Mount Salem | Photo: Josh Kurpius
by Eerie Eric

Hailing from Chicago, IL, Mount Salem is a four piece psychedelic rock / doom metal band. They started writing music together in the summer of 2012 and released their first EP, Endless, in the spring of 2013. The band puts a strong emphasis on tone and feeling in both their songs and live performances alike. Most of the band switched from their normal instruments and picked up new ones for this band and the result was much more natural than they had hoped for.

Taking influence from the classics like Black Sabbath and Pentagram, they play loud, heavy rock and roll using all vintage gear. Throwing their own twist of dark and mysterious doom into the music, they invite the listener to step into their sinister realm. The imagery in the lyrics will take you on a ride in which you won’t know whether to be scared or grab a sword and join the battle.

Occult Rock: So congratulations on your Metal Blade signing!  It looks like the band has done quite a bit of a touring in the past year. It’s probably not an easy question, but what’s your greatest show memory? Where was it and who did you play with?

Emily Kopplin: We’ve been pretty busy but it’s been a great year. There are so many amazing shows we’ve been able to play so it’s really hard to pick a favorite! We’ve got some friends who play in a band called Grand Mammoth from Dayton, OH so we love playing Dayton with them. The show we played with them on this last tour was a total rager, definitely one of my personal favorite shows because of the fun times and great company.

Occult Rock: You guys are from the Chicago area, home to a lot of great heavy bands throughout the years, like Trouble, Bible of the Devil, and many others in the industrial metal scene. Any Chicago bands you think we should check out?

Emily Kopplin: There’s so many incredibly talented musicians in this city and tons of great music in every genre. It’s a really inspiring place to be with constant fuel for creativity. It’s really rad to be able to go out and see live music any night of the week and we’re lucky to have most touring bands come through as well. Some cool bands to check out in that vein would be Indian, Bongripper, Novembers Doom, and Witchbanger.

Occult Rock: After your extensive touring here in the U.S., would you say there’s a specific geographical area that has the strongest heavy music scene, like the Pacific Northwest, the Southeast, or the Midwest where you guys are from, or do you feel like it’s a more of a nebulous, common thread throughout the entire country?

Emily Kopplin: I think every state has their own pocket for heavy music. The scene differs a little bit depending on the area but it’s definitely a common thread throughout the whole country. One of the things I’ve noticed through touring now is that the shows in the bigger cities like New York, Los Angeles, or Austin aren’t necessarily the best shows of tour. The best, most fun shows tend to be those in smaller cities because the people get way more excited about seeing live music. It’s almost like a treat for them to be out at a show because they don’t have things like that going on every night of the week.

Occult Rock: You guys do a great job of wearing your influences on your sleeves, but you also have a sound that’s very much in the here and now. What bands would you cite as your biggest influences?

Emily Kopplin: Like you said, I think some of our influences are pretty obvious ones like Black Sabbath, Pentagram, and Saint Vitus. The four of us are in to different types of music and we’re each influenced by different musicians. Some of my personal influences include Shocking Blue, Heart, Fleetwood Mac, Jefferson Airplane, etc.

Occult Rock: Your video for “Lucid” definitely showcases a certain dark, dream-like aesthetic. A lot of heavy bands are quick to site nonmusical influences and generally enjoy taking visual aesthetics into account. Do you have any visual influences that you take into consideration for your performances, like movies or fashion?  If so, what films or what “looks” do you like?

Emily Kopplin: None of us are old horror film buffs like some people assume. The aesthetic we use just comes from vibe of the music. Like you mentioned about the “Lucid” video, we wanted to create a dark but dreamy atmosphere. We try to do the same thing for live performances with fog and lighting. I love the way that iconic rockstars like Robert Plant, Ozzy, and Stevie Nicks used to dress on stage so that’s where I get outfit inspiration.

Occult Rock: These days there are a lot of great throwback bands that have amazing front ladies. Who are some of your favorites?

Emily Kopplin: It’s rad to see other bands with female vocalists out there. It’s always nice to meet the other women who are playing music that has traditionally been dominated by male musicians. Blues Pills is killing it right now, I love her voice. Blood Ceremony is another cool band, I dig their newer album. Our second tour was with a band called Uzala from Boise, ID, and their vocalist, Darcy, is awesome. She’s also a phenomenal tattoo artist!

Occult Rock: Do you guys ever feel a need to make yourselves “stand out” among other bands that have a similar style to Mount Salem, or do you not concern yourselves with that and just let the music do the talking?

Emily Kopplin: We really don’t worry about trying to set ourselves apart from everyone else or try to do what anyone else is doing for that matter. We just do our own thing and let the music happen organically. I think it’s really cool that the 70’s style rock & roll is having a revival at the moment. A lot of great music is coming out of it that people of all ages can enjoy.

Occult Rock: If Mount Salem could be part of a four band headlining bill for a major festival, who would be the other three bands you’d choose and why?

Emily Kopplin: Good question. The first ones coming to mind are Kadavar, (because their music rules and I’ve been playing it a lot lately), Trouble, (because our good friend Rob plays bass for them and he was our original bass player when we first started jamming) and Black Sabbath (because they’re Black Sabbath.)

Occult Rock: Thanks for your time! Anything on the horizon for you guys that you’d like to share before you go?

Emily Kopplin: The next thing we have coming up is our Fall European tour, which will be a great experience. After that we plan on finishing up writing and recording the next album.


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