Monday, 17 December 2012

MOUNT FUJI Interview

I am very excited to bring you this interview with German metal band Mount Fuji!  Their style is a mix of grunge and groove metal with a doom sensibility.  I've gotten to know a couple of the guys from the band over the course of the past month or so and they're great guys.  They're a stand-up bunch of characters, nice as hell and they have a great sense of humor which you're about to see!

Their full-length debut is self released on bandcamp and it's a fantastic record (read my review).  Each song has its own unique character and they're all good.  The band has enough ideas that they never repeat themselves but the album still remains a singular vision and a cohesive whole.  Their album would have had a lot more songs burning up the Doom Charts if I didn't burn through them all so fast (read the doom charts rules here).

It's a fairly long conversation here so keep the tab open or bookmark it and come back later if you don't want to read it all in one sitting.

They took their time answering the questions I sent them and their responses are thoughtful and honest and funny.  Also, not all of them have terrific English skills and they took the time to translate my questions and their own responses (I believe it was Ron who did this).  What a fantastic job!  This is just my second interview (read my interview with Ichabod, another bunch of great guys!) so my interview chops aren't spectacular but these guys make it happen.  Don't jump ahead and judge this interview by the stupid questions, dig these guys' responses.  I hope you get as much of a kick out of their responses as I did!

So let's get this show on the road ...

LK - 1. How would you describe the music of Mount Fuji to someone who’s never heard it before?

MARCUS: I would scream hysterically like „DUDE!! YOU GOTTA WATCH THEM!! NEVER

RON: Well, of course: The best way to get to know our music is to watch us live. But if that’s not
possible, I’d say: “Sounds like Life Of Agony jamming with Rage Against The Machine, Pantera
& Alice In Chains.” J.

OLLI: It’s Groove Metal with a great portion of 90s flair.

MIGUEL: I would describe our music as a mixture of 90´s tendencies, too. With dark crashes and
that rabid character. Intensive but not aggressive.

LK - 2. How did you come up with the name of the band?

MARCUS: We’ve had different ideas about that, but we wanted something monumental, lasting,
powerful and with huge imagery. Something we ourselves would look up to….

RON: Initially the band was planned to go much more in the doom direction, so the band name
had to be something colossal. But more and more our different influences flowed in and formed
a more ambiguous sound. The name “MOUNT FUJI” still fits perfectly: It’s not just the hugest
mountain in japan, it’s also a volcano. Besides this powerful, monumental meaning, the name is
much more than earthbound: The mount fuji is something like a mojo – it brings luck to see this
mountain. And it’s mighty but gentle shape has encouraged the fantasy of many artists.

OLLI: …and it has something unpredictable – anytime this volcano could erupt.

MIGUEL: We wanted something to identify ourselves as a band. From a list of ideas we were
discarding some names and at the end we found something natural, beautiful and strong like a

LK - 3. On your Bandcamp page it says the band is from Germany & Chile. I’m guessing this refers to your vocalist, Miguel. Where did you find him?

MARCUS: Plain and simple Ron sort of put the whole band together. It was just flyers and black
board announcements and about half a year later we were complete and from the first time we
were rehearsing all of us knew that we were in the right place.

MIGUEL: I wanted to make music and was looking for a band. Then I found the website of a little
local music store. Ron´s announcement gave me a hunch.

RON: Miguel was the last member who joined the band. He came from Chile to Germany to do
his doctorate in veterinary medicine. One day he appeared in our rehearsal room – he found my
announcement. With him MOUNT FUJI was complete.

OLLI: Huh? I for one met our little exotic bird for the first time in “Studio Asia” in connection
with a full body massage, if I remember rightly J.

LK - 4. We talked privately about influences. Would you go over some of your biggest influences?

RON: …for me there are so many! Obviously Bands like Black Sabbath, Acid Bath, Soundgarden,
Life Of Agony, Pantera, Down, Type O Negative, Alice in Chains, Crowbar, Melvins, Voivod
etc. but also bands like Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails, Joy Division, The Cure, Godspeed You
Black Emperor, Killing Joke, The Doors, 16 Horsepower etc. – first of all I’m interested in music
that conveys true emotions.

