Secret Mountains is a spectacularly talented young sextet out of Baltimore, whose series of EPs deserve a place on anyone’s stereo. They are an incredibly powerful band, but what jumps out at you immediately (and ironically) upon hearing their work, is the restrain with which they make music – especially on the song ‘High Horse.’ It is hauntingly beautiful, and the video that Secret Mountains has put together for it is a perfect fit for the song. It has no narrative and no images of the band, instead relying on subtlety to create emotional responses in the viewer. It is a series of stunning images of nature that we have probably seen a million times before without ever stopping to take in their inherent beauty. Gorgeous vocals and slow motion camera work set the stage, but the images go along way towards the strong emotional pay-off . I will also mention here that their début LP, Rainer, is out February 26th via Friends Records. If ‘High Horse’ is any indication of the LP to come, I think we’re in for a nice surprise. Check it out below.
I recently had the fortune of being able to ask founder, songwriter, and guitarist Jeffrey Silverstein about the band, the upcoming LP, and the video for ‘High Horse.’ So after watching that video two or three more times, take a look at what he had to say.
TIS: First, since this is your début LP and it might be the first time a lot of people hear about Secret Mountains, can you give us a brief summary of the band’s history? How did you come together and what has led up to your début?
Jeffrey: Kelly and I started playing music together in my junior year of college. We played acoustic – just the two of us – under a different name, recording in GarageBand, and starting to play out around Baltimore; Chris and I had mutual friends at school and I knew he was looking to start playing with some new people; Cory and I had talked about being in a band together for over a year before I finally asked him to start playing guitar; and Jake was living in the same apartment complex as me at the time (him being probably the only other dude not in a fraternity there). We played without a bass player for a few shows, with Jake filling out the low end. Then for our first tour, we had our extremely talented friend Ian Everett (who did the cover art for our first EP and lots of flyers for us) sit in on bass. Alex was living with Jake at the time, and he invited him to come practice with us. I think we played through half of a song and were like, “Damn, this kid is good.” This record is the sum of all its parts. 3 EPs, touring, writing, revising, and hustling. We’re pretty proud of it.
TIS: Tell us a little bit about this song. Do you feel that ‘High Horse’ is indicative of what to expect on the album, or is it more of an exception to the rule?
Jeffrey: This song, as all of ours did, went through a lot of different versions. Kelly and I wrote the lyrics collaboratively while we both were dealing with the loss of someone for the first time. It really took Alex’s ear/knack for composition to piece it together. We also had a chance to do a version for an amazing music documentary series called Shaking Through. It’s been really nice to have both versions. The rest of the record is a bit heavier and I think this song kind of serves as a nice breaking point/moment of resolution on the album.
TIS: How did the idea for the video come about and were there other ideas that you ended up scrapping to go with the sans-narrative, sans-band, nature shots?
Jeffrey: The video was done by an old high school friend of mine, Brian Papish. He came to hang out when we recorded at Rubber Tracks studio in Brooklyn, and we started throwing out a few ideas. His uncle had a cabin in the backwoods of PA somewhere that he and a few friends spent a weekend at filming, hiking, and setting things on fire. I think we are partial to videos without ‘acting,’ so this just felt real and organic.
TIS: How long did it take to go out and get all of those shots, and what type of camera/filter did you use to get the look?
Jeffrey: I honestly have no idea. You’d have to pick the brain of the man himself, Brian Papish.
TIS: What are Secret Mountains’ plans for the upcoming year after the release?
Jeffrey: We are doing a couple of release shows. One in Baltimore on Feb 28th, at the Bell Foundry, with some good friends of ours. And one in NYC, at the Cameo Gallery. No immediate plans after that, but we’ll see what happens.
Thanks so much to Jeffrey for taking a little time to talk to us over here. The future is bright for this band and we look forward to the full record being released on Friends Records, February 26th. The vinyl version of the record will be limited to 500.
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