Saturday, October 25, 2014

Mac Blackout Band - Mac Black Out (2014) review


Mac Blackout Band "Mac Black Out" (Pelican Pow Wow Records, 2014)

Chicago maestro Mac Blackout’s newest band, simply titled the Mac Blackout Band has just unleashed their debut full-length on the world in the form a self-titled LP for Pelican Pow Wow Records.  The 12” is limited to 300 hand numbered copies adorned with stunning black and white psychedelic cover art by Mr. Blackout himself.  It perfectly sets the frantic, glammish, garagey, psychedelic pace for the 12” before you even drop the needle on the wax.  Starting with “Psychic Attack”, the opening track lives up to its name in so many more ways than one, it’s literally just an all out blistering attack on the senses.  Frenzied guitar leads burst and explode out of the din of noise delivering sludge hammer attacks of dissonant and disorienting sonic delightfulness!  The mind altering lead lines and solos really show off the melodic garage rock and punk leanings which belay the glam and synth that serve as the building block for the sound on the second track, “Shadows”.  With lyrics about a man loosing his mind and physical, literal demons, Blackout truly manages to craft a song that sounds unhinged itself, somehow unsettled and uneasy in almost every sense.  Just wait, you’ll be watching the shapes out of the corners of your eyes metamorphasize in your peripheral vision while you stomp your feet and bang your head subconsciously the entire time!  Again, as the name would again imply, “Venus” is a trip into the stratosphere with a healthy smattering of 80’s synth madness and psychedelia to make the scenery that much more intense and luscious.  It also happens to be the first song on the album fronted by the female vocals of Alison McKenzie.  “Venus” is a melancholy song that slowly builds until it reaches a deafening crescendo of a roar, howling vocals wisped away like screams in the eye of a hurricane of sound.  If “Venus” makes one thing very clear it’s this, we’re not in Kansas anymore.  From this point it feels like anything could happen, madness and chaos perfectly blending together with a mysterious master plan as “Venus” ends before delivering a healthy dose of snarling guitar and dual vocals with “I’m In Love With You”.  How the Mac Blackout Band so perfectly summons the feel and vogue of the 80’s glam culture with out evoking any of the crippling hindrances or trappings that can come with the genre, is beyond me.  “Heartbreaker” drives that point home, though, refusing to let the listener forget that they’re listening to a band which includes a man who spent years in a face-melting punk band that whole heartedly lived up to their names, The Functional Blackouts, while also allowing you to hear everything that he’s managed to pick up in the last twelve plus years as a musician along the way.  He effectively blurs the lines of so many genres it’s hard to get into really here, but the Mac Blackout Band has certainly not lost the intensity of The Functional Blackouts, nor has it betrayed the altogether different sounds of Mickey or even Mac Blackouts’ own prolific solo output.  “Heartbreaker” fades into oblivion after a fit of spasmodic distorted guitar solos which bleed into “Black Knight”, a song which was obviously chosen as a single from the album for a reason.  Opening the second side of the album with ease, “Black Knight” effectively ensures that anyone who’s made it thus far is going to be nothing but entranced by what’s to follow…  The farther into the middle of the album you head, the tighter the writing gets, the more precise the guitars, the more pointed the distortion and aggression.  It’s a perfectly planned and executed attack on the senses, and one that could have only been created by such a well versed creator as Mac Blackout.  Lurching into “Life Is Hard” the aggression and heaviness is still there, but the tempo’s taken a slight step back to really showcase the beauty of McKenzie’s key work.  While the guitar barks and snaps, fueled by an endless supply of grit and distortion, the keys chime in, delivering a haunting beautiful melody that underlies the brutality of the music it’s surrounded by.  “Life Is Hard” is like a disfigured china doll, both haunting and arresting, and it may be my favorite track on the album, managing to spotlight nearly every aspect of the Mac Blackout Band simultaneously without becoming muddied or confusing in the slightest.  The next track, “Soul Shattered” is the tale of a man who’s lost everything, the lyrics and music again reinforcing the haunting, almost spectral aesthetic of the album, giving it a ghostly aura that burns bright with the otherworldly life-force of the Mac Blackout Band’s music.  The keyboards on “Soul Shattered” almost sound like a mechanical choir at times, crying out in disenfranchised horror, “nothing really matters, all your dreams are shattered, life was a test and you failed at success, so nothing really matters” cries Blackout, peppering the bleak landscape of keys and guitar with scorching vocals.  “Devil’s Night” again brings to the forefront Blackout’s tendencies toward punk, speed and aggression, pillaging the glam rock based ideas presented as a basis, before warping them with a twisted psychedelic genome, an additive that makes sure you never stop looking over your shoulder while you listen to the album!  The immediate clash of guitar and keys on the final track, “Madman’s Eye” is nothing short of epic sounding.  “Human rot and waste” is as good a way as any as summing up the feel of “Madman’s Eye”, it just sounds, well evil or something!  It’s like two gods, locked in mortal combat on the cliffs high above the clouds, kicking the shit out of each other like drunken Vikings in a mead hall!  The twisted guitar break that leads up to the abrupt ending of the album is as good as any other on the album, blistering woofers and exploding tweeters.  And as the last notes echo and fade from the speakers you’re instantly left wanting more...  With Mac Blackout’s pretty steady output of material, I doubt we’ll be waiting long, but don’t sleep on this album because it’s going to sell out and then you’re going to be left kicking yourself in the ass, and neither of us wants that, now do we?

Review made by Roman Rathert/2014
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2014

Jane Weaver - The Silver Globe (2014) review


Jane Weaver "The Silver Globe" (Bird/Finders Keepers, 2014)

Possibly the most impressive thing about Weaver’s latest creation is the fact that each of the 10 tracks has its own approach, unique from the others, yet there’s a consistent overtone to all. Credit her with strength of vision for that. The overall feel of the set is one of dreamy prog but it’s too diverse to be limited to that description. “Argent,” on which Weaver is joined by space rockers Cybotron, is seven-plus minutes of chugging astral sounds that could be mistaken for Stereolab circa Mars Audiac Quintet. “Mission Desire” is driven by a propulsive disco beat and is something one could imagine zoned-out stoners dancing to dreamily in some exotic locale. My personal favorite selection, the David Holmes co-produced “Arrows,” is a shape-shifting tripmaker that brings to mind the mid-90s heyday of the kranky label. Some of the tracks are more effective than others but there’s nothing you’d call filler. All of the variegated segments work together to weave a bewitching whole. You’re kept guessing from one selection to the next and when it’s all over you look forward to the next spin. Linda Perhacs and Melody’s Echo Chamber are two acts that keep coming to my mind as I listen through.  Cosmic and experimental, challenging yet engaging, The Silver Globe sounds like the place where Sci-Fi and psychedelia meet. This one has a firm place on my top new albums of the year list.

