Two things will be different when Black Mountain returns to Headliners Tuesday as part of the Dropout Boogie tour: 1) There won’t be a blizzard, and 2) Black Mountain will be pushing a short, tighter album.
Many independent rock bands don’t necessarily play rock music, so when its self-titled debut landed in 2005, Black Mountain’s niche initiated waves of throwback ecstasy. Now that Austin drone-ophiles The Black Angels are in tow — they released Phosphene Dream the same day as Black Mountain — expect the pair of co-headliners to party like it’s 1969.
In September, the Vancouver five-piece of guitarist and main lyricist Stephen McBean, bassist Matt Camirand, drummer Joshua Wells, singer Amber Webber and keyboardist Jeremy Schmidt — unveiled Wilderness Heart. Instead of opting to self-produce, the band set aside its independent streak and hired producers Dave Sardy (Devo, Johnny Cash) and Randell Dunn (Sunn O))), Earth). The outcome is less sprawl and economy of style.
“We definitely reeled the songs in,” Webber says, who broke with tradition and wrote most of the harmonies alone. “When we’d have a longer song, we’d cut and condense. We wanted to make a rock record, because it was something we hadn’t done as a band.”
Webber admits she wasn’t accustomed to having a producer around crosschecking and, in some cases, vetoing the band’s methods. Especially Dave Sardy, with whom the group recorded with for two weeks at Sunset Sound in L.A.
“It was really a strange thing to be told what to do musically. Dave Sardy has a really strong personality,” she says. “Randall guided us spiritually through the songs. He was a Buddhist kind of guy, very Zen and cool, guiding us in directions we’ve never really explored.”
Though she’s sang with the group for six years, Webber says she’s learning more and more about McBean’s themes with every show. “Last night we played a Halloween show, and I realized how many songs have the words ‘soldier’ and ‘bombs,’ so maybe that’s a theme.”
Regardless, people are enjoying it.
“When we started our European tour, the album hadn’t come out yet,” she says. “Two weeks in, it was pretty neat to see the shift from people not knowing the songs to singing along.”
The Black Angels, Black Mountain
Tuesday, Nov. 9
Headliners Music Hall
1386 Lexington Road
$15; 8 p.m.