Mammoth Records

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Mammoth Records
Parent companyDisney Music Group
Founded1989 (1989)
FounderJay Faires
Defunct2006 (2006)
Country of originU.S.
LocationCarrboro, North Carolina
Official (archived)

Mammoth Records was an independent record label founded in 1989 by Jay Faires in the Carrboro area of Chapel Hill, North Carolina.[1] The majority of the acts on Mammoth were executive-produced by Faires and the label's general manager, Steve Balcom.[2][3] The label was the first independent to produce two platinum records.[4]

Mammoth's roster included Antenna, The Backsliders, Bandit Queen, The Bats, Blake Babies, Chainsaw Kittens, Clarissa. Dash Rip Rock, Dillon Fence, Frente!, Fu Manchu, Fun-Da-Mental, Jason & the Scorchers, Jocelyn Montgomery, Joe Henry, Juliana Hatfield, Kill Creek, Machines of Loving Grace, Mark Lizotte, My Friend Steve, Pure, Seven Mary Three, Squirrel Nut Zippers, The Hope Blister, The Melvins, The Sidewinders, Vanilla Trainwreck, and Victoria Williams.


Mammoth first signed Tucson band The Sidewinders; The Sidewinder's debut album, Witchdoctor, sold to RCA within Mammoth's first three months of business.[5][6] Another early signing, Blake Babies, led by Berklee School of Music students Juliana Hatfield and John Strohm, released “Earwig” and “Sunburn” with Mammoth before breaking up. John Strohm went on to release two solo albums with Mammoth under the moniker Antenna while Juliana Hatfield released solo efforts Hey Babe and Only Everything with Mammoth.[7][8][9] Louisiana Music Hall of Famer Dash Rip Rock signed to Mammoth with its 1989 release, Ace of Clubs, produced by Jim Dickinson. Chainsaw Kittens released four albums with Mammoth, including its second album, Flipped Out in Singapore, which was Butch Vig’s follow-up project after producing Nirvana’s Nevermind.[10][11][12]

The first signing from the local Chapel Hill college scene was Dillion Fence; the group released three albums on the Mammoth label between 1991 and 1995.[13] Also from the local area, Mammoth signed Vanilla Trainwreck; the band released Sofa Livin’ Dreamazine and two other albums.[14] After The Sidewinders, a second Tucson band—Machines of Loving Grace—was signed to Mammoth. That band released three albums with Mammoth between 1991 and 1995 with the album Concentration gaining national attention.[15][16] Multiple Grammy Award winner Joe Henry released albums with Mammoth between 1992 and 2001, including Trampoline and Fuse.[17][18] Through a distribution deal with Les Claypool’s Prawn Song Records, Mammoth released The Charlie Hunter Trio’s self-titled album in 1993; Charlie Hunter went on to sign with the jazz label Blue Note Records.[19] The label’s early success across a spectrum of genres with acts like Blake Babies, Chainsaw Kittens, Dash Rip Rock, Dillon Fence, Juliana Hatfield, Joe Henry and Machines of Loving Grace attracted the attention of Atlantic Records. Mammoth and Atlantic Records formed a joint venture in 1992.[7]

During the Atlantic era, Mammoth signed Frente!. Frente!’s cover of New Order’s “Bizarre Love Triangle” went Top 10 on Billboard Modern Rock Charts, and its record, Marvin The Album, shipped more than 750,000 copies worldwide. The label also added Victoria Williams to its roster, releasing her albums, Loose and This Moment: In Toronto with the Loose Band. Mammoth set a precedent for recognizing and promoting female, alternative voices with acts, such as The Black Girls, Blake Babies, Juliana Hatfield, Frente!, and Victoria Williams. Frente!, which MTV labeled "Buzz Bin", and Hatfield both sold more than 250,000 records.[13][20][21][22]

When Chris Douridas was the director of music at KCRW, Mammoth teamed with the radio station to release Rare on Air, a four-part compilation series featuring artists such as Radiohead, Tori Amos, Lindsey Buckingham, Los Lobos, Beck, Nick Cave, John Cale, World Party, Philip Glass, The Cranberries, Jackson Browne, Fiona Apple, Ben Folds, James Taylor, Ani Difranco, Randy Newman, Jeff Buckley, Mazzy Starr, Patti Smith, Tom Waits, PJ Harvey and Lucinda Williams.[23][24][25][26]

