jueves, 13 de junio de 2013

Mount Moriah: Portrait of the "New South"

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Mount Moriah are Heather McEntire (lead singer and guitar), Jenks Miller (guitar) and Casey Toll (bass).  They have just published a second LP “Miracle Temple”, their first album released by the extremely well-known label Merge Records (Dinosaur Jr., Arcade Fire, Neutral Milk Hotel, Archers of Loaf…). 
They are from North Carolina, and are influenced by the Americana sound although they use to be defined with other bands into the “New South” sound or what’s the same:  Keep the pure southern folk essence in an indie-rock line.

Jenks has answered our hysterical interview.

Folk, Indie-Rock, Secular Gospel, Country … But we think that’s better that you tell us: How will you define Mount Moriah’s sound?
We try to keep our sound open so that we can continue to evolve creatively.  The band formed so that Heather and I could explore more traditional (and maybe accessible) musical forms that our other more confrontational projects (Bellafea and Horseback, respectively) don't really allow.  So yes, folk, country and Americana influences are often the most obvious influences on our sound.

On your second LP’s cover, we can see an impressive picture of a farm on fire. If we translate this to you as a band, suggests us that some way, you finish a stage to begin a new one with this album.  Is that what it’s about?
Yes, that's definitely a part of what makes the cover such a powerful image.  Maggie Fost, Merge's art director, found that image in an archive after we discussed the record's themes with her.  The barn in the image was burned down in order to make way for a dam.  That violent transformation helps characterize some of the drama in the record.

What does it mean for you to be published by Merge Records?
We're thrilled to be able to work with Merge!  The label casts a long shadow here in North Carolina, and they only seem to grow over the years.  Heather and I released Mount Moriah's debut record on our own label, Holidays for Quince, and that was a wonderful experience.  When it came time to make the follow-up, Merge allowed us access to resources we otherwise wouldn't have, which helped the band fulfill our own growing ambitions.

As we have read, in your first LP Heathers voice seemed quite shyer than in this album, something that we could consider as an element of the natural evolution of the band. What other elements have changed in relation to your first LP? Has Mount Moriah changed some way?
I think Heather gained a lot of power and confidence as a singer as a result of our touring on the debut.  She's always had a very affecting voice, but as she gained more control over its power, the band was able to follow suit and explore louder, bigger and more confident arrangements.  There's a lot more happening on Miracle Temple, and the production is much bolder.

You come from North Carolina; please excuse our ignorance and few knowledgement in North American history… We think that exist some values and traditions that are considered untouchable, one of them country folk music: A very strong tradition inside American’s folklore. We suppose that some people love your music but there will also exist people that criticize the own style of the band because of its singularity. What do you think about those opposed to the “New South” portrait?
Country and folk music are dynamic forms; they exist at the intersection of a collective history and a shared imagination, and our understanding of those forms changes over time.  So yes, there is a tradition at work here, but traditions look different depending on where you're situated.  As progressive, creative types, the individuals in Mount Moriah are interested in aspects of the South that represent challenge, evolution, and personal liberation.  Those themes have always been present, one just has to know where to look (and often the official record isn't going to point you in the right direction).  Personally, I think it's most helpful to understand the discourse surrounding the "New South" as an increased awareness of something that was always here.

Now we are going to leap to the past (keep calm, we will come back entire to our sits). Heather belonged to a punk band (Bellafea). Can you cross from punk to folk without die trying? As we see things haven’t gone bad but… When and how do you make up your mind of doing making something completely different?
Rules were made to be broken, right?  I say that with tongue firmly in cheek, but the truth is that the world of music is -- at least for all us audiophiles -- virtually boundless.  It's as big as you want it to be.  In an age of hyper-connectivity and an insatiable hunger for illumination, it makes sense for artists to cast wide nets rather than to disappear down the rabbit-hole of some imagined singular and rigid form of music.

This question is mandatory: At whom would you throw a Hello Kitty knickers or underwear and why? 
I don't know how to answer this!  Alas, I do not own any Hello Kitty underwear ;)

Will this year be the year when you’ll beat all marks about the number of interstate roads crossed during a Tour? Now seriously, you are touring the mid-East Coast in a short term, isn’t it? When all your van tires are worn-out it could be a good moment to think about taking a flight and tour outside from US, maybe Europe?
We've done two tours thus far, crossing the continental US.  We have another coming up in June with Jesse Sykes.  We'll eventually make it to Europe, but it's an expensive trip so there's a lot that has to fall into place first.

Truly, you have very good live shows. Also the critics consider it and we can appreciate it in the Internet, watching your live videos. How is a Mount Moriah’s rider?
Thanks for saying so!  Our rider is simple:  veggies, hummus, and soda water!

We finish the interview with the song “Bright Light” from the new LP “Miracle Temple”. What does this song mean for you?
You'd probably get a different answer from Heather, but to me "Bright Light" is the most immediate, hooky track on Miracle Temple.  As such, it's a gateway into the darker aspects of the record, the bright, shining lure that beckons the listener in.

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