Fire Mountain’s latest album, All Dies Down, is three years in the making, but for a band that has no intention of leaving their day gigs, this works just fine. Don’t let their intentional “weekend warrior” status mislead you, though: this is an excellent album and their live shows equally worthy. After hearing the debut EP from St. Paul & The Broken Bones, Brown sought out who recorded that collection of songs, and tracked down Les Nuby in Birmingham. Right in the midst of our web of intertwined bands and friends, Fire Mountain’s album brings them to the forefront of Alabama’s musical rolling tide. In our conversation, we find out mutual bands we love, how shish kebob skewers made this album possible, and the venue that Fire Mountain loves to play.
Sloane Spencer — What’s happening with your new album?
Chris Porter (better known as Porter) — Well, that depends on which one. I’ve had a busy year! I just released the new Porter and The Pollies EP. Shortly after my move from Birmingham, Alabama, to Austin, Texas, I was in a funk of sorts, and while talking to my brother-in-arms Jay Burgess (of The Pollies), we decided to go honest with this idea of a Porter/Pollies collaboration. We had kicked the idea around green rooms for a while, and were interested to hear how I would sound fronting a full band, and how the Pollies would sound with my country ass on vocals. We decided that the session was just what we needed, for ourselves and our bands. I bought a big ass red guitar and drove down to The Shoals with a handful of tunes. When I arrived we soon all realized what a state of disrepair we were all in. 2012 had been bittersweet to say the least, and it was cathartic to be around my brothers again. Somewhere in there we cut some tracks. We opted to go as live as possible with the tracking and forgot to turn on the click track. The product is more amazing than I could have ever hoped for. It’s buzzy and fuzzy, and a little drunk and surly — covers all of the bases we wanted it to, and represents the week that we shared making it to a T. I’m so proud of it.
I am also heading into the studio in December to cut my first solo full length record. For that I am blessed to be able to work with Will Johnson (Centro-Matic/ South San Gabriel) as my producer, along with Chris Masterson (Steve Earle/Son Volt/ The Mastersons), Eleanor Whitmore (Steve Earle, The Mastersons, and everybody else that’s great), and my lovely girlfriend Bonnie Whitmore (who needs no introduction). There is an Indiegogo floating around there somewhere, but I won’t solicit funds through here. You will be hearing a lot more about that in the coming weeks. (NOTE: I added the link to his fundraiser anyway. SS)
SS — It’s been a couple of albums since we featured you on Country Fried Rock radio show. What’s changed with your music?
Porter — WOW! When we spoke, I was in a smelly van with the infamous Back Row Baptists! It’s been a while and The Baptists are all doing really well! I still front Some Dark Holler with Helen Gassenheimer (the most talented lady ever), and have criss-crossed the country a few times with that. Last fall Helen and I gave birth to a very special little record called Hollow Chest [Explicit]
which we released on This Is American Music. We are still focused on touring and recording, so after the solo full length, expect to hear more from Some Dark Holler.
SS — What’s working for you? Where do you see things heading?
Porter — I’m doing my best to make my new material the strongest it has ever been. My move to Austin has thrown me in with an amazing cast of songwriters who not only inspire me to write, but force me to write better than I ever have. The tunes that I have prepared for this solo full length, touch on themes that my previous work passed over. Don’t worry, there is still plenty of fire and brimstone, but there are also some understated sentiments present that y’all might not expect from the guy whose band was once referred to as “the drunk Civil Wars.”
Where do I see things heading? Around in circles. In a good way.
Buy the album on Bandcamp: https://somedarkholler.bandcamp.com/
1. Your Hometown
2. Fourth of July
3. Wood and Steel
4. Rest The Bones
5. When I Get Home
6. Blood on My Hands
Chris Porter – Guitar, Vox
Jay Burgess – Guitar, Vox, Producer
Chris James – Bass
Reed Watson – Drums
Daniel Stoddard – Steel, Keys, guitar, vox
Helen Gassenheimer – Fiddle, Vox on “Rest These Bones”
Recorded in Greenhill, Alabama
Produced by Jay Burgess
Mixed by TJ Mimbs and Jay Burgess
Mastered by TJ Mimbs at Easy Street Studios
Cover art by Jeff Moore – Green Olive Media