Nashville-based Jason and the Scorchers had a second life after signing with Mammoth Records and released three albums with the label.[27] In 1996, the New Orleans Dirty Dozen Brass Band, released Ears to the Wall with Mammoth, an album produced by The Black CrowesChris Robinson.[28] Seven Mary Three recorded three albums between 1995 and 1998 with Mammoth. Its debut album, American Standard, sold 1.3 million copies aloft the single "Cumbersome", making Seven Mary Three the record label's first platinum seller.[29]

In 1997, Mammoth Records returned to an independent label.[30] Squirrel Nut Zippers released six albums with Mammoth from 1994 to 2000; its second album, Hot, was released towards the end of 1996 and climbed the charts as Mammoth separated from Atlantic. Hot became Mammoth's second platinum record.[4][31] As an independent, the label also saw the release of Jocelyn Montgomery's “Et Ideo,” produced by David Lynch.[32]

Later, Mammoth made headway with big beat and the early electronic movement from the United Kingdom with bands like The Freestylers, which MTV deemed “Buzzworthy,” and The Wiseguys, whose single “Ooh La La” on The Antidote became a breakout party anthem.[33][34][35] Founder of British label 4AD and leader of This Mortal Coil, Ivo Watts-Russell released his band The Hope Blisters' album Smiles OK on Mammoth in the U.S, an album including work from by other artists, including Brian Eno and John Cale.[13][36]

Mammoth artists were featured on soundtracks for The Crow (Machines of Loving Grace) alongside Nine Inch Nails and Rage Against the Machine,[37] The Crow: City of Angels (Seven Mary Three) alongside Hole and White Zombie,[38] Hurricane Streets (Pure and Seven Mary Three) alongside Mary's Playground and Xzibit,[39] My So Called Life (Frente!, Chainsaw Kittens and Juliana Hatfield) alongside Sonic Youth and The Lemonheads,[40] Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s Orgazmo (The Dust Brothers) alongside Wu-Tang Clan and Dilated Peoples,[41] the triple platinum album for Reality Bites (Juliana Hatfield) alongside Lisa Loeb and U2,[42] Saturday Morning Cartoons (Frente! and Juliana Hatfield) alongside Matthew Sweet and the Ramones, and the compilation album Music for Our Mother Ocean (Seven Mary Three) alongside the Beastie Boys and No Doubt.[43][44]

The success of the Squirrel Nut Zippers' albums, along with the development of other Mammoth bands—like Pure with Generation Six-Pack, Fu Manchu, and the Backsliders—focused the industry’s attention on the newly independent Mammoth.[45][46][47] The label sold to The Walt Disney Company in late 1997.[1]



  • A Picture Made - "Past"
  • The Downsiders - All My Friends Are Fish










  • The Backsliders - Throwin' Rocks at the Moon
  • Banco De Gaia - Big Men Cry
  • Clarissa - Blood and Commons
  • Eat Static - Science of the Gods
  • Elevate Interior - Fabric Woolly Mammoth
  • Fu Manchu - The Action is Go
  • Jack Drag - Unisex Headwave
  • James Mathus and His Knock-Down Society - Play Songs for Rosetta
  • Seven Mary Three - RockCrown
  • Squirrel Nut Zippers - "Hell" (single)
  • Strangefolk - Weightless in Water
  • Two Dollar Pistols - On Down the Track
  • Various - Feed Your Head Volume 3 - Accelerating The Alpha Rhythms
  • Various - Hurricane Streets (Music From The Motion Picture)
  • Various - MTV Buzz Bin: Volume 2
  • Various - Rare On Air: Volume 3
  • Various - Tranced Out and Dreaming


