7 Years in the Making – Interview with Mamafesta at Waterloo Music Festival
About a year ago, a talented group of versatile instrumentalists in Austin, TX decided they were going to take their side hustle band more seriously. After 7 years of jamming together for fun these long time friends decided to commit their efforts to making ‘Mamafesta’ a reality.
Mamafesta has created a unique blend of jam bands combined with funk, rock, and beautiful songwriting. This allows them to be extremely versatile on stage and bring in multiple audiences. The band is composed of 5 incredibly talented musicians who have been around the Austin music scene for years across various bands and projects.
Vince Seidl – Guitar, Vocals
Lowell Carrico – Guitar, Lead Vocals
Jose Gutierrez – Drums, Vocals
Logan Dance – Bass, Vocals
Zack Morgan – Keys, Vocals
For a group that just put out their first album Creatures of Rhythm a year ago, their sound and live performance is polished and full of improvisation. You can sense that these guys have a unique musical chemistry that takes time to build. 7 years of friendly jam sessions is truly paying off now that they are putting their focus and energy into Mamafesta.
We sat down with Vince Seidl and Zack Morgan after their set at the inaugural Waterloo Music Festival in Austin, TX to discuss the story of Mamafesta and how exciting their first 12 months has been since the group jumped all in.
JamFeed: Take us back to Mamafesta began. You guys have been putting out songs and touring for over a year now, but when did it all first come together?
Vince: 7 or 8 years
Zack: Ya, suprisingly enough…it’s been a while.
Vince: Mamafesta initially started in 2011 with a different drummer, and then I came in as the second drummer.
Zack: Well it kind of started as the new version of our old band ‘Strawberry Jam’ which was the same drummer, bass, and myself on the keys. It kinda started out behind the scenes and then eventually emerged into Mamafesta. Then a couple years later Vince joined.
Vince: I first found out about it through a Facebook post saying “hey, we need a drummer” and all these people were throwing it out there, and I already knew them so I was like I can play drums for yall. I’m not a stellar drummer, and guitar is definitely my first choice, but I still enjoy playing drums.
JamFeed: The last time I saw you guys playing, Vince was on the drums. But today I saw Vince back on the guitar, which I loved. Who did you guys have on drums today?
Zack: Jose Gutierrez
Vince: Jose is an amazing drummer. This lineup is what I feel like Mamafesta has been trying to get to this whole time. I enjoyed playing drums for a bunch of shows, but I think this set up with Jose on the drums is our best lineup.
Zack: Ya, I think we knew at some point Vince was going to end up on guitar somehow. We weren’t quite sure how we were going to get there. We knew there was A and C, but we didn’t know what the B was yet. Later on Jose comes along and it was just obvious to all of us that this needed to happen.
Vince: I’ve known Lowell and Logan since 5th grade and we’ve been jamming since middle school so those musical roots run deep. And I’ve known Zack for at least 10 years. I’m grateful though, because building that musical chemistry with someone takes time. I am proud of the way that we work too. It’s not easy to keep your friendship in the right place when business gets involved. You see bands like String Cheese Incident that have been playing for 30 years, but that is not easy.
Zack: Ya and last summer was the first time we all decided that we were going to take this seriously and give it a real shot for at least a year and see what happens. So we wrote an album, we started really pushing the shows. Now here we are a year later and we got booked here at Waterloo, ACL which was huge, and we head to Kaboo in San Diego next weekend.
Vince: We’ve also been getting some back up horn players and backup singers to come on stage with us at certain shows and festivals. We don’t bring them out every time, but for the bigger shows we definitely do. It adds so much more to the energy.
Zack: But we also want to be able to pay everyone so we are careful with that too. With those shows we are essentially doubling the size of the band so we want to make sure that everyone can get paid who comes out to play with us.
Vince: It’s good for us to do both, because we like to mix it up a lot. It allows us to change things up a bit depending on if we have small short sets, or horns and backup singers. Some of these short sets have really helped us hone our skills too. As a jam band, it really forced us to focus and get to the point in each song which is great.
Zack: Ya for the Stubbs show, it was the first time we actually practiced with a timer. We were calculating songs in a different way and it really helped us a lot for the different type of shows we play. It was a good challenge for us. We had 45 minutes and we played a 43-minute set. It really helped with our discipline too.
