In a saturated music industry, two things are true: It’s easier to publish music without the help of a label, but it’s also more difficult to be heard. Because of this, today’s musicians have to work harder than ever before to get their names out there. They have to book their own shows, sell merch, create a strong social media presence and write constantly: it’s a nonstop job. But above all, today’s musicians have to be more passionate about their art than ever before, which brings me to Hello, Mountain.
Hello, Mountain is a three-piece indie rock band located in Denver, Co. Lead singer and guitarist Stephen Pamas began playing with drummer Zach Schacter in high school. After moving to Colorado and meeting bassist Jack Falk, the three officially formed Hello, Mountain around February of 2015, beginning a life of writing, performing and recording.
“Me and Zach are from Florida and Jack is from Detroit,” said Stephen, “so we all met here in [Colorado] and we were all relatively new to the city, so [our band name] just made sense.”
The three began to consistently make music together almost immediately after meeting each other, and now, three years after their official formation, the band has two EP’s out and one on the way: Enigma (2016), Machine (2017), and Transcend (Nov. 2018). Though Enigma was a group of songs that Stephen had written years before its release and the formation of Hello, Mountain, he still required collaboration from Zach and Jack to fully flesh-out the songs.
“It all just kind of came together,” said Stephen. “When we started playing these songs together, they just kind of took it and ran with it and gave me the ability to float on top and play guitar and sing. It all just happened very organically and naturally.”
To this day, they still stick to the same songwriting process.
“I will write the songs by myself, usually with an acoustic guitar, though lately I’ve been using a piano,” said Stephen. “I will bring a song to the band and it usually will just take a 180, because they’re hearing my acoustic-esque interpretation of this song and are just hearing something completely different.
“Sometimes, it’s not the direction I was going at all, and I don’t want it to go in that direction,” continues Stephen. “Other times, it’s not the direction I was going at all and it’s awesome and it’s different and cool, so we work with it.”
Though their writing happens in a garage, they play live shows around town about twice a month, which gives them the funds to record their EP’s in an actual studio. For both Machine and their upcoming EP, they recorded at The Spot Studios, which Stephen called “a little vacation.”
“The studio is pretty incredible,” said Stephen. “They have a separate wing for bands to stay in, and the property around is really cool. You’re able to wake up and walk around the property in the morning and just relax, which is important for me, because recording vocals gives me a lot of anxiety.
“It’s the center thing,” continued Stephen. “You have to be able to perform and, when you’re recording you’re always running around trying to get things done…and with us we have a set time limit to get things done, so, vocally I do perform well but this time was stressful for me because it was the last thing we did, and if I don’t perform well we don’t finish.”
Like many band out there, Hello, Mountain is working with strict time constraints and budgets, as they all have jobs apart from their band. They try to use the majority of their free time to write and play together, but because today’s musical landscape requires so much more than making music, so it can be difficult to find the time to do all that they want to do.
“The music industry is changing and has changed a lot,” said Stephen. “It’s still possible to organically grow as a band, and that’s what I want. But that’s going to take a lot of effort that isn’t musical talent, unfortunately.
“The whole promotional side of this world is very difficult to me,” continues Stephen. “I want to do the fun thing and not do anything else, but you have to push yourself on social media…it’s another job and we all have jobs and we have music as a very high-priority time consumer, so it’s very hard to dig into my music time to do things I don’t want to do, like promotion.”
However, this doesn’t seem to get them down too much. Stephen shared that regardless of what happens, they’ll continue to make music.
“For me, it’s frustrating, but it’s never going to be frustrating enough for me to stop,” said Stephen. “I just want some people to hear [my music] and enjoy it, because I’m not going to stop writing songs, probably ever. I make [music] because I really love to.”
With so much under their belt and so much more to come, Hello, Mountain are setting themselves up as a band to watch. Talented and dedicated, their love for music can be felt within their songs– I’d be surprised to see them go anytime soon.
To follow the band’s movement you can find them on Instagram @hellomountainband