Main photo/featured photo by Adam Chase Fields
I’ve literally watched the scene grow, disappear completely, then start rapidly growing, again. At the moment, it is the best that it has been in so long. That makes me incredibly happy. There are so many incredible bands and musicians in the area, now.
AH: Tell me about some of the music projects you have been a part of.
CD: I have been in so many bands, it’s stupid. And that’s not something I’m bragging about, really. Let me put it this way. I have been in so many bands…that have failed. And, for most of them, thinking back, that is most definitely a good thing, though I will say that I am thankful for them all because, without them, I wouldn’t be the musician I am today. I could go into detail about each of them, but I’ll just try to remember them all. Caducus(latin for “destined to die” wooo so edgy), Something Resembling Human, Words Before Murder, Redline Crisis, As Dead As Legends, The Eventide, Alongside The Marvelous Whistler(solo project that I still plan to write and record under in the future), Torch The Field, The Lateral View, and Men and Mountains.
AH: My first local show was a Men and Mountains show and without M&M I may not be as involved as I am today with local music. Tell me a little bit about Men and Mountains.
CD: I don’t think you’ve ever told me that, but that is really awesome to know. I consider Men and Mountains to be one of the most valued and important parts of my life. I’ve invested more into it than I have any band I’ve been a part of. It’s really weird how it started. Some backstory: Before M&M, there was Torch The Field, which was a melodic hardcore effort an old friend Travis Knopps and I had started after I moved back to Alabama from Murfreesboro, TN. I had moved to Murfreesboro with my best friend after The Eventide departed to try and start fresh with music someplace else. We made some friends and started a band with them that would eventually be called The Get Sexy, a name derived from a Tim and Eric episode. I managed a BK during my residency in Tennessee. Eventually, things took a turn for the worse up there and I made the choice to move back to Bama, and in with my girlfriend at the time. I still can’t tell what my worst idea was. haha Ok, probably the moving in with my girlfriend(and her two children) part. It was so bad. Such a mistake. Anyways, Travis and I talked and started what would later become Torch The Field in a matter of about a week. But, since I came back and was struggling so hard, it wasn’t until after I abruptly packed everything I could of mine into my tiny Kia Rio, left my girlfriend, and called up Travis and asked if I could crash on his couch until I got on my feet that we actually met and practiced. TTF consisted of Cody Gilbert, Ryan Valentine, Travis Peek, Travis Knopps, and myself. I had decided to take a backseat with vocals and focus more on guitar for this band. I did sing, but it was very minimal. It was actually a relief for a little while. Anyways, we had a short, good run, but some crazy things happened. Things that I can say are most definitely in the past, now. But, at the time, lead us to losing a couple of members. And what was left of us, after struggling to figure out what to do next, evolved into Men and Mountains. What’s weird is that I remember at one point we were going to try and be fully instrumental. God, there is so much to say. I’m going to skip all the member changes, but everyone who’s been in or had any part of M&M means the absolute world to me and I love them all. Cody Gilbert, Matt Poe, Ryan Valentine(Mabry), Payton Wilborn, Aaron Thompson, Matt Walters, Adam Fields and several very talented friends like Dakota Wright, Jesse McClendon, and Brandon Umbanhowar who have been there for us when we needed a fill in. All some of the best friends I could ever ask for. Currently, we are back to our original lineup: Cody, Ryan, Payton, Aaron, and I. We’ve been hard at work writing a full-length record and will soon start tracking it in our good friend, Lucas Smith’s studio. As for influence, life plays the biggest role. I, personally, have always considered it an outlet. To use it as a way to speak, verbally and musically, all the things that crush my heart just to think. And I don’t think you’ll get a much different answer from any of my bandmates. That’s why this band has made it through so much change, I believe. And, also, over the years our fans/friends have shown us that our music means just as much to them. There is nothing I would choose to do to change that in any way.
AH: I would say Men and Mountains has a very distinct look and sound, has this always been the case or has it developed over the years?
CD: Yes. It has always been that way. Well, I don’t know about the looks part. haha As for our music and writing, we have always been generally open to anything. There are a few suggestions and constructive criticism here and there, but the majority of the time, whenever one of us brings a new song, part, or idea to the table, we just jam it for 3,437 hours together until everyone is satisfied, personally, with their own parts. I think that’s what gives our music so much personality. There is no one person calling the shots when we write, so when someone hears us, they’re hearing five different ideas. We do what we want.
