Calgary’s I Am the Mountain have a little bit of something for everyone with We’re Here For Each Other

Sometimes it’s necessary to self-gloss.

Especially when you want to stand out, intrigue people, define yourself.

So when Calgary band I Am the Mountain dubs their sound “campfire soul music,” it certainly accomplishes all of the above.

“I think it’s close,” says frontman Colton O’Reilly, while sipping a pint at the Wild Rose Taproom.

“I’ve been dreaming of the day when a writer will be like, ‘This band is—’ because I’m not certain. I think before it had that campfire, folk-oriented kind of sound, but now it’s more soulful, jazzy, funk a little bit.”

Yeah, so, campfire soul.

It’s a description that does a pretty great job of mapping out the quintet’s new EP We’re Here For Each Other, which they’ll release with a show Friday, Feb. 16 at the Ironwood.

The six songs are rooted in an earthy folk rock sound, with some added skronk and groove provided by the modest horns and a rhythm unit that balls its collective fist and punches out and up. Hell, even O’Reilly’s voice runs the gamut of smooth Buble croon to Mark Lanegan growl, meaning that I Am the Mountain have something for everyone, while being something all their own.

In other words, yes, it’s a sound that’s “all over the place,” but not to specifically target different audiences or outlets but please them all at once.

“What I’m trying to do on purpose is write music that’s very —.” The singer pauses. “Someone who loves heavy metal music will hear us and be like, ‘It’s not bad. I could listen to that. That’s about the folk music that I like, no further.’ Or someone who likes folk music would be like, ‘Wow, the lyrics, the instrumentation.’ So both ends of the spectrum can really get it and appreciate it.

“That’s definitely the intent, for sure.”

The origins of the group, go back almost a decade when O’Reilly and Keath Mueller were in the university orchestra together, eventually hooking up with other musicians “poached from some of the best bands in the city” — Jesse Shire, and Jason and Robin Cillo — and jamming on folk covers of acts such as The Head and the Heart and Dan Mangan as an open mic group. Soon, though, they were stretching out into their own material, gradually becoming a focus for the musicians and a growing concern in the scene.

“I don’t really know when it happened,” he says. “It’s been seven years of a really slow (building) process.”

That’s included releasing a couple of singles and an EP in 2015, While Off Adventuring, while also organically building an audience that now they can consistently count on to pack their shows in and around the city.

“We have that natural following in Calgary now,” O’Reilly says. “That’s a really incredible feeling.”

One of those fans turned out to be Nils Mikkelsen from Juno-nominated, Calgary dance duo AM Static, who saw them performing at an outdoor food truck event and expressed his wish to produce them. So, two years ago he brought his portable recording studio into the band basement, and over three, 12-hour days they laid down most of the tracks for what would become We’re Here for Each Other.

Over the course of the next year and a half, more vocals and some overdubs were added, and it was mixed by Mikkelsen and co-produced by he and O’Connor, with the final tracks being sent to Toronto for mastering.

“I had a pretty clear vision of what I wanted it to sound like, the flow of the album and the arrangement of things — with a ton of help from my band, too,” he says.

As for those songs and the content, they, too, run the gamut, from a track O’Reilly wrote eight years ago called Forever Love, which looks at all sides and chambers of the human heart, to the title track which is about community and overcoming depression.

“All throughout love and connection are the two themes,” he says, before noting that he’s actually drawn to darker material in what he listens to.

“When I’m writing, I try and keep that in the back of my mind, these dark, serious heavy lyrics that are impactful, but not as harshly said.”

As for the impact he hopes We’re Here for Each Other has, O’Reilly is looking to take the band farther, establish an audience outside of the city — they’re actually having a release party in Edmonton at the Mercury Room the following night — and start taking things a little more businesslike, take them to the next level.

And if early reviews are anything to go by, that shouldn’t be a problem.

O’Reilly notes that the night before our chat, he’d sent a copy of the EP to Anthony Kameka from veteran Calgary act Windigo — a band and a man that he admires.

“He sent me a message today saying, ‘The album’s a masterpiece.’ Like, wow, what a compliment. And of course I think that, too, I think it’s perfect.

“But to hear someone who knows music well and has been doing music for awhile to give that compliment, it’s like, wow, that’s nice. I hope other people receive it that way, too.”

And the need for self-glossing will be no more.

I Am the Mountain release their new EP We’re Here For Each Other Friday, Feb. 16th at the Ironwood. For tickets and reservations please call 403-269-5581.