In its two years as a band, Pig Mountain has played through wrecked guitars, collapsed snare stands and snapped bass strings — a sound and stage show that's downright apocalyptic. While many bands might consider such equipment failures disasters, this Charlotte trio enjoys the chaos — its gristly metal riffs ride serious grooves, like some hybrid of ZZ Top and the Melvins, but the molasses pace affords space for dissonance and rough edges aplenty.
Appropriately enough, the band will release its new live CD, Live Snuff, at the Milestone on Dec. 21, the day some say the world will end. From Pig Mountain's formation at an impromptu drunken 3 a.m. jam session to its comfort with busted instruments, the band seems right at home with the chaos level of a proper end-of-days party.
For example, guitarist Dustin "Doob" Outen and bassist Ricky Culp don't bother with tuners. They just tune to each other's instruments before each show, cross their fingers and take to the stage. "Ricky and I fall out of tune with each other when we're playing live; if we were in a more technical band, that would be a huge problem," Outen says. "But playing the stuff that we play, it actually sometimes adds a nice little dissonant sound that makes it really fucked up."
Culp agrees, adding that equipment malfunctions make the shows more interesting. The band's drummer, Dillon McKinnish, broke a snare stand at an early show with wild-eyed Wilmington sludge-lords Weedeater: the drum ended up on the floor, three feet from the mic, until the drummer for another band held it in place for the remainder of the gig. Culp broke a bass string at the same show and embraced the ensuing chaos — lying on the stage with his instrument and handing it off for a friend to play. Pig Mountain's rough and loose approach allows the band to roll with punches that would badly bruise other bands.
"We're sounding like shit but we're still playing and the energy just boosts to a new level once these malfunctions start happening," says Culp.
That giddy recklessness was there even at the band's genesis just over two years ago. Culp was living in a house where the seven or so bands he played in at the time practiced (he's in almost as many today, including Andy the Doorbum and Hectagons). The musicians set up gear in a music room and, at least initially, the neighbor was cool with loud bands playing all night long. Those conditions, fueled by whiskey, spawned Pig Mountain.
"Whoever was around hanging out would hop in the band room and just fuck around," Doob says. One night he sat down and started playing "Meatwagon," a song he'd written but hadn't done anything with yet. "Dillon just came in there and sat down at the drums one night when I was in there noodling around, and then Ricky came in and said, 'You mind if I play bass?' And that was it."
Shortly thereafter, on Dec. 21, 2010, the band members did an impromptu mini-set at Culp's birthday show at the Milestone. It went over so well they kept at it. But that isn't the only reason the band decided to release Live Snuff on that show's second anniversary. Culp also likes that the Mayan calendar ends the day before he turns 27.
"I think that's appropriate that we would release our album on the day the world is supposed to end," says McKinnish. "I mean, considering that so many of our songs lyrically deal with death and the end of the world and things like that."
Pig Mountain doesn't plan ahead, as Doob points out, so they aren't sure what will come next. Right now, the band is focusing on its tongue-in-cheek end-of-days show and not taking things too seriously. On being told the top Google result for "Pig Mountain" is a barbecue festival of the same name, Culp laughs. He loves a good barbecue, and says the band has a tradition of eating a huge meal during rehearsals.
Should the world survive Pig Mountain's record-release show, it'll likely continue to be that way.