Treasure Mammal Celebrates a Decade of Loosening Inhibitions
The band, oftentimes just Gil, was very volatile in this period, much more physically confrontational than it is now.
"Not that your energy level is down," Wright tells him, "but I used to think you were going to hurt yourself. I used to stand farther back and watch you from afar."
There were a few wake-up calls that this behavior wasn't sustainable.
"There was a show at Trunk Space where I was flailing around, and Djentrification -- we just did a song together and he was pretty excited about it -- [he] was dancing around and I went fwoosh! and hit the fuck out of his face."
"Like Metta World Peace and James Harden," Wright says.
Yeah, I Metta World Peace'd him. I thought, 'I'm trying to do this motivational thing and make people feel good, but at the same time I'm fucking myself up and fucking other people up, this doesn't make any sense.' I wanted to be more stationary, but work other things, work the crowd harder."
Other incidents include Gil breaking a rib as fans dogpiled him at a house show in San Diego in 2006 (he had drank a ton of Sparks, one of the precursors to Four Loko in the alcoholic energy drink market, and thus didn't feel it until the next morning), as well as a show at Modified Arts during the same period in which he accidentally damaged a wall after performing atop the venue's bathroom (this is architecturally hard to explain unless you were going to Modified shows in the mid-2000s.)
The latter incident supposedly compelled a justifiably irate Kimber Lanning to expel Randall, the stuffed unicorn who is often present during Treasure Mammal sets, from her venue.
The project eventually mellowed out a bit. It remains intense and fun, but body parts and inanimate objects are much less likely to be broken. If anything, the Treasure Mammal of today is something that people want to stand in the front for, something that welcomes them to participate. It's like Burning Man, but with a lot more yelling. Claire Slattery, a former fan and current member of Treasure Mammal in a capacity that could best be equated to that of a hype person and a backup dancer, explains the allure of the band:
"The first time I saw Treasure Mammal, just seeing that happen and being so invited by such a genuine person to participate in something that seemed real -- versus something that seems really forced -- felt really good and contagious to me."
Wright also explains the capacity the band has for going against the stiff upper lip of indie rock culture.
"That's what I like about playing with you," he tells Gil. "You challenge people to just let loose and not be pretentious. And that's challenged me as well, because I've come from playing with more indie rock bands and hardcore bands. I've enjoyed it because it's helped me loosen up too. That's what's cool about playing with you, just watching smiles over people's faces, people interacting, moving away from that introverted nature of just standing there."