By Ryan O’Connell
Photo by Travis Shuggin
The three women in Mountain Man are Molly Erin Sarle, Alexandra Sauser-Monnig and Amelia Randall Meath. Their names are not simple, but their music is. The music of Mountain Man is vocally driven, accompanied only by sparse acoustic guitar. It is deeply rooted in traditional American folk music.
The band came together in the mountains of Vermont (hence the name,) while all three were attending Bennington College.
“Mountain Man began two years ago in my final term [at Bennington],” Sauser-Monnig said as she traveled through the wilds of Virginia. “Amelia and I used to sneak up to an unused hallway in an old school building that had a great room tone to sing a Mount Eerie song together. Molly and Amelia weren’t terribly close, but each had heard the other sing.”
Everything was informal for Mountain Man until a friend’s housewarming party. The three gals enjoyed performing together so much and enjoyed how natural their voices sounded together that they started playing more frequently. They began by playing shows around Bennington’s campus.
“That choice [to be named Mountain Man] has resulted in a lot of curiosity, but in many ways, it is just a name that reflects a period of time in our lives spent together in the mountains of Vermont.” Sauser-Monnig admits. “If we were just beginning now, I think we would land on a different name.”
No one from Mountain Man is from Vermont and currently, only one member, Sarle, is still in the Green Mountain State. When not touring, they rest their heads in Vermont, Brooklyn and Virginia. They have been on tour, one that brought them through Philadelphia when they played a house party at a friend’s house. “[It is a tour with] many highs and lows. Our show in Philly was somewhere in the middle.”
The band recorded their debut album Made the Harbor in one weekend in sunny Philadelphia in the attic of an old ice cream parlor. Recording was crammed into a small window of time between wrapping up a tour and getting back to Vermont to return to school. The album is a definitive product of the moment Mountain Man was in and because of that, the band is hesitant to really say when they will record another one. “I think a lot of what made our first one an electrifying experience for us was that we had just discovered each other in a fulfilling musical way,” Sauser-Monnig said.
There were also geographical advantages when recording Made the Harbor because all three members were living in the same town. now being spread out in different states, things are slightly more challenging. “We are far away from each other geographically and while we share parts of our histories with each other, we are all doing very different things from one another right now.”
Mountain Man is a new age American band, separated literally, but connected on another level. In those beautiful mountains of Vermont, the three women of Mountain Man formed a strong bond that transcends physical distance. They will not rush their next album, but they will record one. It will be ripe with lush harmonies and soothing vocals. Their name will still confuse you, but their sound sure won’t.