MARCUS: Mine are my parents, friends, work, movies and the music of my childhood and teen

OLLI: For me it’s grunge and metal like Metallica.

MIGUEL: Our first’s experiences as musicians. Our first bands! Our parents and friends. Our time in high
school. All our experiences through life, what we want to be! That is motivating. But like
most people we are also dreamers. We have to deal with problems and frustrations.
Everything plays a big role and defies us daily to do something.

(LK. Good answer!)

LK - 5. What current bands / albums are you listening to?

MARCUS: Only a few actually like Crowbar, Red Fang, Rotor. But I’m mostly listening to classics
like Carnivore, Pantera, The Melvins, Sabbath, Saint Vitus and so on…

OLLI: Deftones ( Koi no Yokan), Abdullah (dto), Silverchair (Best of), The Intersphere (Hold on,

RON: I would add the new Soundgarden and Smashing Pumpkins album, Pallbearer, Horn of the
Rhino, Baroness, Atomic Bitchwax, Sleepy Sun, Devil To Pay, Beastwars, A Storm Of Light and
Pelican, to name a few ;-).

MIGUEL: We are listening to a lot of current bands, but mostly I like to go to local live concerts,
but at the end we keep listening to those bands that we heard for the first time in cassettes or in our
firsts CDs. Of course we followed their evolutions. Currently I´m listening to the new Deftones album.

LK - 6. What non-musical influences went into the album?

OLLI: …mh…difficult. I think, our friendship and the fun we have playing our music together.

MARCUS: That is not an easy question to answer, but to me it is everyday situations that provoke
certain feelings which lead to associations with childhood memories or wonderful, sad, even
painful thoughts that give birth to a certain melody which represents these feelings.

RON: Positive feelings like the luck to create something out of nowhere, to feel as one on stage, to
float in the energy we generate together. Negative emotions like anger and desperation, that there
are always obstacles in our way that make it difficult to go after our musical vision. It’s anything
but easy to follow your dream.

MIGUEL: Like you and everyone else we had a lot of experiences through life. They all are always
connected to the present somehow. Some daily new experiences give you an “upload”
of those old moments. Somehow we have regrouped them as a band and formed them into an
album. Each of us found three new friends in his band members and this relation motivates our
music, too. We go through a lot of new moments as a band and this dynamic is great.

LK - 7. How do you guys write songs? Is there one or two guys who come in with songs/main
ideas or are you more of a jam band?


MARCUS: Most of the song ideas were brought up by Ron and completed by the whole band during
practice. So everyone of us has his little part in the tracks.

RON: I try to connect my ideas by recording them as fast as I can – mostly with this little windows
audio recorder and the notebook mic. Bad quality but it only has to help me remember. But the
others also come up with ideas – currently we’re working on an idea of Marcus'. And some ideas
are to be found by jamming, too. Unfortunately, we often don’t have the time to jam extensively.

LK - 8. Five of the tracks on the album are titled numerically. What was the thinking behind this?

RON: They are part of a mysterious math enigma – add them together and don’t stop until you get
666. Satan will pop up and after three of your wishes were met you’ll have to eat your shorts J.
If you don’t believe me…just check it out.

(LK - lol)

MARCUS: Finally! You’re the first one to ask and get behind this mystery XD. The titles ARE:
…working titles. We had the lyrics later on these songs and instead of torturing our brains we just
left them named chronically in order when we wrote them so four is the fourth song we wrote for example.

MIGUEL: It´s the order or sequence of the ideas. When a particular song was done we were already
familiarized with the number. We called every song always just like that and in the end, we
exchanged a few numbers for names.

LK - 9. Is there an overarching theme that ties the record together?

MARCUS: No. We just put the stuff we had on a record. After over two years we thought it was
about time to do this – and it really was a great time.

OLLI: I would say, the overarching theme of our record is the connection of groove and passion.

MIGUEL: We love to play music and found probably our direction. Then we put it into the record.
Of course with a lot of intentions but there are no overarching themes. We just want to play live as
much as we can, make new songs and not to be enclosed into one theme or style.

RON: It’s definitely no concept album. The only kind of common thread you could find is that all
songs are dealing with facing up different emotions.

