INTERVIEW: MAGICK MOUNTAIN
After making a mark on British garage-rock with their string of bright, snappy singles, Leeds three-piece Magick Mountain released their debut LP, Weird Feelings in late 2020. After obsessing over every track to come from the band, we were lucky enough to chat with their eternally amazing singer and guitarist, Lins Wilson!
Magick Mountain (from L-R): Tom Hudson (vocals and bass), Lins Wilson (vocals and guitar) and Nestor Matthews (drums)
DRAB: Hey there, thanks for sitting down and talking with us. Hope you are doing very well, all things considered. We’re big fans of Magick Mountain over here at DRAB but in case anyone any of our readers aren’t as familiar with your work, do you think you could introduce yourselves and give us a quick look into how you would describe Magick Mountain?
Lins: We’re doing pretty well thanks, despite constant impending doom we’re doing what we can to keep ourselves cheery. We’ve just released our debut album so that’s been really exciting, and a bit of a whirlwind, definitely been a distraction this year to self-release our record. How to describe us? Fuzz-fuelled riffs with harmony-laden dual vocals, a blending of 3 personalities and of past, present and future that sits somewhere between garage rock, grunge, proto-punk and psych.
Speaking of past, present and future, the band has been around for a few years now with your first single, Zodiac, coming out all the way back in 2017. Has how you’ve seen the band, or what you’ve wanted the band to be changed in those three years?
I think releasing that 1st single 3 years ago with Come Play With Me as a 7” just gave us a big shove into ‘this could be a band’ to ‘this is a band now’ so we’re really grateful for that. I wouldn’t say the vision has changed dramatically, we’ve just taken our sweet time. We’re busy bees and have our hands in lots of other projects, bands, work, life... so we just wanted to take our time with writing and recording and building our own world. I think we’ve always had a vision of what we wanted the band to be, since a year or 2 before releasing Zodiac and we’ve just spent time developing it.
Following on from the last two questions, you’ve all been high profile musicians even before coming together as Magick Mountain. What were all your experiences musically before this project started and how has that shaped Magick Mountain?
Our past experiences have influenced probably every aspect of the band, from the ease and speed of playing/learning/writing together to what we wanted to do visually to how we’ve gone about self-releasing and remaining in control of what we’re doing. I think one of the biggest things is that after facing various challenges in other bands we’ve all been keen for this to be as easy-going as possible, no pressure, just 3 pals getting together to make music. We’ve definitely learnt to just do what we wanna do and not worry too much about what anyone thinks.
Earlier this year you put out a track on the Come Stay With Me compilation that you recorded at Leeds DIY venue Mabgate Bleach. You also frequently make playlists that feature other local DIY bands. What does the local scene mean for you and what makes it tick in your opinion, whether that be the bands, the people, or the venues and industry?
The local music community is massively important to us, and Leeds being so ace is why we’ve all been here a long time, only really leaving for tours! It’s so important to build support locally, and if we want that we have to also show our support for other bands here - going to gigs (RIP), sharing music, making playlists etc. Creating a buzz locally is like a foundation for getting further out there, we all just genuinely love new music and seeing what’s going on around us and being part of that. It’s a very Leeds thing to not be in competition with each other, we share gear, stages, advice and love of music and it helps build a genuine community, which has so many advantages.
To say we’re loving your album would be an understatement. How are you guys feeling about it and what made you think it was time to put out an album?
It’s been a massive learning curve putting out our own record, lots of time has gone in to every aspect of it from writing and recording to artwork, hand made prints and patches, being sure to work with local Yorkshire suppliers and also involve as many female music professionals in the project as much as possible and also managing it all ourselves. I think knowing how much we’ve done ourselves makes it even more satisfying. For me it’s super exciting as it’s my 1st album release for my own band, rather than records I’ve played ‘on’. It’s been a dream to have an album on vinyl since I was teenager so yeah I’m super happy, and people seem to be enjoying it. I’m glad we can bring some enjoyment and escapism in such a crappy year! It felt like the right time simply because we’d written an album’s worth of songs and decided to use it as our starting point, rather than building up to it over many single releases/EPs etc. Like, BAM! Here’s MM.
