Mt. Joy's Mountain Of Accolades: The Band Unpacks Its Humble Beginnings
2018 Slingshot band Mt. Joy has had a fruitful year. From festival appearances to nationally televised studio sessions, the band has seen a burgeoning growth in support and notoriety. In the midst of all this success, the band members still recall their humble yesteryears and marvel at their steady rise to indie-rock stardom.
The host of Nevada Public Radio's NV89 Willobee Carlan welcomed Mt. Joy founding members Sam Cooper and Matt Quinn to the studio to talk about their Philly roots, transitioning to Los Angeles and advice for aspiring artists.
Listen to the full conversation at the audio link, and read interview highlights below.
On going from Philadelphia Law School cronies to L.A. indie rock comrades
Matt Quinn: Sam and I went to the same high school maybe like 20 miles west of Philadelphia. We played [music together] in high school a bit. And then we kind of just went to separate colleges but we stayed in touch.
Sam Cooper: I went to NYU.
Matt: [I went to] Northeastern in Boston. When the music got started for us I was doing law school night classes, but actually Sam went all the way.
Sam: We both kind of ended up in L.A. for separate reasons and I didn't really know anybody in L.A. And I don't know if Matt was already there but I don't really think he knew many people. So we just ended up hanging out after work and started playing music again.
On deciding between Mt. Joy and Mt. Misery for a band name
Sam: There were two choices?
Matt: Sam grew up on what's basically Valley Forge National Park. And within the park there are two main trails that are mountains and one is Mt. Joy and the other is Mt. Misery.
Matt: I grew up on Mt. Misery, but they renamed it Valley Forge Mountain because people wouldn't buy homes on Mt. Misery.
On how the band's 8-year-old breakout hit "Silver Lining" led to an appearance on Conan
Sam: We really didn't get signed until we finished the album. I do remember when Matt and I went our separate ways to different colleges. A few years ago, Matt sent me this rough draft of this song, and I found it in my e-mail a few months ago. It was "Silver Lining" from 2010, I think, 2011. He sent it to me and he's like, "What do you think of this song?" Now, it's like seven years later.
Matt: I don't want to give away trade secrets, but I don't know how this works. I think either [Conan's] producers or someone saw it on their end. We were touring with Neko Case and someone shot us a text that was like, "Hey, can you guys play Conan next week?" and we were in like, the middle of the country somewhere and were like, "Yeah!"
On the advice they'd give to local bands
Matt: I would say the biggest thing is to really focus on the songwriting aspect and the recording aspect. That's just from our experience. I think you can play shows and get out there, and you should, because that's good practice. But I feel like the way the world and the industry is set up now is really made to exploit recordings. You have such a easy opportunity with the way technology is to make recordings and make really good ones. If you focus on that, then I think you're putting yourself in a better position than trying to play every open mic night and hoping to God that the guy from American Idol is there.
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