Interview: Mount Washington

Mount Washington - Photo by Matthias Heiderich

Mount Washington - Photo by Matthias Heiderich

It strikes some people as strange when a band doesn’t release a self-titled album until the fourth go-around, but for the members of Mount Washington, it made nothing short of absolute perfect sense.

This is because the band, which is based in Berlin but hails from Norway, approached its most recent endeavor as a fresh start, in more ways than one.

First: the name. Having operated under the moniker Washington since its inception, the band recently made a change. This was due to multiple reasons, one being that another artist shared the same name, and it naturally led to the occasional confusion.

But the main rationalization is that the members (Rune Simonsen, Andreas Høyer, Esko Pedersen and Harald Amundsen) had taken a break after the release of 2008’s “Rouge/Noir,” and upon reuniting for album number four, they realized they were very much an entirely different band.

Rather than complicate matters too much, the members simply added a “Mount” to “Washington,” making things new while simultaneously preserving the past.

Second: the sound. Once a group with self-proclaimed folk-inspired roots, Mount Washington migrated more toward an electronic-influenced landscape in the 10 tracks that encompass the self-titled album. And while it’s well within the right of artistic expression to change course and not change the name, the band simply felt that change necessitated a makeover.

Third: the location. Between albums three and four, Simonsen moved to Berlin, where he claims he “fell in love with the city.” But he later moved back to Tromsø, Norway, the hometown of the group.

Yet after less than a year, he once again grew bored and disenchanted and longed for Berlin. Seeing as the other members had little keeping them in Norway too, Simonsen decided to make the move back, band in tow. And considering the electronic-heavy scene in Germany’s capital city, it seemed inevitable that the band would eventually begin experimenting with that side of things too.

Not only that, but it just made sense. With a record label and booking agency already in Germany, the band recognized an opportunity to save money on flights back and forth between Scandinavia and mainland Europe.

Since the album’s release exactly one month ago, the members have already hit the road to promote it, and are a little more than halfway through with a tour. While they’ve had a good run thus far, citing the Kassel and Stuttgart crowds as particularly invigorating, more than anything, the guys in Mount Washington are just glad to be playing the new songs to audiences.

“When you release the album and start touring, it’s a relief,” Høyer said. “It feels good to actually have the album out.”

In regards to the album, where many bands cite an organic kind of evolution to the music, the members of Mount Washington share that the departure in sound from previous records was absolutely deliberate. Additionally, the recording process was less structured than in the past, with the band allowing the songs to find their own way in the 10 days it took to record.

“We did it quite simple,” Høyer explained. “The previous record, I think, is much more detailed work and advanced. And this time we did it really quickly.”

Another difference for the band is the level of honesty in the lines. That’s not to say that the first three albums were disingenuous, but back then, the members used the fact that English isn’t their native tongue as a way to obscure meaning.

“On this one, I think we tried to not hide behind the lyrics,” Simonsen said. “I think this album’s easier to understand.”

After the band completes its current tour, it has no plans of sitting still. Instead, the members insisted they will likely tour through the end of the year before settling down to approach album number five.

This drive to be continually playing is something that stems out of accomplishing what the band has set out to do. Høyer referred to the band’s beginnings, when the biggest goal in mind was to tour Europe. Now, with a few European tours done, the band continues to set its sights higher.

“I think the most difficult part is this working, trying to get to the level where you’re satisfied…[and feel] like its meaningful doing it,” Simonsen said.

That isn’t meant to, in any way, discount the current state of things for Mount Washington, but the four acknowledged they are always striving to reach the next step, keeping the top of the seemingly never-ending mountain in sight.

“There’s always something to climb toward,” Høyer said.

Mount Washington plays tonight at Magnet Club in Berlin. The show begins at 21.00.

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