Three weeks ago I reviewed Endless, the crushing debut album from Chicago’s psychedelic doom-crooners Mount Salem. They were just about to open for Howl and blindsided me with melody and ginormous riffs. After seeking more information about the band I noticed there was a strange internet void where an interview should be. Until recently even finding names of the members was impossible for all but psychics and the most determined stalkers. I’m about as lazy a stalker as possible, so I reached out to the band and asked a few questions to enlighten us all about the mysterious majesty of Mount Salem. They were kind enough to answer while traveling in the middle of their tour in a haunted van. Read ahead for motorcycles, bacon, and rock’n’roll:
Mister Growl: There isn't much information available on the members of your band. Could you introduce yourselves and how the band formed?
Mount Salem: We have all ridden motorcycles and traveled together for years so when Cody (Davidson) and Emily (Kopplin) moved to Chicago last summer it was pretty easy to start the band since we were all already friends.
Mister Growl: You're about to start a 10 day tour this coming week. When planning a tour what resources do you use?
Mount Salem: We are actually half way through the tour, currently on our way to Texas. This is our first tour so booking it was kinda interesting. Really we just reached out to bands and venues in different cities and figured it all out as we went. There were a couple dates that took forever to book but we ended up getting all the dates we needed.
Mister Growl: You have four different tour dates in Texas. Do you have a connection to that state or have you had a larger response from fans there?
Mount Salem: The whole tour started by our friend Dan "Bacon" Carr asking us to play at his annual chopper party which is in Temple, TX. We figured if we could book a tour around it then it would work. We reached out to the band "Mothership" through mutual friends and they were more than happy to help us out. We have been talking to those dudes the past couple of months and we are really looking forward to partying with them starting tonight!
Mister Growl: What's the local Chicago music scene like at this time?
Mount Salem: Chicago is an awesome place to be. There are so many good musicians and bands so there is a cool show to go to every week. Plenty of rehearsal spaces and venues for bands to play at and the crowd is always down to party. Chicago is a city that never sleeps.
Mister Growl: Despite the heaviness of your album what about your own music do you think also connects with non-metal fans?
Mount Salem: I think Emily's vocals help a lot in this department. We all like heavy music but listen to a lot of rock and roll. Also I think the elements and structures of the music are also a big help to not sound just like a metal band. I feel like we all take from our influences, which are all different, and it helps appeal to fans of heavy music and rock and roll in general.
Mister Growl: How long did it take to write and record the songs on "Endless"? What’s the band's songwriting process?
Mount Salem: We took about 6 months to write and record the songs on endless. There were a couple other songs that didn't make the cut. All in all I think the 6 songs that we used are a good representation of us. We write the songs together and usually start with one thing, whether it’s a riff, organ part, or drum beat, and then collectively build from there. When we are writing we usually pick up an extra practice during the week to make sure we don't forget stuff and to just be productive.
Mister Growl: There's a retro-horror vibe in your music and promo artwork. What are some horror films that influenced your aesthetic?
Mount Salem: Oddly enough no one in the band is a hard core horror movie buff. The imagery we've used and aesthetic have all kind of come from the music we've made together. I think the four of us with so many similar and opposite influences from every member just kind of came out as what it is. We weren't really going for any certain style or feel. It just kind of happened to be the music we can all vibe on together.
Mister Growl: What other non-musical forces inspired the songs on "Endless"?
Mount Salem: Lyrically speaking, we like to create a sort of dark fantasy realm that puts the listener in a different state of mind. It's about stepping outside the normal psyche and into a more provocative nightmarish story.
Mister Growl: Are the members of Mount Salem in side projects as well?
Mount Salem: Mark (Hewitt), our bass player, plays drums in a band called Dirthog. They are a 3 piece southern style punk influenced sludge band. You can check them out at www.dirthog.bandcamp.com
Mister Growl: What do you have planned for the band after the tour's conclusion?
Mount Salem: We have two new songs that we are going to record pretty soon for a split with our friends Moon Curse from Milwaukee. Once that is done we are going to go on tour again sometime in late summer and then write for a full length throughout the winter.
New music and a summer tour: That’s good news all around, troublemakers. Many thanks to Kyle for his time. If you haven’t yet heard Endless, drop whatever work you’re doing or baby you’re holding and listen to it now/buy it for only $6 at: http://mountsalem.bandcamp.com/album/endless
Photo credit: Josh Kurpius