Review made by Brian Greene/2014
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2014

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Blank Tapes interview with Matt Adams


Matt Adams formed The Blank Tapes in 2003. This groovy west coast outfit performs what they call "beach party" music. I first came in contact with the band while watching 'jammin in the van series'. Band became more wide known, when releasing Vacation album about a year ago, but most of the people don't know, they have been active for over ten years now releasing ten albums. We'll discuss about them in following interview with Matt Adams, who is founder and guru of the band. They will be doing an European tour in the following month to promote their brand new album HWY. 9.

How did you get signed up for Antenna Farm Records and what's the story behind making Vacation album? Your approach to songwriting is very interesting, telling stories about touring and stuff like that, which ended up in this sunny Californian album, that you just can't have enough.

I met the folks from Antenna Farm Records when I was living in Oakland a few years ago where they're based. I think my friend TV Mike introduced my music to them and I'd see them at my shows here and there.  We had been talking about releasing an album for a couple years, then when Vacation was recorded, it seemed like that'd be a good fit for what they were doing.  As for the story behind Vacation, I wrote the song and came up with the concept up for the album around my first tour in Brazil a few years ago.  I had a few other songs that I had sitting around and a few new ones that seemed to fit the theme.  I'm fascinated with the craft of songwriting and I'm always trying to come up with interesting chord changes and catchy melodies.  Lately, a lot of my lyrics have been about day to day personal small stuff.  The trick is to make whatever your singing about bigger than the subject matter and universal in emotional depth.  I love when a song "speaks" to the listener and seems personal to them.  Sometimes I have a hard time finding a real point to a song so I do the ol' John Lennon and Beck trick where you just sing words that sound good together. The trippier the better.

Where was the album recorded and what are some influences for making this particular album?

Around 2010 or so, I moved out of my Oakland house and into the studio (New, Improved Recording in Oakland) for a few days and recorded most of the album with my buddy Will Halsey on drums and a few other friends overdubbing on it over the next few months.  The first song on the album "Uh-Oh" was the only one partially recorded somewhere else.  That being in LA at the Committee to Keep Music Evil HQ where they record most of the Brian Jonestown Massacre stuff.  As for my influences on the album, a few songs are inspired by Brazil although the song "Brazilia" had been written years before I ever dreamed of going to Brazil and was actually partially written in Mexico. 

What was the line-up on Vacation LP? I heard you changed some members lately. Would you like to tell us how did the line-up change during the last ten years you've been together?

The line-up has been changing since I came up with the band name back in 2003. I've gone through about 30 members not to mention all the one-offs.  For Vacation, it was mostly me and Will, who's been drumming with me on and off for about 7 years.  DA from Southern California (who didn't play on the album) has been playing bass with me on and off for a little longer.  Joel Williams who played drums on "Uh-Oh" has been in the band on and off for about 10 years, which might be the record for longest band member.  DA & Joel are the ones touring Europe with me this time, but this will be there first time doing so with me.  My band changes all the time depending on where I'm living, where the show is, and who's available to tour.  It's hard keeping a band together, especially since I play and tour as much as I do and most of my band members have jobs.

Who made the Vacation cover artwork? It captures your sound perfectly.

Thanks! I drew the album artwork for Vacation and all of the album covers and posters associated with my band which can be viewed on my website (www.theblanktapes.com).  Before I became obsessed with music, I was obsessed with drawing and even had a job working for a comic artist for a few years.  I still have big ideas for comics and cartoons but don't really have the time and focus for that now, maybe when I'm too old to rock I'll pick up the pencil again full time.

You have a brand new album out on Vow Records, titled HWY 9. Where was this recorded and what can you tell our readers about it? Is it similar to your previous or did you change your sound?

Hwy. 9 (another album cover I drew), is basically an 80-minute collection of old, mostly short songs that didn't fit any other albums I've been releasing.  Every album I've released except for VACATION, the two 7" singles and some of the Holy Roller EP was recorded by me in various garages, bedrooms, sheds, and basements through out Southern California and the Bar Area.  Some of the songs are the soundtrack to cartoon characters I have and some of them are just little random song idea ditties.  A few were made for a video game that never came out and some others are outtakes from previous albums. This album is like nothing I've ever released although you can hear familiar sounds and songwriting styles from my other albums.  I write such varied music that lately I've been trying to lump similar sounding songs together to make my albums seem more conceptual and cohesive. My first few CD's were like long mix tapes from different bands which was cool but a little random and overwhelming.  I'm always changing my sound and it usually takes a few years for the albums to reflect that to the public.  When I play live, I tend to play what I'm currently into which is psychedelic pop rock with long crazy guitar solos. That being said, I won't be playing any songs off of Hwy. 9 at our shows.


You're a big fan of analog recording. Can you tell us about the analog process of recording music?

I recorded most of my early albums on an old 8 track cassette tape recorder.  Before I worked with that I'd record on a computer program with millions of options of tracks and endless editing possibilities.  The 8 track allowed me to focus and hone my songwriting and production skills down to the necessities. The past few years, I've been recording on 16 and 24 track machines as well as recording digitally which is a nice change of pace from the sometimes limiting 8 tracks.  Although, in the end, it doesn't really matter to me anymore as long as it sounds cool. Although I find if I'm recording myself, I get the best sounds when I record on tape. It also helps me record a better live take because I can't fix it or punch it in the computer later.

Some time ago you also released Holy Roller EP…

Holy Roller EP was simply a compilation of bonus tracks and B-Sides from the Vacation album. The record label asked me for as many extra tracks as possible to make the most out of the Vacation vinyl, CD, iTunes, & singles releases.  It was always available as a download if you purchased the vinyl of Vacation but now it's available on it's own.

Your Vacation album is the one, that gets most of the attention, but we shouldn't ignore your previous albums. First came Country Western Honky Tonk Saloon Blues, then two years later Landfair followed. Daydrem came out in 2007 and previous album to Vacation was Home Away From Home, which came out in 2010. Would you like to talk about this albums. Do you think your sound, musicianship and songwriting progressed?

Vacation gets the most attention because it was our first HI-FI release and we had a good team behind it; the label Antenna Farm Records, Riot Act Media PR, Danny Rose booking agency, and even Silverside Co. our licensing and publishing people.  Not to mention, for the first time in a while, I had a solid 3 piece line up for a couple years and we had been touring constantly to promote the album.  We did a 2nd tour in Brazil and Europe, Japan, and almost 6 cross country USA tours. As far as the previous albums go, the first one was an intentional acoustic album and every album since has become more and more electric, psychedelic, and a little darker.  I also recorded a few more albums that you forgot to mention.  The 20 minute The One EP (White Noise) & Invisible Colors (Curly Cassettes), the 40 minute Sun's Too Bright (Burger Records) & Sleepy EP (Dome of Doom), the recent 60 minute Slow Easy Death (Dome of Doom) and the older self released cover album Friends & Favorites, and two 7" singles (20-Sided & Volcom).  That's not to mention all the random songs I've contributed to various compilations.  I think the main things that's gotten better is my voice.  I didn't really start off a singer and it took me quite a while to find my voice.  I've also gotten better at engineering and performing with less tempo mess ups. 


