I’ve been a fan of Black Mountain for very long time, so when they announced the long awaited follow up to 2010’s ‘Wilderness Heart’, I think it’s safe to say I was well excited. Their fourth album is fittingly named ‘IV’, and it’s a different Black Mountain than we’ve heard from the previous records, more electronic and experimental, while still staying true to their original sound. While touring the UK earlier this month, keyboard player Jeremy was kind enough to sit down with me for a chat before playing an intimate show at London’s Rough Trade East.
It’s been six years since you last released an album, what have you been doing for all those years?
We’ve all been recording other records with other bands that we play in. I did a record myself, that was a soundtrack to a movie called ‘Beyond The Black Rainbow’, Lightning Dust did a record, Pink Mountaintops did a record, and Obliterations did a record. We’ve all kept busy with other projects, as we just felt like we needed a break from touring. It also takes us a little longer to mobilize to get together cause we dont all live in the same city anymore.
With you living in different cities, how’s the process of writing and creating an album? Is it difficult to get all the pieces of the puzzle together?
Steve will send us demos and stuff, and then he’ll come up to Vancouver when needed. We all had some time after finishing our separate respective projects, which led to us deciding to get together, pucker down and work on some stuff, which eventually led to us making this album.
Jeremy Schmidt drawn by singer Amber Webber during the interview.
Last year you celebrated Black Mountain’s ten year anniversary, was there any ever doubt if you would get back together after having had such a long break as you did?
I dont think there was much doubt that we’d eventually recharge the batteries and get at it again, but we hadn’t planned when, how or where we’d get around to working again, we just naturally decided that it was time to start working on something new. It was an organic process – I hate using that word, but that’s what it was.
Your newest album IV is quite different in sound from a lot of your previous stuff, was that a conscious decision or is that just a result of time, the years passing and you all having done different things in between?
I think that’s just the erosion of time and aging. There will always be new things we’re interested in, but we’re at that point where there’s always that one thing that we gravitate towards and will always end up coming back to. It’s a pretty natural process with us, we dont deliberate too much over anything, we’ll only do something if it’s satisfying to us and if we like it, but the process and how we get there is fairly non deliberated over. We just start working, throw all the ingredients in, stir it up and a Black Mountain album comes out at the end. Hopefully a good one.
How has it been so far being back out on the road with a new album and a bunch of new material?
It’s good! We haven’t done it in a while, so we kind of had to get our tour arms and legs back into shape, but that just takes a couple of weeks and then you’re sort of back on track, and just pick up where you left of, it’s not that hard for us to fall back into what we were doing, it’s sort of our life. We like it, although there’s always moments of existential angst sitting in a van for hours at the time, not quite knowing where you’re going, but overall it’s a force of good in our lives, and we really appreciate that, we like doing it. Especially having taken such a long break and have just done a record, as it’s all of a sudden the complete opposite of that whole cabin fever process where you’ve been finding yourself in one space where everything is under the microscope. Then all of a sudden you get to go out into the world and it’s the macro version of what you’ve been doing. It’s something you’re ready to do having spent all this time not interacting with the outside world.
IV’s only been out for a short period of time, but do you have any material or any plans about a follow up album at this point?
We have leftover material from this record, we always end up with stuff that at the time doesn’t make the cut, and we’ll let in marinade in a suitcase for a while to see what it tastes like when we come back to it a few years later. We did that with this record, there are some old songs on there that we had lying around and sort of re-visited. Even with the process of making this record we have stuff leftover that we’ll come back to, or not come back to depending on the merit of it. There’s always some sort of leftover material to work with, which is good, because when you take time off from hearing something you have the luxury of distance and hindsight, which might let you see what the value of what it actually might be. Other times you’ll go back to it and you’ll just be like ‘Ugh, what were we thinking?!’.
Hopefully it wont be another six years before your next record then?
I like to think that it wont be, but as I said we dont really plan for this stuff or have a Black Mountain calendar – we’ll take as much time as we need to make a record. I’d be surprised if it took another six years, but you never know.
Photography by Simon Shoulders.