Published Sep 26, 2010When it came to choosing a producer for their third album, Wilderness Heart, Black Mountain frontman Stephen McBean and his bandmates ran into a slight obstacle: "Our first choices were either really old or dead," he admits, speaking on the phone from his home in Vancouver. Undeterred, the group settled on two high-profile producers: David Sardy (Oasis, Slayer) and Randall Dunn (Sunn 0))), Six Organs of Admittance). This marked a major change for the celebrated psych rock collective, who had self-recorded the bulk of their prior work.
"You spend a lot of energy and time listening back and getting sounds," says McBean of the band's earlier DIY efforts. "For this one, we just wanted to play and have someone else be the critical ear. It's hard to be critical of yourself sometimes."
Breaking with tradition even further, the group chose to decamp to south of the border. "It was Olympic time in Vancouver," recalls McBean. "We wanted to get out of the city." With sessions in Los Angeles and Seattle, the band laid down their tightest, most focused album yet. Forgoing the lengthy jams found on past LPs, Wilderness Heart's ten tracks clock in at a modest 43 minutes (by contrast, 2008's In the Future was 57 minutes).
With the album on shelves, Black Mountain have left home once again ― this time to embark on a world tour that will last until the end of November. After that, McBean isn't sure what the future will hold. "We like it just a few steps at a time," he says. "We can't do the thing where it's like, 'Okay, we're going to be on the road for the next year and a half.' We could be, but there's a good chance that could drive you crazy before you get halfway through it."