Black Mountain - Interviews - Soundblab

Black Mountain

by Miz DeShannon Rating: Release Date:

After a string of shows across Europe, Canada's Black Mountain have taken the UK by storm again (no drum roll for song puns, please). Although sitting on a motorway siding for hours en route to Nottingham had somewhat taken the shine off the rollercoaster ride, for a little while.

Philosophically, the band's keys player (and cover designer of new acclaimed album Wilderness At Heart'- labelled "maybe most badass cover art of the year" by Pitchfork) Jeremy Schmidt saw it simply as some coveted time out to chill. And apparently the weather wasn't too bad to sit out in either - well, for England.

He's filled us in on not being part of an art collective, not having any leisure activities other than music, and not being on a big label. But enjoying time out to play video games…

Are you enjoying being in the UK and Europe again?

Yeah, we had a really good show in Manchester, it felt good. They were a very quiet audience, receptively, but that's a changeable thing. Sadly there's been an accident on way to Nottingham, I'm just staring at a load of detritus on the carriageway, nothing sinister, although there have been a load of sirens running up and down the hard shoulder. We're just chilling and having a picnic at the side of the road right now. The weather's a little dodgy; it's a kind of sun and rain combo, schizophrenic weather over here man!

Thanks for that - our weather has mental issues, nice! Anyway, tell us about this amazing and ever-growing Canadian music scene.

Well, we're all from the same place, but I don't really feel part of local scene, or any kind of collective. There are lots of bands being noticed right now, which is great, musically and for the country, but I don't feel any kind of regional brotherhood specifically. All our members like bands from all over the place, we're very supportive of friends bands generally, as you should be, wherever they're from.

Canada is an unusual country, and how it's perceived by the rest of the world, well, it's a vast place. Toronto or Montreal to Vancouver is so far, but Montreal's scene is doing great lately, there's always creative pulses flowing through the landscape, which people everywhere seem to be noticing more these days.

We've been hearing more about the label you're on, Jagjaguwar, in the UK recently. Do you like being with a smaller independent label? Does it allow more control for you, good relationships with them etc?

Well, we're a Canadian band that broke out on our first album, kind of a sudden and unforeseen exception as opposed to the rule. They're on the arc of being new and fresh, and what we did with our first record was scoping out territory that hadn't been covered of late, coming from a region that's not 'on the map' musically. There were a combination of factors we had to think about together, and no control issues for us at all. It's always possible in hindsight to analyse it but something can just rise out of the murk, and that's what happened with us, it was just organic and it worked.

The benefits of being with Jagjaguwar are that we built a relationship over time. They took a real chance on us; we had pre-commercial success, and they believed in our band, they care about our band. Also, on the business end, they're very forthcoming too, we have a very good relationship which is just friendly and easy, and they don't adhere to one genre, they're just independent and taste driven. I think it's a lot easier to just get kinda lost in the warehouse on larger labels, and we didn't want to risk that.

Four of you are or were mental health workers, how does that fit with you being part of (what we call in the UK) a 'stoner rock' band? Is it a bit of a quandary for you?

Stoner rock, ha! Well, we used to work in that field, but as with lots of musician's and their jobs, we came to a point where we gave it all up to do the band more and more! At the moment our tour cycle is fully underway, and we really don't spend much time in the city any more. We've got so many other music projects too, other things to focus on, which are a bit of a diversion from Black Mountain, like Pink Mountaintops, Lighting Dust, and a solo project I've had for a long time now, Sonic Storm. We do try to have other leisure activities, but music really drives us all. Our sound guy Ramco though has champion status of some sort in Polo, would you believe.

How very Bruce Dickinson of him. So what drives you as a band, then - other music, emotions, politics?

Art, poetry, emotions, they all inform our creative process in one way or another, consciously or not, the world around you, books, movies, people, other bands. We've all got different musical tastes, not one kind of sound, and I'm constantly plugged into my headphones being enveloped by music I've found - anything we engage in drives and informs our music. It's a very natural process for us, and not drawn from specifically any subject, we don't stress what we write about in any way. We look to all forces, there's a nebulous, which infiltrates what we do. Although we have just been playing video games in last few hours…


Black Mountain Wilderness At Heart is out now on Jagjaguwar / Outside Music


The band made it safely to Nottingham's rescue rooms, despite and having square eyes after hours of gaming and being slightly damp from the schizophrenic weather changing.

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