“Voice of the Mountain” is reaching its peak
First Posted: 1/13/2015
The fuzzed-out guitars of doom and chest-compressing rhythms of Scranton three-piece Earthmouth may be the focal points of the band’s sludge-metal attack, but it’s actually the vocals that brought this outfit to life.
“When we started out, we had the worst equipment that money could buy,” said Earthmouth vocalist/guitarist Gooby Ugebun. “We had one little practice amp for guitar, a drum set and no microphone. What I was doing was just singing into the blue. That kind of caused the style to form that we have now.”
Earthmouth, which is rounded out by bassist Adam Lamarca and drummer Mike Lawless, recently released a new album titled “Voice of The Mountain” –celebrated by an adrenaline-fueled party at Scranton’s Irish Wolf Pub at the end of December. The album is the band’s second in two years. Unlike many big grabs for the brass ring, Earthmouth has proudly been a homegrown affair since day one.
“My band is already my friends, and most of the people I hang out with are musicians anyway, so it came pretty easily,” Ugebun says of Earthmouth’s 2012 inception. “We hang out with a good 10, 20 kids and we sit around playing guitar, we even have a violinist in our little circle. We found a little practice amp one day and started experimenting; and, low and behold, we came across a sound that we thought people might like. We played a couple of shows, and people didn’t dislike it, and it turned into an album.”
The band’s first eponymous album, released almost exactly one year prior to “Voice of The Mountain,” is much in the same doom/sludge vein as giants of the genre like Crowbar, Candlemass, and the originators of the field – Black Sabbath, with speaker-buzzing basslines, de-tuned guitars that can rattle your bones and vocals that are as gutturally primal as a soul pleading for mercy. For Ugebun, though, he’s not into labeling his music.
“When it comes to genres, I feel like you can either say you’re not a part of that, or you’re carrying the torch and you are doing that,” he said. “As far as that’s concerned, we are kind of carrying a doom metal torch, I suppose. We are involved in the ‘stoner collective,’ but I would consider the way we do it pretty original. Personally, I like to call it ‘mountain riffs,’ or ‘mountain music.’ The music’s got a ‘mountain’ feel; a lot of the songs are about free living, just that epic feel you get when you are traveling or on a great adventure. We try to simulate that feeling through our music.”
“Voice of The Mountain” was worked on in much the same fashion the band’s debut record was created. Earthmouth teamed up with producer Cliff Evans at Scranton’s Rec Room studios. And, like the first album, “Voice of The Mountain” was recorded in just one day.
“And, one day of mastering,” Ugebun adds. “It was very simple, but I felt the second album was done a little better, just because we knew what we wanted when we went in. After the first album we were like, ‘Yeah, we know the bass needs to be cranked, the vocals are very strong, obviously and Cliff formed a friendship with us that we were able to meet eye-to-eye on certain things. It was very successful – done all in one shot. The real work is done when we’re jamming with each other and playing together – that’s what I wanted to simulate; that energy, put into an album.”
The band’s live shows are also heavy on that manic, yet concrete-laden energy that seems to pull you under; it’s a sort of subdued chaos that drives Earthmouth’s listenability.
“One of my favorite things to experience while playing is actually myself being entranced; the band is also under this spell, if you will,” he said. “It’s vibrational spell from the earth that makes you feel good.”
Ugebun is quick to point out one of the major differences between Earthmouth’s philosophy and other metal bands.
“Where a lot of metal bands will try to be the tough guy or try to sound angry, we’re not trying to do that,” he said. “We want to make you feel good; about yourself, about your life, about your destiny. We’re just trying to speak in a way that will hit people in the right way; to make them at peace.”
Earthmouth is releasing their second album to, what Ugebun perceives as, a very healthy metal scene in NEPA.
“There are many things that are superficial,” he said. “But, what I’ve found with this band, and this scene, is that we’ve never had an enemy and we’ve only had friends. We all help each other, because when it comes to the night of putting on a show at a venue, all bands must get together. I feel like I’ve found my calling because it’s a little more wholesome of a business than I would have expected – especially when it comes to the headbanging of metal and how violent it seems; it’s not superficial at all. Every band we’ve ever met is a new friend.”
Earthmouth also continues to be outspoken in their music about a variety of topics, notably on the subject of marijuana. On “Voice of The Mountain,” the track “Beyond Mind Realm” deals prominently with the use of the herb in its’ lyricism. Ugebun defends his band’s stance.
“We sing a lot about the legalization,” he said. “We’re pro legalization. We are also pro-peace, we’re pro-love, and we’re pro-music. If I had a message to send, it would be to smoke weed, be very happy, do not start war, do not be angry and enjoy your life. Earthmouth will give you the vibration of the earth for as long as you like it.”
Earthmouth is certainly a band on the rise. A quick look at the band’s calendar reveals shows booked through January and beyond, including a high-profile metal festival at Philadelphia’s XO Lounge at the end of the month. According to Ugebun, that’s how it will stay for the foreseeable future.
“Earthmouth is a band on the rise,” he said. “But, I’m still always nervous about how we’ll go down with other bands, because we don’t necessarily fit into one genre. We played Mountain Sky with Skin ‘n Bones, and were surprised that they liked our stuff – they’re a rock ‘n roll band. All of the bands we played with that night were just rock ‘n roll, and I was happy that we tended to fit in with them. We fit in with the jam scene, we even fit in with a little of the bluegrass scene because there’s blues influence in our music. The blues, the rock and the metal coming together speaks the message of peace – we want to spread that through music.”