Local ‘power-pop-rock’ band Bottlecap Mountain released their fourth album Dismayland on Oct. 5, even though the album was made available on some platforms a few weeks earlier.
“When you’re a mom and pop shop like us, you don’t have the ability to say a specific date,” bass player Chris Stangland said.
Of the 4,000 responses to the Austin Music Census, 60% are performers and songwriters. On top of playing music in a saturated market, overall bands are losing their spots on the charts, with only three making the Top 40 in 2018.
As a power-pop band in 2019, a style of music coined by The Beatles and the Raspberries in the 1970s, Stangland said Bottlecap Mountain stands in a niche market. He said this makes them feel invisible.
“We play stuff that not as many people are coming out to see, I’m sorry to say, but I believe it’s good,” Stangland said.
Guitar and lead vocalist Stewart Gersmann said crowds are receptive to the music whenever they play for people ready to hear music, like at their last show for the South Austin Museum of Popular Culture. He said playing in Austin can be tough because of all the competition.
Music taste in 2019 has shifted toward pop and rock, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry’s Music Listening 2019 report. Oldies comes in third. Lead guitar and vocalist Bruce Earl said it is “anachronistic” to play in a style that is not number one anymore.
“It’s definitely got a ‘70s vibe, when power-pop was gigantic,” Earl said. “It doesn’t sound dated or anything like that, but tastes are a little more electronic.”
For their new album, Gersmann said he took inspiration from Rust Never Sleeps by Neil Young for their first and last tracks, “Dismayland” and “Cupboard.” For the song “Complements & Such,” they took on a Beatles vibe, Earl said.
Although the inspiration comes from older music, the substance of the songs for Dismayland relates to issues in the country and the world, Gersmann said.
Of all the band members, Gersmann is the only full-time musician. The other band members are part of 55.7% of part-time musicians who hold other part-time and full-time positions, according to the Austin Music Census. Stangland and Earl work in IT, and keyboard and vocalist Yvonne Love works at a law firm.
These members said they enjoy staying with the band because of how it challenges them artistically. Love said the band got her into playing keyboard again. Power-pop is also a change for Love, who studied opera and musical theater. Earl said the music pushes him to play interesting guitar parts.
Stangland said Bottlecap Mountain is not just a creative outlet for his music. He said he designs the band’s album art.
“I feel like it’s the chief artistic outlet of my life, working with these people who I love to make music (with) that I believe in and am crazy about,” Stangland said. “I really love it.”
Bottlecap Mountain currently plays in the Central Texas area, but Gersmann said he would like to tour one day.
“I feel good about where we’re going,” Gersmann said. “I think it’s our time, and it’s our year.”