The Mountain Flowers: Keeping it simple

by Nikko Van Wyck

Simple yet elegant, beauty in the basics, and down to Earth are all phrases that can easily describe a hike through our Cascade wilderness backyard. And, fittingly, those words are the epitome of what local Bellingham group The Mountain Flowers has done with their simple yet vibrant style of music.

I had the opportunity to sit down for coffee with Joe Sneva, one of two primary songwriters for the group, and also a man who seemingly enjoys and finds beauty in the simple things. The Mountain Flowers had simple roots as well, starting as more of a singer/songwriter outfit and growing into a full band.

“We’re about 13 months into this project, and our initial idea was to create this album, myself and Timmy Sunshine, as two separate songwriters” explained Joe. “We had this plan to rent a cabin out on Orcas for a weekend and come up with the album, and just call it ‘The Mountain Flowers’, kind of as a split release between Timmy and myself.” But, before they even made it to Orcas (they never actually went there), the two got together to formulate ideas.

“We started passing the guitar back and forth, and after a couple songs in, we were both just like ‘Why don’t we just make a band?’” explained Joe. Timmy came up with the idea of just calling the group The Mountain Flowers and enlisted the help of fellow musicians Aaron Wilford and Freddy Jimenez. With Aaron on bass and Freddy on drums, the group dove into the process of writing and recording their first, self-titled LP.

As a group, the ethos still remains the same. Half of the songs are written by Timmy, while the other half are written by Joe. “Even when we perform live, the set is half of songs that I’ve written, and the other half are by Timmy, it’s a straight split down the middle,” Joe said. Even with the split songwriting – which is a bold way to go these days – the songs very much have a structural and sonic cohesion.

“Timmy and I, it seems, are about as similar songwriters as they come. We play this simple three chord rock, using instruments and vocal melodies throughout to change the feeling of the song. Our voices are a lot different, which is basically what separates us…” Joe trailed off, taking a second to recollect what songs they’ve collaborated on. “You know? I think this LP is just straight forward, my song or his song. We’re definitely more on the collaborative train now, with this new second album.”

Before this next LP drops, the group plans on pressing a 7” vinyl, which fits the motif of the group, it being simple, to the point, and a piece of music that is as aesthetically pleasing on the eyes as it is on the ears. “We have a lot of material, but we don’t want to release an album every four months, but we also don’t want to wait two years between each full release. Having a couple singles out this summer is the goal,” Joe explained.

The plan for the 7” is to release a single each, one composed by Joe and one by Timmy. “We’re already in the process of getting everything tied together for it,” he explained. “It’s actually pretty funny, and a coincidence at that, my song for this release is called ‘Rainin’, while Timmy’s is called ‘Sunlight Kissed’. It’s funny how that worked out, but you know, we’re in the same mindset, and it’s in the same vain as our 60s surf sound, as well as where we’re at, in the Pacific Northwest.”

The group also takes a lot of joy performing live. Fittingly, they made one of their haunts Chair 9 up in Glacier. It makes sense naturally, that a band called The Mountain Flowers would find a nice home base situated on the way to one of the snowiest and awe inspiring mountains on the planet. “Man we loved playing up there, we performed there several times over this last winter,” Joe said. “It was great, we did these 2-3 hour sets, it was a lot more relaxed than some of the more typically billed shows I’ve played. We were setup, free beer, pizza, got to take a couple breaks in between sets…” he added, a warm smile filled his face over the simple things.

The Mountain Flowers aren’t disappearing anytime soon. It seems that we can expect this up and coming group to keep writing, producing and performing 60’s inspired pop bangers. And while there may be periods of quiet from the group, after sitting down and talking to them, it’s all but certain they’ll blossom into something else before too long. Be sure to lend them your ears, their debut self-titled LP is available for streaming on Spotify.

Catch The Mountain Flowers at Aslan Brewery on May 20 or online at facebook.com/themountainflowers/.