Mount Righteous is a 9-piece anti-orchestra from Grapevine, Texas.
Featuring mostly acoustic instrumentation, the band has been known to perform without the use of amplifiers or microphones, relying on the thunderous rumble of sousaphone, trombone, trumpet, and marching drums, the melodic intricacy of melodica, bells, guitar, and bass, and the power of 9 harmonized voices.
Mount Righteous has performed extensively across the United States. They have shared stages with the likes of The Octopus Project, David Dondero, The Gourds, the pAper chAse, Danielson, The Rocket Summer, Nana Grizol, Cryptasize, Mucca Pazza, Baby Dee, and many others.
Their debut album, “When The Music Starts”, was produced by renowned engineer John Congleton, and has been hailed as “One of the year’s most impressive freshman efforts…” (Fort Worth Star-Telegram), and awarded trophy for “Big Album” by quickDFW Magazine in 2009. The release of their sophomore album "Mount Righteous" earned them the award for "Best Experimental/Auvant Guarde Act" by Dallas Observer Magazine in 2010.
In their home community of Dallas/Fort Worth, they have been nominated for multiple awards including Best Album by the Fort Worth Weekly, Best Group and Best New Band by the Dallas Observer, and Next Big Thing and Big Song by QuickDFW magazine.
In April 2010 they released their self-titled sophomore album following the release of their 2009 EP "Open Your Mouth". They embarked on an ambitious 70-date tour that spanned the majority of the USA in 2010.
Allison Wenban - Trombone
Austin Bird - Electric Guitar
Joey Kendall - Bass Drum and Vocals
Lauren Wadsworth - Percussion and Vocals
Z Marxen - Cymbals and Vocals
Cory Graves - Trumpet, Baritone
Mason Ponder - Bass
Alex Poulos - Drums
Kendall Kendall - Vocals, bells
"Mount Righteous" - LP 2010
"Open Your Mouth" - EP 2009
"When the Music Starts" - LP 2008
Select tracks are streaming on www.myspace.com/mountrighteous and www.facebook.com/mountrighteous.
Select tracks get airplay on various college radio stations including 88.7FM KTCU Dallas/Ft Worth, and 90.1FM KERA Dallas/Ft Worth, 102.1FM The Edge Dallas/Ft Worth, and various other college radio outlets around the USA.
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The best free jewel of Friday came with the annual exodus over to the Lamar Street Bridge, where a h...The best free jewel of Friday came with the annual exodus over to the Lamar Street Bridge, where a handful of SXSW’s most prolific acts - some playing their 10th show of the day - plugged into the pedestrian walkway’s outlets and blasted guerrilla rock free-for-alls. Catching two bands before the cops shut down operations for the first time in three years, and Bill Murray created a circus of gawkers - the dude just wanted to jam, people - a misfit marching band from
Grapevine, Texas called Mt. Righteous threw a punk pep rally that would warm the cockles of any black-hearted hipster, ironically cut short during a song called “Turn Down That Racket,” by a cop using the band’s megaphone to clear people out. If only I snagged a choice friendship bracelet from the Co-Op for him.
Listen Up! Resistence to Mount Righteous' New CD is Futile
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Every once in a very great while, even the most cynical music scribe is wrested from a constitutiona...Every once in a very great while, even the most cynical music scribe is wrested from a constitutional posture of jaded ennui and forced to face the music
in a new light. Surrender—Mount Righteous triumphs again. Whether you perceive this charmingly disarming Luddite power-wheeze of a band as a self-described “9-piece orchestral punk ensemble and choir,” an “anti-orchestra,” or
as a wandering shamanic tribe of musical zealots, you will be captivated. With its instrumentation of marching bass drum, marching snare drum, sousaphone, trombone, trumpet, guitar, piccolo, glockenspiel, cymbals, melodica, percussion, and a gaggle of unvarnished voices, Mount Righteous is that rara avis in the alt-music world—they’re actually alternative. Joyous, anti-attitude, oddball
and earnest, the Grapevine-based band is ultimately irresistible. Zicole (or simply Z) Marxen, who plays cymbals and melodica, explains; “The reason for the
positive outlook in the material is that we see it as the edgy thing to do. …Edgy isn’t songs about breaking up or ‘I hate you.’ Saying you’re happy is the ballsout
way to go now. That was pretty shocking when we first started.” And that was about two and a half years ago, when founding members Joey Kendall (bass drum,
vocals) and Kendall Smith (glockenspiel, vocals) moved back to their native Grapevine from a stint in Los Angeles. A singer-songwriter frustrated by
the same-old, Joey set out to reinvent his musical wheel. Z continues, “I think he just wanted to do something diff erent. …His initial idea was to have
movable instruments that could play anywhere and anytime, and be extremely loud.” The group has always been friend-centric, and the first lineup weighed in at 11 or 12 members. Even now as a nine piece, age range 21-27, membership is predicated as much on friendship as musical talent. Several of the musicians aren’t even playing their primary instrument. “I think for most people it’s their
secondary or third-dary,” trumpeter/vocalist Cory Graves laughs. The band’s self-titled Mount Righteous CD is scheduled for release any day now; it follows
2008’s full-length When The Music Starts and last year’s EP, Open Your Mouth. Brimming with traces of mariachi, banda, surf music, circus and unfettered moxie, the material straddles naiveté and sophistication with ease. Working again with
John Congleton at Elmwood Recording, this time out, the Righteous eschewed ambient room miking for multi-tracking, assembling the songs by section:
a day for drums, a day for horns, etc. “I hung out at the studio most of the week,” Cory says, “it was cool to see it put together like a puzzle.” Standout cuts may include “Suburban Homesick Blues” and “When Your Paycheck Comes,” but it’s hard to pick favorites. Guitarist Austin Bird has the last word: “Concentrating on positive is pretty powerful.” Can I hear an ‘Amen’?
