They’re young, and they have some work yet to do in refining their sound and figuring out what they want to accomplish as players, but Grand Rapids sludge trio Mountain Goat are off to a killer start. Their debut Hydro-Phonic Records 7″, Smoke Filled Land, and their recent split with Christian black metallers The Crowned Virgin (also from Grand Rapids; review here) show the outfit among the brightest and riffingest the next generation of sonic mudslinging has to offer.
Mountain Goat eschew a lot of the atmospheric pretense of modern sludge — I don’t need to list bands, you know what I’m talking about — and instead embrace the rudimentary elements of the genre: “What would Buzzov*en do?” Buzzov*en would get fucked up, play as loud as possible and occasionally throw a punch on a syndicated talk show. So be it.
The band is comprised of Monte Davis, Keith Ortiz and Derek Kasperlik. The former two took some time out to collectively answer the following six dumb questions:
1. Give me the secret origins of how you guys got together. How did you get started and how did you get hooked up with Hydro-Phonic Records?
Well, we (Monte and Keith) started Mountain Goat in our sophomore year of high school. We went through several lineup changes… those being drummer related. Everyone we tried out didn’t seem to get the simple, heavy drumming style we wanted. No one was familiar with the music. Eventually, Derek was called over for a jam practice and afterwards he was in the band as second guitar. We still had tons of drummer problems. After months of going nowhere, Derek decided he would play bass, and Keith would move to drums. We knew what sound we wanted. Why keep searching for someone to slow us down? It was the best decision we made. We’re really rolling on shit now, and it’s going great!
We eventually started playing around town. Someone told us about another Grand Rapids sludge band called Bullpig. We checked out their MySpace and couldn’t wait to check them out live because we really thought we were the only sludgy doom band in GR. We’ve now played numerous shows with them, and saw that they were on Hydro-Phonic Records. They told us to send a message to them and see if they were interested. Travis from HPRX came out to a show, and we talked afterwards. He really liked it. We played “Streetside” by The Obsessed, ha ha. We started hanging with him at his house talking classic horror movies and stoner rock in general. We eventually all decided on doing a 7” vinyl, and we also help with the label with new releases and help HPRX put everything together.
2. When did you first realize there was an indie band called The Mountain Goats? Did you ever think about changing your name?
After about six months of being a band, people would constantly remind us of The Mountain Goats. It eventually got to the point of annoyance that we decided to change our name and we did for one show. The name didn’t stick and everyone still knew us as Mountain Goat. At this point, we really don’t care. Someone reviewed us a while ago and mentioned, “In the great words of Michael Bolton when being asked, ‘Why not go by Mike instead?’ ‘Why should I change if he’s the one who sucks?’” ha ha.
3. How do you know The Crowned Virgin? How did the split release come about?
The Crowned Virgin started six months before we did, so we’ve known them for a really long time. They are really good friends of ours and we’ve been talking about doing a split for about two years now. That’s about all we really have to say about them. Pretty straight to the point. Good guys.
4. Talk about recording those tracks. Was it any different from doing the Smoke Filled Land 7”? What do you have planned for recording next?
These songs (from TCV split, and Smoke Filled Land 7”) were all recorded at Postman Dan’s — The Mailbox (or Malebox) — at the same time. We did them live, and it was a pretty straightforward recording.
Coming up next year we have a Split 10” with Sollubi, courtesy of HPRX. Other than that, we are just working on more songs during practice. Hopefully, we’ll see where that takes us with later releases.
5. Tell me about the rock scene out in Michigan. I know some killer bands from out that way, but what are the shows like? How has the response to Mountain Goat been?
There’s a pretty big hardcore/punk rock scene. We mostly play with punk rock acts more than we do metal acts. There’s only a couple of places to play in Grand Rapids that aren’t bars. The response we get is usually really good no matter what/where we play, or whom we play with. We really just put everything we can into our live show, and it definitely shows.
6. Will Mountain Goat tour? Any other closing words plans you want to mention?
Yes, we do have plans to tour, but with all three of us having jobs and dealing with school, it’s kind of hard at the moment to find the time, or funds to go out on the road. We are in talks right now of doing a few dates with our friends Blue Aside (from Massachusetts) in mid-July. Other than that, we are just working on new songs, and toying with the idea of putting out a full-length someday, but we are in no rush at the moment because we hate Rush. If anyone has any questions, feel free to message us on our MySpace or on our Facebook page. And if anyone wants to buy our 7”, or our split with The Crowned Virgin, do so on the Hydro-Phonic Records MySpace page or the many distributors that carry them.
Tags: Grand Rapids, Hydro-Phonic Records, Michigan, Mountain Goat