Interview: Molehill

Molehill was one of the first bands I played alongside in Chicago that I actually liked.  Back in 2007 when Cobalt first moved to the city we had opening slots on bills with all kinds of crappy bands…  Even though you finish your set by 9pm you stick around and wait to load out til 2am because it’s the right, classy thing to do, but I rarely enjoyed it.

But Molehill was different.  Frontman Peter Manhart (vocals, guitar) was passionate and dynamic, playing and singing with an honest intensity and zeal that made me a fan immediately.  Since then I’ve had the pleasure of playing with them many more times – probably more than any other Chicago band – as well as partnering via the Chicago Roots Collective.  Having witnessed several line-up changes, I can say with certainty that the current incarnation of Molehill is superior.  The rhythm section of Trevor Jones (bass) and Devin Staples (drums) are locked-in, matching Manhart’s natural artistic charisma and driving the songs to a new level.

A few days before moving to Seattle, I got to sit down with Peter and Trevor to shoot the shit, reflect, and discuss Chicago music community.  Here are a couple text excerpts, and then the bulk of the interview in short 3-5 minute mp3s.  Also be sure to take a listen to Molehill’s “I’m Okay” on my Mid By Northwest Radio player!

“Austin was cool, and had this whole mystique and everything . . . [but] people in Austin were like, ‘What are you doing?  You want to move from Chicago to Austin?  Chicago’s such a great music city.’ I guess just because I’m from here I took it for granted, but that kind of changed my mind about things.”

Peter Manhart, Molehill

“If you’re not contributing something good to the field of music, what are you in it for then?  You’re the biggest faker of all time.  You might get pissed at guys on Wall Street but no guy on Wall Street is going to come up and tell you ‘Hey, ya know, I’m not in this for the money…’ The [people] who try to make it in a rock setting and just fake it – just doing it for the fame – you can smell them a mile away.”

-Trevor Jones, Molehill

MH:  “What is the origin story for Molehill and how did you end up in Chicago?”

[audio:|titles=Molehill Interview: Origins and choosing Chicago]

Peter Manhart and his Open Mic Master Plan (starting new in Chicago):

[audio:|titles=Molehill Interview: starting off in Chicago]

Trevor Jones on joining the band and straddling the classical and rock music scenes

[audio:|titles=Molehill Interview: Trevor joins the band]

MH: “What are some inhibitors to true community around local music?”

[audio:|titles=Molehill Interview: Inhibitors to community]

On managing real-life friendships with the constant need for support and draw:

[audio:|titles=Molehill Interview: playing for people you know]

MH:  “What are encouraging experiences you have in building community around music?”

[audio:|titles=Molehill Interview: encouraging experiences]

MH:  “What advice would you give to someone who is moving to a new place to do music?”

[audio:|titles=Molehill Interview: Advice for starting new]

Chicagoans, go catch Molehill this weekend!

5/21/10 at the Beat Kitchen
2100 W. Belmont Ave. Chicago, IL.
9pm – $8
with the Upright Animals and Camera