Grapevine Band is Keeping it Righteous on EP
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Shake the Rafters Loose, the opening track on Mount Righteous’ new EP, Open Your Mouth, is as close ...Shake the Rafters Loose, the opening track on Mount Righteous’ new EP, Open Your Mouth, is as close as the Grapevine-based collective has yet come to a mission statement. It’s certainly a song that could be misinterpreted as overly chipper snark — "What you do really agrees with me/We’re part of the same scene," but the tune, like most of the 10-member group’s output, is so stridently upbeat that any bile is buried. Mount Righteous is working on a follow-up to last year’s giddy gem When the Music Starts...
Mount Righteous - Open Your Mouth
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Mount Righteous are a band you absolutely have to hear. Whether it’s to your taste or not, their pe...Mount Righteous are a band you absolutely have to hear. Whether it’s to your taste or not, their peculiar brand of big, loud, twee, self-consciously cute, indie-pop-collides-with-marching-band music is a unique experience in an industry that’s becoming frustratingly homogenised. As such, it deserves to be played loudly and often.
Open Your Mouth is the 9-member Texan anti-orchestra’s first EP, after their debut album When The Music Starts – a somewhat obscure but undoubtedly brilliant gem – and it follows very much in the same tradition. Short, sweet, immaculately-crafted songs after the fashion of I’m From Barcelona, which range in tone from light-hearted to outright joyous.
Album opener “Shake The Rafters Loose” is an electrifying hipster devotional to a favourite band that’s easily the catchiest song on Open Your Mouth. Things take a bit of a dip in the middle, however, and “Circle Yes or No” and “Turn Down That Racket!” feel like they’ve lost something of the charm and subtlety that was so evident through When The Music Starts – they’re by no means unlistenable, but it’s as if they’ve been done on autopilot; some of the feeling’s missing, replaced by extra volume. Mercifully, things return to form with “Sing to Me, Tiffany” and “I Got A Car!” (although I’m mentally deducting a tenth of a point for the obligatory indie use of extraneous exclamation marks) – the former, in particular, is a wonderfully jubilant slice of somewhat saccharine indie-pop.
The second full-length album is due in 2010, but until it’s out Open Your Mouth is a more-than-satisfactory stopgap, which bodes well for the band’s next release. It’s perhaps not the best introduction to the band, when compared to When The Music Starts, but it stands perfectly well on its own merits as a batch of infectious, endearing, quirky and surprisingly danceable pop.
Mount Righteous makes a joyful punk-marching-band noise
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Sousaphone punk? Xylophone metal? A marching band with crazy Ramones-like energy? Oom-pah-pah rock w...Sousaphone punk? Xylophone metal? A marching band with crazy Ramones-like energy? Oom-pah-pah rock with the odd blistering guitar solo?
Mount Righteous, a joyful noisemaking outfit from Grapevine, Texas, defies categorization. But its off-kilter, syncopated sound invites dance-floor frenzy as readily as it prompts serious head-scratching.
The band has just released its third CD, simply titled "Mount Righteous," and it's a 30-minute blast of exuberant, precision-timed mayhem. The brass/percussion/bell-kit instrumental lineup isn't exactly what you'd expect to hear in a rock club, but bass-drummer Joey Kendall, the group's chief songwriter, is making no apologies about it.
"Everybody just plays whatever they can play," he told the Dallas Observer recently, "and this is how it ended up."
Earlier Mount Righteous tunes tended toward the bouncy and melodic. By contrast, the 10 songs on the new CD go at a furious rate, well-suited to the stressed-out humor of the lyrics, many of them shouted through megaphones.
The words aren't always intelligible. All the more reason, then, to buy "Mount Righteous" and check out its lyric sheet to see what songs like "When Your Paycheck Comes" are all about.
Big Band Sound (cover article)
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2008 was a breakout year for Grapevine’s Mount Righteous. The lively acoustic-punk marching band ...2008 was a breakout year for Grapevine’s Mount Righteous.
The lively acoustic-punk marching band left an indelible impression on local audiences and critics alike with its interactive live shows and debut album. When the Music Starts is a gloriously uproarious collection of infectious sing-alongs that are heavy on the happy without being sappy. What was equally impressive was how a band that was barely a year old could come out of the gate with an album and aesthetic so assuredly defined. The Mount Righteous collective has featured an average of seven to 12 members at any given time. The current lineup consists of Mason Ponder, Joey Kendall, Derek Terry, Cory Graves, Austin Bird, Nicole Marxen, Laura Neely, Kendall Smith, Allison Wheeler, Casey Colby and Allison Wenban. Everyone sings in a style that is part children’s choir and part gang vocal. We recently exchanged e-mails with Kendall and founding (but not current) member Casey Colby to find out how the band formed, how members tackle cooperative songwriting and caravan touring, and what they have in store for 2009.
