Friday, May 24, 2013

Meet Mount Sharp! Mainers on a mission... to Mars... with tacos.

It's a rainy Friday afternoon here in NYC, but lucky for me, I got to spend a chunk of it chatting away with Sarah Wood (Swood) and Bryan Bruchman.  Bryan (guitar/drums) and Swood (guitar/vox), along with Maia Macdonald (guitar/drums) and Ryan Zumsen (bass), make up the Brooklyn indie rock band, Mount Sharp.  We are super happy to have them kicking off our official Northside showcase on 6/14!  Here's a little primer on the band, and their love of tacos... 

Hearts Bleed Radio: So you guys met in Maine, and then ended up in a band together in Brooklyn. How did that happen?

Bryan: We were both living in Portland, Maine, where I was playing in a band (Marie Stella), working at a venue (SPACE Gallery), and running a music blog ( Sarah had a band called Mango Floss that a few friends with good taste in music saw and started raving about, so I checked them out and loved what I heard. I booked Mango Floss to play a couple shows I was putting on in Maine, so that's where Sarah and I met. Then, we bonded over a long, drawn-out Foursquare battle for the mayorship of a Korean taco restaurant.

Swood: It's how all great friendships begin, really... Tacos.

Bryan: And beer!

HBR: So, how long ago was that? Did you guys come to the city together? Was there kidnapping or bribery involved?

Bryan: Hah!  When was that, Swood?

Swood: That is such a good question. About two years.

Bryan: 2011 was when we met.

Swood: Yeah, and then Bryan moved.

Bryan: I booked Mango Floss to play my Belfast Free Range Festival after-party as well as Hot August Night, On A Boat, AKA Party Barge that year. Then I moved back Brooklyn in 2012. A short while after that I had a breakup and found myself in need of a roommate.

HBR: I wish more places offered Free Range Musicians...

Bryan: Hah!

HBR: And Swood swooped in...

Bryan: Yup. I was up in Maine to work on some videos - and I think for Free Range Festival again - when Sarah and I had tacos at a less-than-awesome place which will remain unnamed, and offered to move to NY, be my roommate, and start a band!

Swood: I decided I needed to get out of Maine, and that coincided with Bryan needing a roommate. Meant to be.

Assuming they are facing Northeast, what time is it?

HBR: What do you miss most about Maine?

Swood: Is it bad to say food and beer before people?

Bryan: Do I have to be the dork to say it? I was going to say lobster and the craft beers.

Swood: Yep. I mean, people too, obviously...

Bryan: Oh right, the people.

HBR: Right, but NYC also has people.

Bryan: Yeah, but Portland, Maine has a very special, very particular kind of people.

HBR: I'm from New England too, and on the lobster thing for one second... Do you find it kinda odd that people pay like $18 for lobster rolls here?

Swood: Only because they're not very good. Oh man Bryan, we forgot! I invited you to play on Godzilla at the boat party! That was the crucial moment.

Bryan: OH RIGHT, that was what did it! Swood, tell the story of Godzilla.

Swood: My old band had this song, which was far and away everyone's favorite. It is about me being a jerk, which is a recurring theme. After Bryan booked us for the Boat Party in 2011 I asked him to play guitar on it. I guess because Bryan is sort of.... monster-y? At the very least he makes me look tiny onstage. We had a great time practicing and playing together, and after that would offhandedly mention starting a band together. While drunk, with tacos. And of course the dream eventually came true. 

HBR: He's a big dude...

Swood: I'm a smallish person! 

Bryan: I think it was during CMJ 2011 when we really started drunkenly talking about it. Maybe at that pizza place, the one from Louie. 

Swood: YES! Give all the credit to Louis CK. 

Bryan: Basically I met Swood and then booked her band for everything I did, until she moved here and started a band with me. 

HBR: Where'd you find Ryan and Maia?

Bryan: Ryan and I have been friends for a few years - we were both part of the After The Jump music blogger collective a while back - he was living in Philly when I got back to NY made the mistake of having me help him find an apartment when it was time for him to return. So of course I picked a place right around the corner from me! He's been in a band called That Fleeting World for a long time, they don't play often but tend to make an appearance around once a year. I dont remember how Ryan really got into the band, I think Swood and I just decided he'd participate and then told him. 

Swood: Yeah, Ryan had no choice.
Bryan: We didn't even ask him.

