JAMES PERCY - VOCALS AND BASS
Who are your main musical influences and why?
Growing up I was influenced by my Dad's music- especially Elvis, Sam Cooke and Roy Orbison. I think the biggest influence on the music I make now is David Bowie - both for his innovations in sound and his amazing use of melodies - Bowie's fearless attitude was inspiring. His vocals were always a big influence especially on Heroes and Station to Station. Joy Division are also very important - their brutal minimalist sound - those two albums are utter perfection - Ian Curtis' otherworldly baritone is a big influence on my voice and Peter Hook's driving bass-lines are something to aspire to.
How did Magic Mountain come about and where did you get the name from?
Me and Ash have been mates since university in Bristol and we had a band back then called This Dumb Desire, Ash played Drums and my younger brother played guitar in that band. It burnt out in the end and we both pursued different musical ventures.
Magic Mountain came about when me and Ashley had a bit of a late night jam in October 2011. I had just bought a Kaossilator and we wanted to try it out. It was our first time using a drum machine - and the sound really clicked with Ash's guitar sound - the regimented drums meant Ash could make the wildest sound with his guitar. We wrote and roughly recorded a song. Listening back we realised we had created our own sound and it was big. We decided then and there to start a band and we started writing songs.
But the real break though came with Velvet - Ash asked Sarah to do a guest flute on that track and it sounded amazing - it took the sound to a different dimension. We asked Sarah to join the band there and then.
The name for Magic Mountain comes from one of my most beloved book's Thomas Mann's "The Magic Mountain" its a strange tale of a young man searching for meaning and falling in love in a sanatorium high up in the Swiss Alps. There's something of the dreaminess of that novel in our sound.
Tell us about the Innocence EP. Was it easy to record?
The whole EP took a few years to record - as we wrote and perfected each song over time. It was a long process! We recorded each song on separate days sometimes months apart. Each song took just one day to record in with our engineer Justin Saban and Latentle Studios. He is a master at getting all our tracks to gel into a sound close to us live. Some tracks were tough to build - finding the guitar sound for Drive took hours - in the end we used one of Justin's custom pedals which had a powerful driving force. Other times it went more effortlessly - I remember recording the vocals for Berlin, Ash had already laid down all his guitars and Sarah's had done most of her keyboards, I stepped into the booth and put on my headphones - I was immersed in this incredible music that they had created - swirling around me. I was immediately in the right mood. I think we did the vocals in two takes.
And finally, what's the strangest or funniest thing that's happened when you've been doing a gig?
The strangest gig was on Halloween at JC Soars in Nottingham - we supported Gary War - who is a force of nature. I had on my skeleton outfit and the audience were all in costume, there was no stage and the audience were wild - it felt like the audience was part of the band - it was a real creepy fun night.