Q: How did Mount Righteous come to be?
Kendall: We all grew up together. When me and Kendall [Smith] returned from Los Angeles to set up shop in North Texas, we came up with this idea for a long-term project, and then the friends with free time committed to it with us.
Q: Was forgoing a traditional instrumental arrangement a product of necessity or an intentional decision?
Colby: It was an intentional decision. We wanted to not only avoid reliance on any technology or stage situations, but also to explore a style that was new to all of us.
Q: Does this setup inform the songwriting or vice versa?
Colby: To a degree, the setup informed the songwriting, at least lyrically. We started to realize that we couldn’t just write songs the way we would for ourselves, it had to be something that everyone was comfortable singing about.
Q: How does a Mount Righteous song come about? Are there principal songwriters or do you write as a group?
Colby: Typically one person from the band will bring a song to practice for the band to learn. After the song is learned, the band starts to take liberties with their own parts.
Kendall: We write in small sections or individually. We never work on lyrics all together. We experiment a lot now at rehearsal. On the new CD, it’ll be impossible to credit everybody for everything they contribute.
Q: What are some of the more interesting environments you’ve performed in?
Kendall: We can play anywhere. Most interesting cases are in front of drunk zombie pigs at dive bars. They seem to immediately disapprove but can’t stop watching. So they stand still in front of us with a straight face for 45 minutes. Or randomly try to draw attention to themselves by shouting drunken nonsense at the band.
Colby: We played in an art gallery in Santa Fe while we were on tour. Prior to that, we were used to playing in bars and clubs, so it was interesting to play for an audience that wasn’t drunk and constantly yelling at us. I think because we are completely acoustic, we sound a bit better in non-club environments, like art shows and parking lots.
Q: What was it like to tour with so many people?
Colby: For the most part it was easy to manage. We would break off into little groups when we had free time and roam around whatever city we happen to be in that day.
Kendall: We’re not built to tour as much as your average indie rock combo. We have rules to avoid any disasters. We party every night. We make fun of each other all day and all night at all times.
Q: You’re currently writing and rehearsing songs for the next record, due to be released this summer. How’s it going to differ from ‘When the Music Starts?’
Kendall: [It] is less traditional campfire songs and more like orchestral mini-masterpieces. Songwriting is less important than well-crafted arrangements that make you and us feel compelled.
Colby: We will have different instruments and different types of arrangements. It will be a different style than our fans have grown accustomed to, but it’s still all acoustic and awesome.
Q: Have you been working new songs into the live sets yet?
Colby: Not yet, but we plan to add some to the set as we write more and more. Also, we are rearranging some of the old songs.
Q: Aside from the new album, what does Mount Righteous have planned for the coming year?
Kendall: Me, Derek, Casey and Mr. Parker will be releasing solo CDs.
Colby: We plan on experimenting with the instruments and ideas that we have and really trying to be the best band we can be.
Mount Righteous Turns The Page
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If you thought the brassy, bombastic Grapevine band Mount Righteous commanded attention before, jus... If you thought the brassy, bombastic Grapevine band Mount Righteous commanded attention before, just wait until you hear the group's sophomore album.
The self-titled, full-length set sounds much more explosive than the 2009 album When the Music Starts, with breakneck rhythms and almost manic vocals. Principal songwriter Joey Kendall says he tackled the new tunes with his personal struggles – along with those of his eight bandmates – in mind.
"It's more about stuff we take seriously this time," Kendall told us during a recent phone chat. "We're all sort of crashing with our parents in Grapevine right now, and it's a lot about the contrast of touring around, meeting so many people, and then being at home around people we've grown up with.
"It's all about suburbia, sort of the status quo and what people expect of you when you get older."
Songs such as "Eat Your Wife and Kiss the Barbecue" and the catchy "I Think I Need a Break" still sound upbeat, thanks to the marching-band-style horns and group singing. But the lead vocals and lyrics are darker this time, which adds some gravity to the mix.
Kendall's pleased with the new sound: "I don't think it's possible for good art to be 100 percent positive. It has to express the good and the bad of being human."
Producer John Congleton (who oversaw the last album) also embraced the band's evolution and, as a result, took a different approach to recording.
"He was pumped about the new stuff," Kendall says. "He knew that by multitracking it this time [as opposed to recording the band live], he could make a better document of what everyone is performing with their instruments."
Mount Righteous will take the stage at Good Records on Saturday to celebrate the release of the new album. The group already made a splash with it at South by Southwest, including finding a famous fan.
"I'd heard that Bill Murray goes to South by Southwest and appears different places, and surely enough, we saw him when we were playing one night at the Lamar Pedestrian Bridge," Kendall said.
