Hard work combined with sheer enjoyment is a great place to start for any musical endeavour and it is self evidently in abundance when I met Joe Hirons (Guitar/Keys), Marc Glaysher (Bass) and David Smyth (Drums), the trio of sonic contortionists who make up MIND MOUNTAIN. These are three like-minded individuals who have left no stone unturned, pouring over jam after jam to emerge with a true representation of where they are, what they do and where they are going.
“A lot of the stuff does come from jams. We’ve never played the same set twice,” says Marc. It is this innovation through improvisation, with a focus on excitation, that aids them in their ability to mix it up when playing live. David recalls, “Me and Mark met at Roadburn festival in Holland and saw Earthless. I’d never seen anything like it. A three-piece instrumental band that played seat of your pants stuff for 45 minutes. It blew me away.”
Mind Mountain’s prime focus has been to pump as much energy and thought into playing with each other, discovering each other’s strengths and omitting the superfluous, the stuff that gets in the way. Aided by a little four-track with built in microphones they recorded their jams with the purpose of revisiting, editing and then redrafting. Reaching the level of understanding and synchronicity that Mind Mountain have has its own reward and this benefit is taken with them on stage. It has been greeted with thumbs up from 4.30am festival crowds at Liverpool’s very own inaugural Psych fest through to their recent Blade Factory appearance supporting Mazes. Psychedelia and heavy rock are without doubt basic ingredients (elements of Hawkind and Sabbath are evident) but they have bounced off on their own tangent to cook up something that exists solely between the three of them. Monolithic genres are rendered pretty meaningless when talking about Mind Mountain. Marc explains, “It was all practice and more practice and then from there grew a band. Everything else comes after that.”
This is not a band whose first album cover, T-shirt and press release have already been readily imagined. They didn’t just theorise an amalgamation of influences that would set them up for their first two years. They seem to be influenced by each other as much as by anyone else. David states, “I remember being blown away by Marc and Joe and it raised my own game. We’re aiming for something a bit special.” Music is paramount, with everything else having to wait. Even the idea of one of them singing has had to be placed on the back burner in pursuit of the music, though it appears that they may not remain an instrumental band forever, with Joe looking to add vocals at some point. Again, however, they are keen for any vocal inclusion to not be extraneous or wasteful. With most music still being dominated by a centre stage vocal, they are all too aware that the singer can become a burdensome focal point. It is something they want to do but you get the message that the music will come first, that any vocal inclusion would be worked on until it was well honed, and only then would it see the light of day. Mind Mountain would rather have good riffs than bad lyrics. This point is hammered home when Joe states, “The reluctance comes in having confidence in what you’re singing and not just the act of singing itself.”
So, what next for Mind Mountain? Joe states, “We are looking to record in May with a producer who knows what we’re after. It will most likely be three tracks. With the recent shows it was good to gauge a reaction to what we were doing.” It is this keen interest in audience feedback that has led them to the view that playing live is a testing ground for what works. This is a band who have deliberated and come to the conclusion that riffs and hooks is where they are being directed and impress upon the listener that in a three-piece they are well aware that they can’t be lazy.
The reason they haven’t put anything out in physical form yet? It is down to this search towards a full, exhilarating sound and a drive towards becoming a dynamic three-piece that can captivate and inspire. It is in their live gigging, Mind Mountain’s self-education, that will set the precedent for when the band enter the studio. Add this to the pure enjoyment derived from making music and their debut starts to become a truly hot prospect. David states, “We’re not going through the motions, this is a real outlet for us. I couldn’t just drop this. Like quite a few people I know, it would all get a bit depressing without music.”