Driving. When I listen to this song, “Abide,” I am reminded of the image that my mind put together while I made my way to meet the guys from This Mountain in their practice space, located in a house that four of them share. Images. This is a more accurate statement to set up what my experience was like. I made my way around Boone Lake in Johnson City, TN to see the frame by frame documentation of my evening. I arrived at a house settled on the corner of a road, a stones throw from the lake I had just enircled. I entered through a rear door that radiated waves of serenity across my body and into the atmosphere. These same waves travelled invisibly, particle to particle, vibrating, merging with the wind. Thoughts and feelings became manna for the world. Ideas made manifest through movement.
The song they played for me is called “Abide.” It can be summed up by one line from a verse. “The Universe has spoken. I must abide.” The implications in these few words seem uncontainable, immense, intense, indefinite, undeniably romantic, and to me they are beyond comprehension. The song made me want to dance. It made me want to shake a tambourine! I sang along as loud as I could inside my head because I didn’t know all the lyrics, but I caught on fairly quick. A true sign of a good, far reaching, class transcendent song is the appeal to movement. The field recording that I did doesn’t do it justice at all, but it definitely goes down in my book as one of those songs that just makes you want to move. And when they finished, I felt involved. Being obliged the chance to listen in this intimate setting, in the practice space where the veils of a stage don’t exist and the truth of each member becomes evident as they are obliged to play from their heart, I became part of the moment.
A few days later I had the opportunity to meet back up with the guys for some photos and an interview. It was just as fun to say the least. They are so friendly and capable of inviting in their neighbors for coffee and conversation at the drop of a hat. This is a great characteristic for a single individual to have. Just imagine visiting six of a similar disposition. All of them were so kind and generous. We journeyed to a different section of the house; on the wall were handmade paintings by friends, so they told me, a couple movie posters, and some band posters. We didn’t discuss the usual avenues of conversation that are covered during an interview, because I think the sound of their music does this for them. They are, as rhythm section, Andrew Gibbens once told me, “collaborative folk rock from Johnson City, TN.” Instead, I wanted them to tell me what it was like to be a band. But I requested that they help me journey, or guide me rather, into the band dynamic. I wanted to understand what it must be like to sustain a relationship such as this. So they took me into the rabbit hole, but unlike Alice, I wasn’t left to wander. I was lead in and back out by the sounds of their voices.
The openness of this question was undoubtedly something they were used to encountering. They didn’t hesitate at all to begin bouncing ideas off each other as they sifted the material like flour through a sieve. They all agreed that it was in part due to them having been able to mature through previous band experiences. Each of them had somehow been connected to the others, intertwined by the circles of musical intention. They all played in bands with at least one member of the band that also played in a band with other members in the past. Lead guitarist, Zach Chandley, said that he had been playing music since he was eleven years old and that this band was different than anything he had ever done. “There is constructive criticism for what doesn’t work and reinforcement for what does work. It is more personal,” he informed me with care and humility. To follow this, lead vocalist, Matt Martin described to me something that placed it all into perspective. With the words of a man that is used to communing with internal mountains he said, “We genuinely love each other. We want to live a happy full, vibrant life and we just happen to play music together.”
When I walked away from the meeting with these wonderful gentlemen I had a lighter heart and a more open mind toward the progression of music and the variations of band dynamic. It seems that sometimes our paths are intertwined and the universe has spoken. All we must do is abide in what is right. God is really a concept that extends beyond religious and philosophical beliefs. These guys all have their own ideals about existence and refuse to hurt each other with forceful rhetoric. Instead they fill the air with words of consolation and peace. Destiny seems very real in situations like this when you have the chance to hear passionate individuals discuss their vision of what has happened and what is happening.