Mount Righteous
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Mount Righteous

Lake Dallas, Texas, United States

Lake Dallas, Texas, United States
Band Folk Punk


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Ain't No Mountain High"

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 doing 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 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.

- Dallas Observer

"Fort Worth Weekly Music Awards 2008"

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. - Fort Worth Weekly

"Hot and Fresh: "The Feeling You Bring" by Mount Righteous"

If you saw 11-member symphonic group Mount Righteous do its thing outside the Palladium before Quick's Big Thing, you know how exciting it is to get to hear an unreleased track from the group's forthcoming CD.

"When the Music Starts" comes out June 6, and was recorded over a two-day period in March at the Oak Cliff studio of producer John Congleton (frontman for the Paper Chase). Band spokesman and guitarist Justin Spike told me on the phone today that Congleton and the players tried their best to capture Mount Righteous' unplugged, marching-band vibe in the recordings.

"We recorded the instruments live, all together, one day, and then did the vocals live the next day," Spike said. "And John set up some ambient mics to get those big room sounds."

The track, you're about to hear seems fitting as a sort-of thesis statement for the band's musical mission. "At least for how this album will be, the song gets at how we are all about community and the power of friendship. And positivity," Spike said.

Mount Righteous leaves for a U.S. tour on Thursday and will be back to play KTCU's "The Good Show" June 1 and a CD release concert with Fishboy at Rubber Gloves in Denton on June 6. - Quick DFW

"Reviving Last Weekend's Local Music Explosion"

...Grapevine arts collective Mount Righteous wowed the crowd that spilled out onto Good Records' parking lot by playing an amp-less, mic-less, organic set in the searing Saturday afternoon sun. The 11-piece marching band act sweated out poppy, optimistic compositions and did so with a spirit that encapsulated the let's-support-one-another idea behind the day's event. - Dallas Observer

"High Times"

It takes a close listen to When the Music Starts, Mount Righteous’ debut CD, to realize that the 10 members aren’t yanking your chain. In vain, you may search for some satirical angle, hidden agenda, or ironic take to explain the feverish handclaps, helium-happy choir vocals, and dizzying bursts of trombone, snare drum, and accordion. With its smattering of world rhythms, free-associative lyrics, and layered boy-girl chants, the band sounds like nothing less than a precocious acoustic version of the Tom Tom Club. The listener can relax when he or she realizes that ear candy is all that’s being peddled here.

Co-songwriter Justin Spike, who also contributes guitar, accordion, and vocals, confirms a similar response at live shows. “If people haven’t heard us before, they sort of stop in their tracks,” the 23-year-old said. “They get this perplexed smile on their face. Then they finally realize that it’s OK to enjoy themselves.”

The band’s 10 core members, who range in age from 19 to 25, may be unabashed merrymakers, but they’re adamant that their combined musicianship is no mere novelty act. It was forged via multiple associations that began in Grapevine High School and Colleyville Heritage High School, where the members met and formed an extended friendship circle. Most of them were already practicing musicians in some capacity, playing in school marching bands or in raggedy punk outfits inspired by the likes of Black Flag and Fugazi. You have to drag the names of Mount Righteous’ musical influences reluctantly out of Spike.

“We don’t talk a lot about the music we listen to, because people say we usually don’t sound like that music,” he said. “But we’ve always been influenced by a combination of extremes, of really raucous stuff and really poppy stuff. Just like some people say Fugazi is punk, but they’re not, exactly, because they have melodies and song structures.”

Early last year, singer-bell-ringer-melodica player [sic] Joey Kendall came up with a way to combine circle members’ individual tastes. The ground rules were simple: The sound would be all acoustic, everyone would contribute a vocal part, and everyone would play whatever instruments he or she loved the most. Thus Mount Righteous — “a grandiose-sounding name for a grandiose band,” said Spike — was born in all of its millennial, neo-marching-band glory.
Though there are 10 pairs of hands stirring the proverbial pot, the songwriting process is not as chaotic as it might seem. There are six chief songwriters who pen their tunes with all 10 members in mind. The bandmates gather for rehearsals twice a week in the living room of a Grapevine home, where all of the furniture is moved out to utilize the acoustics of the hardwood floors. Through practice, rough arrangements are polished into gems. It helps that all of the members have been friends since they were kids — a lot of formal explanation isn’t necessary.