As you said, you’re self releasing your debut album. Can you touch on how that process been for you? Obviously you’re all seasoned musicians with years of expertise but is this a process you’ve gone through before?
Yeh so it’s definitely new for all of us, the other guys have both released records via labels before, and I’ve not officially released an album, so it’s new all round. I think our general expertise has showed us how important it is to create genuine relationships with audiences so that they want to join you on your journey as a band, and we decided early on to put a lot into creating something that isn’t throw away, that if we were to only ever got one chance to release an album we make it count. I’m sure we will do more though! I’ve been a project manager in the arts for a number of years so I think me treating it as a project and doing fundraising/keeping on top of budgets and timelines has been helpful, while Tom has been melting his eyeballs doing all the artworks and Nest has been helping on copywriting, admin and all sorts. We’ve been learning to build web stores, figure out putting stuff out on all the different platforms and work with a distributor to get it in indie stores. I’m pretty proud of us to be honest, especially as half the industry has shut down this year!
An exciting part of the release, for us as an audience, is the fantastic art that accompanies the album and all the singles from it. Followers of your Instagram will have noticed that all the art comes fromTom Hudson, the bands bassist, who often post insights into the inspirations for the art. Can you talk through those inspirations and your process for the art?
So Tom is our main man on artwork, and we had decided from the start of the band that we wanted to create strong visuals that are representative of the ‘world’ of Magick Mountain. It’s definitely allowed Tom to have total creativity over the 5 covers he’s designed (for the singles and album). There are some running themes and the bright colour palette to tie it all together, and within each image you’ll find imagery that represents that song/the album. We all have a love of things like ancient mythology, space/the universe, history and different cultures, though I think for Tom it borders on obsession! He spends a lot of his time flicking through national geographic and watching Ancient Aliens! I think we were also really keen to use bold, bright colours as it represents who we are, as people and as a band. A lot of the font/colour choices were inspired by 60s/70s poster art as well.
It’s maybe unfair to make a band pick favourites but I’m going to do it anyway. Do you have any moments on the album you could pick out as a favourite and talk through why it stands out for you?
I’m going to pick the only quiet song on the album, Dream Chaser. I had written the acoustic line and wanted to turn it into a Neil Young-esque kind of palette cleanser on the album. It’s about accepting getting older and also harks back to a bit of an overall theme on the album about getting lost in those spaces in-between - dreams and reality, wake and sleep, past and future... I enjoy listening back to it as I haven’t listened to it as much as the others, I have a really fun solo on it and got to sneak some cello on it too.
Obviously these aren’t the most typical times to be doing anything musical. Regardless of that though, do you have any plans or ideas for the near future you want to talk about? Any live gigs, streams, or more music in the pipeline?
We’ve barely had time to catch our breath since the album came out, so the focus at the moment is sharing that with the world! But yes we’re hoping to do one or two live sessions before the year is out as it’d be a shame for people not to see/hear them live in some way. I think we’re all keen to get writing more stuff so we’ll see. We do have a couple of shows booked in Feb 2021 with Manchester psych band, Mister Strange - at Mabgate Bleach Leeds and Yes in Manchester. Keeping everything crossed that they can happen!
Since we had this interview, Magick Mountain have announced a fantastic live session they filmed at Eiger Studios. See below for further information:
Before we close out this interview, is there anything else you guys want to add or shoutout? Any recommendations you want to leave our readers with, or any words of wisdom you feel like you can provide?
If people are stuck for some stuff to listen to, definitely head over to our Spotify page where we’ve got over 20 ‘Cosmic Relief’ playlists that we’ve been sharing throughout the year; some really awesome stuff in there. Things I’m particularly enjoying atm are new Fuzz album (III), new TRAAMS tunes, Angel Olsen’s latest stuff (obsessed). In terms of advice I’d just say be authentic, help out others and also ask for help, and remember to sleep!
Thanks Lins! It's been wonderful getting some insights into the band, the album, and all things Leeds. We can't wait for more from you in the new year! For all our readers still in need of a Christmas present, why don't you check out the amazing vinyl the band have in store for you over at their Bandcamp!
Words by Varun Govil
Photography by Kirsty Garland