"There were a bunch of people moshing, and we saw him watching, and Kendall [Smith] ran out and gave him a couple of CDs. Later, our friend Daniel was talking to him and he said we had 'juice.' "
Hey, if it's good enough for Bill Murray ...
Lone Star Sounds: More North Texas CDs That Made 2008 Great
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Mount Righteous, When the Music Starts: The Grapevine collective’s full-length John Congleton produc...Mount Righteous, When the Music Starts: The Grapevine collective’s full-length John Congleton produced debut is an effervescent, charmingly ragged affair that incorporates a dash of The Decemberists, a pinch of Polyphonic Spree, a fillip of Flaming Lips and — why not? — a disarmingly intense klezmer vibe, topped off with shiny-happy lyrics. One of the year’s most impressive freshman efforts.
Bonus MP3: Mount Righteous - Sing to Me, Tiffany
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It's been almost a year-and-a-half, if you believe it, since Mount Righteous first (quite adorably) ...It's been almost a year-and-a-half, if you believe it, since Mount Righteous first (quite adorably) burst onto the local scene, immediately charming area music fans with its clever, punk-ish, acoustic, marching band-ish and ever-cheerful sound. Of course, that was just the live show, though. 'Cause, you'll surely recall, we dug on the full-length debut from the band, too, called When The Music Starts--for my money, a top five area release in 2008. Which is why, probably quite predictably, there was something of a heartswell 'round these parts when an email arrived announcing the upcoming release of the collective's next output, a five-song EP called Open Your Mouth. Though self-recorded by the band this time around, Mount Righteous again handed the mixing duties for this effort over to area studio marvel John
Congleton, who (again) produced a fine live-sounding replication of the band's sound.
Featured Music: Ft Worth Weekly Music Awards
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Mount Righteous describes itself as a “Texas suburban” ensemble. On their debut album, When the Musi...Mount Righteous describes itself as a “Texas suburban” ensemble. On their debut album, When the Music Starts, the 11 young singer-musicians come off sort of like the Polyphonic Spree but with a fascination for taking apart and reassembling all kinds of disparate elements from a long list of musical detritus: ancient seafaring tunes, Irish drinking songs, ’70s bubblegum-FM pop, circus instrumentals, and hand-clapping, New York street-corner doo-wop. The result is like a super-tight high school choir on a joyously precocious tour through the loose ends of novelty music new and old.
Last Night: Mount Righteous, Cryptacize, and Danielson at The Granada
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On most occasions, the biggest compliment an opening act receives is "at least their set didn't last...On most occasions, the biggest compliment an opening act receives is "at least their set didn't last too long." But for a band like Grapevine's own Mount Righteous at the Granada Theater last night that was the furthest thing from people's minds. From the moment the ten-piece took the stage, its overwhelming joy was infectious. "Cause when the music starts we all get together / And we dance and sing and love one another," the outfit sings on *The Feeling You Bring*, and truer words haven never been sung. Though a majority of their instruments are better-suited for a high school football halftime performance than a rock show, Mount Righteous still manages to appear right at home on stage. Fans of their debut album When the Music Starts would be nothing short of impressed with the way their live sound really filled out the mostly empty Granada. And while they mostly stuck by their album material, they did manage to surprise with a version of You Can't Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd that was more raucous than anything Roger Miller could have ever imagined, and yet every bit as playful. Before the band finished their set, the group led the crowd in a chorus of "Happy Birthday" to bells/melodica player Kendall Smith and closed its final song with a thumping drum cadence, which escalated to such a riotous breakdown that it caused one audience member to proclaim, "…he just beat the sin out of that bass drum!"
Le Diamant Brut: Mount Righteous
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What’s the Deal: Smack dab in the middle of the triangle of Dallas, Fort Worth and Denton is Grapevi...What’s the Deal: Smack dab in the middle of the triangle of Dallas, Fort Worth and Denton is Grapevine, Texas, and in this suburban town you’ll find this poppy, happy marching band/choir sort of group of 19 to 25-year-olds. They have a curious sound that could work in a venue, at a house party or even at a street festival. It’s got to be the choral aspect of the band, but they do remind a little of early Polyphonic Spree. With a roster of 11 or so people playing everything from percussion to sousaphone to melodica to accordion it becomes easy to see why the Spree all where matching uniforms – so you can pick them out from fans. Looking through Mount Righteous’ live photos it can get hard to tell where the crowd stops and the band begins.
“Seaman” starts out with some accordion that’s way too happy to be a sea chanty, and then moves to a clamoring of instruments. Marching drums, bells, the bass of the sousaphone and a chorus of guys and girls back and forth all burst forth next.
Something Interesting: They are not a religious band.
Other Tracks Worth Checking Out: “When The Child Awakes”
Mount Righteous (album review)
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This past weekend at Good Records in Dallas, the Grapevine anti-orchestra Mount Righteous released t...This past weekend at Good Records in Dallas, the Grapevine anti-orchestra Mount Righteous released their second full length LP.
The self titled new album takes the nine piece band into uncharted waters as they leave behind their trademark, "cupcake in the sky" sound and venture in to something as dark as it is unexpected from the group.
