Interview with Emily Kopplin (Mount Salem)

On the back of the release of their great debut album Endless this month (Which Swirls of Noise reviewed here), I got the chance to interview their frontwoman and organ player Emily Kopplin.

Hi Emily. Your new album Endless, a reissue of your EP from last year with new songs, is a really good effort of psychedelic doom metal. Having formed in 2012 you’ve got an album deal in place with Metal Blade Records relatively quickly. What musical experience did you all have, if any, with previous bands?

We’ve all played in other bands over the years, nothing in the same genre, and the guys all picked up new instruments for this band. Kyle (guitar) and Mark (bass) used to be drummers, and Cody (drums) used to play guitar.

There’s a really dense, heavy guitar sound on the album throughout, what equipment did you use to get this sludgy sound? 

Kyle plays an Epiphone hollow body through a vintage Mitchell pro 100 head and an Emperor cab. For the most part, we used the same gear to record that we play live with.

With this heavy, dark sound it brings to mind the feel of old horror films. What subjects are the lyrics about, and how do they fit with this?

The lyrics are mainly occult themed because I felt that’s what best fit the feel of the music itself. It’s something that’s been a part of society for hundreds of years and there’s so much fascinating history having to do with witchcraft and the dark arts. It’s a realm that offers up plenty of ideas.

While the influences from Black Sabbath and Pentagram are obvious, there’s also a heavy dose of psychedelia on the album too, emanating from the guitars, and the keyboards. Who influenced that elements of your style, or is this your own individuality coming through? 

I think that is a case of our own influences shining through. We didn’t have a specific idea of what the music had to sound like when we started writing, and the result is a good mix of everyone’s separate tastes. Kyle (guitar) and I are into the psychedelic aspect of things while Cody (drums) and Mark (bass) keep the rhythm section heavy.

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Emily, your voice is excellent on this album, it’s a really soulful and passionate performance. What influences are there on your own singing?

I’ve loved music my whole life and have been singing as long as I can remember. I’ve always been into a variety of music so I’ve been influenced by everything from Patsy Cline to Whitney Houston, to Ann Wilson, to Ozzy.

With a recent surge of bands playing female fronted 70’s influenced doom, is it harder to get noticed, or does it make it easier being part of a vibrant scene?

We really don’t think of ourselves as being categorized as just a female fronted band or having to adhere to a formula. When we write songs we really focus more on the music itself as opposed to catering a song for female vocals. We’ve never thought we had to play or write songs a certain way to get noticed or stand out, we just write music we get excited about playing. It is really cool to see the resurgence of this 70’s influenced music happening though. I think people are nostalgic for that stripped down loud, heavy rock, and it’s very exciting to hear so many talented bands doing it justice. We’re definitely psyched to be considered a part of that in any way.

How was the reception to Endless when it was released as an EP, and how did you feel getting signed to Metal Blade Records? 

We didn’t intend on this being a serious touring band when we first got together because we had all been friends for awhile and thought it would just be fun to hang out and jam. We recorded the EP right away before we even played our first show so we had no idea what kind of reception we’d get. Needless to say we were stoked when we started selling copies all over the world via Bandcamp. We were pretty surprised when Metal Blade contacted us and really excited that they wanted to re-realease Endless as a full length. we’re looking forward to what the future has in store.

Do you think you’ll be moving away from the USA to play some shows in Europe soon? 

That’s definitely a goal of ours, to do some touring overseas. We have a US tour planned to May but we’re hoping to be in Europe by the Fall.

Thanks for your time, is there anything else you’d like to say?

Keep an eye out for tour dates, we hope to see you on the road!
– HAIL SALEM

And finally, Paranoid or Master of Reality? 😉

Master of Reality

Many thanks to Andy Turner at Napalm Records for setting up the interview.

Endless is out now on Metal Blade records.

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