Behind the Beat: Dapper Mammals

Things get off to an interesting start on Mammal Dap’s new EP, 5lbsHigh5. The band’s members may look a bit young and scruffy in that indie kind of way, but the sounds that regale you from the first note have a lot more to do with 1973 than 2013.

It’s a lush, laidback and funky sound that would provide a perfect soundtrack for cruising town in a very large Cadillac. There’s even plenty of organ involved, something that’s becoming rather a rarity. When Mammal Dap goes up-tempo there’s a slight taste of fusion, with complex melodies weaving back and forth between keyboard and guitar, all driven by bass and drums deep in groove territory.

The band formed in October 2012, coalescing from several Valley bands. Keyboardist Zack Cross says, “At first we thought of ourselves as being more of an R&B or neo-soul kind of band in the style of Erykah Badu, D’Angelo, and people like that. So very early on we wrote the group of songs that is on our newly released EP.

“We wrote them as instrumentals with the idea of having vocals on them, and we had a long period of working with different vocalists, all of whom were very talented, but for one reason or another that just never worked out,” Cross says. “So instead we kind of just said, ‘Hey, these instrumentals actually stand really well on their own’ and have now been going in that direction for the last few months.”

He goes on to offer a pretty spot-on description of the band’s music: “Future soul/psychedelic R&B. There are hints of jazz fusion in there as well, but that comparison can have cheesy connotations for some people, so we shy away from that a bit. But we do love fusion, too.”

It’s clear the members of Mammal Dap know their way around their instruments, so it’s not surprising their songwriting process is collaborative. “A lot of times one of us will have a little nugget of a song, maybe even the template for an entire song, and then when we bring that into rehearsal it will transform into something new after just playing it for a little while. And even our earliest songs continue to change a bit after playing them a lot,” Cross says. “Our songwriting process is a lot more experimentation-oriented than maybe some other groups, but it doesn’t come out sounding like John Cage or anything. We try to make music that all people will enjoy, regardless of their understanding of music theory or that kind of thing.”

You can catch the band in a lot of places in the near future, as they embark on their mission to spread the word about their new recording. The closest spot is Mission Bar and Tapas in Pittsfield, where they take the stage Oct. 14.•


For more info and to get the band’s music, visit, or


Author: James Heflin

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