AH: Many of our friends have told me that without you and bands you have been a part of they may have not began playing music, how does that make you feel?
CD: OLD. TOO OLD FOR THIS SHIT. Haha No, really. I’m done. Just kidding. I really have never known or understood why people feel that way. I think that maybe it’s just because I have been around here and have done all I could for the local music scene all these years. Long enough to now be in a band with several of the people that I only know because they were fans of some of my previous bands. It’s a strange, but beautiful thing, really. Ryan, in particular, if you’d told 20 year old me that in few years I’d be playing music with him, I’d have laughed. Only because he used to weird me out so bad following me around at shows when The Eventide still existed. haha I just wasn’t used to that sort of thing and I never will be. But, now, I can’t imagine not playing music with him. Cody and I asked him to join Torch The Field on his birthday. AND HE CRIED. Sorry, Ryan. Looooove yoooou. As for being an influence, I truly hope to be. It’s really wonderful to feel looked up to. And it also gives me another good reason that I should never stop making music.
AH: How has local music changed since you first began getting involved?
CD: I’ve literally watched the scene grow, disappear completely, then start rapidly growing, again. At the moment, it is the best that it has been in so long. That makes me incredibly happy. There are so many incredible bands and musicians in the area, now. Headwires, When I’m Older, Ethos, Pace House, Katrina Barclay, Tir Asleen, He Who Sleeps, Creed, Taproot, etc. Well, growing up, I’d have never imagined I’d be this involved in the music scene. I’ve come a long way. I played my first show at a Battle of the Bands when I was 16 at the DeKalb Theatre. I was incredibly shy and decked out in JNCO. We covered “Hey Ya” and “Say It Ain’t So” along with a few terrible originals. haha I stared at the floor the entire set. I can’t believe that I got past that and started singing and fronting bands. But, ever since then, I’ve based my life around music and have always made myself as available as possible for it. Well, around music and the things that I can’t avoid, like work, unless I finally start making a living playing it.
AH: What are your personal inspirations/ your bands inspirations in terms of writing music, lyrics, etc.?
CD: I’ve looked up to and have been influenced/inspired by a lot of different bands and artists over the years. Some big influences, both musically and lyrically, are As Cities Burn, Manchester Orchestra, The Dear Hunter, Circa Survive, Misery Signals, Boys Night Out, Dredg, Thrice, Mew, As Tall As Lions. You’ll get several different answers from my bandmates.
AH: speaking of writing music, what is your usual writing process like?
CD: I don’t actually have a “go to” way of writing. It’s actually really weird. Sometimes the lyrics come first, sometimes the music, and sometimes it’s all at once. Some of my best and most seemingly complicated songs, personally, have been written in less than thirty minutes. “You’ve a Home in Me”, in particular. I rushed home from work one day, grabbed my guitar, and wrote every bit of it in like 15min. And there is a guitar part in it that I can’t believe I wrote. And maybe I didn’t. However, some of the most simplistic songs have taken months or years. I began “The Devil is a Married Man” with only the the first verse and a vocal melody long before Men and Mountains was even thought of.
AH: I have noticed that many, if not all, of the songs seem to speak very personal narratives. How has your life experiences motivated the music you create? What about the other members of your band, do you believe their lives help contribute to writing the band’s songs?
CD: There is something beautifully therapeutic about singling out personal experiences that I wish I could just erase, forming them into words, and covering them up with something pretty. Well, sometimes pretty. Through music is the only way I feel comfortable speaking some of the things I’ve written or will write. It’s relieving. It’s release. My head is full of troubling things that I want to let out. All in due time, I guess. As for my bandmates, I think we all write lyrics as a way of release. “Tired Teeth” and “Song in the Stones” are two new songs that will be on our upcoming record. The first was written by Ryan. The latter, Aaron. Both about two different personal subjects.
AH: Any person who has seen Men and Mountains has to notice there is something you all have: beards. For anyone who has dreams of a M&M beard, what tips would you give them?
CD: Haha Well, at the moment, we aren’t all bearded. I just recently started using beard oils, actually. I really don’t have a preference. The first I ever used was actually made by our drummer, Cody. He grinds his toenails into the mix for a strong, manly scent that women will pine for. I thought it was weird at first, but don’t knock it ’til you try it. It also has the reverse effect with women. Rub a dab into each eyebrow hair and look up. You can literally watch those hairs grow 2 inches a second if you cross your eyes. And hungry hot hefty hairy howling hunks will come gnawing at your favorite high heels.
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