When Witch Mountain went on hiatus in 2002, after a five year span of activity, to tend other projects and some real life concerns, the future looked a little uncertain for these Portland, Orgeon-based doomlords. But things changed a bit in 2009, when they had their friend Uta Plotkin sing a song of their first record, "...Come The Mountain", at a show opening for Pentagram and Danava in their hometown. She was a hit and the band had a new permanent vocalist.
From there they went on to self-release the follow up record to "Come", entitled "South Of Salem" in 2011. Profound Lore signed the band and re-released the record in a limited edition CD in early 2012. The band went quickly to work and the follow up to "South", and "Cauldron Of The Wild" came out in June of this year. Before the band left for a tour with their friends in equally great heavy band Castle, that takes them to BAR in New Haven on Halloween, we sent drummer Nathan Carson, a bunch of questions on a variety of band related subjects, including their recent spate of activity, new killer vocalist and awesome logo among other things. The band also features Rob Wrong on guitar and Neal Munson on bass.
What were the reasons behind the ten year gap between 2001's "…Come The Mountain" and 2011's "South Of Salem"?
Witch Mountain was offered one of the last contracts from Man’s Ruin Records before it went under. When they folded, our scene imploded for a bit. We all had careers, lives, and other bands during that time. Also, we really had always wanted a truly world-class singer. We finally found her in 2009, so that’s when we got the ball rolling again.
And what are the reasons behind the quick turnaround between "South" and your new record "Cauldron Of The Wild"?
Well it seems quick, but we recorded South of Salem in January of 2010. It just didn’t get released until 2011 on vinyl and then finally issued on CD in early 2012. We recorded Cauldron in March 2012 and got it out promptly in June because we were headed out on our first US tour in many years. Back in the 60s, bands used to record an album or two every year. We’ve got our sites set on that sort of productivity for a while now that the band is fully functioning and people are listening.
What does Uta Plotkin bring to the table as a vocalist? How did you know she was the right vocalist for the band? How did she join?
I met Uta in 2008, and it turned out that she and I had grown up in the same small town in Oregon. So we had a pretty instant “friend connection” plus our mutual interest in music. I saw her band Aranya perform and discovered that she’s a superb vocalist and musician. We had a big show coming up with Pentagram and Danava and wanted to do something special—so I asked Uta to learn the old track “A Power Greater” which Erica Stoltz from Lost Goat had sung on our first album. Uta obliged, and knocked it out of the park. We immediately asked her to join the band. And it’s been a rollercoaster of joy every since. Now the band is fully balanced, with vocals that are on par with the music, and she provides a nice focal point for the audience. It’s a huge relief for Rob Wrong to concentrate on writing music and shredding on guitar. And all of us get goosebumps when she hits those high notes.
What is the appeal of doom metal to you guys and gal? What drew you to this form of heavy music given all the other forms that are in existence today?
All of us love Black Sabbath. You can’t talk about doom and not talk about Sabbath. But I also started getting obsessed with Candlemass and Saint Vitus in the nineties, so I looked around for musicians that had similar interests. The closest I found was Rob Wrong who at that time was playing in this supremely heavy and loud sludge band called Iommi Stubbs. I saw him playing in a small club through a Marshall full stack with a Strat strung upside-down. He and I clicked immediately.
As for why? Well, we live in Oregon where it’s dark and cloudy and pouring rain eight months out of the year. Doom suits our mood. Plus it’s just realistic. Entropy is an unavoidable part of our existence and mankind is a rather miserable species.
Do you think the over all musical climate is better for heavy bands these days? How is the band received in its hometown of Portland? Is it friendly to heavy music?
It’s definitely better now than ever before. In the 90s, it was completely uncool to play any form of metal music in Portland. Not that we cared. But yes, things have changed. We lived long enough, we held out, and now the kind of music that moved us 15 years ago has become acceptable—even “hip.” Regardless, it’s very nice to finally have the local papers talking about us and treating us with respect. But we’d be doing this anyway, even if they still disregarded us. No one in history has started a doom metal band with the goal of quitting their day jobs. That’s part of what keeps this music pure. The glass ceiling is pretty low… And yet here we are getting our asses kissed by Pitchfork and enjoying a big feature in the new issue of SPIN magazine. Strange days indeed. Most peculiar Mama!
The title of the new album is a Jack London reference. Why did you decide to go with that?
Because it was appropriate and it made us laugh.
How is "Cauldron Of The Wild" different and/or similar to its predecessor?
The idea is that it’s similar in form to South of Salem, only with better songs, artwork, production, distribution, performances, etc. We plan to get better with every album.
Who designed your logo? It's pretty impressive.
I conceived it on a napkin. Then we had our buddy Mark McCormick—a killer designer in Brooklyn—he made this tiny version of it that was accidentally crushed by a dwarf. Then Mark redesigned it for us in high resolution and full color. Mark does the layout for pretty much all of our releases and is a truly talented man.
What are the future plans for the band?
We’re going on a 5 week tour of the US and Canada this October/November with our friends Castle (Prosthetic Records / facebook.com/heavycastle). Just recorded a new single. Already working on a new album for 2013. Eyeing Europe. Playing hard, making friends, getting better all the time. \wm/
Manic Productions Presents:
Wednesday, October 31 (Halloween!), 2012
254 Crown Street
New Haven, CT 06511
(203) 495 - 1111
7pm (early show) - 21+ - Free