The first thing I picked up on when I heard the title track of London, Ontario’s Mountain of Wolves album “Buried in the Morning” was how accomplished it sounds. This is definitely the work of seasoned artists. Even though this is Mountain of Wolves’ debut album, songwriters Richard Gracious and Mark Kulmala have both been around – playing in numerous bands, fronting music collectives, and working on solo projects.
On “Buried in the Morning” the two split the songwriting duties and although their styles are different, the songs work perfectly together. Mountain of Wolves reminds me of early Uncle Tupelo – it’s Richard Gracious’ s Jeff Tweedy to Mark Kulmala’s Jay Farrar. It’s singer-songwriter folk music, twinged with the rootsy garage sound of Jack White. The record is chock full of banjo, mandolin and finger-picking guitar and wouldn’t sound out of place along side a Gram Parsons record. Lyrically, Mountain of Wolves are equally accomplished. There are strong literary influences and recurring themes of searching, wandering, remembering, dying, and longing. It all makes for one of the strongest country-folk releases I have come across in some time.
“Buried in the Morning” also sounds great and was produced by JUNO Award winning Producer, Engineer, Songwriter and Mixer Siegfried Meier.
We caught up with MoW to fill us in on the details.
50third: Our sound might be best described as….
MoW: Folk with some rock n roll undertones. At the base we all started out as songwriters but when we come together the songs take on a whole new voice.
50third: We are…
Richard Gracious- Guitar, Banjo, Vocals
Mark Kulmala – Guitar, Vocals
Brent Hebert – Drums, Mandolin
Michael Middleton – Bass
50third: We are originally from…..
MoW: London, Ontario
50third: How we became a band…
MoW: We were all very involved in the London music scene. Richard and Mark used to play a lot of open mics and eventually started playing on each others tunes. Mark, Brent & Michael were in a band called The Allens and Richard was in a band called The Gracious Collective. We used to open for each other and eventually formed one band out of the two.
50third: The band members have all played/or play in other bands – how does this play out in writing music?
MoW: The writing styles from our previous and other side projects trickles into our writing and can definitely be heard. Mark’s solo project My Fathers Son has the same mellow songwriting characteristics but a more upbeat and driven sound with the band. Brent and Richard play on each others side projects Mystery Bear & Richard Gracious and The Book Club respectively, this enforces their musical bond together by contributing so largely on each others sounds.
50third: Tell us about the London scene…
MoW: The London music scene is small and repetitive but overall welcoming. Having a small scene but a close scene makes the experience worthwhile. You can always count on friendly and familiar faces at local shows.
50third: Our most memorable gig was…….
MoW: We don’t have a most memorable gig but two that stand out include playing the newly emerging Emergency festival in Sault Ste. Marie, as well as sold out local show in the beautiful Arts Project art gallery.
50third: What we are currently listening to……
Richard Gracious – Soko, I Thought I was an Alien
Brent Hebert – Alt J, This is all Yours
Mark Kulmala – Anything on Virgin Radio
50third: If we could go on tour with any band it would be…..
MoW: Would love to tour with Feist she is one of our favourite Canadian musicians right now. As well as her live show is especially captivating.
50third: What influences us lyrically…..
MoW: Everyday living we are all working class by day musicians by night ,so a lot of the hardships of working a 9-5 finds its way into our lyrical content. Also constant themes of self-doubt and reflection tied in there as well.
50third: Expect….from us in 2015
MoW: Our next album is already half written and we have been slowly introducing new material into our sets and judging song content based off of audience reception. We are looking to set up a tour in the New Year as well to get as far and wide as possible!