Back in 2008, Mount Righteous burst onto the North Texas music scene with the critically acclaimed album, "When The Music Starts" which set the stage for their over the top and unbelievably entertaining live shows that followed. They soon began building a relatively large following, especially here in Denton with fans of all ages packing their concerts.
We got a hint of what might be to come for the band when last year they released an EP called "Open Your Mouth" I was one of those weary people who thought the band might be better off leaving something that was not broke alone when I heard that they would be featuring an electric guitar for the first time on that album. The whole idea of having nothing but marching band gear (and other odd instruments) was one of the things that drew me to this band in the first place. I thought that adding an electric guitar might somehow taint the whole thing. I was wrong. "Open Your Mouth" was really quite good, and a nice filler to have between full length albums.
However, that was nothing compared the the overhaul the band has received in this latest album. Produced by John Congleton the album is completely different than anything we have heard from this band. It is still as entertaining as their previous work, but in a whole new way. It is fast and loud and even a bit abrasive at times, but the bottom line is that it is good. Really good.
They will now begin their nationwide tour in support of the album which officially kicked off on Saturday night. However, Mount Righteous has been very visible in recent weeks, playing big shows and events all around the metroplex including the Deep Ellum Arts Fest, and a HUGE show at this year's NX35
Concert Review: Mount Righteous Marching Band
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Last Saturday night was plagued by foreboding weather conditions; but it wasn't apparent within Kans...Last Saturday night was plagued by foreboding weather conditions; but it wasn't apparent within Kansas City's Brick. A double billing of Texas natives Mount Righteous and Lawrence's Calamity Cubes boasted an eager crowd that defied the dreary night's expectations.
It had been two years since Mt. Righteous last assembled on The Brick's modest stage. (A digs that more than crowded the nine-member-strong Mt. Righteous.) But they looked comfortable; I mean, how couldn't they be? For those unfamiliar with the group, Mt. Righteous hails from Grapevine, Texas, and plays outrageous, poppy marching-band rock, which, by definition is both joyous, and peculiar. One cannot help grinning at the spectacle.
Amid the Christmas-light bedecked Brick, Mt. Righteous frontman Joey Kendall wheeled about his chest-mounted bass drum, shouting in unison the refrained request, "You should be in my band!" with other band members, occupied with marching-band standbys: trombone, trumpet, and tuba.
Vocals were distorted via megaphones duct-taped to the mic-stands, and complemented the band's rapid syncopation. The troupe swung from a strange polka-punk hybrid into a call and response mode, with bass-drum breakdowns layered with shimmering bell chimes (and even a brief cowbell solo). Mt. Righteous provided rowdy fun that leads the crowd to forget for a moment the freezing cold and icy drives ahead.
While Mt. Righteous' marching-band antics constructed a sound that led each romp though increasingly more familiar territory---rendering the occasional, unaccompanied electric guitar riff strangely out of place--the group's relentless energy demanded audience participation. Their requests for dancing were heeded by a few, which was admirable as the music itself is so fast-paced and percussive that it doesn't necessarily lend itself to any sort of grooving movement as much as fist-pumping or dance-jumping.
The group encored with a crowd-pleasing number about cannibalism, sung in the same cheery, earnest shouting before departing from the stage for good. As the audience regarded their return to the bar, I reflected on Mt. Righteous' prior request: Sure, I'll totally be in your band. It looks like a blast.
The Calamity Cubes began the evening with their self-described gospel-punk, sporting a stand up bass, acoustic guitar, and banjo played like a rhythm guitar. (A technique which I discovered makes a banjo sound much unlike a banjo.) Headman Joey Henry greeted the dedicated, wooly-clad crowd with a "Good Morning Motherfuckers!!" Upon taking the stage in a voice whet only by bits of glass and liquor, Henry leaped into rollicking, gravelly ballads and the more stomping, uptempo numbers. (Above the bar in the background, 28 Days Later was playing on repeat, and provided an apt visual accompaniment.)
Interview - Mount Righteous
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Maybe the Internet is the purest form of evolution—a big family where everything and everyone is tru...Maybe the Internet is the purest form of evolution—a big family where everything and everyone is truly related. It’s pretty easy to digitally daydream from video to related video and band to similar band and hardly remember whom you were listening to or watching when it’s done. As a musician I find it sad and annoying that most of my peers will enthusiastically sing along to a song they hear the radio or on their iPods and when I ask “who is that?” they’ll say, “Oh I don’t know, I just like this song.” As if the song appeared out of thin air.
When I first heard Mount Righteous it was by accident (as usual) and I was struck immediately by the sound of the group’s collective shout. Loud as hell, but good loud. Visceral loud. Like I could hear them pounding the skin on their palms as they all clapped. Like I could hear them sweating. It’s the kind of loud that hurts but makes you lean closer.
An 11-piece post-punk marching band from Grapevine, Texas (or as they’ve coined themselves, a “merry dorkestra”), their debut When The Music Starts practically bleeds positive vibes from the opening track onwards, when the group screams simultaneously:
When the music starts we all get together/and we dance and sing and love one another/it’s a gorgeous thing/this feeling you bring / freedom is finally mine.
