Tomorrow night at Walter's On Washington, three Houston bands throw down their first gigs of 2010. For Roky Moon & Bolt they have a new album in the offing and the future seems pretty clear cut. They are riding into this new year with quite an amount of steam behind them from most all the music blogs in town.
For the Tontons things aren't so simple, with the band quoted as being in limbo by guitarist Tom Nguyen. They came out pretty strong in mid-2009 with a slew of shows and the release of their long-gestating LP which helped them get a featured spot on a video for a campaign to drag tourists to Houston. But then in the fall lead singer Asli Omar began a semester of college in New York City, derailing the bands plans. It wasn't exactly a surprise that she was leaving by any means but it seemed to have thrown them off a tad.
Compared to the other two on the bill, Ghost Mountain have sadly gotten the least attention. Rocks Off became a fan of their glitchy loops and echo a few months back and has been intrigued by them ever since. We sat down with them this past week to talk sonics, influences and the band's plans for this year coming up. The happy surprise is that we will be getting new material by at least summer.
Rocks Off: How did Ghost Mountain come about? What's the lineage of your band? Daniel Berkowitz: I think we started this whole project the summer before sophomore year of high school. I can't quite remember. We both grew up in Baytown and went to Lee High School. Stephen got Fruityloops over the summer, cranked out beats, and sent them to me. I got the idea of recording vocals over them which I'd then send back to him and he'd mix it all together. We added my friend Max Lipchitz to the band who plays as mostly a live component with his electric guitar. He's on a few recorded songs as well.
Stephen Farris: I remember we rode the bus home freshman year of high school and we always talked about music and things. We just had the idea to start a band one day because we both sort of had our own little recordings that we both thought were cool. I think I was most excited on just coming up with a name, which coincidentally happened to be the same name as a Unicorns song. In regards to musical background I started making real simple beats on Fruityloops, and knew a few chords on piano and guitar, but who doesn't these days you know?
RO: What bands and sounds came into your view that helped cultivate the Ghost Mountain sound?
DB: Around the beginning I was listening heavily to Beck's Guero and Modest Mouse and then found out about WHY? I remember listening to Elephant Eyelash by them and thinking that it was changing my whole outlook on life. It's definitely my favorite album of all time. That's when I began writing which was perfect since that was around the time Stephen started getting really handy at making the dopest beats possible. We made music for quite a while before our first show which Buxton, who are so incredibly good to us, asked us to play at The Forum in La Porte, a venue Sergio Trevino and his family used to run.
SF: For me, the bands that I listen to make the sound possible would have to be Boards of Canada, Animal Collective, TOBACCO, Black Dice, Vashti Bunyan, A Tribe Called Quest, Cat Stevens, and Dan Deacon.
RO: What Houston bands are the most enjoyable for you to watch?
DB: There's Buxton, Ghormeh Sabzi, Young Mammals, Limb, sIngs, B L A C K I E, Giant Princess. The list could for sure go on...
RO: The production on your albums goes beyond what we have heard in Houston. There is almost a fourth dimension to it. How is that accomplished?
SF: Well first off, thanks for the compliment. I've always listened to music for sonic purposes and have always thought to make songs pleasing in that sense. I've also been collecting a bunch of musical gadgets and noisemakers and also got into circuit bending early on. So having all of these gadgets and synths, I always feel the need to use it to fill up space so that songs are more interesting to listen to.
RO: As far as 2010 goes, what can we expect from you guys? A new album or tour?
DB: Our plans for 2010 include shows in Austin most likely since now Max and I go to the University Of Texas. There is a new album that we are shooting for late spring or summer release. Then maybe a fall and winter tour. I don't know, but we ill definitely be touring. We've never done it and I so desperately want to. Probably throw in an EP release in the last quarter of the year.
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