We forgot to mention stuff like Slow Easy Death and a soundtrack you made. So it's really a lot going on with your band lately?

Slow Easy Death was initially supposed to be released after Daydreams in 2007 but I abandoned it for the rocking Home Away From Home.  Last year I dusted off the recordings, re-recorded some parts and added some new songs and finally released it.  A few songs off SED were specifically written for Korduroy TV's surf movie Compassing which featured 10 of my songs. That soundtrack is actually one of my most downloaded albums which is more of a collection than a proper album.  You can also check out the early Korduroy TV movie Stoked & Broke which features over a dozen of my songs.  There's also tons of short videos they made with my music.

Were you in any other bands before The Blank Tapes?  Do you have any side projects?

I've been the side man to many, many bands, before and during The Blank Tapes.  The 2 main ones I'll mention is Part the Clouds which was a 4 piece formed a little after I started The Blank Tapes consisting of members that eventually went on to play in my band including Joel who will be touring Europe with us this Fall.  I named a song of mine after that band.  Another band that still kind've exists today is a 2 piece band called Dirdy Birdy which started back in 2001 or something.  That's mostly my friend Alan Siegel's music which I produce and usually play all the instruments on.  When I was living in SF and Oakland I was playing in 5-10 bands at a time. Some of the main ones were fpodbpod, Magic Leaves, Indianna Hale, Michael Musika, honey.moon.tree. & Os Beaches. You can get a sample of the music scene I was involved in on the Universal Western Attractions compilation CD I released in 2008.   Some of the albums I've produced are on my Hi-Fi-Lo-Fi Recordings Bandcamp.  Check out: Dirdy Birdy's "Headful of Sunshine" "Imaginary Friend" "Sweet Potato EP" "Down the Road" "Bamboo Meditations",  Collin Ludlow-Mattson's 2 albums (the 2nd one is coming soon), Sleep Todd "Songs", Vera Gogh "Blue Pearl of Happiness", Indianna Hale's "She's a Revolution" as well as tons of singles & EP's by Obo Martin, Keegan Goodman, Quinn Deveux, Kath Bloom, Levi Strom, TransVan Santos, Veronica Bianqui, Pearl Charles, Matt McCluer and more.

Where can our readers purchase your albums? In what format are they available?

You can purchase my albums through my Bandcamp (theblanktapes.bandcamp.com) which you can find on my website (www.theblanktapes.com).  All albums are available digitally, and select ones are available on vinyl, CD, & cassette tape.  Some are selling out fast so hurry!  You can also download them on iTunes and stream them on Spotify.

Speaking of formats, what's your opinion about vinyl and cassette. Vinyl has a strong comeback and so do the cassettes lately. I think, this is really great news, because most of these releases are truly made with heart and it's like a labour of love for all of us, who appreciate this classic format for listening music. Digital has it's own advantages, but after all if you think to yourselves you don't have anything real. It's just somewhere in the clouds, but when you have a vinyl record or cassette or even a CD it really means something. What's your opinion about that?

I agree with you that tapes and records seem a little more real and tangible.  I've always loved the sound of the crackles, pops, and tape hiss while staring at the artwork and reading the liner notes over and over again.  It just isn't the same as staring at a computer or iPhone/iPod screen.  Everything is becoming more and more disposable so it's nice to have an item that you care about and that means something to you because you paid a little more than the digital version of the music.  Tapes never went away for me but I'm glad they're making a come back with music fans.  Also, it always seems more legit and real to me when I see my music on the grooves of a vinyl.

Do you have a vinyl collection?

I have about 150 or more records, currently in boxes in my parents garage until I get my record player set up again. I love records but I'm so nomadic it's too much of a hassle for me to transport them with me.  I can see the advantage to digital music when it comes time to move from house to house.  As much as I love my vinyls, tapes, and CD's, I've got way too many that I've been lugging with me for too long.  I care but I don't care at the same time.  I don't like the sound of mp3s but I still "feel" the music that's coming out of the speakers, even if it's coming out of a phone and sounds like shit.

You spoke about analogue recordings above. What kind of machine do you use to record?

My main machine is the 8 track cassette tape Tascam Portastudio 488MKII.  I have the smaller and larger version of this machine too but the 488MKII is the best. Lately I've been recording newer music on the slightly more pro 8 track Tascam 388 1/8" reel to reel tape recorder. I also have a cassette tape 4 track Tascam PortaOne a friend in Iowa gave me that I've been recording demos on.  I owned some HUGE tape machines at some point but they were a pain in the ass to work on and move, so I sold them.

Do you consider yourselves as a psychedelic band? In my opinion your band is a truly great mixture of beach psychedelia with desert vibe, which feels fantastic.

I consider myself psychedelic the same way people would consider the Beatles psychedelic.  I mostly write rock and pop songs with catchy hooks and melodies, but there are elements of psychedelia either in the guitar solos, the songwriting, or the effects I'm using.  My style is a mix of 60's psych/pop rock, surf, country, folk, and the occasional 70's synth with a very laid back California, beach vibe.  On the other hand, my Hwy. 9 is a combination of everything I've ever listened to, even classical and klezmer!


What would you say influenced you the most since you were young and what are some of your influences these days?

I've always been influenced by cartoons, comics, and illustrators. Artists like Dr. Seuss, Shel Silverstein, Bill Watterson, and all the Loony Toons and early Disney stuff.  As far as music goes, I started playing classical music on the piano then listened to what my older brothers were listening to. Mostly Guns 'n Roses, Nirvana, the Doors, Led Zeppelin, and stuff like that.  My friends dad listened to old country which I'm still really into.  Everything changed for me when I started listening to the Beatles when I was 13 or 14.  It was like drugs for me and still kind've is.  These days, I'm not the "band fan" I was when I was a teenager but I still love hearing "new" music, mostly obscure stuff from the 60's.  The last band I REALLY got into was Big Star.  Other than art and music,  my surroundings have always really influenced me, whether I'm at home somewhere in California or travelling the world.  A couple of my favorite places in the world are Big Sur & Joshua Tree in California.

How do you see the local scene?

The local music scene in LA is blowing up with psych/garage/surf bands.  It's amazing but like any music scenes revolving around a genre or an era, there's a lot of bands doing the same thing.  I don't really feel like I'm part of the LA scene to be honest.  I'm my own scene.   

Any bands you would like to recommend from your local scene?

