Taking their name from a Scandinavian rune stone, Newcastle riff-slingers Kylver formed a little more than a year ago as a “guilty pleasure”, according to guitarist Jonny Scott.
Astoundingly, by the time they played their first live show, they’d already recorded and released a highly accomplished, sprawling concept album, The Mountain Ghost. An unusual move, but Scott explains it simply: “We just jumped straight in. As musicians, James [Bowmaker, bass], Neil [Elliott, Hammond organ, keys] and I have played in various bands over the past 10 years, so there’s that familiarity from having played together.”
The recording process was relatively painless, too; finding a kindred spirit in Sam Grant of the band Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, they tracked the material in just three days before handing it over. “We just left Sam to do the mixing,” explains Jonny, “and he got almost all the mixes right first time.”
I’ve got a wooden sculpture on the studio wall in my house that was used to ward off evil spirits.
The concept for the album is a vengeful mountain spirit eventually laid low by the wit of the villagers it torments. Talking about how it came about, bassist James Bowmaker explains: “It’s quite organic, based on the way the tunes flowed together. After deciding on the order, we thought we should come up with a story to go along with it.”
“One of the first pieces we started working on was The Mountain Has Ghosts,” Scott continues. “When I record riffs I do them in my house, and obviously you have to think of a name for the files. I’ve got a wooden sculpture on the studio wall in my house – it’s a knick knack from Switzerland that people would put outside their house to ward off evil spirits – so that meant that a set of riffs ended up getting called The Mountain Ghost.
Their sound takes in a number of disparate elements, with the band name-checking Black Sabbath and classic progressive rockers such as King Crimson and Yes. They wryly observe that Neil’s stage set-up would “challenge Rick Wakeman’s”. They also point to modern acts Mastodon and Russian Circles, though they concede that their own music is much more heavy and less angular than the post-metal titans. Speaking of which, they’re not too sure about the whole post-rock and post-metal thing, either… “The ‘post’ tag tends to get attached to a lot of things that are instrumental,” says Scott. “We’ve had the discussion a few times of what is meant by ‘post-rock’; you talk about post to mean after, but there isn’t really an after rock, as rock isn’t dead.”
What’s next for Kylver? They aren’t short of ideas, that’s for certain, and it seems like just putting one foot in front of the other has paid off so far. Asked where their motivation comes from, the band thoughtfully explain what they love about music, observing that their favourite part of the band is playing in the practice space. “Three of us, myself, Barry [Mitcherson, drums] and Neil wrote that in an interview; none of us had talked to each other about it beforehand,” says Jonny. “It’s great getting out live because we get on really well, but being in the rehearsal room is just a lot of fun. Even if this record hadn’t done well, we’d still be doing it because we really enjoy playing what we play.”
|**Jonny Scott (guitars), Neil Elliott** (keyboards), James Bowmaker (bass), Barry Mitcherson (drums)|
|Kyuss jamming with Yes|
|The Mountain Ghost is available now|