Featuring a raucous patchwork collection of trombone, flute, trumpet, steel drum, snare drum, bass drum, cymbals, accordion, bells, melodica, sousaphone, whistles and a few guitars for good measure (plus everyone sings in unison), Mount Righteous defy you to feel down in the dumps.
They recently answered a few questions:
SpliceToday: First, tell us a little about how this "alternative marching band" concept came together? Did you envision it as such a big project in the beginning?
JOEY KENDALL (bass drum): Yes, we envisioned it as being a big project. There are a lot of instruments in it to avoid using mics, PAs, stages, etc. We don't really march but we're completely mobile. I had the idea a few years ago when Kendall and I were living in Los Angeles for a bit. When we came back to Texas, we got together as many of our friends that played music who were down with the idea. It just grew from there.
ST: What's the story behind the name? A tongue and cheek jab at any religion in particular?
KENDALL SMITH (bells/melodica): Think more along the lines of surfer-dude "righteous." Not so much almighty-God "righteous." People tend to assume that we are a religious band because our songs are about positivity and don't embarrass our grandmas. We all have different beliefs and disbeliefs.
ST: It's hard not to be drawn in right away by the sheer magnetism of 10 or more people singing at once. It all sounds cleaner than just a live show but with the same intimacy. How the hell did you catch all that noise and energy on your album When The Music Starts without it getting muddy?
DEREK TERRY (snare drum): We had an awesome producer named John Congleton (of The pAper chAse) who made it really easy for us. We recorded it in two days... instruments live on day one, vocals live on day two. He's a great producer who has worked with tons of amazing people. You should Google him!
ST: I’m trying hard here to see who your influences might be. Do you use them or tune them out when you're creating? Not many groups come to mind that sound anything like you.
JK: Everyone in the band has different musical tastes, so it doesn’t really affect our songwriting and composing. The movement of the band is really all that influences us directly.
ST: How does the typical Mount Righteous tune come together start to finish? How much collaboration occurs?
AUSTIN BIRD (flute/guitar): Typically, the songwriter will bring a song to the band that is pretty much finished as far as vocals and composition goes. The songs are tweaked at rehearsal by the band until we're all happy.
ST: Seems that the accordion/sousaphone combination is making a big comeback lately, bringing almost a sea-shanty-vaudevillian flavor to tunes that are still decidedly modern. How do you walk that fine line between being hip and just a cheesy novelty?
KS: On the first album it was really strange for the songwriters to write songs for an 11-piece group to sing. This isn't a band with a leader or frontman... so you're writing lyrics that everyone in the band will agree with. We have been referred to as too happy, or cheesy, or whatever... but that's what came out of that project. And we're totally proud of it. We're just a bunch of friends who aren't trying to be cool.
ST: Is it hard to be heard at live shows? Seems like the full band would be a sound guy's nightmare.
LAURA NEELEY (melodica/percussion): Most of the time we’re playing without mics/amps/etc. The songs are arranged to be one sound so that everyone can hear our vocals. We typically play on the floor with the audience, so if someone complains that they can't hear us, then we tell them to come closer! On the rare occasion that we need to be mic'd (such as at a big club or festival) the sound guys are pretty good. We don't rely on monitors, so that helps.
ST: People I've sent your stuff to have all said the same thing: "Wow this is crazy shit" and then "Grapevine, Texas? Where the hell is that?" It seems to be not far from Dallas. What's the music scene like down there? Do you think independent roots music thrives better away from the consumer-crazy coasts?
MASON PONDER (sousaphone): We're from the suburbs of Grapevine, so it was important for us to claim Grapevine as our hometown. As far as the music scene in Dallas goes, it's great. It's kind of like a big high school. Everyone goes to everyone’s shows, everyone bickers on blogs about who sucks, but deep down everyone loves each other.
ST: If you guys had to cover a Top 40 hit right now what would it be? (Cough cough Top 5 right now are Black Eyed Peas, Lady Gaga, Jamie Foxx, Kid Cudi, Beyonce etc).
WHOLE BAND: Are you trying to trick us with this question? Right now we're covering "Breakfast Machine" by Danny Elfman and we’ve covered "You Can't Roller Skate In A Buffalo Herd" by Roger Miller.
ST: What's the next step for Mount Righteous? Doubling the personnel maybe? Playing arenas?
WHOLE BAND: We're recording our second album at the end of the summer and we're going on a few mini-tours in the following months.
Mount Righteous: “When the Child Awakes”
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Oh man. Justin from Fishboy hipped me to this fantastic song. At the risk of biting on Matt’s style,...Oh man. Justin from Fishboy hipped me to this fantastic song. At the risk of biting on Matt’s style, this song is very highly recommended.
There’s just so many comparisons bustling around in here that I don’t even know where to start. It’s part acoustic Polyphonic Spree, part Tilly and the Wall, part I’m From Barcelona and maybe even how I’d picture the Arcade Fire sounding if they got heavy into twee pop. The point is that this is a band with quite a few members that makes uplifting pop music that’ll worm its way into your brain and heart. Just listening to this makes me want to climb trees and sing this song with all my friends. Strangely, that’s probably how this band got its start.