I like the Mystic Braves (LA), Allah Las (LA), Mr. Elevator & the Brain Hotel (SF), Joel Jerome/Babies on Acid (LA), The Electric Magpie (SF), Sugar Candy Mountain (my drummer Will's band in Oakland), Sonny & the Sunsets (SF), The Range of Light Wilderness (Big Sur), Little Wings (Calif).  My side project Dirdy Birdy is fun but we rarely play shows. 

How about national and international?

Ummmm.  Floating Action out of Asheville, North Carolina is great. Graves/Au Dunes from Portland, OR too.  Ramiro from the Rotten Mangos in McAllen, TX.  Other bands are escaping my memory.  To be honest, I don't get impressed easily and have an awful memory.


I think we covered pretty much everything. Thanks for stopping by.

Thank you! One last thing, I have another new "proper" album coming out this December on vinyl and tape called Geodesic Dome Piece which is all about smoking weed, hence the name of our upcoming European tour "Way Too Stoned in Europe 2014".  We also have an EP that is being released in Greece for the tour.  Other than that, We have 3 more albums set to be released in 2015 along with many more tours!


Interview made by Klemen Breznikar/2014
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2014

Hollow Mountain interview with Steve Wichelecki and Esther Kim


I’ve been into Hollow Mountain for a while, and they may have gotten a bit heavier and a bit louder since I first heard them, but there’s something about the essence of the band that’s remained from the first demos recorded in 2012, before the complete lineup was even assembled.  There’s an essence of heavily toasted garage rock, brewed in the deepest pits of minimalism that’s still there, like an elephant in the room.  Chicago has been cranking out some killers lately, but there aren’t a lot of LPs that I’m looking forward to more than Hollow Mountain.  I’m admittedly a guitar guy.  I love a good riff, or even better, a face melting solo, but Hollow Mountain are in their own groove.  They’ve little need for the bells and whistles that it usually takes to sell people on a song.  This is not a band of pitchmen, or women for that matter.  Instead, Hollow Mountain simply rely on a tasty tune and capturing the amazing energy that makes the band tick on tape.  There are both equal parts Shonen Knife and Black Sabbath, and Ramones and Sex Pistols going on at most points.  It’s an interesting combination of minimalist punk and ballsy stoner garage rock all fronted by the pleasantly strident, dissonant vocals of Esther Kim.  Everything Hollow Mountain has to offer is packaged inside a tight, simple package, with no needless frills or complications that could result from them.  Their Demo 2012 cassette recently sold out from Maximum Pelt, but thankfully, they’re prepping for the release of a 7-inch EP on Tall Pat Records here before too long.  Incorporating one of the two songs from the digital Demo 2013 release, “Castle”, the Tall Pat single definitely breaks new ground for the band with out betraying their roots in the slightest.  They sound much more like a coherent unit as a band in these recordings, allowing the guitar, drums, bass and vocals alike to shine a bit brighter, while remaining perfectly in the vein of their earlier self-released digital material.  The Tall Pat single is killer and there will be a review of it up here soon, but it feels like a taste of things to come and I for one am stoked to hear what they have planned for the future.  Read on and become anointed in the sound of Hollow Mountain and remember to keep it Psychedelic Baby… 
                - Listen while you read:   http://hollowmountainchicago.bandcamp.com/  


What’s the current lineup for Hollow Mountain at this point?  Have you all gone through any changes as far as that goes since you started, or is this the original lineup?

Steve:  Hollow Mountain is Esther Kim (bass, vocals), Steve Wichelecki (guitar) and Ben Simpson (drums).  Our first drummer was Brian from Big Colour and Raw Mcartney, but he had to quit the band in May 2013.  Soon after that, Ben joined in the summer of 2013.

Are any of you in any other active bands at this point or do you have any side projects gong on right now?  Have you ever released anything with anyone else in the past?  If so, can you tell us a little bit about that?

Steve:  Right now I’m just in Hollow Mountain.  I’ve been in many bands over the years.  Notably, I was in Catburglars from 2005 to 2010, a band which released several records.  I was also in Pink Torpedo from 2010 to 2012.

Esther:  I also play bass and sing in The Lemons.  The Lemons have a split 7" on Gary Records, and most recently, Burger Records has co-released a tape with Tripp Tapes and Gnar Tapes.

How old are you and where are you originally from?

Steve:  I’m thirty two and originally from the south west suburbs of Chicago, a place called New Lenox.

Esther:  I grew up running through cornfields in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, and I'm old enough to buy booze!

What was the local music scene like where you grew up?  Did you see a lot of shows or anything when you were younger?  Do you feel like that scene has played a large part in shaping your musical tastes over the years or in the way that you perform at this point?

Steve:  My friends and I were the "punks" of our high school and we all had bands and played shows in our parents' garages, basements and places like that.  There was a place in Homewood, Illinois, called Off the Alley that was an all-ages, alcohol-free spot where bands like ours could play.  A few famous bands got their start there in fact; I know Alkaline Trio is one.  At that time, that was the closest thing to a music scene that I had been a part of.  I don't feel this time was really too formative for me; it's just something that most musicians go through before moving off to the big city.

Esther:  There was virtually no music scene where I grew up; all the kids pretty much played Blink-182 covers in their garages or at the school talent show.  The way that this played a part in shaping my musical tastes, was that it made me that much more eager and passionate about discovering local music.

What about your home as a child?  Were either of your parents or any of your close relatives musicians or extremely interested/involved in music?

Steve:  My dad was a guitar player.  In fact, the Mesa Boogie amp I use in Hollow Mountain is his.  I wasn't particularly interested in music as a kid, I remember.  I just kind of fell into it because my friends in high school were learning how to play instruments and needed a singer for their band.  So I got my start singing and then learned drums and guitar much later.

Esther:  There was a lot of 70's prog and psychedelic rock blasting in my home when I was a kid.  It was just always in the background.  My folks would tuck me in, read me a story, and then put Dark Side Of The Moon on the record player.  I had a lot of weird night terrors during the ages of three and six.

What do you consider your first real exposure to be?

Steve:  I guess, I would have to say my first "real" band.  I played drums in a hardcore band called Def Choice in the early 2000’s.  We had a record on a label and toured.  At the time though, I wasn't interested in, or passionate about music.  That came much later in life.  I was just along for the ride.  I was basically in the band because the guys were my buddies and playing music was just what we did.

Esther:  Moving to the city and going to art school was definitely my first real exposure.  The art kids always seemed to know what was cool, and the less known it was, the better.  I remember being dragged to shows, looking like a deer in headlights, stars in my eyes, mind completely blown!

If you were to pick a single moment that seemed to open your eyes to the infinite possibilities and changed everything for you, what would it be?