The material for When the Music Starts, which was released earlier this year, was so thoroughly finalized that the band needed only two days in a Dallas studio with producer John Congleton (the pAper chAse, Polyphonic Spree): the first day to record instrumental parts, the second to lay down vocal tracks and ambient flourishes. As soon as the album was mastered and the CD printed, the band rented a 15-seat touring bus and rolled through 15 shows in 13 days, including dates at clubs, house parties, and festivals across Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, and Kansas. A few times before shows, the group set up unscheduled practice sessions in parks and parking lots, at a street parade, and in the desert outside Tucson. Love it or hate it, the Mount Righteous sound can be recreated anywhere.

“However light-hearted the music may be, we’re all completely serious about the band,” Spike said. “We aren’t dedicated to a formula of ‘shiny, happy’ music forever. It depends on where our growth as artists takes us. One of the reasons we don’t play clubs every weekend [in North Texas] is that we don’t want to get inside people’s heads and make them sick of us. If we go national, we don’t want to be the Grapevine band that made a blip on the radar and then came back down.”

To that end, Mount Righteous is planning a two-week winter tour across several more states in another rented 15-seater. Spike and Kendall are writing new songs for those live shows and for an upcoming sophomore CD. Before they hit the road again, they’ll play some local gigs custom-designed for the band’s sprawling, impromptu happy-making machine. This weekend, for instance, they’ll unpack their instruments for a show at the Plano Balloon Festival, an event that features enormous hot-air conveyances as weird and colorful as the band’s sound. Spike indulges in a fantasy of just how far he can push the band’s “anytime, anywhere” ethos.

“We’re a band that thrives in a festival setting,” he said, and if it were up to him, “We’d be playing a floating Mount Righteous show in a hot-air balloon.” - Fort Worth Weekly

"Concert Review: Mount Righteous CD Release Party"

No doubt Grapevine's Mount Righteous will remind some of The Polyphonic Spree. With the band's 11 members on stage and performances filled with hand claps and sing-along lyrics, every audience member feels part of their show. But works in Mount Righteous' debut songbook When the Music Starts (produced by John Congleton and released Friday night - technically early Saturday a.m. - at Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios) are all-acoustic and comparable to other true originals.

Imagine a marching band, choir members, and church campers performing on sousaphone, bass drum, accordion, xylophone, melodica, and acoustic guitars - among other instruments. The resulting sound recalls Sufjan Stevens, They Might Be Giants, and Avenue Q. With all member musicians in their early to mid-20s, it seems doubtful any are old enough to even realize that the lollipops and "cupcakes in the sky" which they sing about in "Licorice Night" sound a bit like "Puff the Magic Dragon."

Guitarist/vocalist Derek Terry got a nosebleed on stage, but continued to rock in the tradition of Ben Kweller at the 2006 Austin City Limits festival despite looking startlingly similar to the Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne in performance. Though there were no costume changes or special light shows, opening act Fishboy became a human bubble machine for encores (including a riff on Ray Parker, Jr.'s "Ghostbusters" theme), while audience members kept dozens of balloons aloft, and a fake mustache occasionally disguised various band members. - Pegasus News

"Mount Righteous' Southern California Stand"

Mount Righteous is a 11-piece Grapevine, TX “folk-punk-orchestral-marching band ensemble” - a sort of yin to the Athens, GA group, Dark Meat’s yang - that have embarked on a 13-date tour that will take them outside of the great state of Texas first time. Performing without the use of any amplifiers or microphones, the band make their way to Los Angeles this week with all their Trombones, Sousaphones, and Accordions in tow.

Mount Righteous recently completed their new album, When the Music Starts, which they recorded with John Congleton (the pAper chAse) in just two days at Congleton’s Dallas, TX studio, dubbed “the Paper House”. In an interview with Quick DFW’s Hunter Hauk, Mount Righteous’ spokesman and guitarist Justin Spike said “[w]e recorded the instruments live, all together, one day, and then did the vocals live the next day”, then adding “[a]nd John set up some ambient mics to get those big room sounds”.

