SL: Hi there Mike, it’s a pleasure to be hosting you on TSL. Let’s talk about your project Mountains Crave.
M: Hi! Mountains Crave is an atmospheric black metal band from West Yorkshire, UK. We are made up of musicians with an aim to make epic, depressive music that is heartfelt. Essentially we have one foot entrenched in classic, traditional black metal, and the other in the more progressively natured style of contemporary black metal. We have just released our first self-titled EP through No Fun Intended , and we are already preparing to put together our first full-length record next year.
SL: Preparing the debut LP already? That’s great! Can you give us any anticipation on it?
In your words, your music is both “depressive” and “heartfelt”. What are your songs dealing with, thematically?
Also, you cited both “traditional” and “contemporary” black metal soundscapes. In your opinion, what are the main influences on Mountain Crave’s sound?
M: At this point I’ll still have to be quite vague about the new material, however our main goal is to expand on the style we feel we have achieved with our first EP, both conceptually and musically. This will no doubt result in longer songs and some interesting instrumentation!
Our EP is mainly concerned with loss and madness. Without speaking for our vocalist and lyricist Danny, he often attributes an epic, grand poem style that tells a mythical narrative whilst isolating themes of sadness and desperation. These are themes that a lot of depressive black metal deals with, and that we are pretty fond of. Taking one example, the song “City of the Immortals” is based on a short story by Jorge Luis Borges which looks at the concept of immortality. The protagonist sets out to find a fabled city only to find madness –
“Inverted staircases leer vexatious in the murk
Standing after Homer had forgotten his famed work
Ancient cenotaph to life’s mocking futility
Nothing left but reflection throughout eternity”
These are universal themes that hold relevancy in contemporary life.
Musically, and not to be terribly clichéd, we don’t aim to take direct inspiration from any particular band. Saying that, we all share a great love for bands like Woods of Desolation, The Great Old Ones, Lifelover, Botanist, Wolves in the Throne Room and Gris as well as the intensity of earlier exponents like Darkthrone. There seems to be an inherent open-mindedness to much of the genre’s modern exponents. For example, the way in which black metal has crossed over with shoe-gaze/post-rock sounds in exciting ways. Undoubtedly this open-mindedness is a great inspiration for the band.
SL: Nice, hope you reach your musical goals!
Interesting to see how you refer back at literature for your lyrical content. Any other authors you feel influenced by?
Not wanting to fall into clichés is a really admirable thing for any musician, as well as keeping open-mindedness and cohesion in the band.
So again speaking of influences, do you guys share the same let’s say “blackened” background, or maybe some of you are most fond of other styles of music and you later found a common view?
And speaking of you personally, Mike, apart from your work in the band, what are your favorite artists?
Do you maybe have some favorite albums, both recent and not, that you’d like to suggest to our music-eager readers?
M: Danny, again without speaking for him, has often mentioned Borges’ Labyrinths, and the works of Aldous Huxley – The Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell. Personally, I’m a huge fan of Cormac McCarthy. His bleak, desolate landscapes are definitely an influence on my songwriting.
Other than myself, who has pretty much stayed around black metal (I also play in A Forest of Stars), everyone else in the band has had quite a diverse background within metal. Danny is also in the death metal band Masochist, Tom (bassist) and Rich (drummer) play in the powerviolence trio Gets Worse and Rich is also the vocalist in The Afternoon Gentlemen. I think this variation has helped to a give a wider outlook for our writing in this band. Yet we all seemed to immediately recognize our mutual enjoyment of atmospheric black metal from the get go, which I guess has been our common goal in the direction of this band.
At the moment, the black metal scene in the UK is incredibly healthy with bands like Wodensthrone, Winterfylleth and Fen to name only a couple, personally it’s a massive inspiration to be surrounded by great music.
As for my listenings, there have been some brilliant black metal albums released this year, the latest The Great Old Ones album, Tekeli-Li, is stunning. Lovecraftian-inspired epic black metal with huge, textured riffs. Outside of black metal I’ve been listening to a lot of Chelsea Wolfe lately, her vocals are utterly haunting. Similarly for the singer/songwriter Anna Von Hausswolff, who actually gave us the inspiration for our band name, with her song “Mountains Crave”. Her music is quite stripped down but retains this majestic, epic quality that we really like.
SL: Definitely interesting. Being inspired by other -and diverse- works of art is a plus in the process of crafting one’s own art in my opinion.
Well you guys are really proactive people! Haha, good to see you’re involved in various projects. The variation in your collective mindset will surely help bringing something new to the table.
Thanks for your insight about the local scene! It is always encouraging to hear any positive news about an underground scene, we’ll keep eyes peeled for upcoming acts.
Let’s now have a talk on your views of the music business’ (and industry) foregoings. How do you see your local music scene performing? And looking at the bigger picture, how do you think the market will change in the future given that piracy is still going quite strong on one hand, and many hobbyist-to-pro emergent artists are coming up on the other, with a great number of them offering their works for free? Taking also into account the latest web-based services such as web-crowdfunding, platforms like bandcamp and so on…
M: It’s hard to judge how the industry transition will pan out beyond mere speculation. The reality of my situation is one in which I have to fund much of my musical output myself, and I am fine with that, as long as I feel the means with which I work can represent what I am trying to achieve. On the positive side, equipment is affordable; professional technology is now in the hands of the hobbyist/professional musician alike to an extent. Also, the digital age has really opened up the reach of niche music and the relationship with its intended audience (BM seems to attract people who will really delve to find new music).
The music scene here in Leeds is certainly alive and well. There was a recent debate on the health of the music scene in the area due to the closure of a pretty popular venue, but as usual, a number of other venues emerged to bear that weight. As long as interesting music is made, there will always be a place for people to enjoy it. The local promoters within the extreme metal scene here are some of the most hard-working people I have met. Our EP has been released through No Fun Intended, run by our friend Ben Corkhill, and he has been hugely supportive since the early beginnings of this band.
SL: It’s indeed hard to forecast anything since anything may happen out there, still I wanted to hear about your personal perspective. I agree, the digital age has made it really easy for anyone to record and hand out a semi-professional sounding album at home, and this massive increase in “offer” output is also acting as a double-edged weapon, since standing out from the crowd is becoming harder than ever for a band, and there are basically no more “quality barriers” since anyone manages to put their hands on the means to record himself nowadays without any sort of “screening” as the music industry itself would have provided before.
It’s really a revolutionary age. But as you were suggesting, let’s think about the simplest point in all of that: we music lovers are getting way more music to enjoy! 🙂 I think BandCamp literally changed my life, personally speaking.
It’s good to hear your scene is going well, the recent crisis is sadly reaping most of the little venues away. And in my opinion, we also live in a society that is being more and more disinterested in art, so it is really precious to sustain underground music in any possible way, to be supportive people and not to take anything for granted.
Our chat is coming to an end. We thank you Mike and all of you in Mountains Crave for your helpfulness, and we hope to be hosting you again here on our little blog. Best of luck for your next releases! Could you remind our readers where to find info about Mountains Crave?