(LK - That's what I was thinking)

LK - 10. Is the album generating any interest from labels?

MIGUEL: Unfortunately not. If you have any contacts, please let us know! That would be great.

MARCUS: Not yet. In Germany and especially our hometown there are lots of bands and only a few
labels that care about the non-mainstream section of the music industry and support the music
style we're playing. So we're the ones who have to take things in our own hands for now and Ron
does a great job of booking.

RON: I try my best J. But we want to go one step further – so, labels of the world, contact us –
you won’t regret it ;-).

LK - 11. How long did it take you to write and record the album?

MARCUS: The songs took quite some time, 18 months I'd say. Because of our jobs we don't have
that much time to do creative things or even practice frequently. The record session took three
days, the vocals a week and mixing/mastering a month with interruptions.

RON: Yeah, all with interruptions, except the instrumental tracks we recorded live at the Easter
weekend 2012. Our friend and producer Fribble did a great job trapping our band's sound.
And referring to our writing process: The first 8 songs were made within 7-8 months, I think. Then
we started playing live and writing the other ones was much more infrequent.

MIGUEL: We had a lot of interruptions along all this time because of our works, holidays and
many different matters.

LK - 12. You seem to have a good relationship with your fans on Facebook, etc. Do you think
the ‘digital revolution’ in music has helped or hindered your musical careers?

MARCUS: It was definitely one of the most helpful tools getting gigs and to do all the networking that
comes along when you're a band. I didn't want to get sucked into this in the first place but we've
connected to so many people and bands we not just call friends now that I jumped in. To me one
of the greatest gifts in making music is to meet people of your own kind around the country.

RON: Facebook opens many doors and you can easily communicate with fans all over the world –
so in this point, the digital revolution can’t be overrated.

But there are also negative facts: The digital revolution reduced the value of music. You can get
every music you want and often for free (legal or illegal). With little money you can record music
on your own, so there are so many bands… and they try to play live – some just for fun, some
to earn money, ‘cause sales of CDs/MP3s or other formats are miserable. And because so many bands
try to play live, there’s price dumping. The money you can earn with live concerts decreases more and
more. That means: You no longer can gain a living by selling your CDs and playing
concerts. To live only from music is more difficult than ever before.

OLLI: When we had started the band in the 90s, I believed we would have a label and would be on tour by
now. And our bass player would spend more time visiting his urologist/dermatologist ;-).

MIGUEL: It is always good to be known as a band and we appreciate it very much, especially when
not only our friends but also new people come to one of our concerts and decide to stay and
keep watching us. Probably the internet is an advantage for us because we are a small band and
through this way it is easier to be heard and we can more easily spread our music. But personally, I´ve
never discovered an important band through the internet. It was always because of friends and someone
like that with a closer contact. Perhaps later I will know an important band through the internet,
but surely I will always prefer a beautiful CD or Vinyl in my hands – not a new one, I like it
when there’s marks of use.

LK - 13. What do you do aside from music? Do you guys have regular jobs that take you away from your music?

MARCUS: As I mentioned before: yes. And for Olli and me it is nearly the worst constellation
because we both do shift work and have opposing working times for weeks:-(. (LK - I've been there myself with a band) So we've got to spend every free minute we can get practicing and get in trouble with our girlfriends, friends and families sometimes. But hey, that's life.

RON: Yes, all band members go to work – life is not a bed of roses.

OLLI: Fuck!!

MIGUEL: In my case I’m studying and working. That takes from me a lot of time but it is not
impossible to make music.

LK - 14. It seems like there’s always been a pretty big metal scene in Germany, but stoner / doom
music appears underrepresented. Do you find it difficult to find an audience and get gigs playing
in the style that you do?

OLLI: You think the german stoner/doom scene is small? I don’t think so. Perhaps in relation to
the metalcore scene…

RON: Yes, there are numerous stoner/doom bands in germany. But we are no prototypic stoner or
doom band, I think. And that’s what the people told us, too: “Hey you’re not playing doom!”

