Mountain climbing to the top

By Darren Young

Though two or three of the members of Black Mountain have worked for the Insite supervised injection pilot project in Vancouver, you probably will not hear them make a big fuss about it. The project has been a controversial issue for Canadians, specifically in the eyes of the Conservative government attempting to dispose of it, but Black Mountain would much rather focus on their music than comment on Insite. To them, Insite provides work and money to fund their real passion–touring.

“[Insite] is really just a job for [the members of the band working there],” says keyboardist Jeremy Schmidt. “They’re really appreciative of our endeavors as a band and are flexible to our schedule. I think a lot of the people who run that stuff are people who have known the band for a long time.”

Schmidt reserves opinions, not waving flags for or against the issue. This is probably a smart commercial move, considering the increasing number of bands out there whose political agendas have begun to outweigh the quality of their music à la Bono and U2. It also represents the natural and basic approach Black Mountain takes to writing songs. While their new album In The Future boasts a 17-minute track entitled “Bright Lights,” Schmidt is adamant about the inherent simplicity behind the music.

“I didn’t even really start playing music until I was about 19 or 20,” explains Schmidt. “When I started playing music, I was listening to The Jesus and Mary Chain thinking, ‘there’s only two chords in the bass line, I think I can do this.’ That’s what drew me in–I found the simplicity of certain things to be quite compelling.”

This is not to say Black Mountain is musically illiterate, but rather conscious of making great songs without getting overcomplicated. In the context of In The Future, this is an apt description for its rhythmic, guitar-driven, slowly meandering arrangements reminiscent of Volkswagen vans, shag carpeting and other psychedelic artifacts. There are no fast changes, and plenty of openly drifting moments to mellow out to. Schmidt characterizes the sound of In the Future by virtue of the recording process.

“We wanted to make music that sounded like an album in the very traditional sense of a record album,” says Schmidt. “We were in the studio for two weeks, a pretty concentrated period of time, and pretty much camped out there. You get these moments of cabin hysteria that occur at four in the morning after being in the studio for three days. It was like an album-making boot camp.”

With the manic recording sessions behind them for the time being, Black Mountain are geared up to transition from album-making boot camp to touring boot camp. The band is planning to spend most of 2008 on a tour bus to promote In The Future and is looking forward to the day they may not need a day job in between tours.

Black Mountain plays the Warehouse Tue., Apr. 1.

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