black mountain

This Vancouver psych-rock quintet is building quite a buzz with its vibey grooves, so we decided to find out which gear gives bandleader McBean his 6-string buzz.

PG’s Perry Bean and Black Mountain’s Stephen McBean chat about McBean’s Hiwatt-and-Fender amp setup, his favorite Gibson solidbodies, and his funky home-painted stomps before the band’s June 18, 2016, gig at Mercy Lounge in Nashville.

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“You can have as many fuzz pedals as you want,” says Black Mountain frontman Stephen McBean, shown here with his’77 Les Paul Standard, “but don’t let your pedals control you.”
Photo by Amdo Photo

The seasoned psych-rocker/punk/thrasher waxes nostalgic about the glory days of recording, the ghosts of gear’s past, and how some guitars just write the riffs.

Black Mountain’s fourth LP, IV, may be chock-full of eight-minute psychedelic outings, but it’s no rambling noodlefest. Packed with careful arrangements and thoughtful orchestration, the Vancouver, B.C., quintet led by guitarist and founder Stephen McBean creates a textured, brooding, sophisticated mood that captures and holds your attention—an unexpected perk from a band critics tend to mislabel.

McBean started playing acoustic guitar when he was 8, later got a paper route to save up for an electric, and then began performing in the early ’80s with bands playing a mishmash of thrash, hardcore, noise, and Northwestern Pacific weirdo music. His other projects—which he still tours and records with—include indie outfit Pink Mountaintops, and a hardcore band called Obliterations.

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