We here at Nine Circles always appreciate blackened death metal. So when Horror Pain Gore Death dropped Mountain Grave on us, we were stoked. Fortunately, Brian Rush (who plays vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards, drums, programming) was able to take some time to join us for a profile. Brian is a sweet guy who is currently very busy with his band as well as running his own fledgling label Pale Magus (where you can pick up a few older Mountain Grave releases). When he’s not swamped with that stuff he even does some audio engineering for video games! Be sure to check out their new album, Massive Structural Collapse, here.How did you first get into playing music and have you achieved the level of success that you always hoped to achieve?
As cliche as it is, the first time I heard a ripping guitar solo over the radio when I was 8 planted the seed for wanting to play music. Afterwards, I looked for heavier stuff in my Dad’s tape collection, which was the equivalent of looking for a needle in a haystack. We finally found the last two minutes of Eric Burdon’s solo version of “Misunderstood,” where he goes into this proto-growling scat singing, and that opened my ears to unconventional textures of sound. Those last two minutes had the most potent effect on my senses than anything I had heard up to that point. As far as success goes, when I take a step back and look at the journey, I’m satisfied. But when all the unrealized potential nags me by burning a hole in my gut, that signals a long way to go.
What’s the most you have ever debased yourself to get your band onto a show, into a magazine or otherwise promoted, covered, debased and praised? If you don’t have a story please tell us any embarrassing story.
Marketing is definitely a weak point in every aspect of my life, so I’ve probably come across like a goober to a lot of promoters, etc, but I can’t tell you why because I don’t understand that game. Although when I was 15, my black metal band had an entry in urban dictionary that I would attach to emails when we were looking for press coverage. “Oh yeah we’re on Urban Dictionary too.” Ha!
What do you see as some of the great things happening in metal and what are some of the worst things happening inside the scene right now?
Great thing happening in metal: more people are exploring and enjoying it! When we realize we can bypass prejudices that our culture has supposedly instilled in us, it’s much easier to flow with the force of metal (or anything for that matter). Worst thing happening: people get sucked into specific scenes and become jaded towards everything else.
It seems that now everyone has a passion for some cause and that those people are very open about displaying their passions. This is probably a very, very good (and progressive) thing socially. What are some of the most important issues (social/political/humorous/etc.) for you and how do you insert those issues into your music? (This question is especially appropriate for you since your music is quite an outlet for your physical and emotional pains).
There are a lot of issues I’m concerned about, and being able to freely express yourself no matter what your opinion is certainly near the top of the list. Although, I wouldn’t call Mountain Grave a release for physical and emotional pains. Our newest release, “Massive Structural Collapse,” is really more of a fantasy story to get lost in. It does loosely follow the Icarus archetype of human overconfidence and consequential suffering, but in the end there’s a realization of strength within that can overcome any obstacle. By the end of the album, the message is positive. However, our previous release, which was a split with the gnarly party-thrashers, Lucifist, was definitely socially charged.
What, or who, got you into metal and how old were you? How did your family take the news?
Well it was really that mystery guitar solo on the radio and Eric Burdon’s “misunderstood” that opened the door. My parents were not pleased, but overall were very supportive and maybe even thankful that I found something constructive to occupy my time with.
What’s the stickiest you have ever been?
Stickiest? The first big show at the Suicide Dungeon in Lafayette, IN. Summer, crowded, sweat, beer, metal, heatrash.
What advice do you have for aspiring music critics and outlets out there? How can we all better serve the genre in the eyes of a hard-working musician?
Definitely put things into perspective for your audience, especially if you cover a broad range of styles. You can’t just tell someone who loves Dream Theater to go listen to Repulsion unless you have already found common ground on the subject or at least put it in context for them.
What’s your goal? You guys thinking world domination? Maybe saving a continent? Maybe invading one? Any interest in starting a cult? Do you guys have day jobs or hobbies you want to share? Whatever it is, please let us know.
Going on about ten years now, Mountain Grave has come full circle to what it was always meant to be, a gateway for people exploring extreme metal. Every release sounds totally different from the last but with a distinct angsty attitude. We want to open ears to new sounds rather than cater to stagnation. We definitely want to tour, but that’s not in the cards at the moment because of our jobs.
Finally, when you’re not listening to, writing or playing metal, what are some of you favorite albums to listen to currently? (Feel free to include non-metal)
Some current favorite non-metal albums would be:
Gryphon – Red Queen to Gryphon Three
L. Shankar – Raga Abheri
Alamaailman Vasarat – Vasaraasia
Wardruna – Gap Var Ginnunga
Much thanks to Brian for his time! Check out Mountain Grave now.