Black Mountain is giving Canadians reasons to get excited about our music scene. They don’t only know how to rock; they know how to rock with soul.
“[Our] sound is pretty varied compared to a lot of bands out there,” said bassist Matt Camirand. “We all listen to such different stuff but everyone in the band can roll with that. If [keyboardist] Jeremy [Schmidt] starts cranking out some weird-ass keyboard noise we can definitely get with that and bring our own kind of feelings to it.”
Mixing rock, blues and a little psychedelia, Black Mountain rocks hard while creating a unique blend of old and new sounds. The band chooses a Hammond organ over a Korg synthesizer, and this throwback style earned Black Mountain some unexpected labels.
“[With] the last couple records we earned tags in the media of being hippies and being some kind of collective, which is pretty far from reality,” said Camirand. “With this record we wanted to do something a little colder, a little harder feeling.”
Part of their latest record Wilderness Heart was made at Sunset Sound in California, the birthplace of records by Led Zeppelin and The Doors. The addition of a couple famous producers lead the band to make some different choices, too.
“I played a few different kinds of basses on the record that I never thought I would pick up in my life,” said Camirand. “One of those hollow-body violin Paul McCartney kind of basses, I always thought they were kind of ridiculous looking but Dave [Sardy] told me that he gets all the heavy bands to play the bass with flatwounds on it. It’s the most monstrous thing you’ve ever heard. I never would have thought of it.”
Sardy is a Grammy award-winning producer who has worked with the likes of Jay-Z, The Rolling Stones, Marilyn Manson and Rage Against the Machine.
The band also gives back to causes they believe in. When at home, the Vancouver group is witness to the drug-addled poverty of the infamous Downtown Eastside. In 2008, the group played a free concert in support of Insite, Canada’s only safe injection site.
“I used to work [for Insite], and I still occasionally do when I’m home,” said Camirand. “[The concert] was basically something we wanted to do since the band began. We talked to the directors of the Portland Hotel Society that run Insite about doing some kind of awareness-raising show […] They got the permit to block the street off and asked us to play. I think there were more than 3,000 people there, it was awesome.”
For Camirand it’s that reciprocal live energy that makes the performance.
“You can tell the difference in a show when you’ve roped everyone in completely, they’re not talking or anything, just in the zone that you’re in. When the audience and you are both there, it’s just a better show,” he said. “When everything aligns, everyone’s happy, and that’s what I look forward to every night.”