Magick Mountain is the pairing of Lins Wilson (Grammatics & Mother Vulpine), Tom Hudson (Pulled Apart by Horses) and Nestor Matthews (Menace Beach, Larkins). Together they create a bombastic sound that is filled to the brim with with meaty, fuzzed out riffs and reverb drenched vocals. It’s a chaotic yet wholly entertaining sound that is similar to artists such as The Oh Sees, King Gizzard and Wand.
Recently the Leeds based band released their debut album ‘Weird Feelings’, a delightful sonic barrage of guitars hard hitting percussion all wistfully wrapped into one exciting package. After having this spinning on repeat we were eager to get to know more about their experiences as a band, their songwriting process and much more. Thankfully Bassmaster Tom Hudson was happy to answer our questions!
Kieran: Hey! Thank you all for taking the time to have a chat with us, how have you all been?
Tom: Apart from it being one of the weirdest years for most of us… we’re all good, (semi) healthy and full of posi vibes.
Kieran: So, your debut album ‘Weird Feelings’ is out in the wild now, how does it feel and how has the response been?
Tom: We’re super excited that the album is finally out there! It took a little while getting there due to us putting all the pieces of the puzzle together; recording in a couple of different studio spaces, recording most of the guitars and vox ourselves and then choosing to self-release it and all the extra learning that comes with. The response has been really good! Way better than we expected really as a DIY band. We’ve ended up getting orders from all over the UK, Europe, US, Canada, Aus and even a few in Japan! We’ve been playing three quarters of the album live for a couple of years (but only had one track online), so it’s great that people can finally have it.
Kieran: How did you all meet and at what point did you decide to form Magick Mountain?
Tom: As testament to the entwining music community in Leeds we’ve actually all known each other for ages (15 years or more I think!) Me and Lins met at Leeds College of Art, as we were on the same course and ended up playing in a band together called Mother Vulpine within a year or so of meeting. Lins met Nestor a year before me when he was playing in a band that then went on to be Sky Larkin (that Lins was in at the beginning too) and the rest is history I guess….. A shit load of history, haha!
Kieran: Boring question but where does the band name come from?
Tom: I’m not entirely sure. I think I originally picked it up from the book ‘The Magic Mountain’ by Thomas Mann but also subconsciously liked the name as it was a fucking gnarly Lightning Bolt track from the album ‘Hypermagic Mountain’. It conjures up some sort of colourful, psychedelic feat. We added the special ‘k’ to Magic to go with the occult ritualistic spelling of the word.
Check out ‘Infinity X2’ here:
Kieran: Throughout the album there is a clear Oh Sees and Ty Segall influence but are there any other artists or people that inspired your sound?
Tom: Yeah, Oh Sees and Ty were big game changers for us around 6 or 7 years ago (along with some of their LA contemporaries like Wand, Meatbodies, Fuzz and Aussie bands like King Gizz) but it’s not just that scene that’s had an influence on our sound. Collectively, we’ve all grown up with a taste for the noisey! I grew up listening to stuff like Nirvana, Mudhoney, Pixies, Hole, Led Zep, Neil Young. Lins grew up listening to loads of classic rock stuff like Led Zep, Hendrix, AC/DC. And Nestor grew up with a mix of the heavy (QOTSA, Smashing Pumpkins) mixed with some soundsystem dub / reggae and electronica through his Dad’s influence. Other than that, when we all first met we bonded over bands like Death From Above 1979, QOTSA, Yourcodenameis:milo, At The Drive-In, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and went to a ton of local Leeds shows together too.
Kieran: How did you feel the pandemic affected the album release?
Tom: Even though the pandemic may have affected the release of the album, it’s also affected most other things in the world at the moment so it’s hard to know how to gauge it. Positively speaking… we think it’s gone as well (or even better) than we expected. It’s given us something positive and productive to focus on whilst in lockdown. Every month (earlier this year) I had to create a new single artwork for each of our 4 singles, which then led me onto creating the album artwork and getting everything sent off to be printed and pressed. We also created our own video for Infinity X2 that we shot (socially distanced), edited, then got somebody else (on the other side of the globe) to effect and manipulate the footage. We’ve had social distanced photoshoots and even a record packing / mailing assembly line during the whole thing. The only thing that’s been really tough for us is the fact our album was released but we couldn’t tour or even play a single show to support it, which is disappointing as we’re a live band first and foremost.
