Music Bugle Exclusive – Q & A – Tenth Mountain Division

Photo courtesy of Tenth Mountain Division Facebook page.

By Nicholas Jason Lopez

Earlier this past June, Boulder, Colo.-based electro-acoustic band Tenth Mountain Division independently released their third studio album ‘Butte La Rose,” which was produced by Railroad Earth’s Tim Carbone and recorded at Silo Sound Studio in Denver.

Funky numbers like “Highland Morning (Feat. Elliott Peck),” “Sad Summer” and “Got Too Excited” exemplify the group’s ability to fuse together elements of rock, soul and the good old-fashioned boogie to craft together a truly unique sound that touches on all emotions of the spectrum while they explore themes like self-doubt, depression and death.

Tenth Mountain Division are mandolinist Winston Heuga, guitarist MJ Ouimette, drummer Tyler Gwynn, keyboardist Campbell Thomas and bassist Andrew Cooney.

The Music Bugle had the chance to talk with them about ‘Butte La Rose’ and more.

Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic? 

Winston Heuga – There has been a lot that the pandemic has stripped away from the momentum of the band, but in the long run, we all still have our health and our families’ health. We just can’t wait to safely get back on the road and play our music cross-country. 

Music Bugle – What is the biggest challenge in being an independent act? 

Winston Heuga – Raising money to record! 

Music Bugle – What was your goal for your third album ‘Butte La Rose’? 

Winston Heuga – The goal of the third album was to complete something a little more polished. We’d never worked with a producer before and although our first two albums weren’t recorded in a garage, they did have a bit more of a garage band vibe to it. With this record, we took the time, we raised the money, we hired a producer and we made something that is exactly that – polished. 

Music Bugle – How would you describe Boulder, Colorado to someone who has never been there before?

Winston Heuga – They call it the “Boulder Bubble,” because once you move there, you’ll never leave. We managed to escape – just a few miles east in Denver. To be honest, it’s a bit sad seeing the scene there dwindle to only a few venues after Covid has shut down so many venues, but I have high hopes. That town and the people in it will always figure out a way to make the best of a situation. 

Music Bugle – What excites you the most about your style of music?

Andrew Cooney – The destination is unknown. The Venn diagram of our influences would be a wild thing to look at… and somehow, we find that middle ground. We’ve managed to cross musical paths in a way that feels very original, but still approachable. 

Music Bugle – Who are you listening to right now, music-wise?

MJ Ouimette – Man, a lot of good music came out this summer. Lately, I’ve enjoyed Sturgill Simpson’s ‘The Ballad of Dude and Juanita’ and ‘Daddy’s Home’ by St. Vincent. The new High Hawks record is amazing too. There are such varied and excellent records coming out all the time that I try to listen to as many new albums as I can. There’s something to be learned from all of them.

Music Bugle – What do you wish happened less in today’s music industry? 

Winston Heuga – Today’s music industry looks a lot different than it did two years ago so it’s hard to say… I guess it all boils down to Spotify streams these days and ideally, I’d like to see those platforms give a bit more back to the artist. 

Music Bugle – Where do you go when you need a break? 

Tyler Gwynn – Personally, I like to get on my bike, throw on some music and ride all over. A good day out on my bike lets me get away from everything that may be stressing me out and I always come back with a better attitude – and killer calf muscles. 

Music Bugle – Does social media help or hurt musicians? 

Winston Heuga – Social media helps to get the name out there, but it also makes everything that much more saturated when everyone’s music is in one place. I do miss the golden age of word of mouth and grassroots marketing, but it is what it is and whether we like it or not, we now have to add TikTok to the resume… 

Music Bugle – What has been your biggest obstacle to overcome? 

MJ Ouimette – Remaining steadfast in our work despite lulls and high points. It’s incredibly difficult to create when you feel like no one’s listening or cares. The opposite can also be true. When you’re feeling a high of a certain stroke of good fortune, a contentment can set in. The practice of learning to ignore these feelings or better yet, spinning them into more songs remains a challenge, but continuing to do so is all we can do, right?

*Photo Credit – Mountain Trout Photography*

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