Interview: Sugar Candy Mountain talks new LP ‘Mystic Hits’ (WIN TICKETS!)
September 18, 2013
Written by Russell Jelinek
Sugar Candy Mountain, a project led by Ash Reiter and her band’s drummer Will Halsey, just released their album Mystic Hits on their Bandcamp page. The LP is full of retro, reverb-heavy pop, but listening to it from start to finish will take you on a smooth ride across too many genres to mention.
To celebrate the release, Sugar Candy Mountain plays Rickshaw Stop this Friday night with Sun Hop Fat and Sandy’s, and we have a pair of tickets to give away to one lucky reader. To enter for a chance to win, email email@example.com with “Sugar Candy Mountain Giveaway” in the subject line and your full name and email address in the body of the email. The contest closes at 12pm on the day of the show. A winner will be selected at random and notified via email.
To learn more about Sugar Candy Mountain and their history, I chatted with Halsey and Reiter via email – a portion of the discussion is below.
TBB: How did Sugar Candy Mountain come to life?
Ash Reiter: It started as a recording project that Will started 3 years ago. About 2 years ago we decided those songs would be fun to play live and played a couple shows. This year we’ve started playing out in earnest and began really gelling as a band. We now have Bryant Dennison (who plays bass with Ash Reiter) on guitar, Tom Edler on bass and Mike Fortes on keys and back up vocals. All these guys are stand out musicians and a lot of fun to play with. We even branched out and had Mike write and sing the lead vocal for the song “I’m a Tiger” on the new album. I foresee being more collaborative with Mike and the rest of the band in the writing process for a new material and I’m excited to see what this evolution brings.
TBB: How do you know when to draw the line between Ash Reiter and Sugar Candy Mountain?
AR: Well typically songs that Will writes are Sugar Candy Mountain songs and songs that I write go on the Ash Reiter albums, but this isn’t always the case. The Ash Reiter song “Supercharged” was a song Will had been working on and I liked it so much I asked if I could write the lyrics and help finish the melodies. Similarly on our new album, I wrote the “bossa”-influenced tune “Cactus Dream” playing on the Brazilian inspiration of the album. Really there the biggest factor is whose album we’re trying to finish at the moment.
When you write a song, how soon do you know if it will be an Ash or SCM song?
AR: Usually we just duke it out gladiator style, you know the one where there both wearing spandex and fighting on podium with those giant q-tip things trying to knock each other in the water. Incidentally that’s what our new tune “Knock Me Down” is all about. Jokes aside, usually we just know, it’s pretty clear.
Could you talk about Ash’s pedal setup?
AR: Oh boy… we were just talking about how that pedal board really advanced our sound from the previous album. We spent a lot of time on the road touring checking out YouTube videos of various pedals. One of our best pals is also a pedal enthusiast and friend of Stephen Drozd of the Flaming Lips, so his recommendations definitely informed our choices. I use three different delays, a vintage roland phaser, the fuzz face, tremolo, a pitch shifter, and over drive/boost from Fulltone and expression pedal. We also experimented a lot with me playing the guitar while Will manipulated the knobs on a particular pedal (if look closely at the album credits for HOLA you will see we give Will credit for playing “knobs”).
TBB: How did your time touring in Brazil with The Blank Tapes affect the sound of the album?
AR: Well I didn’t go to Brazil but I was very jealous because I was just getting into Brazilian music around that time. Gal Costa, Os Mutantes and Gilberto Gil are some of my favorite bands and when Will came home from Brazil with a few recordings I was excited for the idea of making a “Brazilian” album. In the end I don’t know if Mystic Hits is very Brazilian per se, but perhaps in the Beck Mutations sense we achieve something with at least Brazilian inspiration.
Will Halsey: When I was in Brazil I wasn’t intentionally trying to write Brazilian music, but like Ash said we had been getting into bands like Os Mutantes and I think that came out subconsciously. All the songs on the album that were recorded in Brazil were written and recorded very quickly. Matt Adams and I recorded about ten songs in an hour after we played a Blank Tapes gig in Sao Paolo. The song “Some Body” I wrote about thirty minutes before I recorded it as kind of a joke song, but I liked how it turned out so I put it on the album. There are a couple more that I wrote and recorded there that didn’t make the final cut for the album, you can look forward to those when we release our basement tapes.
Sun Hop Fat, Sugar Candy Mountain, Sandy’s
September 20, 2013
9pm, $10 (All Ages)