Calling a band’s music ‘stoner rock’ always sounded like an insult to me, until I heard Black Mountain.
The Vancouver five-piece takes the glory of the hard rock riff and psych synth chord to a whole new level of high. The band dropped their fourth album, IV, earlier this year, and now they’re making their way to Australia this October. We got on the horn with Black Mountain’s keyboard wizard, Jeremy Schmidt, to talk about their new music and upcoming visit, but ended up talking about zebra print slippers instead. Get comfy.
So you’re coming to Australia again. What did you think of it last time?
Yeah! We’ve been twice, and both times were great. That’s why we’re coming back!
Did you eat any meat pies? Sausage rolls?
I reckon I probably had a little bit, I’m sure I tried a kangaroo burger. Some of the members of our band are vegetarians so they wouldn’t have gone there. I also remember there was a shark attack thing going on in Sydney a couple of years ago when we were there, and it was on the news about surfers being bitten by tiger sharks or bull sharks or something?
Yeah, that happens all the time.
Yeah, we stayed out of the water.
So, today is ‘I love my feet day.’ How do you feel about your feet?
Right now they are covered up by my zebra print slippers, which I’m quite pleased with. I found them recently in a thrift store.
You went slippers in a thrift store?
Well no they’re actually like those Tom’s kind of shoes that slip on, you know? But I like them looking down at them. They look like they’re made out of zebra hide.
Oh, that’s acceptable. If you could create a national holiday to celebrate anything, what would it be?
Hmm… I’d probably just want to celebrate doing a whole lot of nothing on the couch or something, but I kind of end up doing that without there being a designated holiday for it. Maybe sleeping? I like sleeping too.
I recently had to buy a record for someone I didn’t know very well. What is your go-to record as a gift?
I don’t know! How ’bout Sad Wings of Destiny by Judas Priest? I just bought that for myself, that’s why I thought of it.
Have you ever given a Black Mountain record to someone as a present?
I have given CD’s to my parents. I’m sure I’ve given a record to someone, maybe when I didn’t have time to get something else. But it has to be pretty close timing to when the record actually came out, otherwise it would be a bit like, “Oh, well I just had these laying around in the closet, so I decided to give you one.”
I think Don’t Run Our Hearts Around has been on every single playlist I have made in the last ten years. What song from the new record do you think will be another classic for years to come?
Ah, it’s hard to say. Who knows what will stand the test of time? I think the first and last songs on the new record are kind of totems that will probably soldier on through the ages. If people remember our band I think they’ll remember those songs – Mothers of the Sun and Space to Bakersfield.
What’s the story behind Mothers of the Sun?
Mothers of the Sun was an old song that we recorded once upon a time but we didn’t really like the way we did it. It was quite a different arrangement. It sort of got abandoned, but I knew we all liked the riff quite a bit. So years later I decided I would try to rewrite an arrangement for the front end of the song where the riff isn’t there, but it sort of could be there, but we hold off and go through the verses of the song before we get to it. I thought of some chords that would sound good underneath the vocals, so it kind of got a rewrite in a way and I presented the demos to the band. And then of course we all conferred on how to complete the rest of it, so it ended up being this epic tune that worked out well after taking a break from it.
Does that happen often, revisiting an old track years later?
Yeah, that’s what happened with that song. I just kind of dug it up myself and was like, “We can’t let this terrific riff go to waste.”
So you didn’t tell anyone else in the band you were working on it?
No, I didn’t! I actually played a show with my solo project which is called Sinoia Caves and I knew all my band mates were gonna be in town and come to the show, so I decided I would perform it as I had arranged it—sort of an ambient version of the song—and that was the way of putting the seed in people’s minds, and I guess people thought it was kind of interesting.
Did you get a standing ovation?
Haha, no, it was more like “Ah, did you recognise the first thing I played, guys?” But it wasn’t just me, I just got the ball rolling and we all made it into what it is now.
AUS TOUR DATES:
Sun Oct 2
Mon Oct 3
with special guests The Laurels & Medicine Voice
Wed Oct 5
with special guests Miles Brown & Medicine Voice
Fri Oct 7
with special guest Dreamtime
Sat Oct 8
with special guest Porn Crumpets