HBR: In my mind, I call those kinda bands, "Sasquatch" bands.

Bryan: Haha, what's that mean?
HBR: People claim to see them once every now and then, but there's no scientific evidence that they exist. And if you go looking for them, you'll never find them. But every now and again, there's a rash of sightings...

Bryan: Ah, TFW, yes, exactly! So when we were starting the band - with a real practice space and all - we didn't have a drummer. I sat down behind drums to try and move things along, as a sort of placeholder, because I'm a guitarist who's spent his whole life being kicked off the drums during breaks in bands practice. But then we figured it was sounding OK that way, so we began playing shows. But I was wearing myself out on drums, and part of the point of Swood and I playing together has been for us to be guitar buddies, so we were looking for a drummer. There were a few attempts/promising situations/etc. but nothing that really clicked, and then Maia (who plays in Mitten and has a great solo project called Kid In The Attic) offered to try out on drums. I didn't know she played at all, but we trust her when it comes to all things music, so we gave it a shot. Now the result is that we're splitting guitar and drum duties between the two of us - we still don't really know how that will pan out as we keep writing more songs, but so far it seems like some stuff gets written in band practice and maybe I'm on drums, other stuff gets written at home with me and Swood and I'm on guitar then, etc...

HBR: Yeah, economy of motion is like, one of the hardest things to figure out when you're new to the drums. She sounds great with you guys though... and on guitar too. It kinda does feel like the "Brian on guitar/Maia on drums" line-up is the most natural though...

Swood: See Bryan??


HBR: Hahaha

The band, in their underground rock bunker.

Bryan: You might notice that Swood and I have a sibling-like dynamic.

HBR: You guys mostly write together?

Swood: Well the really cool thing is that we're starting to change how we write songs.

Bryan: Swood is the writer - but sometimes we work out guitar things. I like to break her songs and insist that we play them completely differently to try and fix them when they aren't working.

: Yeah, basically I bring in something rough and we work on it together.

Bryan: And luckily we have Ryan there to figure out the complex musical stuff that neither of us understands. 

HBR: When is the debut album coming out?

Bryan: We don't have any specific plans for a full length album yet. We do have various digital/vinyl/etc things in the works over the next few months. Nothing specific to announce yet, but we're working on figuring it out!

HBR: Your stuff has a complexity to it, but still feels kinda carefree and fun. Where are you coming from musically?

Bryan: Go ahead and explain your weird jazz chords, Swood.

Swood: A lot of my guitar style probably comes from not really paying attention while being taught jazz forms in high school. So don't practice, kids! It just works on its own! While I'm writing I tend to go through a few drafts and pick up only a few pieces, which tends to keep it simple and straightforward. But yeah, the chords are weird.

HBR: It's really weird like, 99% of guitarists who end up playing in Brooklyn indie bands, either have very normal rock guitar lessons, or are self taught. Bryan definitely practiced scales, like in his bedroom, all alone, in jr. high... right?

Bryan: Yeah I took guitar lessons, and spent a lot of time playing guitar alone in my room. But I was never into learning how to play songs, or "jamming." I would just play weirdo stuff that didn't really resemble songs for hours on end. Clearly the Sonic Youth influence there. I blame them (and the Velvet Underground) for putting the idea in my head that hurting people's ears was the goal of music. I think I got most of that impulse out of my system with my old band. 

HBR: So, you guys are playing the HBR Northside showcase. Is there anything else coming up that you want to plug?

Swood: We're playing Union Hall next Friday for the Unsacred Hearts anniversary show.

HBR: Wow, 10 years! I guess I saw that on Facebook, but I didn't really think about it. Where do you think Mount Sharp will be in 10 years?

Swood: On Mars, I hope.

Bryan: Or beyond...

HBR: I think when you have your first record release, you should serve Korean tacos.

Bryan: Can we make EVERY show a record release then?

HBR: Haha, there are a couple of Korean taco trucks, right? Are any of those any good?

Swood: I think in 10 years we will own a fleet of Korean Taco Trucks.

HBR: Hahaha. Finally! A band with some business sense!

And there you have it!  More info on the Northside Festival ---> here.

More info on our showcase ---> here.

Like Mount Sharp on Facebook ---> here.

And don't forget to like HBR on Facebook ---> here.

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