Ende Oktober war es endlich wieder soweit. Die Kanadier Black Mountain beglückten Europa mit ihrer Version der 70ger. Mit im Gepäck, dass neue Album „Wilderness Heart“. An einem verregneten kalten September Dienstag, konnte ich mich mit Black Mountain Bassisten Matt Camirand im kleinen, aber umso sympathischeren, münchner Club 59:1 treffen und ihn über das neue Album und die Idee hinter der Band ausfragen.
Q: How would you describe Black Mountain to someone who had never heard of the band before?
Yeah, I think it’s nice, I think we are unique and we add a suddlety to a heavy kind of music which usually kind of beats you over the head and is really macho and manly at times. But I think our band is separated from that and you know we got Amber, she adds that beauty to the lightness to the band. She got a very classic sounding woman’s voice.
Q: I think you follow a special lyrical theme, like social matters, times of war, oppression like in “Tyrants” or “Faulty Times”. Do you have some kind of mission or a goal to achieve?
Well Steve writes all the lyrics, so it’s hard for me to comment on. I know he said in the past that he just starts writing the song and the song and the lyrics come at the same time. The sound or tone of the music will invoke the lyrics and kind of kickstart the words coming out. I know he likes themes that touches him. Something like you mentioned, it’s either apocalyptic or like something lover related. It’s hard for me to comment on, because I don’t write the lyrics.
Q: But does the whole band stand behind the lyrics or is it Steve’s personal thing?
Oh yeah, I dig on the lyrics and on the feelings they invoke but we don’t really talk about it when we’re writing. I only hear Steve talk about it when people ask him. It’s something that we’re not talk about very well, because it’s some kind of personal thing, but it’s also vague enough that the listener can take what he wants from it you know. So it’s the more you talk about it, the less meaning it has. It’s more about what you feel with all the broad themes and I really think it’s good that we don’t talk about it, then it’s interesting when people come up and say “oh I like this song because its words make feel this”. It’s kinda cool and everybody is different, so whatever you take away from it is yours. It’s the same with the artwork,t he coming up artwork. A journalist described it to me in a way I never had thought about it.
Q: Are you involved in the creation of the artwork?
We talked about it. Like my involvement ended when we were in the studio recording an we started talking about the artwork and what we wanted. So we discussed briefly, that up till the new record people put this image on Black Mountain of being some kind of hippie band from Vancouver, that we were some kinf of collective or something. So that’s fine, we don’t disagree with that kind of stuff. We like hippie bands and all the things that come along with that culture, but it’s not what we are about, you know. We wanted this records be the opposite, colder and harder, like if the other two records where green and brown, this records would be blue and grey. We asked Jeremy to take this idea and make the artwork out of it. So he just came back so quickly with his idea of the shark and the sterile kind of office building in an industrial area, and it’s perfect. The shark which is reflected with the nature in the windows of the office building, which itself is kind of harsh. I like it a lot. And I remember someone mentioned to me, that the windows looked some like a shark cage, when you are looking at a shark through the cage. Yeah, I never thought about it that way So you see, we pick up on this stuff too.
Q: Another thing. If you don’t like to limit the band and yourselves to this hippie genre, why did you choose this kind of sound, which is though influenced by blues, folk and with a modern touch, clearly a 70s sound?
Well it’s not like we started the band, sat down and decided to sound like the 70s as to be something that we would focus in on, right? We didn’t do that. For the most part I think that sound comes from all of us in the band being kinda amateur recording engineers, like home recording fanatics. And we all decided that our favorite guitar sound, drum sound, instrument sound in general were much better in the 60s and 70s than they are today. If you put a Led Zeppelin record up against a Nickelback record, regardless of the songwriting and crafting or lyrics and you just listen to the sound of the instruments, Led Zeppelin’s record sound so fucking good and Nickelback sounds so shitty. You know, I just believe that. The guitars sound terrible, the drums sound terrible… The 80s as well, I’m not a big fan of the production quality of drums, guitars, bass and stuff. It’s not timeless sounding. The 80s don’t sound good to me in the 90s and the 2000s, but the 70s always sounded good to me and even now they don’t sound dated or old. They are always timeless and classic, they never gonna be like cheesy or embarrassing.
Q: Well comparing Led Zeppelin and Nickelback is always ending in some kind of sacrilegious disaster. Back to the band. I read some articles about you and they were talking about a Black Mountain Army and like you were living in some kind of collective up in Vancouver. How can we picture that or is it nothing more than a roumor?
Well that was kind of a joke that got out of hand. In the beginning we always tried to involve some friends. If we need photographs, we go out and ask a friend, who’s a photographer. If we need a video, we ask a friend who makes videos and if we need a band to come on tour and open for us, we like to take a band that’s friends with us. So it became a joke that there was a Black Mountain Army because we got a lot friends helping us out and somehow it turned into this thing that journalists would talk about, as if we all lived in one house and dumpster dived food together, and it’s ridiculous and totally not true but just grown out of proportion. Well it was nothing but a joke, really.
Q: That’s what I wanted to hear, though I always thought it was some kind of fanclub like the Kiss Army.
Yeah, that actually would be cool.
Q: Again a question about your new album. On this one I think it was the first time you worked with a producer. Why that choice after two great albums without any outside help?
On the first record, we recorded it and mixed it ourselves. And on the second we recorded it ourselves and then we hired John Congleton, that was kind of a leap of faith for us, it was difficult to give it to someone else to mix. But it turned out so great, that I said, the next step for us is a producer. We didn’t want to go back to the other records, a step forward you know. I always wanted to work with a producer and I know that Steve wanted this to, and now we could afford it. So Dave Sardy in New York, he used to do some Hard Rock and Metal Bands in the early 90s, that I really like when I was growing up and he likes the band and it was like, “Yeah I wanna work with you for sure”. It just seemed it was the natural way to go for us.
Q: So please try to describe the new album and what’s different to the prior releases?
It’s wider, it has more sonic depth when I listen to it on headphones, it’s more enveloping and all surrounding. I don’t know, it’s just a more immense sound and the tone of the instruments is very precise. We used a lot of really really really nice and old instruments, which were in perfect shape. Gorgeous instruments like 1950s basses that were beautiful and I just hear that. I Hear the perfect sound, like the ultimate bass sound that I always wanted. It’s a bigger, wider sonic smash in the face!
Q: Any last words?
Yeah, it’s great actually that Germany comes finally out of a hiding for us with this tour. We always had a small german crowd in Berlin, but now every single show on this tour was fantastic, huge, amazing, so yeah, thank you!