Black Mountain Aren’t Hippies Anymore

West Coast Band Go for a Colder, Harder Sound

Black Mountain offer audiences a fresh kind of rock music.

Black Mountain is giving Canadians reasons to get excited about our music scene.

Black Mountain is giving Canadians reasons to get excited about our music scene.

Starting off as that cool and trippy up-and-coming band from the West Coast, they are now catapulting to new heights with global success.

To hell with mundane rock music like Nickelback or whatever other crap rock music the majority of Canadians are into, these guys actually know how to rock. They don’t only know how to rock; they know how to rock with soul.

The group just started a cross- country tour with Texan desert- rockers The Black Angels in support of their newest release Wilderness Heart, which came out last month.

“[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 chose a Hammond organ over a Korg, and this throwback style earned Black Mountain some unexpected labels.

“[With] the last couple [of] 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 the record was made at Sunset Sound in California, the birthplace of records by Led Zeppelin and The Doors. The addition of producers on this album opened up new possibilities for the group.

“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 flat- wound [strings] 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 every- one 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, every- one’s happy, and that’s what I look forward to every night.” Black Mountain play Nov. 1 at La Tulipe (4530 Papineau Ave.) with The Black Angels. Doors open at 8:30 p.m., and prices
range from $18-$20.

This article originally appeared in Volume 31, Issue 11, published October 26, 2010.