“It’s Interesting coming back into the world with this pandemic; things are different. It’s great to see friends again, and do our thing, finding good coffee and finding good food,” says Stephen McBean of finally getting back on the road. Although best known as frontman of Vancouver psych rockers Black Mountain, McBean is currently on tour with Pink Mountaintops, his project that debuted in 2004 and has enabled him to explore musical interests outside the realm of the spacey, proggy, stonery genre (although that influence is certainly still present).
Pink Mountaintops are currently on a headlining run in support of recently-released Peacock Pools, their fifth full-length (and first for ATO Records, home of Margaret Glaspy and Neal Francis), with an upcoming date this Saturday, May 28th, at our very own Kung Fu Necktie. “We’ll be playing a bunch of songs off of each record, and a bunch of songs off the new record. It’s nice to play new songs, it keeps you on your toes,” he tells me of the current live sets of Pink Mountaintops (who have already done a post-lockdown run supporting Dinosaur Jr.)
While McBean is really enjoying Peacock Pools and its collaborators [which include Dale Crover and Steven McDonald (Melvins and Redd Kross), drummer/pianist Joshua Wells (Destroyer, Black Mountain), violinist/vocalist Laena Myers- Ionita (Feels, Death Valley Girls), drummer Ryan Jewell (Riley Walker, Steve Gunn), vocalist Emily Rose Epstein (Ty Segall, Emily Rose & The Rounders), and keyboardist Jeremy Schmidt (Black Mountain, Sinoia Caves)], the album’s roots are a little more bittersweet: “When I started recording I wasn’t necessarily looking to make a new record. I was thinking it’d just be stuff I’d throw up on Bandcamp, but then I got like four songs and I approached the people at Jagjaguwar and was like, ‘I think I might have an album,’ and they were like, ‘I think it’s time to not work with you anymore,’ so then I was sad [laughs].” However, he tells me that the shopping-around process was quite short and sweet: “John at ATO got back to me in like five minutes. They were like the biggest label, but also the quickest and most excited.”
Like most albums conceptualized and recorded during the pandemic, Peacock Pools proved to have a different process from any of McBean’s previous work, aside from four songs recorded briskly, masked-and-pre-vaxx, in the studio with Crover and McDonald (“The time in the studio with them was so quick. We just kinda went for it.”)
“Most of it was done via Dropbox, so everything I got back was the finished product… If you’re in the room with the person and they’re searching their soul for their bit and you may be like, ‘Try this,’ and maybe throw them off their path… It was really exciting to hear it happen like this. It was like a chain letter. Each person got a step… I guess you could say it was kind of a magical experience… I’d never made a record like that before and it was fun. I like making records any way… When I listen to the record, it sounds like people playing in a room together, which makes me happy.”
Supporting Pink Mountaintops on their headlining run is singer/songwriter Ashley Shadow, who McBean tells me has been a friend and collaborator for quite some time and who has been bringing quite a bit to the show each night: “I’ve known Ashley for twentysomething years now. Her twin sister sings in Black Mountain, and Ashley sings a lot on the Outside Love record. And she just put out a new record, so I thought I’d have her out and she’d sing on some old songs and then there’s some new Emily Rose songs, and it’ll be a singing party.” During our chat McBean mentions that Pink Mountaintops will continue touring throughout the year (including a rather large tour that I’m going to keep under wraps for the time being), but that he’s also anxious to make more music with his current band, now that things have settled down at least a little bit: “I’m excited to write another record with the band in a more band format, now that we have been playing together for a while and now that we can be in a room together.”
*Get your tickets here.