Steve:  When I was in high school my friend let me borrow his Dead Kennedys CD.  It was Plastic Surgery Disasters.  I clearly remember sitting on the bus with my Discman, flipping through the amazingly cynical Winston Smith booklet and hearing those songs for the first time.  I remember thinking, "This is it!  This is the sound I've been searching for but couldn't find!".  The songs are so cynical and angry, and the guitar riffs so dark and perfect.  It really got me thinking that music is a great medium for expression.  That album, to me at the time, sounded like the alienation, frustration and confusion I was feeling as an oddball teenager living in the suburbs.

Esther:  Once again, living in the city, you’re surrounded by weirdoes, talented weirdoes, mind you.  We all eventually end up in the city for a time.  As for me, it was my first taste of something outside of the bubble.  Nothing was wrong, but nothing was exactly right, either.  I saw people create amazing art and horrible art, but it didn't matter because that's what they wanted to do, and I thought that was just great. 

When did you decide that you wanted to start writing and performing your own music and what brought that about for you?

Steve:  There’s no real answer to this.  Songwriting kind of just happened.  I bought a guitar as a teenager and just started jamming.  I probably didn't really realize I was writing songs, but before I knew it, I had a bunch of material recorded on a 4-track.  After college, we started Catburglars with all those songs I had written years earlier.

Esther:  Being surrounded by friends who are musicians, it was just a natural thing that happened.  Combine that with boredom, a feeling of having no direction, and a genuine love for music, and that pretty much sums up why I wanted to start a band.  But, in all honesty, it started as an outlet, a way for me to just screw around and be loud in Steve's basement after a hard day's work.

What was your first instrument?  When and how did you get that?

Steve:  I first learned drums.  I remember my parents wouldn’t let me have a drum kit in the house, so I had to buy an electronic kit because it didn't really make noise.  I took lessons and got pretty good.  Then I bought a real drum kit and kept it at friends' parents' houses.  This is when we started Def Choice, in probably 1999 or 2000.  Why did I learn drums?  I remember listening to Minor Threat as a kid and thinking that 16th notes played on high-hats and a ride cymbal sounded really cool!

Esther:  My first instrument was the piano.  The local church threw it out, so my mom dragged it into our tiny apartment at the time.  No one ever played it, or even knew how.  I never learned to play piano the proper way, but I taught myself to play by ear.  It's still one of my favorite instruments.

How did the members of Hollow Mountain meet and when would that have been?

Steve:  Esther and I met in 2010, but we didn't start the band until 2012.  We actually met Ben at our practice space.  It’s a shared space, and one day Esther and I were coming in and Ben was leaving.  We told him that our drummer was probably quitting the band and Ben said he'd be happy to drum for us if that happened.  A few months later Ben joined the band, in the summer of 2013.

Esther:  What Steve said.

When did Hollow Mountain become a band and what brought about the formation of the band?

Steve:  Esther wanted to start a punk band.  She’d never played an instrument or sang before, but wanted to try it.  I had a lot of experience, so I told her to buy a bass and practice amp and I'd teach her some punk bass playing and we'd start writing some songs.


Esther:  Yeah, I never really intended it to be a functioning band.  I just wanted to let off some steam and maybe learn to play some songs.  I remember telling Steve that I never wanted to play shows, I just couldn't do it.  I had intense stage fright and it just wasn't a desire of mine.

Is there any sort of creed, code, ideal or mantra that the band shares or lives by?

Steve:  My philosophy to Hollow Mountain is this: Be heavy without being heavy.  Our sound, at least our newer music, is kind of heavy, but not heavy, too.  Like, I love that we fit in with the garage scene, but aren't really garage.  No matter how heavy we get, we'll never fit in at a metal show, and I think that's a unique place to be.  Another tenet is minimalism.  I write songs that are very simple and straight forward.  I want a good riff, a good hook, something memorable and simple that sounds good.  No frills, nothing that doesn't have to be there.

Esther:  A few people have told me that we really need a lead guitarist, and I always tell them that that would completely change our sound.  Why do we need anything?  Hollow Mountain is just one big rhythm section, and I love that.  You get hit with this wall of noise, and the less layers there are to muddy it up, the more powerful it is.  That's not to say that I dislike leads, I think they're awesome, but for us it just doesn't make sense.

Your name fits the band almost perfectly.  Who came up with it and how did you go about choosing it?  Were there any close seconds that you can remember you almost went with?  What does it mean in the context of your band name?

Steve:  We took it from an old sci-fi film called The Beast From Hollow Mountain.  Esther and I were going through a list of old sci-fi films looking for a name and that one stuck out.  I remember the runner up was another film title, Tarantula!  Also, thematically, our lyrics have a lot to do with sci-fi and fantasy, and I think picking that name helped shape the direction we’ve gone in lyrically.

Where’s the band located at this point?

Steve:  Logan Square in Chicago, Illinois. 

How would you describe the local music scene where you’re at?

Steve:  The Chicago music scene’s great right now.  Many people describe a "golden age" or "renaissance" taking place here, and I would have to agree.  I've been into music here for about a decade and things have never been so exciting.  There’re so many talented bands, places to play, independent record labels, record stores, shows, parties; everything.  While you’ll always have people saying any scene is cliquey or elitist, I don't get that vibe at all.  I get the impression that most people here welcome new people and bands.  And to be part of the scene all you have to do is go out to shows and introduce yourself.  The music scene here is a motley group of beautiful weirdoes and I couldn't be happier with it.


Esther:  In the last few years, there's been this surge of energy and support.  I’ve never seen anything like it.  There’re more and more bands popping up and you can find a good show every night of the week.  It's hard to keep up sometimes!

Has the local scene played a large or integral role in the sound, history or evolution of Hollow Mountain in your opinion?  Or, do you think you all would be doing what you’re doing and sound like you do regardless of your location and stuff?

Steve:  As I said above, we’re part of that nebulous thing called the "garage" scene, which to me is basically like saying a "punk" scene.  Our music, though, really deviates from what other bands are doing.  We support the scene and the scene supports us, but I feel like we kind of came up with our own style and, luckily, people have embraced it.

Esther:  And by "our own style", he means that we're not real musicians, we just play music; except for Ben, he's an incredible drummer.  But, I think the fact that I'm not a trained musician or a technical wizard, but can still enjoy playing music is a reflection of this wonderful scene.  It’s accessible and accepting, which only stimulates more and more creativity.

You all have an awesome combination of sounds going on in your music.  I’m curious who you all would cite as your major musical influences?  What about influences on that band as a whole rather than individually?

Steve:  As time went on in the band, I got more and more interested in early heavy metal and stoner rock type stuff, and that really shows in our newer music.  Ryan from Flesh Panthers (Interview here) once described us as the Ramones meets Black Sabbath, and I think that's a pretty accurate assessment.


Esther:  Hmm...  Maybe Black Sabbath, Ramones, and Shonen Knife.

