Having only been together for less than a year, MTNS has certainly accomplished a lot in their short lifetime. Pronounced “Mountains”, they’re a three-piece band from Brisbane composed of Tom Eggert supplying vocals and guitar, Joseph Thiang on drums and samples, and Robbie Hellberg on synth and bass. MTNS have been regulars in the live scene recently, playing plenty of support slots for acts such as Andy Bull, Tigertown, and Wolf and Cub. However, the band recently wrapped up their first national headline tour “Salvage”, which included a stopover at The Workers Club in Melbourne as their second last date.
Though it started off as a sparse crowd, it slowly built up into quite an impressive but quiet turnout for such a young band. The assortment of instruments seemed vaguely unusual at first, but I learnt from synth player Robbie Hellberg that it was because they weren’t naturally an electronic outfit. Apparently Hellberg is a classically trained pianist, whereas Thiang and Eggert originally leaned towards the more rock side of music. When they got thrown together as a band, they decided to give this dreamy, indie electronic music a shot, and it’s definitely worked in their favour so far. The separate instruments really work in harmony with each other, and develop a beautiful layering of sounds to create their specific brand of music. They had a fairly basic set up, and interestingly the synth and the drum kit stood on either side of the stage facing each other rather than the audience. In addition to the chilled out way they interacted and laughed with each other, it was almost as if the audience happened to walk in on one of their band practices.
The music had quite a different vibe in terms of seeing them live in comparison to listening to it at home. When listening to their recorded songs, most of them have very much an airy and ambient vibe. However, it was clear that they had their roots in rock in their live show. When they played “Fears”, another song off their Salvage EP, Eggert really threw himself into his guitar solo and put on a show that you’d normally see at a rock concert. This kind of union of electronic and rock really sets them apart from other live acts that are around at the moment. Another really unique characteristic of MTNS is Eggert’s almost gender neutral vocals plus his distinctive Aussie twang. He’s quite an entertaining front man to watch – he really wears his emotions on his face and envelops himself into the music. With such emotionally driven tunes, it must be hard not to.
For their second last song, they somewhat hastily introduced their debut single “Lost Track of Time”. This song garnered plenty of blog love in 2013, and the crowd loved it. It can be pretty difficult to dance to this kind of music, but the audience certainly tried to anyway.
It was a fairly short set, due to their small collection of original music, and at times the songs did tend to blend into each other. However, it was satisfying to see the band actually enjoying themselves. As intensive and melancholic as their music is, there was certainly a friendly vibe amongst them. At the end of the show, they even asked the crowd to stick around and have a chat, as they wanted get recommendations on good lunch places in Melbourne.
Hometown: Brisbane, Australia.
Latest EP: Salvage, released 22 November 2013.
Sounds like: Active Child, Hayden Calnin.
Say What? Apparently due to an African phone network called “MTN”, MTNS frequently get African customers complaining about their phone service on their social media pages.
An edited version of this article was first published on SYN Reviews.
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