Stephen McBean, Amber Webber, Matt Camirand, Jeremy Schmidt and Josh Wells are five longhaired Canadian stoners on a crusade. When they’re not unleashing epic psychedelic rock on bleary-eyed revellers as Black Mountain, they’re busy helping out at Insite – a Vancouver-based charity for the chronically poor, drug addicted and mentally ill. Not many bands can mix a punishing schedule of tour hedonism with a keen social conscience. But Black Mountain have a knack for straddling extremes: they’ve managed mainstream success – their song “Stay Free” was featured on the Spider-Man 3 soundtrack and they supported Coldplay on their 2005 US tour – whilst still retaining their hard-rocking credibility.
Describe your sound in one word?
Josh Wells: Wide.
Stephen McBean: Ecclesiastical.
Jeremy Schmidt: Minus the really heavy religious connotations.
Matt Camirand: But with the gold leaf.
Photography: Ben Rayner
Words: Ben Cobb
Any rituals before a show?
Amber Webber: I pee like five times.
SM: We don’t do soul circles – no group hugging and apologising for all the bad things we’ve said to each other.
AW: I would actually like a soul circle.
MC: OK. We can try it sometime for you.
JW: I try to get my blood moving around my body so there isn’t such a harsh contrast between sitting around all day and then suddenly playing the drums.
Are you going to do any short songs?
SM: We’ve got one on our new record, which is only a minute and a half. But we never play it live because somehow we always fuck it up.
JW: It’s too short with too many chord changes.
MC: We’re used to taking a long time to make a statement.
AW: Plus it’s on acoustic guitar so Steve would have to switch guitars. It would take like 30 seconds just to swap guitars and then the song is only a minute and a half anyway, so there doesn’t seem much point.
What’s playing on the tour bus stereo at the moment?
AW: We haven’t played a single tune yet. We’ve only been on the bus for two days.
MC: Our driver isn’t part of the usual touring crew and he doesn’t seem too predisposed to listening to music on the bus.
JW: We don’t have any idea what kind of music he’s into yet.
SM: I think we’ll have figured it out by the end of the tour.
MC: It’s going to be like Rammstein or something.
JS: Yeah, it’s definitely some Euro industrial metal shit.
MC: We’ve got to get in there before he gets in there.
If you had to have one extra member… who would you pick?
AW: We could definitely use someone to dance round the stage and add some theatrics.
SM: What about Stacia, the topless dancer from Hawkwind?
JW: Or Bez from The Happy Mondays?
MC: A laptop might be useful.
A full version of this article first appeared in Wonderland #15, Oct/Nov 2008