The Strokes, Elton John and Northeast Party House.
Add Scream Mountain and you get Paul Scaramella’s dream line up for a live show.
There are any number of ways you can interpret that information. For those not already in the know, it might help to understand that Scaramella sings and plays guitar with the aforementioned Scream Mountain, a Perth indie-pop outfit that’s just released a pretty handy slab of — what else but indie pop? — with new single, ‘Lovesick’.
Making it takes magic and danger, sometimes loss, but never spreadsheets.
So, shameless self-interest? It’s not unknown among musicians. If not themselves, who else would be dumb enough to spend half their lives spruiking their wares? Oh, yeah, duh!
Also, purely coincidentally (there is no such thing as coincidence), Melbourne band, Northeast Party House, are confirmed to be in Perth in April 2021, now that Commissar McGowan has decreed it’s OK to cross our borders again. So, I guess we should expect to see Scream Mountain appearing in the local support spot? Yes, folks, you heard it here first and, if it doesn’t come to pass, whaddya gonna do, take us to the Supreme Court. Better take a ticket and get in line.
So, that narrows things down a bit, maybe. But what about Elton and The Strokes?
Well, if you’re looking for a band with the esoteric indie-cred of The Strokes and the universal appeal of Elton John, you’d better check out Scream Mountain, because they’ve got it all going on.
Latest single, ‘Lovesick’ is as cute as a puppy and as hooky as a Joy Division bass line. It’s got all the youthful enthusiasm and overexuberance of a bunch of 13-year olds high on red cordial, and a beautifully layered and nuanced arrangement that stops and starts in all the right places. It’s perfectly balanced pop, the sort that stays with you long after the sugar rush is over.
If you’re in the right demographic age wise, ‘Lovesick’ will drag you into the mosh pit to get sweaty with your best mates, creating the sort of memories you’ll carry with you for a lifetime. If you’re of a slightly different vintage, from the time before mosh pits were a thing, it’ll fill you with nostalgia, tug at your heartstrings and have you tapping into memories of summers passed, mates long forgotten and the best days of your life.
Either way, ‘Lovesick’ sees Scream Mountain drawing a line in the sand that marks them down as next big things; should all the other variables that determine the outcome of the lottery of making it for bands fall their way. If there’s any justice in this world, come January 2021, when they release their upcoming EP, Watercooler Talk, Scream Mountain should be starting to be massive.
Formed early in 2019 as a side project for Triggerlip bandmates, Scaramella and Jordan Pawlick (guitar), Scream Mountain quickly morphed into a four piece with the addition of Josh Watson (vocals), also from Triggerlip, and drummer Jack (Nelly) Nelson (Closed Off!, Grenade Brain). Scream Mountain released a bunch of singles during the course of 2020, including ‘Proximity’, which has an elastic, reverb-drenched feel that shows a glimpse of Scream Mountain’s R&B/Hip Hop heritage. It’s a nice trip and, as a direction setter/placeholder serves the band well.
It comes as no surprise, then, that when I asked Scaramella the inevitable question about what 2020 has been like for him and the band, he was decidedly upbeat, saying, “It’s been the most productive year we’ve had individually and as a group. We nestled into a studio space where we write and produce all of our tracks as well as having a space for rehearsing and I can say confidently that we took full advantage of it. It’s just been a bit unprecedented to kick off a project when shows and touring wasn’t really quite viable, but we’ve made it work by dropping as many tunes out to the people as we can!”
Thank you 2020, you’ve been a shit year so far, but things are starting to look up. Borders are opening, the orange man is losing his grip on his dictatorship and Scream Mountain have turned from a chrysalis into a rather splendid butterfly while in lockdown.
It does worry me, though, to see such good music coming from an outfit that shares members with other bands. Focus can only be divided so many times before it becomes fuzzy. Yeah, OK, it happens all the time and, Scaramella justified it by talking about accommodating the band members’ “…fluid taste in music,” going on to say, “The tracks we write can’t always be pushed through one band so we started Scream Mountain as a means to expand into other areas of writing that aren’t as limiting as they would be in the other bands we work in.” Fair enough, but then he went on to mention calendars and spreadsheets to help them, “…keep on top of priorities,” and I began to lose the will to live. Just once I’d like to come across a Perth band willing to wear their rock and roll hearts on their sleeves!
So, I started to ask some silly questions and began to get some silly answers in response. Hurrah!
Who’s the most sensible member of the band? Well, none of them, apparently, “…the standard is pretty damned low,” Scaramella replied. Excellent, just as it should be. Cast aside those spreadsheets!
Worryingly, though, having done the quiz online, three quarters of the band identify as Gryffindors with one Slytherin — no one will say who, so this is obviously the source of some great shame. I just hope that they move onto more adult literature sometime soon, tap into some authors who are less bigoted. Playing in a band is the ultimate form of fantasy and making it is about as difficult to achieve as getting through to Platform 9 and ¾ at Kings Cross Station, so why play it safe?
Following up, I asked about the dumb things they’d done and Scaramella was refreshingly forthcoming, saying, “Where to start? Our drummer Nelly rolled his car and wrote it off when he was 18.” Just what is it with drummers, cars and near-death experiences?
“Jordy once bruised his right testicle on a wire fence.” How wonderfully specific. I was going to ask how, but I’m already typed as a bit of a heel by some keepers of the light in the Perth music industry, so I kept my counsel. You’ll just have to ask him yourself.
“Watto almost electrocuted himself three times fixing the smoke machine we used in the ‘Haze’ music video.” There are lab rats in mazes who are faster learners than Watto, but you have to admire his persistence.
And Scaramella’s dumbest moment? Take it away young man: “When I was in Paris I went out to catch up with a friend with five per cent charge on my phone, I got to the bar with Google maps fine, but then my phone died and I wandered the streets of Paris till 2 am looking for a charger or my hotel.” How very millennial! But points for staying out until 2 am and not letting on whether you found either your friend, hotel or a charge for your phone. Mystery must be maintained at all times.
What do we learn from all this?
The members of Scream Mountain are likeable ruffians who could just graduate to whatever is the modern-day equivalent of throwing TVs out of hotel windows — probably ordering the duck-fat-fried chunky chips once in a while instead of the salmon and avocado sushi. Why is this important? Well, to stretch the Harry Potter metaphor a bit further, Scream Mountain are going to need more than just great tunes if they’re to graduate from the cusp to making it. Making it takes magic and danger, sometimes loss, but never spreadsheets.
I asked Scaramella about the band’s end-of-the world fantasy, because the end is the only given right now, and he came back with this:
“We will band together (pun intended) and survey the wastelands for any resources we could use to build a badass truck with a crane attachment that can have each of us suspended from the top of the crane playing our instruments like that dude from Mad Max Fury Road with the flamethrower guitar. If we have reached this goal I would imagine we would be very well off having our demands for basic needs like food, water and shelter fulfilled and we will drive the infinite highway providing musical relief to the survivors of the climate change disaster.”
Yes! Yes! Yes! Almost had an orgasm listening to that response. Yes!
Whether they know it or not, the world needs this version of Scream Mountain. They’ve got the music and you can bet that, when it drops in 2021, Watercooler Talk will confirm that beyond any shadow of a doubt. There’s a lot to love about Scream Mountain’s songs. It’s just a matter of how dangerous they can become, how much magic they can shoot from their collective fingertips.
Watch out for Scream Mountain touring in February 2021 and don’t forget to ask Jordy how his testicles are.