Originally a solo project born out of grief, Young Mountain have since assembled with a lot of experience and a first glimpse at their anticipated debut EP, If You Leave. We caught up with guitarist Jason Mays to talk about the band’s beginnings and filming their touching video for ‘James Albert’.
Words: Renette van der Merwe
Photos: Garrett Cardoso
You’re brand spanking new, hello! Tell us a little about yourself. Where the name came from, how this started out and anything else new fans would want to know.
Yeah, we’re pretty new for a bunch of old guys! Lol.
But the name came from the album Young Mountain by This Will Destroy You. It was the first major guitar based album that I got to share with my dad and it was the last album we listened to together before he passed.
So, it only seemed fitting to name the band after an album that’s so closely tied to my dad given the fact that this whole project started as a way for me to cope with the loss of my dad…it only made sense.
There’s some solid experience between you (Slaves, Native Suns, Woe, Is Me, Favorite Weapon, From First to Last, I Set My Friends on Fire, Of Machines). How different is this project to what you’ve all done before?
Oh, yeah! Between all of us we’ve got a ton of knowledge and experience. Which is kind of cool because we have insight from those experiences about the music industry that’s made it easier for us to navigate through the quirks of being a “new” band.
I think the other way this project is pretty different is primarily the music. I made a conscious effort to move in a different direction and wear my influences more on my sleeves. I’ve always loved more ambient/textured/experimental music. And I think the last way in which this project is different, is that we’re not driving ourselves crazy trying to be the biggest band in the world! We’re not doing the normal album cycle thing and touring all the time.
We’re doing this because it’s fun, and we like doing it. It’s a passion project that mainly focuses on being sincere in our art and just having fun with my friends with no preconceived notions of trying to get signed and tour ourselves crazy.
Let’s talk about your first memory of music.
Oh! My first memory of music was my mom buying me this kids drum set because I would always beat on her pots and pans, I must’ve been like 3 or so, but I remember just beating the crap out of that toy drum set and putting a hole through the kick drum. Rather than just replacing the drum head, we just threw it away…needless to say I never got any better at drums, lol.
But my first big listening experience was probably the John Williams score for Superman The Movie. I remember that score as a kid and I loved John Williams music in general! Also, I was dangerously obsessed with Michael Jackson’s Bad (MJ Puns. lol), I must’ve watched Moonwalker like a thousand times and I remembered every single dance move!
Who are some of the bands or artists that you’d love to collaborate with and/or open for on tour?
I would love to open for Michael Kwianuka, This Will Destroy You, Daughter, SLOWDIVE, Caspian, Sleep Token, LOATHE, Explosions In The Sky, Deftones, Radiohead, Incubus, The National, Bon Iver, Kendrick Lamar, Björk, Mew, The Smashing Pumpkins, Thundercat, Erykah Badu, Sigur Ros, Thrice, M83, The 1975, A Tribe Called Quest, Sade, Coldplay, Mayday Parade, Go Radio, Linkin Park, N.E.R.D.
You just released your first single, congrats! Let’s chat about the accompanying video – what were some of the most fun and most challenging aspects of creating it?
THANK YOU! I think probably the whole experience was pretty fun!
It was the first time that we were together as Young Mountain and not just a bunch of band dudes hanging. So it was like just catching up with some of your best friends that you hadn’t seen in forever. Like, we all vibed pretty well and It was just a great time.
Michael Wise, our director, was amazing to work with and very accommodating to the point where we all felt like family. For me, it was the most fun I’ve had thus far filming a music video. I think the hardest part for us was just trying to “fake” play together for the first time, like that video is literally the first time we all sat in a room together with our instruments and it was a bit awkward. So we were just trying to adjust to each other and I think if you look close enough you can see that in the full band shots.
Settle an argument for us (and the rest of the world) pineapple on pizza?
…I can’t really say much because there was a girl that I was crushing on (that I’m good friends with now) that enjoys pineapple on her pizza…and I don’t really want to incur her wrath… so I’m just going to stare ominously onto the floor and blink twice for “no”.
Rising to the challenge, Young Mountain have put together an electrifying collection of songs that best encapsulates the artists and music that inspire them as a band.
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