Chicago’s Mount Salem to haunt Blind Bob’s
By Gary Spencer
Dear readers, let me ask you a question: do you like bluesy, heavy, spooky music that you can headbang to? Do you like ’60s-styled heavy metal that evokes visions of cloaked witches and warlocks gathered in the black autumn night, hovered over a steamy cauldron, hands outstretched to the skies in all their dark glory? Do you like the sound of vintage organs and sultry female vocals that are both harrowing and sexy at the same time?
If you answered yes to any or all of the above questions, then you need to check out Mount Salem. Hailing from Chicago, Mount Salem is a band that started out initially as a mere experiment between a handful of musicians – Cody Davidson, Mark Hewett and Kyle Morrison – who wanted to try their hands at instruments they’d never played before. Almost overnight, Mount Salem became a major player in the American retro-doom metal underground.
Even upon first listening to Mount Salem, it is clear the band is well-rooted in the first wave of British and American proto-doom metal, as their first full-length release for Metal Blade Records, Endless, attests: traces of doom metal forefathers Black Sabbath, Coven, Pentagram, Trouble and Saint Vitus are all here in abundance and will make any fan of retro-flavored heavy metal more than satisfied.
Topping off this tasty brew is the witchy-but-scintillating vocals of Emily Kopplin, which give Mount Salem a new school appeal for people who are fans of contemporary bands like Blood Ceremony, Purson, Jex Thoth and Witch Mountain. Mount Salem is set to weave its sonic spell over Dayton this coming Sunday, and in advance of this ritual I got to chat with Mount Salem drummer Cody Davidson about the band and their return to the stage at Blind Bob’s.
Hi Cody! Please give me a brief history of the band?
We formed Mount Salem kind of by accident. Myself, Kyle and Rob (Hultz) from Trouble started jamming together a couple of years ago, playing very basic, heavy blues riffs with no real idea of what was to come from it. Emily came by and was helping Kyle write vocal parts and it ended up sounding way better with her singing the parts and creating the melodies. Rob had obligations with Trouble, and our good friend Mark started playing bass with us. Mark switched over from drums to bass to join the band without ever really playing the instrument, which was cool because it was kind of the reason Kyle and I started playing together. The initial idea was to get together and jam on a different instrument and see what kind of noise we could make. That being said, Mark was a great fit. Now we are continuing to write music that sounds cool to the four of us as loud and often as possible. – Cody Davidson
How did Mount Salem get signed to Metal Blade, and why is Metal Blade an ideal home for your band?
We signed to Metal Blade kind of the same way we became a band – by accident. We only had our self-released EP out to a few labels and were kind of shopping it around, and Metal Blade wasn’t even one of the labels we were looking into. Somehow it made it into the hands of the label and they contacted us, which we thought was one of our friends playing a cruel joke. Metal Blade is a great label in general, and being a part of their history and lineage is such an honor. I think they are a good fit for us specifically because we aren’t the normal band they sign. I think it gives a fresh breath of air to listeners and followers of the label to get to hear music that’s in the same genre, but has a lot of other elements like straight rock and ‘n’ roll and psychedelic vibes to get into. – CD
Tell me about the Mount Salem live experience. How might it compare or contrast to the way you sound on record?
With this kind of music, there is really no way to hear it unless it’s loud and right in front of you. We think the record does a great job of capturing a lot of what we offer as a band, but live music is just so much better. – CD
What does the future hold for Mount Salem?
We hope to keep touring and write records people want to hear and have a good time doing it. We are getting to play Europe this year with a ton of amazing bands and I feel that is a huge goal being reached for all of us. – CD
Mount Salem has played at Blind Bob’s before. Any particular reason you’ve made it a point to play here again?
Other than the fact that Dayton knows how to party? We made a connection with our dudes in Grand Mammoth and we got to come out through tours or one-off shows and we’ve always had a blast and such a great response. Blind Bob’s is such a cool spot. It has great staff, great sound and it’s located perfectly in that strip of other cool bars, restaurants and stores. We love that city! – CD
Mount Salem will perform Sunday, July 20 at Blind Bob’s, 430 E. Fifth St. Neon Warship, Grand Mammoth and Back Stabbath are also on the bill. Admission for the show is $5 for attendees 21 and over. For more information, please visit mountsalem.bandcamp.com.
Reach DCP freelance writer Gary Spencer at GarySpencer@DaytonCityPaper.com.