Psychedelic magical Irish folk/post rock group Iron Mountain is about to play its first concert in continental Europe. Flautist Ronan Ryan takes us behind the scenes of a rather original and quite different soundscape.
Tom Keller (Walkin' Tom): Psychedelic? Magical? Irish folk? Post rock? What is IRON MOUNTAIN all about?
Ronan Ryan: Iron Mountain is at its core, a post rock band. Where we primarily differ from other post rock outfits, is in our instrumental line up. It has been a primary goal of ours from day one to blend the classic rock instruments of guitar, bass and drums, with the sounds produced by instruments usually associated with folk music, those of uilleann pipes, flutes and low whistles.
There are no reels or jigs played here, or traditional tunes of any kind. The folk instruments take on the role normally reserved for lead guitar, so riffs, solos, as well as some improvisation are the order of the day for pipes and flutes. Our guitarist will accompany with counter melodies, swells, and provide a soundscape backdrop with the bass and drums, as well as take his own solos too of course!
Our debut album 'Unum' also features some violin, and there also cameos from saxophone and clarinet. We approach things in our own unique way, and after some years of honing our sound, we believe we are offering something original and very different for the listener to enjoy.
Which were your influences?
As five individuals, we all have widely varying musical influences, spread across many genres. Our common bond is that all of us are open minded to all musics, and that's part of the reason we love to play together. As we all have very different musical backgrounds, we all bring something unique to the band room when we play together, and we feel that is one of our strongest points. Really it would be wrong of me to reference any particular bands or artists here, but I think the astute listener will be able to identify the common threads we share.
Would you please explicate the musical background of each band member!
What made you choose the group's name I wonder?
We took our name from Irish folklore. To give you a brief explanation, it is mentioned in the story of Tuatha De Danann, who according to legend were a race of God-like people gifted with supernatural powers. They invaded and ruled Ireland over 4,000 years ago. The book of Invasions (Lébor Gebála Érénn, compiled in 1150) claims in a poem that Tuatha De Danann came to Ireland riding in flying ships, surrounded by dark clouds. They landed on Sliabh an Iarainn (Iron Mountain), in County Leitrim, where they brought a darkness over the sun lasting for three whole days!
Because the term Iron Mountain has obvious modern day connotations too, we felt it would be a good fit for us, as we mix old sounds with the new.
Given your crossover sound, what do you think of the music business at the time being?
The music industry is a beast which never wears the same cloak for too long, it is constantly changing and is far from a static entity. In these times it is a very exciting and open playing field. Since there are so many notable independent record labels operating, many more bands and artists have the opportunity now to gain a platform for their music than in times gone by, where you either got very lucky and signed to a major label, or most likely you were never heard of outside your home town.
While many might moan at streaming sites and the internet in general, artists now have the opportunity to communicate directly and instantly with fans and music lovers all over the world, that's certainly not bad thing! There is also more emphasis on live music in this day and age than there has been in over half a century, which is brilliant for the music lover, and naturally we are all music fans. While certainly the music business is not all roses, we all know it to be a very tough and highly competitive industry, but it's far from the doom and gloom that a lot of people these days try to make it out to be.
So there is an audience for your music?
From our initial performances in Limerick city back in 2011, we started to grow something of a cult following in our home town. This is something which has grown over the years, and it is always a pleasure to play the Treaty city. Performing further afield in different towns, cities and festivals throughout Ireland, we have received similar positive reactions, and our audience grows that little bit bigger every time we play, which we definitely take that as a positive sign.
We have all noticed that when we perform, there is an expectant atmosphere in the audience, an excitement maybe that they are about to witness something just a little bit off the wall!
Any chance to see you perform outside of Ireland?
Yes! On the weekend of July 29th & 30th, we will perform at Prophecy Fest held at Balver Höhle, Germany. None of us have ever performed in a cave before, so we imagine that's going to be a very cool experience! There are many great acts due to perform at this festival, so we are very excited to be part of the lineup!
We are also currently working on adding some more European dates this summer in tandom with our slot at Prophecy Fest, but unfortunately as of time of writing there is nothing official that we can announce just yet. Folks can keep an eye on our Facebook and Twitter feeds, as well as prophecy.de for any upcoming announcements.
Photo Credits: (1)-(3) Iron Mountain, (4) Prophecy Fest (unknown/website).