MARCUS: In the beginning it was difficult. You need an audience that has a very special taste
and still is open minded. You know most fans are die hard ones and dislike any modification or
musical derivates of their preferred music styles automatically which has a direct impact on us
because the only label I can put on our songs is groovy XD. But now that some time has passed
and we're linked to other bands with related styles we're inviting each other to gigs creating synergy
and more and more people are coming to the shows and enjoy what's being served.

MIGUEL: Personally I didn´t grow up with the german scene but I am learning it. Festivals around
here are really great! I wish we can play in one of them soon.

LK - 15. German people are very polite. When I hear songs such as “Colossus” and “Six Feet Under the Rainbow of Hell” it’s obvious that Mount Fuji music is not polite music. What do your
families think of what you do? Do they support what you do?

MARCUS: Are we that polite...? I assume my parents like what I do although they not really like the

OLLI: My family and friends give me 100% support. But I don’t believe that they all like our

MIGUEL: My family doesn´t like the kind of music that we play. But it´s OK! They support us.

RON: My parents don’t really understand our music style. Sometimes my father tries to give me
advice: “Hey Ron, do you know the Scorpions? I think you should do something like ‘Wind Of
Change’”. And my mother says something like: “You shouldn’t shake your head that much on
stage!” (LK - lol) I don’t really know what to say then J. But they respect what MOUNT FUJI means to
me and that is the most important thing. My brother and some of my friends like our music J.

LK - 16. What are your plans for 2013 and beyond? Going to Wacken?

OLLI: Wacken is a real mainstream thing. Without label support that’s more than difficult. But the
Stoned From The Underground festival is something we aim for.

MIGUEL: Wacken is a very big festival! And we are considered as a little band. They don’t know
us. If we ever can go there someday to play we will do it great!

MARCUS: Apart from that: Writing some new material in the winter months and then trying to play
every gig we can. I also can imagine a small tour for two weeks in summer. We’ll see.

RON: Sounds great. Help me with booking. (LK - :-))

LK - 17. Are there any plans for a double vinyl release of the album?

MARCUS: No actual plans but we’re definitely going to release something summer next year. I
would say that a re-release vinyl edition needs a few more days, weeks, months or whatever. First
it is time for some new songs.

RON: I agree. But if there were a label that wants to release our album on vinyl, I wouldn’t say
no ;-).

MIGUEL: If any label has the interest that would be great! But probably we will have our second
album faster than that.

OLLI: A double vinyl release would be awesome!! Why not? Perhaps even newly recorded.

RON: ..newly recorded? Because recording was so much fun or ‘cause you’d like to correct
something ;-)?

LK - 18. I saw a CD version of the album on your Facebook page. Where can I get one?

MARCUS: Ron? How can he get one?

OLLI: We should send one to Canada!

RON: We’ve made one hundred handnumbered CDs for the fans that come to our gigs – there are
only a few left. But I think, we are able to spare one ;-). Give me your adress, dude.

MIGUEL: You will get one. We know Santa very closely.

(LK - I may not get paid to do this blog, but it does have its benefits ;-D)

19. Do you have any shows lined up?

MARCUS: December 8. and 29.. No shows next year so far.

MIGUEL: Yes, in Leipzig, and Halle, but more are coming.

RON: …I keep on pushing it. There are already several irons in the fire ;-).

OLLI: Next year, Vancouver??

(LK - Hell yeah, you guys want to sleep on my floor? J.)

LK - 20. Thanks for spending time with me here and answering so many questions. But before you
go, do you have any parting words or messages?

MIGUEL: Thanks for your interest and spending time with us! And for asking these questions.

MARCUS: Thanks for the invitation. Thank you Canada. Looking forward to meeting you again.

RON: To everyone who reads this: Hear/download our music on bandcamp! Tell your friends!
Spread it! And if you like: Get in contact with us!

OLLI: “Bank robbery: a mere dilettantish initiative. True professionals found banks.” (Bertolt

RON: …mh…what does that tell us? Should we found a label? I have to think about it ;-).

LK - PS does the hidden track at the end of the album have a title?

Dreizehn (Thirteen).

LK - So, was I lying or what?  What a great group of guys, funny and charming as hell.  How could you not like them.  To do so officially, see the link below. ↓

Mount Fuji's Facebook page.


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