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INTERVIEW: Mountain Lions

Photo credit: Steven Diaz

Hi Steven, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

I’m doing well! Excited to share this music with you! I’ve been waiting a long time with these songs and I can’t wait for everyone to spend some time with them.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “California”?

“California” is one of my favorite songs on the record. It is a fantastic road trip song that has some fun hooks and “arms out the windows” vibes. It is basically a reminder to stay in the moment and enjoy the “in between” times in life. When we drive, we most often want to just get somewhere and this song reminds me to enjoy the journey where ever I’m headed.

Did any event in particular inspired you to write this song?

It actually references my experience living in Cleveland wanting to move somewhere that felt more like home. California is almost a cliche paradise, but it was also a serious consideration when I was picking a place to move. So there are some literal autobiographical elements of this song as well as metaphorical.

Any plans to release a video for the single?

No plans at the moment, but it would be fun to capture the feeling of this song in a video! Maybe I should write a plot line 🙂

The single comes off your new album We Are – what’s the story behind the title? 

‘We Are’ is a statement of what Mountain Lions is all about. The statement reads We Are… Mountain Lions and implies that the music listeners are as much a part of the band as it’s members. It means that we are all part of this this thing that is greater than us. It’s a pretty powerful idea.

How was the recording and writing process?

The writing process was really the culmination of a few years of songs that I stocked up while I was touring the country with The Lighthouse and the Whaler and decided that the best of those songs should be shared under my own band. The recording process was fantastic, I was honored to work with some amazing people on this record and am proud to call them all friends.

What was it like to work with Dave Douglas and Rob Parr? How did those relationships develop?

I attribute this collaboration to Cleveland having a tight knit and supportive local music scene. Generally producers in a city complete over artists to record so when I asked them if they would be open to working together, it took courage and a cooperative mindset for both of them. In the end, it was such a rewarding process and I think it made the record stronger and more unique for those reasons.

How much did they get to influence the album?

It was a full on democracy! I had about 30 songs and we all picked our favorite 10 to decide which would make the record. They actually outvoted me for one song and it made the record! In the end, I made sure that I happy with all aspects of this record, but wanted to stay open to their ideas and have conversations allowing their influence on the sound and direction for the songs. The songs were the compass, the three of us were just working together to do what was best for the songs.

What role does Chapel Hill play in your music?

I’ve been living in Chatham County for about a year and a half. The land of the pines; I love the weather here and the southern hospitality too! I believe that Mountain Lions has a role to play in the local community here in North Carolina. While the place I live will always influence my songwriting by inspiring me with beautiful landscapes or obstacles to wrestle with in songs, I think that an important part of music is bringing communities of people together. So those are my lofty goals of how Mountain Lions will continue to set roots into the Research Triangle.

What aspect of your life did you get to explore on this record?

This record is an exploration of my deepest held beliefs (who am I? Why am I here? and what is my purpose?) as well as an honest look at emotions we all feel as we grow older. It’s a coming-of-age record, I suppose, but we also are “coming-of-age” through out our entire lives. Each new year bringing new joys and sorrows and it’s really quite beautiful to step back and appreciate being alive!

Any plans to hit the road?

Mountain Lions is a hometown band. I spent a few years touring with The Lighthouse and the Whaler while I enjoyed traveling the US and Canada, I never felt at home on the road. So a major decision for Mountain Lions was to blaze a new path in the music industry finding a middle ground between the road warriors and the bands that seems to always be in the studio working on new material.

What else is happening next in Mountain Lions’ world?

This album release is an announcement to the world of what Mountain Lions is…(us all!) While we prep for the release of ‘We Are’, I am always working on new songs and making demos for the sophomore album or series of E.P.s… so we’ll see!

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About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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