  • April March - Lessons of April March
  • Creeper Lagoon - I Become Small and Go
  • Far Too Jones - Picture Postcard Walls
  • The Hope Blister -'s OK
  • Jason & the Scorchers - Midnight Roads & Stages Seen
  • Jocelyn Montgomery with David Lynch - Lux Vivens
  • My Friend Steve - Hope and Wait
  • Natural Calamity - Peach Head
  • Pure - "Feverish" (single)
  • Seven Mary Three - Orange Ave.
  • Squirrel Nut Zippers - Christmas Caravan
  • Squirrel Nut Zippers - Perennial Favorites
  • Various - Mammoth Records 1988-1998 A Sound Decade
  • Various - Music From the X-Games Volume 3
  • Various - Rare On Air Volume 4
  • The Wiseguys - The Antidote




  • James Mathus and His Knock-Down Society - National Antiseptic
  • Joe Henry - Scar
  • Joe Henry - Selections
  • John Wesley Harding - I'm Wrong About Everything
  • Seven Mary Three - The Economy of Sound






  1. ^ a b Gabriel, Trip. "The Corporate Wooing and Winning of Mammoth Records". NY Times. Retrieved 3 June 2014.
  2. ^ "Jay Faires AllMusic". AllMusic.
  3. ^ "Steve Balcom AllMusic". AllMusic.
  4. ^ a b Cornell, Rick. "Surveying Both Ends of the Mammoth Records Catalog". Indyweek. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
  5. ^ "Sidewinders". TrouserPress.
  6. ^ "Witchdoctor". AllMusic.
  7. ^ a b Haring, Bruce. "Mammoth, Atlantic forge bond". Variety.
  8. ^ "Juliana Hatfield Biography". AllMusic.
  9. ^ "Music Attorney and Musician John Strohm on the Value of Public Radio". Retrieved 2 June 2014.
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  11. ^ "Flipped Out in Singapore". AllMusic.
  12. ^ Ankeny, Jason. "Butch Vig Biography". AllMusic.
  13. ^ a b c "Mammoth Records". Discogs.
  14. ^ Bush, John. "Vanilla Trainwreck Biography". AllMusic.
  15. ^ Locey, Bill. "Machines of Loving Grace--Dancing in the Gloom : This nihilistic band sounds bummed out enough to be British. It isn't". LA Times.
  16. ^ Armoudian, Maria. "Review: 'The Swans; Machines of Loving Grace'". Variety.
  17. ^ Wolff, Kurt. "Joe Henry Biography". AllMusic.
  18. ^ "Grammy Winner List".
  19. ^ "Charlie Hunter Trio - Self-titled". Discogs.
  20. ^ "'The Hills' Raids MTV's Buzz Bin of 1994, Close Out Episode with Frente". RollingStone. Archived from the original on July 14, 2014.
  21. ^ Cohen, Jonathan. "Billboard Bits: Nine Inch Nails, Frente, Louis XIV". Billboard.
  22. ^ Bell, Carrie (24 October 1998). A Mammoth Undertaking. Billboard.
  23. ^ "Rare on Air: Vol. 1 Tracklist". Discogs.
  24. ^ "Rare on Air: Vol. 2 Tracklist". Discogs.
  25. ^ "Rare on Air: Vol. 3 Tracklsit". Discogs.
  26. ^ "Rare on Air: Vol. 4 Tracklist". Discogs.
  27. ^ Matsumoto, Jon. "Jason and the Scorchers Rise From Near Ashes". LA Times.
  28. ^ Griggs, Tim. "Ears to the Wall". AllMusic.
  29. ^ "Seven Mary Three Biography".
  30. ^ Christman, Ed (5 April 1997). Mammoth Leaves Atlantic. Billboard.
  31. ^ "Squirrel Nut Zippers Biography". Artist Direct.
  32. ^ "Et Ideo". Discogs.
  33. ^ "Freestylers' Disc 'Points' To More Cohesive Sound". Billboard.
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  40. ^ "My So Called Life Soundtrack". AllMusic.
  41. ^ "Orgazmo Soundtrack". AllMusic.
  42. ^ "Reality Bites Soundtrack". AllMusic.
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  44. ^ "Music for Our Mother Ocean". AllMusic.
  45. ^ Thompson, Dave. "Generation Six-Pack Review". AllMusic.
  46. ^ "Fu Manchu". AllMusic.
  47. ^ Leaver, Jack. "Throwin' Rocks at the Moon Review". AllMusic.