Tags such as prog or stoner aside, Black Mountain is, above all else, a rock band. The Vancouver band's list of influences (Zeppelin, Floyd, Sabbath, Yes) reads like the required listening from School of Rock, and any track on its 2008 Jagjaguwar release, In the Future, would make for a bitchin' level on Guitar Hero. When we reached Black Mountain by phone, keyboardist Jeremy Schmidt was gracious enough to turn down "The Boxer" by Simon and Garfunkel on the touring van's stereo and discuss the new record, drugs, irony and violence.
The Pitch: What was Black Mountain trying to accomplish with In the Future?
Schmidt: We just wanted to make something that really felt like an album in that classic sort of sense, with a narrative from beginning to end. That was really the only criteria. The rest just kind of developed as we went. We had no intentions of making it a double album.
How do you feel about being labeled a stoner-rock band?
It can be good or bad, and usually it's boring. It just kind of insinuates this monolithic kind of heavy, masculine, riff-oriented thing, and I like that element and I think it exists in our music, but there's more going on than that sonically. Things like [backup vocalist] Amber [Webber]'s voice and the keyboard arrangements aren't what come to mind when people think of stoner rock. I guess it just depends on what people think the limitations of that genre are.
I notice when a band like Wolfmother plays a '70s rock riff, it gets labeled ironic, but when Black Mountain plays a '70s rock riff, you don't.
That's because we're not being ironic.
Is there any element of irony in your music?
No, I don't think so. Having that sort of ironic distance is necessary for certain people, but we don't feel that way. You eventually just come to terms with what you like, and that's what you do. I certainly see some of the folly in classic rock and progressive rock, the sort of grandiosity of it in its heyday. It can definitely be looked upon as kind of funny. But I think it produced really good music, and I think the musical elements of it we delve into we really like. It's like part of our soul. Whether it's regarded culturally as ironic or frivolous, it's stuff that we relate to on a profound level.
You toured with Coldplay in 2005, which seems like an odd bill. How did the crowd react?
I think they were fairly indifferent, for the most part. I mean, it was a Coldplay show, so we were kind of a minor distraction before the "real" show began.
People can get pretty violent if denied their Coldplay.
There were lots of people texting their friends while we played. Asking them if they got parking, I guess.
Who would win in a fight, Led Zeppelin, circa 1973, or Black Sabbath, circa 1973?
I think probably Sabbath. They're just a little more working-class-bruiser dudes. But who knows — maybe Led Zeppelin are tough motherfuckers, too. Maybe John Bonham would just kick the shit out of everybody. It's hard to say, but I think I'm going to go with Sabbath.
Then who would win in a fight: Black Sabbath, circa 1973, or Black Mountain, circa 2008?
Oh, Black Sabbath would definitely kick the shit out of us. We're wimps, man. They would beat our asses and proudly proclaim that we are not real stoner rock. We are art fags, and we're dead.