Mountain’s Leslie West talks about new solo album “Still Climbing”

Leslie West the legendary front man for the band Mountain is back with a brand new solo album titled “Still Climbing”. The album features 11 tracks and is classic West through and through. The album also boasts an amazing line up of guest musicians ranging from Johnny Winter to Creed/Alter Bridge guitarist Mark Tremonti. Media Mikes had the pleasure of speaking with Leslie recently about his work on the album and his career in the music business.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background on the new album?
Leslie West: I started on the album about a year ago in June. I took my time deciding which songs I wanted to do and who I wanted to play with me on them. I was able to just take my time which kept things from getting jumbled up and eliminated the idea of having a deadline. Things really worked out well.

AL: What was the band line up for this record?
LW: My bass player is Rev Jones; on drums we had my engineer/co-producer Mike Goldberg. Once the album was all recorded we sent it to Mike Frazier in Canada for the mixing. Mike has worked with everyone from AC/DC to Metallica. It was good sending the album to someone we knew could do a really good job mixing it. Mike was able to come in with a fresh set of ears as he wasn’t there during the initial recording process. There were also a bunch of guest musicians like Mark Tremonti, Jonny Lang and Dee Snider who came in and played on some tracks.

AL: When the guest musicians would come in did you have an idea what it was you wanted them to do or did you let them play what they wanted?
LW: With Jonny Lang I knew what I wanted and had the song down. Jonny was doing a show in New Jersey so we picked him up at the airport and brought him over to the studio. Johnny Winter who also is on the album was the same way. My co-producer recorded Johnny in Connecticut but when the track was all finished it sounded like we were right next to each other. Dee Snider came down to do his part for the song “Feeling Good” and we had a really great time.

AL: Are the songs that make up the album ones that you and your band worked on collectively?
LW: No. I wrote the original songs and the others I did all the arrangements. I ended up writing some song with the help of my wife despite my reluctance to have her involved. I would start writing songs on my iPad and then via iCloud things would be popping up that she had added. I asked her if I could use some of that stuff as I had some songs that didn’t have words and some words that didn’t have music. That’s basically how it went. I would go in the studio and we would just build the songs. I used my guitar layout and played to a click track. That could be why it took so long. The song “Fade In to You” is one I originally heard on the television show “Nashville”.  I really liked the song so we reworked it and gave it my sound. I think it turned out great.

AL: Having been in the music business since the 1960’s what do you feel has been the biggest change personally from when you started in the business to where you are now?
LW: I had two legs when I started. (Laughs) Digital was something that really changed things. When I started you had to make edits with a razor blade and some tape. Things would take forever but now you can just move things around very quickly. I think it’s just amazing. When we were recording to analog if you didn’t like an edit you would have to redo it by un-taping it and then re-taping it. You had to find a spot where there was no noise in order to make that edit.

AL: Some artists are very opposed to the idea of digital but you seem quite open to it. Is this true?
LW: I have been very accepting both with this new album and the previous one as well. With digital you have a lot more time to create the music. You can make changes very easily. As far as sounds go I use what comes directly out of the amps. We may have added a little reverb or whatever but for the most part what you hear is what you get. Mike did a great job of capturing the actual sounds coming from my amp.

AL: Has there been any talks of touring in support of the release?
LW: There are a few scheduled for November that we are currently working on. It will most likely be a run of select shows. The biggest thing is I haven’t been able to find a tour bus that is built to handle a wheel chair. It’s hard to believe but there really isn’t anything out there that will allow me to tour like I used to. For now we hit select venues. I can’t quite get used to prosthetics yet as I have been working with them at rehab. They strap the guitar on me and then have me stand to see how long I can balance. The most I have been able to stand for is 40 seconds. I don’t want to have to worry about falling down on stage so I sit now. That’s just the way it is. I am still able to play without that worry of falling.

AL: Other than the standing aspect has the loss of your leg changed the way in which you perform?
LW: Yes. I am no longer able to walk around obviously so when I find a spot that works for me on stage that’s where I stay for the rest of the performance. Having just the one foot also makes it a little more difficult to hit my floor pedals so we have some on a small table next to me and one or two on the floor. I don’t really use a lot live now as I have started using Blackstar amps which have a great tone straight out of the head.

AL: Can you tell us about your new website?
LW: We have the Mountain website still but they are currently working on one for my solo stuff. It will be located at so people will want to be watching for that.


