Based out of Logan Square, Hollow Mountain are a hard rocking trio that places a premium on raw, catchy riffs. Under “band interests” on their Facebook page they list “beasts, space adventures, interspecies relationships, parties, beer, and alien babes” and their influences include “rock & roll, punk, garage, metal, ’50s sci-fi, fantasy, and fairy tales.” Based on that alone, you should get a decent idea of the spirit and ethos behind their particular brand of DIY punk. To date they have two great demos on their bandcamp, and a new EP on the way. In this interview, we discussed their recordings, and how the band formed (and how its lineup changed), as well as their Loud Loop-exclusive single, “Maria,” which, as always, was recorded exclusively for LoudLoopPress.com by our own Damian Wiseman and is available for free download at the conclusion of this post and/or can be streamed in the Bandcamp sidebar to the right.
LLP: So first of all, give us a little background info on your band. How did you all come together?
Steve: Esther and I met in 2010, but we didn’t start the band until 2012. We actually met Ben at our practice space. It’s a shared space and one day Esther and I were coming in and Ben was leaving. We told him that our drummer was probably leaving the band and Ben said he’d be happy to drum for us if that happened. A few months later in the summer of 2013, he did.
Esther: Yeah he practiced at the same space as us, and it was seriously like…fate or something. Band love at first sight. He sent us links to some of his work, and Steve and I both said, “There’s no way he’s gonna join our band…he’s too good”. We were beyond excited when Ben actually wanted to be a part of Hollow Mountain. At first, Ben really kept the drums minimal, holding back way more than he was used to. But little by little, as we got more comfortable with one another, he started to sneak in little things here and there. He kind of pushed us to take more risks in the song writing, and I think that’s when we began to evolve more as a band.
Steve: Going back to 2010; Esther told me that she wanted to start a punk band. She had never played an instrument or sang before but wanted to try it. I had a lot of experience so I told her to buy a bass and practice amp and I’d teach her some punk bass playing and we’d start writing some songs.
Esther: When I said I wanted to start a band, it was kind of as a joke, to be honest. I think I first said it out of frustration…in a I-hate-my-job-what-am-I-doing-with-my-life kind of way. My friend Andreas and I had both applied to grad school, and we jokingly said, “Hey, if we don’t get in, let’s just start a fucking punk band”. I told Steve about it, and he wanted in. The first few months were, as I mentioned, just for fun…a way to vent but at the same time, feel as if I were doing something productive. Andreas and I both ended up getting accepted into grad school, but he decided to go while I didn’t. That was around the time we needed a new drummer.
LLP: Who was the original drummer?
Esther: That was Brian. Steve met Brian at a show that they played together in different bands at the time. We sent Brian our demos, and told him to come jam with us one day if he liked it. He had had told us that he wasn’t some drumming prodigy, but in actuality, he was great. We played through one song with him, and at the end we were just like…this is it! Brian actually played a big part in shaping the sound and feel of the band at that time. He just had this innate ability to know exactly what would sound good. He later left the band, but it was all on amicable terms. He’s now doing awesome stuff with Big Colour and Raw McCartney!
LLP: Can you talk about the records you have on your bandcamp? How did those come about? What were they like to create/record etc.?
Esther: The demos were just recorded with the cheapest equipment we could find. There’s something kind of raw and magical about that, I think. Or maybe I’m crazy. But I like the sort of lo-fi, DIY in the basement approach sometimes.
Steve: I recorded both demos myself. Demo 2012 was issued on cassette by Maximum Pelt Records and is pretty much sold out, other than a few tapes we have in our gear bag. Both demos are available through our BandCamp page for free.
LLP: Do you have any future releases planned at the moment?
Steve: We have our first official release coming out in late October or early November on Tall Pat Records. It’s a four-song EP that will be released on vinyl as well as digitally via Bandcamp and on cassette via Grabbing Clouds Tapes and Records. Both the digital version and cassette version will contain a fifth bonus track. The vinyl will contain a download code for the entire record as well as the bonus song. At the moment we have one song from the EP streaming on Bandcamp for people to check out called “People Are Alike All Over”. We recorded the EP back in May with Shimby McCreery and Matt Riley. Shimby mixed and mastered it. We used an old Tascam 388 8-track to record the instruments to get a gritty, mid-fi sound. We ended up recording the vocals digitally because we ran out of inputs on the 388.
Esther: Recording the EP was also a lot of fun. I felt totally relaxed because I just felt like I was hanging out with my friends the whole time, which is awesome. The only downside was that I was getting over a cold, so my voice was a little weaker than usual. I think it turned out fine though, considering.
Steve: We’re focused on playing more shows and writing more songs. I’d love to get a full length album together by the fall / winter of 2015. That’s my next big goal for the band.
Esther: We are constantly messing around with new song ideas at practice. Like Steve said, I think having a full-length album in our sights is a nice goal, but I’m having fun either way. It would be cool if we finally got a proper band photo sometime soon.
LLP: Lastly can you talk about the single you recorded for us?
Esther: If you’re a cool nerd like us, you’ll know exactly what the song is about. It’s kind of a weird song for us…meaning that it is extremely different than anything else we’ve ever done. It’s slower and has these strange tempo changes. When we first started practicing it, it took me a long time to warm up to it. But once we started getting it tighter, I really started to have fun with it. This song has a little bit of all of us in it, which might explain why it seems to be all over the place in a way that works. Recording it was so much fun. I really loved being able to record the song as a live band. It really captures the way we work off of one another, and how we connect together while playing.
Steve: The song is called “Maria,” and it is about the first episode of a popular Japanese cartoon series. We recorded with Damian Wiseman and had a great time. It was the easiest recording session I have ever been a part of. We just set up, played, did some overdubs and BAM! we had a song done just like that.