Whenever I talk to bands in these interviews I inevitably have to describe how a band sounds to our readers who may never have heard them before.  It’s a daunting task and sometimes it keeps me up at night, wondering if I’ve put too much of my own perception of things in there.  How would you describe Hollow Mountain’s sound to our readers who might not have heard you all before?

Steve:  Yes, that’s never a good question to have to think about.  I would say we're a punk band that takes influence from old heavy metal.  I try not to describe our band to people, because, like you said, your own perception creeps in and you may not even actually sound the way you think you do.  I'd rather just show people our songs and let them decide what we sound like. 

Esther:  I think Steve described it pretty well.  It's a strange amalgam of light, poppy vocals with proto-metal inspired riffs that just go on until you can't help but bang your head in delight or displeasure.  I think when I get on stage people kind of already have their minds made up about how it's going to sound.  They think, "Oh jeez, is she going to sing about rainbows and cats?".  One time after a gig, someone came up to me and told me how surprised he was by our set.  I think he said something like, "Wow, I never would have expected something like that from a little girl like you!".  I used to be self-conscious about this contrast, but I think it's just become part of us. 

What’s the songwriting process like for Hollow Mountain?  Is there someone who usually comes to the rest of the band with a riff or more finished idea for a song to share with the rest of the band?  Or, do you all just get together and kick ideas back and forth until you work something out that you’re interested in refining?

Steve:  Usually, I come to practice with song parts and get a yes or no from Esther and Ben on whether the riffs are cool.  Then, we all jam on an approved song idea and everyone voices their feedback, writes their respective parts and works out the kinks until the song is finished.  I do need to mention, though, that many of the songs on Demo 2012 have music that Esther and I wrote together.


Esther:  I like to think of the process as a group effort.  If any one of us has an idea, we can bring it to rehearsal, and we can try to flesh it out and see what we get.  Sometimes we'll get something good out of it, and sometimes we won't.  It's all part of the fun.

What about recording?  I’m a musician myself and I think that most of us can appreciate the end result of all the time and work that goes into making an album when you’re holding that finished product in your hands.  But getting to that point, getting stuff recorded and sounding the way that you want it to especially as a band, can be extremely difficult on a band to say the very least.  What’s it like recording for Hollow Mountain?

Steve:  Yeah, recording is exciting but also torturous and never fails to disappoint.  No matter what, the end result is never what's in your head, but you learn you just have to live with that fact.  Every time we've recorded, the circumstances have been very different.


Esther:  I would love every recording to sound live, but of course, the magic of live shows is something that can't be easily fabricated.  I feel that Ben and I are a little more relaxed when it comes to recording; we try to have fun.  Steve, on the other hand, can get pretty Phil Spector at times.  I guess it's good for us, though.  Otherwise we'd get nothing done.

Do you all like to take a more DIY approach to recording where you handle most aspects of things yourselves so you don’t have to work with or compromise on the sound with anyone else, or do you like to head in to the studio to record and let someone else handle the technical aspects of things so you can concentrate on just getting the best performance possible out of yourselves?

Steve:  I am very concerned with how we sound recorded and will usually assert myself into the mixing/EQ/mastering process.  I recorded the demos myself, so I had total control.  For the 7" EP we worked with a friend and his sound engineer buddy and recorded at the guy's home studio.  I was super involved with getting the recording to sound the way I envisioned it and worked very closely with the sound engineer.  For the Loud Loop single, I was more hands off because it’s really their project, not ours.  I made some comments about the mix, but I didn't have to fight anyone on anything and just let their sound engineer do what he felt was best.  I personally like working with a sound engineer, someone with the knowhow and equipment to make us sound good.  Not to mention that doing it all yourself is incredibly hard and stressful.  My perfect recording scenario is working with a good sound engineer who takes my comments and ideas to heart, and understands what kind of sound we're going for.


Esther:  Some of my favorite songs were recorded with a DIY approach, meaning that they we just recorded them at home.  I personally appreciate something like that because it captures that raw, no frills sound.  Of course, I also understand the importance of having a quality recording, but if you can sound good out of your room and out of the studio, you're gold.

Is there a lot of time and effort that goes into working out every single aspect of a song, figuring out exactly what a song’s going to sound like?  Or, do you all head in with a good skeletal idea of what a song’s going to sound like while allowing for some change and evolution during the recording process?

Steve:  Yes, I spend a great deal of time searching for the right riffs and melodies.  The songwriting process can't really be defined.  I never say, "I'm going to write a song today".  A song just happens.  You'll be jamming away on your guitar, and suddenly the riff will appear and a melody will enter your mind.  Then, I spend a great deal of time and effort finessing it all with Ben and Esther until there’s a complete song.

Esther:  I think the main rule we stick to when determining how a song should sound, is making sure it reflects how we play it live.  If a big, boomy kick drum is integral to one song, we’ll make sure it sounds just right.  Sometimes, happy accidents do occur that surprise us all, and that's the best part about recording.

People have been tapping into the altered mind states that psychoactive and hallucinogenic drugs create for thousands of years and harnessing it to make art.  Do they play a large or important role in the songwriting, recording or performance processes for Hollow Mountain?

Steve:  I have never experimented with psychedelics.  In fact, whenever I work on music or lyrics, I make sure I am totally sober.  I want to be as focused as possible.


Esther:  Can I just take this moment to say that I really love beer?  Sometimes, a real good IPA gets me going.  Whiskey works, too.

Now I know you are just prepping for the release for your debut 7” from Tall Pat before too long, but you’ve previously digitally released two collections of demos.  The first, Demo 2012 was also released on cassette by Maximum Pelt.  Can you tell us about the recording of the material for Demo 2012?  Was that a fun, pleasurable experience for you all, or more of a nerve wracking proposition?  Who recorded that material?  When and where was it recorded?  What kind of equipment was used?

Steve:  Demo 2012 was recorded during the fall of 2012, before the band really even existed.  At the time, it was just me and Esther writing songs.  The idea was this: We'd write a bunch of songs and record them with me playing drums and guitar, and Esther playing bass and singing.  Then, we'd shop the demo around to drummers.  We were having trouble finding a drummer and this was going to be the solution.  Recording Demo 2012 was a fun, yet arduous experience.  I remember that it took months and I was super stressed out.  I had to learn about recording, while recording it.  So, every step of the way I did a ton of research on how to do each individual aspect of the process; how to properly tune drums, mic placement, Garageband plugins, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.  I really knew nothing of recording up to that point.  Another hardship was the limitations of our equipment.  I used Garageband on a laptop, the most inexpensive preamp I could find, one SM57 for instruments and one condenser for vocals.  There was a lot of trial and error, but in the end, I think it came our pretty good.  In fact, it’s still my favorite Hollow Mountain recording.  It has this inimitable sound that just happened by accident because of all the limitations we had in terms of recording equipment and knowhow.

Esther:  I think I might have even cried a few times while recording that demo.