JamFeed: So would you refer to Mamafesta as a jam band?
Vince: We get called a jam band, and I like that, and I consider us to be a jam band in some ways too. But I think we are somewhat of a crossover because the jams usually have the hook at the end that brings it home you know?
Zack: We have the ability to hang a left and go more towards a rock vibe, or hang a right and go more towards a funk jam or whatever. A lot of that depends on how much time we have on that set but I think the flexibility and ability to go different directions at any point is what makes it great.
Vince: Ya and we have to give it up to Lowell too. Up to this point he has been doing most of the songwriting and lyrics, and he’s just such a solid songwriter. Some jam bands are just instrumental, some have vocals too, but there are aspects of his songwriting and things we all do that make it more than just a traditional jam band.
Zack: The hope is that we end up doing The Allman Brothers things. If you talk to the younger kids, they are like “The Allman Brothers are a fucking jam band man” and they can with their 15 minute version of Jessica. But if you talk to someone like my dad, its like “Ya The Allman Brothers played Whipping Post and Ramblin man” and they are a classic rock band. So for us, if you aren’t super into jam bands like Phish, you could still be into the rock element and songwriting, and vice versa. If you are into jam bands you can still recognize when we take off on a improvised solo at the end of the song and appreciate that side of it as well.
Vince: There’s a moment in every jam band song when the lyrics end and people know that the jam is about to begin and people will cheer about it, and we still have that excitement going on too.
Zack: Absolutely. We are trying to keep that element but also have the more studio side as well where we are releasing individual singles and stuff with more singing and songwriting.
JamFeed: So what’s next for Mamafesta? Any new music or upcoming shows?
Zack: We got Kaboo coming up next weekend. It’s like the ACL of Southern California. Then we have weekend 2 at ACL which is obviously a dream come true for all of us. I’d say we have about half of an album done too, but we aren’t in a rush or anything. We will go back to the studio when we feel ready.
Vince: It’s been great for me writing songs again too. I wasn’t that involved in the writing process when I was playing drums, but now I am doing things I haven’t done in years and it feels amazing. Lowell is such a great songwriter too so having him help in that area is great too.
JamFeed: So do you see yourself staying more on guitar and songwriting and letting Jose rock the drums?
Vince: You know, there is this saying that you’re only as strong as your drummer, and it’s totally true. Your rhythm section totally carries you. We could totally stop playing and just let Logan and Jose go off and it would still be amazing.
Zack: Jose is my drummer. He played with me on A Live One and also came later into Strawberry Jam too. Any project that I work on, I try to get Jose involved in. A couple years ago I had to convince him to move down from Dallas. I was like “dude, ill find you some gigs. ” And I just kept sending him more gigs and he kept driving down and then he finally moved down here.
Vince: Ya for example, Jose left after our gig to drive down to Houston to play another show tonight and then is coming back tomorrow.
Zack: He’s a hustler.
JamFeed: It’s always good to have other hardworking guys in the band to keep everyone motivated.
Zack: Ya, and the Mamafesta group chat is definitely lit! Always grinding every day…just advancing shows, booking shows, promoting shows, everything. We are pushing hard. The gas is in the tank, and now we are just trying to hit the accelerator.
Vince: At the end of the day, if you take the band away we are all still good friends which really helps. We’ve known each other for a long time. Even when the hustle and bustle gets convoluted sometimes, knowing that these guys really care about you makes a big difference. All five guys are great musicians and work really hard, and that’s what it takes to have a great band. We’re just trying to ride this wave and see where it takes us.
JamFeed: I know you guys have both played in a number of bands across various genres of music, but do you feel Mamafesta is becoming the main focus for each of you?
Zack: The fact that a year ago we were talking about whether or not we should take this thing seriously, and then a year from then we are playing ACL…that was pretty good signifier that we are on the right track.
Vince: In my heart and my soul I can just tell this is a good thing. It just does something for me that I wasn’t getting from my other music projects and I can tell I need it. This is just exactly where I want to be right now.
END OF INTERVIEW
Check out some of Mamafesta’s live set at Waterloo Music Festival 2018 below!