Black Mountain

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:

Jeremy Schmidt:
Minus the really heavy religious connotations.

Matt Camirand:
But with the gold leaf.

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.

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.

It’s going to be like Rammstein or something.

JS: Yeah, it’s definitely some Euro industrial metal shit.

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?

Or Bez from The Happy Mondays?

A laptop might be useful.

Photography: Ben Rayner
Words: Ben Cobb

This article first appeared in Wonderland #15, October/November 2008