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Moving mountains

Vancouver-based group hits Pemberton Festival this summer

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The vast array of groups and solo performers coming from all over the world to entertain at the Pemberton Festival is staggering, but many of the acts in the lineup actually have some B.C. roots.

Black Mountain, a Canadian indie-rock band, is one such group — they’re made up of five performers from the Vancouver area: Stephen McBean, Amber Webber, Matt Camirand, Jeremy Schmidt and Joshua Wells.

Their sound is a modern blend of heavy, psychedelic rock. Think Led Zeppelin meets Neil Young: hardcore riffs mixed with a bit of poetic lyricism.

Jeremy Schmidt talked to me from the band’s touring van a few weeks ago, as they made their way along a very bumpy road from Fargo to Winnipeg. At this point, they’d been on the road for about two months, and were on the verge of wrapping up the U.S. leg of their tour before heading to Europe.

They’ve been together since 2005, when they all met through Vancouver’s music scene.

“We all just kind of fell into one another’s company over the years, just by playing music and that sort of thing,” said Schmidt.

They quickly created and released their self-titled first album, and since then have gained a steady fan base both at home and abroad with their progressive take on classic rock, which incorporates a variety of different musical influences.

“We don’t feel like we cling to any one genre or that we’re, like, revisiting any one moment — we sort of go back and look at all kinds of different things,” Schmidt explained.

And as time has passed, and the group has had an opportunity to perform together, they’ve been able to get a better grasp on each other’s musical tastes and style.

“We’ve sort of just grown together,” said Schmidt. “The chemistry of the band has evolved a bit, I guess.

During this most recent tour, they actually performed Stormy High, a song off their latest album , In The Future , on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, which Schmidt says was a “weird, whirlwind” experience.

“It was pretty fun, actually. It was definitely a bit of a surreal, quasi-perverse experience. It’s just so odd, you know, doing what you do in a TV studio,” he said. “It’s sort of an unnatural setting for what we do… It’s just strange to be on the other side of the TV as it were, to be in this little sort of realm that you’re familiar with from watching it on TV, like, every day, to actually just be in that space and see how different it actually looks and feels — it’s really weird.”

Though they are currently on a club tour, Schmidt says the band really enjoys playing at outdoor festivals.

“Festivals are a bit of a cookout — they’re kind of crazy and it’s just a very different scene from doing club shows, just the way it’s organized is a little different and kind of at the mercy of an overwhelming schedule,” said Schmidt.

So when they heard a massive festival was being planned in the Pemberton area, just a few hours from their home base of Vancouver, they jumped at the chance to get involved.

“We thought that was pretty cool, actually. It sounds like a pretty good festival,” said Schmidt. While he hadn’t had a chance to check out the full lineup, he had heard that Coldplay, The Flaming Lips, and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were also performing, and hopes Black Mountain can stick around for the duration of the festival to check out the other acts.

Black Mountain will also play at the Coachella Festival in Southern California at the end of April and a few outdoor festivals in Europe, before they return to perform at the Pemberton Festival at the end of July. At that point they will have been on a fairly steady tour schedule for almost six months, and will be ready to wind things down and settle in to work on some new material.

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