Another chapter in our ongoing project to discover new and exciting music in 2017. And this band happens to be also a headliner of Musicians Against Homelessness gig that is organized in Worcester on September 22, 2017 – so today. They don`t have a leader, discarded lyrics and use the power of music to evoke emotions and imagination of the listener. Thousand Mountain – ladies and gentlemen – one of the best match rock acts in the country!
Let the music do the talking
In the visual age, it is increasingly hard for any instrumental band to successfully compete against rock groups fronted by charismatic leaders. Without attention grabbing spectacle or glass shattering vocals, singer-less ensembles are commonly considered a lesser form of entertainment. There are however exceptions to the rule. Heralded as one of the most innovative music acts on the West Midlands scene, Birmingham based trio Thousand Mountain, do not need cheap tricks to have all eyes focused on them. With their earth-shattering riffs and technical skills, they can create emotional performance that captivates the audience. During their recent visit to Worcester, we spoke to the band about their influences, preferences and the importance of being persistent.
According to your biography, Thousand Mountain is a three piece act formed in early 2016. Please introduce your band members and tell us more about your beginnings.
Thousand Mountain: Sure! We have Dan Stokes on bass – huge Spiderman fan, Ash Andrews on drums – who is late for everything and Joel Hughes on guitar- who really wishes we were a Fleetwood Mac tribute band!
Like every strong/lasting relationship, we met over the Internet. Got sweaty in a room together for like 6 months – then music happened!
Your name, often abbreviated as TSND MNTN, is quite intriguing. Logo and song titles such as “Open Door” or “Kraken” point towards philosophical or mythological concepts. There are two famous Thousand Mountains in the world, one located in Japan – Fushimi Inari Taisha in Kyoto (known as the Mountain of Thousand Gates) and The Thousand Buddha Mountain near the city of Jinan in China. What’s the inspiration behind this particular name?
Thousand Mountain: You’ve nailed it, we take a lot of inspiration from eastern culture and we definitely did not need a band name that began with TM because we’d already paid for a logo using those 2 letters, which led to us being called ‘Trevor McDonald’ for an afternoon (laughing). Definitely, the first one which you said!
You classify yourselves as a power house rock band. The official Webster-Merriam definition for it would be a “rock group having great drive, energy, or ability”. We have to agree. You are volcanoes of energy on stage and your technical skills are commonly acknowledged.
Thousand Mountain: Thank you (laughing again).
Birmingham Promoters, PR and media company based in West Midlands, described you as the eclectic mix of alternative and metal sounds with the aesthetic of classical rock. Can you tell us more about your musical heroes? Who do you look up to musically?
Thousand Mountain: We’ve not seen that?! That’s cool though. We all listen to different artists so we each bring something different to the table when we write. Dan used to listen to a lot of metal so we have a few heavier elements and massive riffs, Ash listens to a lot of math rock bands, so our rhythms are interesting and Joel comes from a jazz and blues background, so the melodies and choral content are something that’s important to us. We really love bands that aren’t scared of doing what they want. We all love Chon, TTNG (This Town Needs Guns), Manchester Orchestra, Plini and bands like that. Anyone with a guitar gets our respect.
Nowadays, almost all bands relay heavily on strong vocals or charismatic front men/women. You seem to deliberately break all existing rules – you play instrumental music and all band members are equal. Thousand Mountain does not have a designated leader that audience could concentrate their attention on during shows. What is the reaction to your very own and quite unique way of playing?
Thousand Mountain: None of us are good enough to be the focal point, but when you put all 3 of us together, we make 1 decent musician. We’re not super cool, beautiful hunks or charismatic talkers – so we have to compromise.
Your genre of choice is often criticized as a limiting form of art. Vocal-less by nature, it does not offer listeners a story, and is regarded as “too technical” in comparison to evocative cinematic scores. How would you counter such arguments?
Thousand Mountain: There’s only 12 notes in music so if your vocalist can only sing in a handful of key signatures, but our guitars can play in all of them, then who’s really limited? Lyrics are telling you one person’s story, most of the time people don’t have anything interesting to say, so just moan about how they’re so deep, our music sets a scene which you can fill with your own story. We could never compete with an orchestra, but for 1 guitar, 1 bass and 1 drum kit, we try our best.
2017 seems to be a breakthrough year for you. You have been performing extensively, sharing stages with the best new acts like Lost Tiger to the Wild, Rubio, Ideal Club (at the Sunflower Lounge in Birmingham), Salt Wounds and others. On 17th of August you have supported American legends of spoken word movement – Listener during their show at the Flapper. In short – you have an impressive resume for a young band.
Thousand Mountain: It’s because we don’t leave promoters alone. We work a lot with “Surprise You’re Dead Music” in Birmingham. And as I’m sure they’ll testify to, we’re really annoying.
But, if we see a show that we want to be on, we won’t wait for the invitation. We’re no strangers to playing some really weird shows just to get our names out there, so venues and promoters know about us. When you have a 4 band bill of 3 proper indie bands, then it is us. We’re definitely there to stick out and be remembered! We supported Press To Meco, who we adore on the back of playing to a room full of scared indie kids where the other bands didn’t talk to us all night. But you have to do things like that. It’s pointless updating Facebook once a month asking people to re-blog you on Tumblr – just turn up, put on a sick show and never stop asking for more.
Thousand Mountain has played in Worcester on several occasions in the past, always to sold-out shows. In September, you will grace our local stages twice: on 15th of September you will perform at Heroes Bar as part of Worcester Music Festival and a week later, on 22nd of September, you will headline the electric stage at Marrs Bar as part of Musicians Against Homelessness event in support of Crisis, a charity helping to eradicate homelessness from British streets. What can we expect from you on that night?
Thousand Mountain: We love Worcester, from the first time we played we’ve been welcomed back with open arms. It’s by far our favorite city to play. Everyone’s open-minded about music and they seem to dig us. We get noticed when we’re walking around town now too, that’s why we come back so often – for an ego boost. We’re really looking forward to that show, we’ve been to a few around the country before and they’re always busy nights. And to be headlining one at our favorite venue is something that’s very important to us. So expect a big, big show.
Two charity gigs in span of few days. You really give back to your own community. In your opinion, how important is it for independent artists to be locally engaged?
Thousand Mountain: Massively. MAH is a huge platform, that’s all the motivation a band should need, but when you know it’s achieving something positive it makes it even more worthwhile.
What are your plans for the future? Any exciting news or plans for a new release?
Thousand Mountain: Our first EP should be released soon, and we promise there won’t be a long wait for EP2! Additionally, we’ve recently learnt how to use iMovie – which is extremely dangerous for band with a weird sense of humor like us. Everything else is a super-secret; you’ll need to follow us to see what’s happening!
You can follow Thousand Mountain at:
If you want to see Thousand Mountain play Musicians Against Homelessness concert, tickets are a £5 and can be bought from the links below:
To find out more about MAH visit Musicians Against Homelessness on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/mahgigs/
As a headliner of the charity fundraiser, Thousand Mountain filled in the role of press spokespersons and they did quite well you have to admit. The local coverage was great, even before the event started:
That`s all for now folks. We will report from after the gig,