|Photo by: Provided|
Born out of Chapel Hill, NC, Mount Moriah is more than familiar with the narrative folk storytelling that Appalachian artists--especially those playing at the Nelsonville Music Festival--embrace. The band is on a steady rise to acclaim, a journey marked by a unique mix of tried-and-true classic rock with eclectic gospel influence, and some non-traditional folk formulas.
ACRN had the chance to talk to vocalist Heather McEntire about her regional inspiration, the festival vibe and the joys of touring.
ACRN: For people that have never seen you live before, what can they expect if they come out to the Nelsonville Music Festival?
Heather McEntire: Well, for this festival we’ll be a four-piece band: guitars, drums, bass. I don’t know what they can expect, we kind of have a sort of classic rock, gospel, country, somewhere along the lines of those [sounds]. So it kind of runs the gambit stylistically.
ACRN: Have you guys ever played in Nelsonville or this area at all before?
HM: Nope, first time!
ACRN: Do you feel when you play in regions similar to Appalachia, where people may be more accustomed to folk music, the audience connects more to your music and the style you’re playing?
HM: I think it’s more that we, or I specifically because I grew up in the Appalachian Mountains... let’s just say it’s special for me to play in an environment like that. You know, there are so many people who have lived in so many different places that I think we can connect with people wherever we go, but there is something very special about playing those types of locations for sure.
ACRN: You guys have been touring a lot lately. Do you plan to keep touring throughout the summer? What are your plans for the future?
HM: We have a 10-day tour in May and Nelsonville is our last stop. Then, June and July we are finishing writing. We’ve been working on our next record and we’re almost there with it, but we still need some writing retreats so we’re doing that June and July. We’ll rehearse and be recording in August. Then I think our plan is to tour [somewhat in] mid-fall.
ACRN: I saw that you guys are going to be playing with Horse Feathers a lot in May. How do you anticipate that going and have you ever played together before?
HM: No actually...I’ve actually never met them and I haven’t listened to much of them, but I’m excited and I think that the tracks that I did listen to, it sounded like we’ll be compatible and I always like touring with different bands so it should be fun.
ACRN: In general, what’s your favorite part of touring across locations?
HM: I love to travel. I love to perform and so it’s nice because touring is a way to accomplish both of those things and I find it really fulfilling. Just seeing different cities, different landscapes--it offers many different perspectives and I tend to write a lot on the road so it’s also productive! [Laughs]
ACRN: And that’s always a good thing! Can you tell me more about your first self-titled album?
HM: Sure. We finished our record last April, a year ago actually, and we put it out on a small local label here in North Carolina. We’ve been touring on it ever since and … it’s a lot of narratives that I wrote over the last 5 years and put together for one big record.
ACRN: I’ve noticed that you and your band mates have a lot of side projects. What’s it like trying to balance your time between lots of different musical ventures?
HM: Well, I think personally it can be hard, especially as Mount Moriah has slowly taken off and there’s been a bigger demand for us to play. It’s been harder for me to balance that time. I also play in a punk band and it’s been really hard to focus on both things with the same energy. And I think [my band mates] may have an easier time with it. I don’t know, I’m a pretty single-focused person and so it adds a really big challenge actually for me. But, I’m learning to adapt a little bit more.
ACRN: Do you feel like there’s a different vibe between just playing a regular show and playing a festival?
HM: Definitely. It’s completely different. Sonically, there’s nothing for the sound to bounce off of. It’s fun and I think there is, not that it’s more casual, but there’s a different energy. It’s usually outside and there are a lot of people there instead of a dark club. People are generally having fun and feeding off that energy.
ACRN: Do you prefer one environment over the other or a good mix of both?
HM: Yeah, I like both. I think both are challenging in their own ways. It keeps you on your toes I think, playing both, playing all kinds of different spaces.
ACRN: Where does Mount Moriah take a lot of its musical inspiration from?
HM: There’s a lot. It’s really hard for us to define our sound and I feel like it comes from a lot of different places. For me there’s some old country influence, there’s some really young Crazy Horse influence, there’s Fleetwood Mac, Carole King...a lot of, like, the classics. I think we’re still being influenced and discovering new parts of that.
ACRN: Going to festivals, do you ever stop by to see other artists play?
HM: Yeah, I think that’s one of the neat things about festivals is if you’re able [to, you should] catch other people’s sets and it’s something I always like to try to do and I will try to do it [at Nelsonville].
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