Kieran: How has the pandemic and lockdowns affected you creatively?
Tom: Working on self-releasing the album helped us to try and focus on things creatively in a sense. Creating the artwork, shooting / editing videos, negotiating risograph printed record inserts, screen-printing patches. It has however had its ‘ups and downs’. I didn’t even pick up a guitar or play anything for a good few months and I know Lins has struggled to get into any kind of writing mindset too. I didn’t feel inspired, just overwhelmed by everything really. It took a while to not feel exhausted, anxious and weirdly guilty for what was happening everywhere; but after a while I started to gain back some creative motivation. If we didn’t have the album to focus our energy into I probably would’ve lost my mind!
The only thing that’s been really tough for us is the fact our album was released but we couldn’t tour or even play a single show to support itTom Hudson – Magick Mountain
Kieran: When writing the album did you guys have a clear vision of the sound or was it something that developed through playing?
Tom: Pretty much! We didn’t want to go overboard with the production on it. We’d played the majority of the tracks many times at chaotic, sweaty shows that the muscle memory was already set in place. We wanted the album to feel cohesive and unpolished, as if you were standing in the middle of the practice room with us. If Lins slips into a fuzzy solo, we’d make a conscious effort to not have a rhythm guitar overdub underneath it, because that’s not how it would sound live. We want it to sound like a 3 piece, each having our sonic space to fill… but keeping it real and ready. Me and Lins spent hours at our practice space-come DIY recording studio, learning more about how to record the guitars ourselves. Which mic sounded better on which amp OR which fuzz pedal is going to give this track or part it’s own character.
Kieran: What’s your favourite track on the album and why?
Tom: Damn! That’s a tough one. It’s like choosing your favourite kid, haha! For me it would be Infinity X2. It’s one of the later songs we wrote so maybe that freshness makes me like it more. I also feel like it’s got a little bit of everything in it. It starts with trashy, garage-punk verses, goes into a mini psychedelic breakdown and then finishes on a fuzzy riff out at the end!
Kieran: You’ve taken a very DIY approach to the album and as an ethos as a band, what drove you to make this decision?
Tom: It’s a combination of things really… We’ve all been in bands before at varying levels, on indie & major labels, had different publishers, managers, etc etc – and I think from very early on in the band we made a bit of an unwritten rule to remain in control of things as much as possible. Another important ethos behind the band was to have fun with it and not get too bogged down by some of the pressures and struggles that we’ve faced with other ventures in the past. We’ve tried to do as much of it as we can ourselves and the things that we can’t do we’ve ended up asking people to help us that we’ve met along the way. It’s constantly a learning curve but I feel proud that we’ve released our first album ourselves, with fuck all money and a only handful of people working on it. It’s definitely been a lot of hard work, but that’s made it all the more satisfying.
Kieran: Has being in control of every aspect of the band been rewarding and what advice would you give other bands who want to follow the same approach?
Tom: Yeah for sure! One thing that’s taken me a while to learn is how important it is to try as hard as you can to keep the rights / masters to your own songs. It might sound pretty obvious but I’ve seen a lot of bands come out of some shady record deals where they’re given a sum of money to keep make/release a record, then the money runs out and they realise that the record label own the rights to everything for 30 odd years (or more!). Another bit of advice is that there’s no harm in asking – hit up people (in a friendly and relevant way!) on socials or if you know someone is a friend of a friend etc and do your research. There’s a lot to learn and it’s definitely been our collective experience that’s helped to make this work – me with the artwork/video stuff, Lins has also worked as a project manager for arts/music organisations for a few years so is good with writing funding bids, looking after budgets, timescales etc (as well as shredding!) and Nestor has done a bunch of copywriting work so he’s worked on our bios, web copy etc. We try to pool our skills as much as possible, which has meant putting a hell of a lot of time in but we love it! A lot of things you do just pick up along the way. We’d also definitely recommend checking out the Launchpad programme (who support Yorkshire artists and bands) and Help Musicians who have both really helped us out.
Kieran: Lastly, what can we expect from you guys in 2021 and beyond?
Tom: Well we’ve got a couple of ‘socially distanced’ gigs booked at Magbate Bleach in Leeds and YES Manchester in Feb – so fingers crossed that goes ahead. And any gigs in general! We’re also currently working on releasing some of the album cuts as part of a live session in the not too distant future. We’re already talking about writing and recording some new ideas that will hopefully blossom next year. Stay tuned!