. We have a sound and we're sort of like AC/DC. We're not really interested in changing it much."
Mammal's sound is at once both varied and familiar, incorporating atypical rhythms in songs like 'Clear Enough?' and social commentary in 'Virtue Signalling' to create music that will never go out of style.
At their live shows, they unfurl a flag in Mammal's colours. They'll get you on the hardwood dance floor and in the mud of a moshpit as their hard-rock inspired, political funk fires you up.
They've been taking on the world for 15 years and they're not even close to being done.
Mammal join Spiderbait, King Parrot, Clowns and a stack more as part of Halloween Hysteria 2021 at Mansfield Tavern (Brisbane) 23 October.
Mammal 2021 Tour Dates
Wed 20 Oct - Crowbar (Sydney)* early show (sold out) Wed 20 Oct - Crowbar (Sydney)* late show Thu 21 Oct - The Cambridge (Newcastle) Thu 28 Oct - Volta (Ballarat) Fri 29 Oct - Pelly Bar (Melbourne)* sold out Sat 30 Oct - The Evelyn (Melbourne)* early show (sold out) Sat 30 Oct - The Evelyn (Melbourne)* late show (sold out)