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3D Blu-ray Reviews “3D Magic Forest & Mystic Mountains”

Directed by: Marton Prech
Distributed by: Ultimate 3D Heaven
Release Date(s): October 1, 2011 (Magic Forest) / June 14, 2012 (Mystic Mountains)
Run Time: 70 minutes (Magic Forest) / 140 minutes (Mystic Mountains)

Our Scores: 3 out of 5 stars

I enjoy watching 3D Blu-rays and I enough watching beautiful landscapes. Put them both together and you get both “3D Magic Forest & Mystic Mountains”. These Blu-rays are very simple yet unique. They take you on a very tranquil and relaxing journey through some amazing landscapes. There is no narration or speaking in either of these films just relaxing spa-like music from Szabolcs Kovi. The music is definitely relaxing, perhaps too relaxing.

“3D Magic Forest” takes us through a visual journey of the Hungarian National Park Bukk. The film runs just shy of an hour and looks great in 3D. “3D Mystic Mountains” run about 40 minutes as well and focuses on Austria’s beautiful mountains and lakes. Ultimate 3D Heaven released these films in beautiful full 1080p with 24 FPM. This really adds to the scenary. I do not think this would be as interesting if it wasn’t in 3D, since it really makes the visuals pop.

While I was watching the television, I couldn’t help but feel like I was watching a scrolling screensaver. I do not see myself ever visiting these locations so it was cool to get a chance to see them in 3D. Each Blu-ray includes full versions of Blu-ray 3D, Green-Magenta and Red-Cyan Anaglyph (3D Glasses Not Included). So even if you don’t have the new cool 3D TV’s, it also works with old school red/blue glasses but not as cool for sure.

Interview with Elephant Mountain’s Joe Altier

Joe Altier is the former front man of the Syracuse based hard rock band Brand New Sin. Joe has a new group called Elephant Mountain which features former Brand new Sin guitar player Brian “Slider” Azzoto. The group has just released their first CD and Joe took some time out of his busy schedule to talk with Media Mikes about the release.

Adam Lawton: What led to your decision of leaving Brand New Sin?
Joe Altier: There were a lot of reasons for me leaving Brand New Sin but without a long winded answer I was unhappy not just with my position in the band, but with myself in life. A lot had happened in 2007 leading up to my departure good, bad and, ugly. Basically I hit a turning point where I was re evaluating my life. I decided the best thing was to leave the band and let them move forward. I needed to fall in love again with myself and with music.

AL: What was it like writing songs again with Brian “Slider” Azzoto?
JA: Writing with Slider again was surreal. He was my compadre in Brand New Sin and when we kicked him out, I felt I lost a little bit of myself. He and I didn’t talk for a few years but after reconnecting and becoming friends again, I knew that we would eventually work together again. Next thing I know we start jamming again and we picked up right where we left off. We have a great bond not only as friends but as songwriters as well.

AL: Was there any reason you guys decided to release the Elephant Mountain album independently?
JA: We decided to do it on our own because honestly there are no record labels anymore. It was nice to write at our own pace and with no outside influences or deadlines. Also who is going to sign a bunch of guys pushing 40! (Laughs) We had the means to record and release it ourselves so we did! We won’t ever do any extensive touring with Elephant Mountain but we just want to make good music and have fun.

AL: Do you have a favorite track off the new album?
JA: My favorite track off the Elephant Mountain album is “Pray”. That song was written about my late father and the traumatic events of the day he passed. That song is the most soulful, personal song I have ever written.

AL: Can you tell us about your other two projects Just Joe and Aylyst?
JA: Aylyst which is my cover band that plays mostly classic rock and heavy metal tunes. That project really kept my chops up while I was waiting for Elephant Mountain. As of right now it is on hiatus as I have been busy with Elephant Mountain and Just Joe. Just Joe is what keeps me the busiest these days. I am playing 4-5 days a week with a song catalog of close to 2000 songs which range from Frank Sinatra to Metallica! Just Joe also is an outlet for my “lighter side”, “country side”, “soulful side” and so on. I have released an EP and a full length in the past year and am working on another EP and album as we speak!

AL: 2000 songs is a lot of songs.
JA: I am busting with songs! Some of them were written over the past 10 years and were never used in Brand New Sin or they were something I just kept to myself. I live, breathe and eat music!

AL: Other upcoming projects or plans?
JA: Well I play to release a Just Joe EP at Christmas time and a full length album by summer of 2012. Elephant Mountain is knee deep in writing a new album and we have about 5 songs written far. We probably will finish writing and recording that over the winter and release that in 2012 as well!

To find out more about Joe Altier and to hear some of his music click on the links below. Also be sure to read our review of Elephant Mountain’s debut release, here: