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FEATURE: MOUNTAINS LIKE WAX



Sometimes, records are more for the artist than the listener. That's not to say that listeners can't and don't love those albums. But, songwriters write the songs they need to survive sometimes. And that's exactly what happened on Mountain Like Wax's newest record, Before There Was Plenty.


Mountains Like Wax cut their teeth in the house show scene in Middle Tennessee. And you can still hear that DIY ethos in the songs that make up this newest record. The duo of Mitchell Taylor and Sam Katz have been called on of Nashville's best live indie rock bands. After 2015's EP Tetralogy and a slew of singles, Before There Was Plenty is the band's full-length debut.


This hardly sounds like a debut record, though. The songs that call this record home sound like a band that's been writing albums for decades. Singer Mitchell Taylor lost a number of friends in the 2020 Nashville tornado, and began a process of examining grief and past trauma. From the opening guitar harmonics of the title track, it's apparent that this band has put the time in to explore the sonic possibilities for these songs. As escalating synths divulge into driving guitar rhythms and massive walls of sound, Mountains Like Wax kick off this record with a near perfect opener.


"Boxing Your Ears" recalls the earnest grooves of bands like Microwave or Pity Sex. But, Taylor and Katz manage to put their own spin on the mid-10s emo punk sound. The album's shining moment is "A Lover's Plea (Act 1)." With guest vocals from renowned confessional singer Julien Baker, this song challenges its listeners to honesty. In his urgent voice, Mitchell sings, "What do you say? / Are you so afraid?" It really is a plea for a more open world.


The duo strikes a balance between pop and rock that results in earworm melodies and giant, open guitar chords. From the acoustic guitar fingerpicking and violin on "Spit on the Ground" to the catchy synth lead on "It Used to Feel Right," Mountains Like Wax explore what it means to be a rock band in 2022. You'll want to keep an eye on this Nashville duo.


Listen to Before There Was Plenty and stick around for a Q&A below!


Confessional songwriting is hard - striking that balance between personal and universal. Did it feel daunting to write about grief and trauma in such an open and honest way? It can be, for sure - but it’s never really daunting during the process. You write as pure necessity and expression. I think the conflict comes once it’s time to give the story away. Because then it’s no longer just a train of thought or a narrative that’s within you, it becomes known, and it takes on a new light depending on which listening ears it falls into. I guess that the hardest thing. Letting a really personal and true story become a recital of sorts after release day, because then it’s not really ours anymore. But that’s honestly what’s so pure about it all. There's a wide range of sounds here, from quiet acoustic to big rockers. Did you let the songs guide the final mixes, or were you thinking of the record in sequence while you were in the pre-production phase? We’ve done the whole “over analysing” thing many times before - trying to dictate the shape of something before we know what we’re working with. Personally, that’s not the most gratifying. And the reason we feel such a deep connection with this record is because it was a free flow expression of sorts, and we addressed each song super respectfully. I mean yeah, this is our first record - but it may very well be our last. You just never know. And that freedom of thought was honestly the first time I ever remember creating without that inner-critic shaping things along the way, and often much before they even get started. We captured each song from start to finish before moving on to the next, because we wanted that feeling to be there. Whatever it is or was in that process, just make it known. Time stamp it. Make it distinct. We just knew what we wanted to feel by the end of it all, and feeling can be such an extremely powerful guide - who would have known? What was it like to work with Julien Baker? It was easy. Like super easy. She is really unlike any other artist I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. She’s a huge nerd with all things music and writing, and even despite the stages and recognition she’s received at this point, her heart is with emo, indie and punk music. Like not the genre (I mean yeah that too), but the ideality and expression behind it. True DIY stuff. She would have been ok with playing house shows packed with 50 people in a living room forever I think, and there’s nothing much more pure than that. And she really seemed to understand and value the songs, which is the main thing we cared about. What do you hope listeners take away from this record? I hope people find their own narrative. I don’t want to dictate what can be applied or what should be heard. That’s not my job in this story. I do hope that they hold it to themselves and find something in it to make sense of their journey, and maybe even give them hope towards a time when not a lot of things make sense. I think that’s the unofficial job description in this thing, is being a facilitator for the listener to feel whatever they need to feel, through this mode of expression, so they can further know and understand themselves. My hope is that people find something they love, or can patch a really deep moment of hurt, or just recognise a bright day. I want to do that.



Listen to their full LP 'There Was A Plenty' here:


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