Mount Righteous marches into Kirby’s Beer Store, wins hearts
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Mount Righteous is Marching Band Instruments + Megaphones It’s obvious that a nine piece band featu...Mount Righteous is Marching Band Instruments + Megaphones
It’s obvious that a nine piece band featuring marching-band instruments and megaphones would catch just about anybody’s attention, but the true measure of said band’s musicianship would be found in their ability to retain audiences’ attention. I figure it would be pretty easy to write off such a unique ensemble as a brash bunch of musical weirdos if they were anything but phenomenal, but by my own enthrallment with the spectacle that occurred last night (and by the response of a tightly packed crowd in Kirby’s Beer Store’s grungy hull) I would judge that Mount Righteous, sousaphone and all, was a success on the stage. It was the rhythmic interplay, original songwriting, and energetic stage presence that gave the band the license to play field-band instruments as loud as possible without sending us running out the door. In fact, quite the opposite was the effect: the audience was worked up into a fervor with each additional song, until finally a number cleverly entitled “Eat Your Wife and Kiss the BBQ” had the entire bar up in song and dance. This pinnacle moment was one of those rare “musically spiritual moments” that us concertgoers crave, and I have to credit the friendly Kirby’s clientele and this wonderful Texas band for fostering such an experience for me. Most bands on tour tend to offer show banter something like “this is our best stop yet”, but I’m convinced that Zicole (cymbals and vocals) meant it when she screamed it excitedly into the megaphone. I’m sure they were aware that the feelin g was mutual.
Post Punk Marching Band - Mount Righteous
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...Grapevine’s Mount Righteous pull off the band nerd turned marching rock band with flair and relat......Grapevine’s Mount Righteous pull off the band nerd turned marching rock band with flair and relative ease. It’s easy to compare Mount Righteous to Dallas’ Polyphonic Spree. Both bands have around a dozen members, both bands produce music that has an uplifting feel and sound to it. However, that’s pretty much where the comparisons end…because the Spree is a faux cultish choral with and eccentric band leader and Mount Righteous is a marching band with rock energy. And one thing that really separates the bands, at least for me, is the fun factor. While Polyphonic Spree is fun to see live, they don’t necessarily look or sound fun–Mount Righteous has a sound that screams “I AM FUN!” Plus, it goes well when mixed with good friends and adult beverages. Their newest album Open Your Mouth sees the band continuing where they left off with their debut album, When The Music Starts. The music is a little bit of off kilter, but…something about it brings a smile to your face, gets your toe to tap and makes you happy. In fact, when you heard their songs “Sing To Me, Tiffany” and “When The Child Awakes” it’s pretty much impossible to not start smiling.
Mount Righteous - Hi Dive, Denver
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Like The Polyphonic Spree (or any other band involving more than five people), Mount Righteous’ nine...Like The Polyphonic Spree (or any other band involving more than five people), Mount Righteous’ nine-member ensemble is subject to the usual religious and/or cultish associations. But the happy band from Texas’ marching ruckus leans more toward This Bike Is A Pipe Bomb than it does the Manson family and describes its moniker as more “surfer dude righteous” than “almighty-God righteous.” Before the recent addition of electric guitar, Mount Righteous was a strictly acoustic outfit—instruments ranged from bells and drums to melodica and accordion— with vocals provided by the entire group.
The Best Albums In Dallas Music, 2008: Mount Righteous Happily Makes No. 5
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Seriously: How much can you really enjoy listening to an album of marching band singalongs about chi...Seriously: How much can you really enjoy listening to an album of marching band singalongs about childhood and perseverance and being happy with all things good in life? Well, in the case of the proudly Grapevine-bred, mostly unamplified, 11-piece Mount Righteous, quite a lot, actually. How? Well, because When The Music Starts isn't trying to be anything that it isn't, for one. It isn't music for kids--it's music for adults who miss what it was like to be a kid. And, with this highly, highly enjoyable debut, Joey Kendall and friends have proven themselves quite capable of bottling up and repackaging all of the fleeting senses of childhood nostalgia. Is it gimmicky? Maybe a little. But it's also a niche, and, unlike in the attempts of so many other locally-produced efforts this year, Mount Righteous has been able to find itself a fairly untapped niche. What, you know of another 11-piece act out there that can get a whole room smiling and dancing without any special effects and without anyone ever having heard of the band before? I highly doubt that.
Aint No Mountain High (feature article)
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There are 11 of them. Well, not right now, actually. At this very moment, only nine of Mount Righteo...There are 11 of them. Well, not right now, actually. At this very moment, only nine of Mount Righteous' members have gathered in the driveway of bass drum player Joey Kendall's house in Grapevine. (That, in and of itself, is something of an accomplishment.) The two missing members of the band have their reasons for not being here. One of them, trombone player Allison Wenban, is out of town and won't be making it tonight; the other, guitarist Justin Spike, well, he's just running late. But the other nine in this proudly Grapevine-raised crew don't seem to mind. Congregated here, smoking cigarettes and swapping stories and ideas to pass the time, the group knows why Spike is tardy this evening: He's quitting his day job in the kitchen of a local diner. "And I don't plan on getting another one," Spike explains with a smile on his face after arriving just a few minutes late. How's that for a commitment?