Having worked with a band in the past who recorded with Congleton, I can say that he was definitely the best choice for a band of Mount Righteous’ nature to record with, bringing to the table his uncanny ability to capture the many nuanced sounds of groups with not-so-typical rhythm sections.

The local Dallas media seem to be picking up on Mount Righteous and have decided to champion the group, so much so, that the Dallas Observer’s online music blog, DC9 at Night, is running an ongoing tour diary from the group while on this - their first ever - tour. - In Flight at Night

"Mount Righteous: When the Child Awakes"

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. - You Aint No Picasso

"La Diamant Brut: Mount Righteous & The Midgetmen"

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” - Austinist

"Mount Righteous"

Mount Righteous hails from the greater Dallas, Texas area. They seem to be on a mission to spread the gospel of pies in the skies and unconditional love and happiness to the world. Albeit, one bar at a time. On this particular evening- June **- we were shakin’ at The Rack ‘Em Up Club on Harry and Meridian. The juxtaposition between the love slingin’ troubadours and the drunk fighting guy playing pool was intreagulating to say the least. Alas, you barely had time to notice the fight as it was drowned out quickly by the love that brought everyone there and the songs the band was singing that kept us there.

Let’s get down to the brass tax here. I like them. Everyone I know likes them. It is contagious and pretty exciting to catch this flu. Just when I thought Mount Righteous couldn’t get any cooler, they one-upped themselves again. Upon opening the cd I bought, I discovered that not only is it a cd, but it is also a song book complete with words and tablature so’s the next time I perchance to see them again, I can fully sing along and maybe play my banjo. Their music is right up my alley. Makes it hard to exhibit any evidence of badatude and totally just enjoy the ride. You know, so towards the end when the sousaphone and trombones are spinning around, you know you should be a spinning too.

It’s hard not to like a big positive party band singing swingin’ songs about loving one another and making the best with what you got. To finally see them live was a treat I had been looking forward to for months, and it was everything I had imagined. With 11 people in the band shakin’ and groovin’, the energy becomes palpable almost immediately. It was a matter of mere seconds before my toes excitedly began to tap. Three guitars, two trombones, one sousaphone and an awesome array of drums, bells and whistles accompanied by everyone on vocals. It was like a little marching band of awesome. I don’t particularly fancy myself a dancer, but my hips know when to shake! - Naked City


"When the Music Starts" - our first full length studio album.
"When The Child Awakes", "Sea Man", and "The Feeling You Bring" get airplay on NPR as well as several college radio stations around the country.



Mount Righteous is a 10-piece folk-punk orchestral ensemble from Grapevine, Texas. Featuring all-acoustic instrumentation, the band performs without the use of amplifiers or microphones, relying on the thunderous rumble of sousaphone, trombones and marching bass drum, the melodic intricacy of melodica, bells, guitar and accordion, and the power of 10 harmonized voices lifted in jubilant abandon.

Mount Righteous has performed extensively across Texas, and also toured the West Coast, Rocky Mountains and Midwest. They have shared the stage with the likes of The Octopus Project, The Gourds, the pAper chAse, and many others. In their home community of Dallas/Fort Worth, they have been nominated for multiple awards including Best Album in the Fort Worth Weekly, Best New Band in the Dallas Observer, and Next Big Thing in QuickDFW magazine. They have also been featured on college radio in Austin, Lubbock, Irvine, California and Dallas/Fort Worth. 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).

The band began formally in July of 2007, but most of the 10 members had grown up musically together for years in their hometown of Grapevine. Once formed, Mount Righteous worked relentlessly for several months and was ready to head to the studio and record their first album. Recorded in March 2008 in Dallas, When The Music Starts is currently for sale at a number of local record stores, including Good Records in Dallas, where it has been in the top 3 of local music sales since its release on June 6, 2008. The album is also available through iTunes,,, and other online sources.

The high-energy and often chaotic live performances have garnered a lot of attention from fans young and old, and the band has been described as “immerse[d] 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…is too affecting” (Dallas Observer).

Mount Righteous has, from the beginning, had their sights set on bringing their exciting, inspiring and unique art to as many people as will listen. To this end, they have been known to play in parking lots, street corners and backyards. But with an East Coast tour in the works, and relentless energy being poured into their music, the big band has big plans for pushing themselves to truly righteous heights.