As I previously mentioned you released two demo collections, the second was a year later and Demo 2013 has only been released digitally at this point to my knowledge.  Demo 2013 consisted of two songs, “Castle” and “Strange World”.  Can you tell us about the recording of those two tracks?  Was it pretty similar to your earlier session(s) for Demo 2012?  Who recorded the Demo 2013 material?  Where was that?  When was that?  What kind of equipment was used this time around?

Steve:  The major difference with Demo 2013 is that Ben was in the band by then and played the drums.  Also, while Demo 2012 was recorded in basements, Demo 2013 was recorded in a practice space.  All aspects regarding equipment and the recording process were mostly the same, though.  Recording Demo 2013 was much easier because I had a working knowledge of how to record a demo by then.  The funny thing is that it sounds so much different than the previous demo, even though both were recorded pretty much the same way.  I think the different rooms affected the sound.  I'm pretty sure we recorded this during the fall of 2013.

I talked a little bit about it before, but you all have a 7” coming out on Tall Pat due for release around October this year (2014).  Do you feel like you’ve learned a lot since your earlier demo sessions?  Did you all try anything radically new or different when it came to the songwriting or recording of the material for the upcoming single?  What can our listeners expect from the upcoming single?

Steve:  Our 7" EP is a heavier, tighter Hollow Mountain.  We've re-recorded the song "Castle" for the record, too, so think of songs in that vein.  I personally feel we've come a long way since those demos and can't wait for people to hear our new recordings.  The most notable thing about the 7" is that we partly recorded on tape, using a Tascam 388 8-track machine.  We recorded the instruments to tape and then dumped that on to a computer.  Then, the vocals were recorded digitally because we ran out of inputs on the 8-track.  All mixing, EQ and mastering was done on the computer.  Using the 388 gives the record a gritty, mid-fi sound, which is what we intended.

Esther:  As Steve mentioned, the notable difference will be in the songs themselves.  They’re a bit slower and heavier, often falling into a groove of some kind.  Before this, our songs were shorter, faster, and a bit more juvenile in the best way.

Has Hollow Mountain released any other material that I might not know about, maybe a song on a compilation or another demo session that I’m not aware of, or anything?

Steve:  No, just the demos, the upcoming Tall Pat 7" and the upcoming Loud Loop Press single.  I should mention that Grabbing Clouds Tapes & Records who released the Slushy LP earlier this year (Interview here), are releasing the new EP on cassette, too.

With the release of the Tall Pat single quickly approaching, do you all have any other releases planned or in the works at this point?

Steve:  My goal is to do a full-length album, with new songs and probably some re-recorded material from the 7" and the Loud Loop single.  I'd like to have the ball really rolling on that by this time next year.


Esther:  Yeah, I like going with the flow and taking it one step at a time.  I'm just having a blast playing music with my best friends.

Now I know the single’s not out yet, but thinking ahead for people who dig your tunes and are going to want to pick up your stuff, where’s the best place to score your music going to be for our US readers?

Steve:  People will be able to buy it from Tall Pat Records.  It will also be on our Bandcamp page and Chicagoans will be able to find it at all the record stores, like Bric-A-Brac and Reckless.

What about our international and overseas readers?  With the completely insane international postage rate increases that have just kept going up and up, I try and provide our readers with as many possible options for picking up import releases as I can!

Steve:  I would recommend downloading it from Bandcamp.

And where’s the best place for our interested readers to keep up with the latest news from Hollow Mountain like upcoming shows and album releases at? 


Are there any major plans or goals that Hollow Mountain’s looking to accomplish in the rest of 2014 or 2015?

Steve:  Besides releasing a full-length album next year, we'd like to do a short tour in the spring.  We'd like to start booking that some time this winter.  From what I've been hearing, Chicago bands have been making an impression around the country, so it's a great time to get out on the road.


Esther:  I would love to get a proper band photo out there, ha-ha!

Do you all spend a lot of time out on the road touring?  Do you enjoy being out on the road?  What’s life like no the road for Hollow Mountain?

Steve:  Hopefully touring will be our next adventure.  I've toured in past bands, but it will be a new experience for Hollow Mountain if it happens.


Esther:  I've been touring a lot this summer with my other band, The Lemons.  It's definitely been a good experience for me, and I think it's something every band needs to experience.  There are definite highs and lows to life on the road, but it just brings everyone closer.  I'm looking forward to touring with Hollow Mountain in the near future.

Do you remember what the first song that Hollow Mountain ever played live was?  Where and when would that have been?

Steve:  Our first show was during May 2013 at the famous Cole's Bar in Logan Square. We opened for The Funs (Interview here) and Today's Hits.  I'm pretty sure the first song we played must have been the first song on Demo 2012, "Manhunt on the Moon".


Esther:  Oh man, I was so nervous that day.  I could barely sing because my voice was shaking so bad, and some guy kept flashing his camera.  I must have looked like a scared kitten.

Who are some of your personal favorite bands that you all have had a chance to play with so far?

Steve:  This is a question no one wants to answer for fear of leaving someone out, ha-ha!  But, I will say these Chicago bands are cool, however there are many, many others, too: MAMA, Flesh Panthers (Interview here), The Yolks (Interview here), The Sueves, The Rubs, Spike and the Sweet Spots, The Glyders, The Lemons, Slushy (Interview here), Today's Hits, Vamos, My Gold Mask, The Morons, Son of a Gun, Gross Pointe, Negative Scanner, Uh Bones, MTVGhosts…  I could go on and on ha-ha!

Esther:  I love playing with Le Tour; they're some of the nicest guys on the planet.  The Peekaboos are incredible, too; some of our wildest shows were with them.  We've only played with Today's Hits once, but they’re a band everyone should see at least once or twice, or thrice before they get too big!

In your dreams, who are you on tour with?

Steve:  People used to compare us to Shonen Knife from Japan, and it's true they did kind of inspire us to start the band.  I think it would be cool to tour with them.

Esther:  Definitely Shonen Knife!

Do you have any funny or interesting stories from live shows or performances that you’d like to share here with our readers?

Steve:  Not really…  But we did just have a show on Labor Day, and while loading our gear I really hurt my back, so I had to play the set sitting down, which was weird and a bit funny.

Esther:  Oh yeah, Steve messed his back up, so he had to sit on this chair that had stuffed animals on it.  While he was playing, the stuffed animals kept vibrating on the chair, it was so funny.  I think people were just stunned…  They didn't know whether it was a joke or not.  Also, anytime the crowd gets wild and starts knocking over microphones or throwing beer cans is the best.  At least here in the Midwest, if you get a beer can thrown at you, it's a compliment…  It means people are having a good time.  If it's a full can, well then, I guess they think you suck, but at least you get a free beer to drink.

