Black Mountain’s keyboardist Jeremy Schmidt wants to talk about space.
Not necessarily the sci-fi kind, but in regards to the band’s output, whether it be on their eponymous 2005 album or their fourth album, ‘IV’, that dropped in April. “Dynamic space within longer songs, which takes a longer time to unfold is what I feel is a big part of our sound,” says Jeremy. “It’s something we try to remain true to when we’re live, but we also like to have a concise, streamlined, rock element to things.
“We approached [the album] with the intent of getting back to the sprawling, slowly unfolding types of dynamics where the songs have a lot of time to breathe and create their own space. That was how we wanted the album to be.
“Some of the songs were loosely worked on. They were skeletons and we coloured them in as we went. I often come up with things later on because I can’t hear it that well when it’s blaring loud in the practice space where some keyboard nuances might fit in.”
The Canadian group have had considerable success with their rock and psychedelic-infused material. The trippy film clip for the new single, ‘Florian Saucer Attack’, is typical of a band used to pushing their eclectic influences.
The album did have a slightly more ambitious title before the band settled on the current one though. “We were going to call it ‘Our Strongest Material To Date’,” Jeremy laughs. “We got a kick out of what a clichéd platitude that phrase is in the world of rock-band statements. It’s in our nature to joke about things even if they have a modicum of truth to them. We wouldn’t put a record out if we didn’t feel excited about it.
“Certain themes will emerge with ‘IV’, but they emerge in a very organic way. I fucking hate that term, but that’s how things unfolded with it. It emerged in a premeditated way.”
Despite the decade odd, time difference between album #1 and #4, Black Mountain display a consistency to the music that Jeremy doesn’t see at odds with their first album, which the band have recently reissued, and the Polaris Prize nominated ‘IV’. “We went through a bunch of demos and outtakes from that period to include as a bonus LP with the first record, so it’s like a double ten-year anniversary LP reissue. It allowed us to go back to that material and hear where the band emerged as the nucleus of Black Mountain in a lot of ways.
“There’s definitely a sense of discovery in that record that we have an affection for. I don’t think we ever lost touch of that way of working necessarily, it’s just built into our process a little differently. It definitely informed what we wanted to do with this record, we wanted to go back to the dynamics that were at the forefront of that first one and that second one [‘In The Future’] too, I guess.
“Sometimes the virtue of time allows you to hear things a little more objectively and you can be less precious about what you were trying to do at the time. All those things become part of our process. It sounds terribly unfocussed, but I don’t think there is one kind of approach. We know when it’s a Black Mountain song.”
As a youth, Jeremy lived in the ‘burbs and it was there he sought out music that spoke to him as a surly teenager that helped to form Black Mountain’s sound.
“When you’re younger, you maybe like one thing and think you need to be married to it. I was really into Joy Division and My Bloody Valentine. But I also loved Pink Floyd and I was like, how does that fit into that more angular disaffected music I’m into?
“As a disenfranchised kid growing up in the suburbs, you feel completely at odds with that world and then when you find a Velvet Underground record, you realise there’s this parallel universe that doesn’t resemble that world you’re stuck in. You have this affinity for it, but it narrows your tastes and it makes it hard to consolidate all those childhood stuff you liked. It’s easier to say ‘I like fucking ABBA as much as I like Throbbing Gristle’ as you get older,” he laughs.
Black Mountain Tour Dates
Sun 2 Oct – Yours & Owls Festival (Wollongong)
Mon 3 Oct – The Factory (Sydney)
Wed 5 Oct – Corner Hotel (Melbourne)
Fri 7 Oct – Woolly Mammoth (Brisbane)
Sat 8 Oct – Rosemount Hotel (Perth)