The latest darling of the North Texas music scene, Mount Righteous hasn't even released its debut album yet (the band's CD release show is this week), and its members are already focusing on the prospects of their act's future. "We all want to be oing this for a living," says bells player Kendall Smith. "That's why we're working so hard. We want this to be our workhorse." And, potentially, it could be. At the very least, Mount Righteous is a break from the norm in the Dallas music scene. Sure, The Polyphonic Spree came before this particular collective, but the bands are comparable only in the number of performers; whereas the Spree offers listeners a blast of plugged-in crescendo, Mount Righteous proudly sticks by its all-acoustic guns.
Created with the goal of bucking amplification until absolutely necessary, the band has morphed into something of an amp-less, mic-less wonder. The band refuses even to mic up its chorused vocals, and its sound sometimes evokes musical theater. Actually, that's kind of the idea: 11 combined voices, even when harmonizing, are capable of reaching the audience's ears. "So far," says Smith, "the only complaint is that people can't hear what we're saying. Well, if you can't, come closer! That's what we want!" Eschewing stages when possible, the band immerses itself in its crowd, playing eye-level to the listeners. It allows for an incredibly intimate setting: On a certain level, seeing Mount Righteous perform feels no different than watching a pal play an acoustic guitar beside you on a couch or a stoop; you see his every move, and if you wanted to, you could swat the instrument from his grasp. But you don't and, of course, you wouldn't; the exuberance on the faces of these young performers (the oldest band member is 25 years old) is too affecting.
And so is their use of slide whistles, accordion and xylophone on various songs. Then there's the actual lyrical content, which playfully, cheerfully and quirkily covers the topics of love, friendship and growing up. "It's a sing-along band," explains bass drum player Joey Kendall, the member credited with first coming up with the Mount Righteous vision. "Mostly it's a positive thing and about feeling justified in what you're doing. I don't get it when people are encouraging their audiences to sing along to negative ideas."
Maybe that sounds a little cheesy, a little too cutesy. On paper, it most certainly does. But when you actually hear it, when you actually see it performed, it's tough not to beam in response. The band's debut disc, When the Music Starts , is an attempt at capturing the same feeling of that
live show. Produced by The Paper Chase's John Congleton, the album found the band recording its entire 11-song catalog in just two days. On the first day, in a blatant attempt to mimic the live show, the band and producer routed the studio with ambient microphones and performed the instrumentals. Only after the instrumentation was in place did the members record their sometimes intricately harmonized vocals. The finished product certainly captures the feel of the live show, but it does so to a slight fault. The vocals could stand for a slightly louder mixing—you
can't move closer to an album—and, thus, the disc requires slightly above-average-volume listening.
Even so, after just one listen-through, each song will have wormed its way into your brain. By the second go-round, you're singing along with each track. And on the third listen, you've brought a friend along to sing with you, it's just so damn catchy. That each song the band performs must pass through an 11-person democratic approval system probably helps. "It's cool," says tuba player Lee Bond. "You've got 11 alpha personalities, and when something comes out of that, it's remarkable."
Meanwhile, the 11 hometown friends—there's also Adam Neese (melodica, percussion) and Nicole Marxen (percussion), Clint Parker (guitar), Mason Ponder (trombone), Derek Terry (guitar) and Casey Colby (snare drum)—have expanded their vision beyond Mount Righteous as well. Most of the band members perform in other musical projects; other members are photographers, knitters, writers and poets. Under the title of Righteous Records the band presents monthly compilation CD-Rs of its own individual efforts, plus those of the group's other music-minded friends. The band even plans on hosting art exhibits and producing literary releases. "This isn't a façade," drummer Joey Kendall explains of the group's support for one another. "We grew up together, and we've been playing shows together forever. And the people that weren't
playing shows were at every show with us and were at band practices and were documenting what was going on and everything. We've all been in the scene—the Grapevine music scene—forever."
That's an important thing to note, that last point. Whereas other Grapevine-produced musical acts —like Fishboy, The Rocket Summer and even newer acts like The Whiskey Folk Ramblers—have been quick to list the other cities in the region as their hometowns, presumably to help bolster name recognition, Mount Righteous remains staunchly and happily suburban. "Everything musical that we've ever done and all of our immediate influences and everything else has come pretty much solely from our experience in Grapevine," says guitarist Spike. "This country
is so full of suburbs, and they're often talked about with disdain among those in the art world and those in the music world. Bands from the big cities are maybe sort of given a pass, or given a more instant credibility. "You can come from anyplace," he says. And, well, to hear Mount Righteous say it, you can also go anywhere. And do anything. Hell, they even actually sing that second one. "We're on our way," says guitarist Parker. "We're getting there. We've made an album, we're having tours. That's pretty big." And not just because there's 11 of them.
When Your Paycheck Comes
When the Child Awakes
Sing to Me, Tiffany
The Feeling You Bring
Turn Down That Racket
We're All Going Crazy
Suburban Homesick Blues
I Think I Need a Break
Where There's a Way
Eat Your Wife and Kiss the Barbeque
There are no upcoming dates at this time.