Do you all give a lot of thought to the visual aspects that represent the band to a large extent, stuff like flyers, posters, shirt designs, album covers and that sort of thing?  Is there any kind of meaning or message that you’re trying to convey?  Is there anyone that you usually turn to in your times of need when it comes to that sort of thing?  If so, who is that and how did you originally get hooked up with them?

Steve:  We're lucky enough to know a lot of talented visual artists that help us out.  Esther, too, is a visual artist and did the covers for both demos.  Our friend Billy Sour did the artwork for the 7-inch.  He also makes really cool flyers.  Our very talented friend Michael Conway designs some of our posters/flyers from time to time.  For the 7" cover, I think the psychedelic colors juxtaposed with the image of decay and destruction work well together.  I hope people think the cover art looks the way the music sounds.  Honestly, the visual aspect of the band is an afterthought for me, though, I do appreciate that we know so many talented artists who can help us with those aspects.

With all of the various methods of release that are available to musicians today I’m always curious why they choose and prefer the various mediums that they do?  What about when you’re purchasing music?  If you do have a preference, can you tell us a little bit about what it is and why that is?

Steve:  Basically you take what you can get.  To me, the goal of any band is to release a vinyl record.  I think it legitimizes you.  Vinyl is such an expensive, inefficient way of releasing music, but it’s still the coolest.  A vinyl record is a big undertaking and it's a physical work of art, too.  It takes months to prepare and thousands of dollars.  It's not like with tapes where you can dub a ton of them in an afternoon.  To be honest, I don't get the tape craze.  I think it has to do with the fact that most people are poor now and tapes are so cheap and easy to make.  I would like to add, that in 2014 all that really matters is that you have your music on Bandcamp or someplace online for people to easily find and listen to.  Having a vinyl record is a goal and a nice marketing tool and novelty, but an online presence does so much for getting your name out there.

Esther:  I actually like tapes a lot.  They’re fast, compact and affordable, and you don't feel awkward carrying them around at a show.  Although you can't compare the sound quality to vinyl, I buy a lot more tapes than I do records now.  I like the idea that you can dub a ton of tapes in an afternoon and hand them out later.  I like that carefree, here-I-made-you-this-tape-today aesthetic.  There's this romantic, unpretentious vibe about them that's really refreshing to me.

Do you have a music collection at all?  If you do, can you tell us a little bit about that?

Steve:  I'm pretty poor, but I buy vinyl when I can.  I try to get many of my favorite records on vinyl.  Ninety-five percent of my music is on my computer's hard drive, unfortunately.

Esther:  I inherited almost all of my records from my parents, which were mostly blues, psychedelic and progressive rock.  I've since added to that, so you'll find a lot of punk, some no-wave, a lot of Velvet Underground, Beatles, and the rest is probably local bands.

Speaking of music collections, I grew up around my dad’s enormous collection of killer psych, garage, blues and just about anything rocking and heavy prior to 1980!  He really encouraged me to dig in and enjoy the collection, but beyond that he would take me out to the local shops and pick me up random stuff I was interested in.  I would rush home with the music, kick back with a set of headphones, read the liner notes, stare at the cover artwork and let the whole thing carry me off on a trip.  Having something physical to hold and experience along with the music always made for a much more complete listening experience for me.  Do you have any such connection with physically released music?

Steve:  I do agree.  I like the act of playing a vinyl record while staring at the album art.  It’s a different and more intimate experience than just playing something on iTunes.

Esther:  Putting on a record is a bit more involved than just hitting play.  I hate to sound hippy-dippy, but the act of taking it out of its sleeve, blowing off any stray particles, and carefully positioning the needle is an act of consciousness.  Even if you're completely wasted, you're still in the moment of putting on a record.  Also, the fact that a record is meant to be listened in the order in which it was pressed only supports that entire experience.  No, you can't skip around; you have to listen to it in the way it was intended to be listened to.

Like it or not, digital music is here in a big way.  The crazy thing is though digital music is just the tip of the iceberg in my opinion.  When you team digital music with the internet, then you really have a game changer on your hands!  Together, they’ve exposed people to the literal world of music that they’re surrounded by, allowed for an absolutely unparalleled level of communication between bands and their fan bases, and eradicated geographic boundaries that would have crippled bands only a few years ago.  It’s not all peaches and cream though, while people may be exposed to more and more music these day’s they’re not necessarily interested in paying for it at this point, and while people’s relationship and interaction with music is constantly changing, I’m not sure that digital music has done anyone in favors in that regards.  As an artist during the reign of the digital era, what’s your opinion on digital music and distribution?

Steve:  In 2014 all that really matters is you have your music on Bandcamp or someplace online for people to easily find and listen to.  I said it before, but having a vinyl record is a goal and a nice marketing tool and novelty, however an online presence does so much for getting your name out there.  There are of course many concerns with digital music/the Internet that revolve around money.  The way I see it, if you're in a band to make money, you're in the wrong line of work.  There's no money in music.  It's a very expensive hobby, actually.  I write, record, and perform music because I have to; I have a need to do something creative with myself, and music is that outlet at this time.

Esther:  As I said above, the digital era has indeed made music that much more available for the masses, which, I agree, does not help in terms of reeling in the dough.  Why pay for something you can just steal?  It's also difficult to convince folks to pay money for an intangible piece of music.  That's just the price of being able to reach more people, which I don't think is a big deal.  It's tough out there, and we don't all have the luxury to spend money as we please.  It also makes it that much more meaningful when someone does eventually send some cash your way; it means they truly enjoy and support your work.

I try to keep up with as much good music as I possibly can but there’s just not enough time to even listen to a percent of the sweet stuff out there right now.  Is there anyone from your local scene or area that I should be listening to I might not have heard of before?

Steve:  Check some of those bands I listed above.

Esther:  Slushy (Interview here) has just made a rad comeback with a full band; they used to be a two-piece.  I was recently in Japan, and the local bar I was at was playing one of their songs.  The Wet is now defunct, but their recent 7" is great; real snarly and dirty.

What about nationally and internationally?

Steve:  Unfortunately, my national and international knowledge is limited.  Check out Tweens from Ohio and Native America, who I think are from Memphis.  I like the European stoner bands Brutus and Electric Wizard, too.

Esther:  I really like Slutever; they're a grunge-punk two-piece from Los Angeles, solid stuff.

Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me and share so much about the band, it was awesome talking to you and I hope you all got a kick out of it.  Before we call it a day, is there anything that I could have possibly missed or that you’d maybe just like to take this opportunity to talk to me or the readers about?

Steve:  Nope and thanks!  This was really fun.  

Esther:  Thank you so much for this opportunity!   


 DISCOGRAPHY
(2012)  Hollow Mountain – Demo 2012 – Digital – Self-Released
(2013)  Hollow Mountain – Demo 2013 – Digital, Cassette Tape – Self-Released/Maximum Pelt (Cassette Tape limited to ? copies)

Interview made by Roman Rathert/2014
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2014