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Hitting The Trails With Damn Tall Buildings

I admit it, I stole this picture from Max's Instagram feed. All I have are pictures of their various gigs with Fire In The Kitchen, and they simply don't tell the whole story. You can also find Max surfing the waves of the Atlantic. Like a lot of the younger bands we've had through the years, they're more fun to see live because they're more fun as people. They get out and run around, do things, actually soak up the places they visit. I'm not sure if the correlation is only in my mind, but putting on shows for 30 years with all sorts of musicians brought out a few patterns: the bands that were big into the outdoors either through hiking, cycling, climbing, or whatever, always seemed to be the most energetic in their performances and related to audiences more passionately. They never seemed to just "mail it in."

Damn Tall Buildings lives the same way. It's almost like, outside of music, the only two relevant questions are where's the best and most interesting site to see and where's the next best adventure. To repeat: when you have really fun people, you get really fun shows. Their shows aren't just great music, they're absurdly entertaining. The music part is easy to find out about by watching a few videos, or better yet, getting to a show, but as for the outdoor life, that's why this 3-minute interview exists. So I asked Max Capistran to run the questions by Sasha Dubyk, bass player and singer, and Avery "Montana" Belotta.

C.S.: So, what are your favorite trails, east coast and western states?

Max: Ohhh favorite trails. I would say hiking the Bonds in the White Mountains up in New Hampshire is a pretty spiritual experience, especially if you can catch sunset from West Bond. As a band, we’ve tore up a good portion of the White’s, and I’m currently working on finishing up my 48 Four Thousand Footers. As for out west, we are big fans of the Bear Creek Trail outside of Gardiner, MT and the hike up to Mohawk Lake in Colorado. The Olympic National Forest is bonkers. We also are big fans of all the hiking around Roanoke, Virginia. And I think we’ve walked 90% of the riverwalks in the continental United States.

C.S.: With that kind of experience, you've had to have come across some wildlife at the wrong time.

Max: Thankfully we don’t have any crazy wildlife stories. We have slept in a cave just under Shining Rock on Little Haystack though. We got caught in one of the most insane thunderstorms of our lives and had to wait out the storm and hurricane-style winds. It did feel like a place where a bear could live…

C.S.: Did you grow up hiking as kids, family walks, etc?

Max: We all group up sort of hiking, but I would say it has become a much bigger part of our lives since we started playing music together. With being on the road, we are stuck in the car for sooooo much of the time, so our first thing on the to-do list whenever we get somewhere is to start walking, ideally somewhere beautiful and in the woods.

C.S. Growing up un Montana, and with that wild beard, he had to have gnawed on some sort of wild animals as a child. What's the real scoop on growing up in the wilds of this country?

Max: Montana has actually gnawed on more wild animals since moving to Brooklyn than he ever did in Montana, but that’s for another time. In the words of Montana “my parents were hunters so we had elk and deer often”. When asked why didn’t he eat wilder animals, he spoke passionately about how he was just an Italian boy trying to get through the pasta on the table.

C.S.: On your hikes together, if you're like me you're huffing and puffing a bit on the way up, but there's a rhythm you get in to your head to help propel you. Do you find yourselves composing new tunes or arranging tunes while on a hike?

Max: Most definitely. I mean at best you have enough conversational material to get you to the top of the mountain. There is no way there’s anything to talk about by the time you start heading down! There’s really not much left to do but walk and sing. We’ve arranged many three-part harmonies on our hikes, and have definitely written some songs.

C.S.: Thanks, and walk back this way someday!


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