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March 4, 2008

For Black Mountain, Future takes page from past

Amber Webber: far left, sings lead on Black Mountain’s In the Future.She’s a bit Grace Slick and a whole lotta evil. Amber Webber, the backing vocalist for Vancouver collective Black Mountain, lends her talents to the group’s second album, In the Future, and for the first time, sings lead vocals on its denouement, “Night Walks.” The band is out touring the country, sometimes with Bon Iver, who opens Friday’s show. Webber had this to say:LEO: I’ve read that the band considers In the Future a record where each member is more “prevalent” musically.Amber Webber: Yeah, definitely. On In the Future, we all kind of … well, I sing more on it, for one. (Keyboardist) Jeremy (Schmidt), on the first album, he played on four or five songs; on this album he’s on every single song. “Night Walks” is a song I wrote with the band, which I’d never done before. It’s usually Steve (Stephen McBean) that writes. Then Matt (Camirand) wrote a bass line that sort of started “Wucan.” We just wrote the songs a bit differently, maybe.LEO: Your songs touch on a certain classicism that seems to be coursing through rock ’n’ roll today: bands recording to tape, live and playing vintage equipment. Why do you think the old is new again?AW: I guess maybe it’s almost like a nostalgia sort of thing. That’s how we grew up, with that music. To me it just sounds better than a new instrument you could buy nowadays. Definitely the analog vintage synths — they sound way better, there’s no question. Old instruments have a nice warm, sort of feel. It’s just what we prefer personally.LEO: Four of you work in the mental health field. Are you all still involved in that?AW: We do definitely take the odd shift here and there. Right now, we’re not really working there, we had a month and a half off. We all at one point worked there full-time, but it’s not really a big part of our lives anymore.LEO: You have a side project. What’s the status of that group?AW: (Drummer) Josh (Wells) and I have a project called Lightning Dust. It’s two of us playing somber acoustic stuff. Matt and Josh have Blood Meridian, which is a country-rock kind of thing, and Stephen has Pink Mountaintops. We put out the album in June, and did a small tour, a West Coast thing, then a couple shows in Europe. We’ve been sort of fitting them in on Black Mountain tours; doing a one-off show here and there. We’re trying to avoid that — it’s kind of strange to do that at a Black Mountain show. When all this Black Mountain business is done, we almost have enough songs for the next album.LEO: By now, I’m sure the band is sick of the phrase “stoner rock” being used to describe its music. What does In The Future mean for you in terms of artistic growth?AW: I think it’s diverse. Every song sort of shows different members’ strengths; and it was a bit more of a challenge than the first one.  An extended version of this interview is at leomusicblog.blogspot.com. Contact the writer at mherron@leoweekly.comBlack Mountainw/ Bon Iver and Phantom Family HaloFriday, March 7Headliners Music Hall1386 Lexington Road584-8088$12; 9 p.m. 18+