This week, Makin Waves chats with the Asbury Park-based indie-rock band Secret Mountain, who have organized a benefit for Planned Parenthood at Asbury Park Music Foundation that is stacked with indie talent.
The Asbury Park-based indie-rock band Secret Mountain is a delightful mix of whimsical fun and meaningful passion that brings to the DIY scene a sense of inclusiveness and originality that is as refreshing as it is contagious.
While readying a follow-up to their 2015 debut EP, Shift Happens, which saw them tour half the nation, Secret Mountain took time to organize a stacked lineup of talent that will benefit Planned Parenthood. The maligned, misunderstood organization is threatened by a decrease in government funding, a lack of sound health-care policy, and a religious right that can’t fathom the life-saving blessing Planned Parenthood has been to many who can’t even afford “affordable care.”
Speaking on behalf of guitarist Ray Chalmé, bassist Kyle Coan and drummer Max Falvey, charismatic founding vocalist Alex Bevacqui discussed why she wanted to continue to support Planned Parenthood in honor of its support of her during a grave, frightening time. Performing alongside her and Secret Mountain on Aug. 4 at Asbury Park Music Foundation will be Teenage Halloween, Curtis Cooper, EVL MOMMZ and Well Wisher, the hot new band of former dollys vocalist-drummer Natalie Newbold that includes members of Can’t Swim, ROMP and more. The 7 p.m. event at the Lakehouse building also will feature a raffle for awesome sponsor prizes from Bond Street Complex, Parlor Gallery, Cookman Creamery, Swagger and Blade and Madame Marie’s, the legendary boardwalk fixture that will be on hand to offer psychic readings. Partial proceeds also will go to Asbury Park Music Foundation’s education program for at-risk youth.
Enjoy the following interview with Alex, and if you can’t go to her show, feel free to donate at plannedparenthood.org.
Question: How did Secret Mountain get together?
Answer: It started with me and my friends Heeyoon Won and Matt Smith in my dorm room in college. It started as a bedroom pop group and just evolved from there. I’m the only original member.
Q: Matt from Hodera was in Secret Mountain? Was he in any other bands with you?
A: Matt from Hodera was in the band. Matt is one of my oldest friends and although we don’t see each other often, I’m always very glad to see him and always wishing him all the best.
Q: How is the follow-up to 2015’s Shift Happens going, where are you recording it and with whom, and when do you expect it to be released?
A: We’re recording it with our good friend Erik Romero at Lakehouse and also in his basement, thanks (to his wife) Lisa! It’s going very well. I’m not sure when exactly it will come out just now. Hopefully before 2017 ends, but I never make a promise I can’t keep, so I won’t.\
Q: Why did you want to organize a benefit for Planned Parenthood and what impact do you hope that event has?
A: Planned Parenthood has impacted my life in such a positive way. They literally saved my life. Everyone should have access to care.
Q: How has that organization impacted you personally?
A: They caught precancerous cells on my ovaries in 2013 and, through that, I was able to prevent it from spreading.
Q: How and why is Planned Parenthood about more than abortion and contraception?
A: Planned Parenthood is about every aspect of women’s and even men’s health. Yearly Pap smears, prostate exams, breast and pelvic exams. I remember reading somewhere that only 1 percent of the services they provide annually fall under abortion.
Q: Do you know how much federal funding for Planned Parenthood goes toward abortion?
A: Three percent of their funding.
Q: So all that hubbub among the religious right is about only 3 percent of funding? How will the money that is raised at the benefit be used by Planned Parenthood?
A: I’m not sure what they will do with it. I hope it can help them continue to do what they’ve been doing.
Q: Why have the event at Asbury Park Music Foundation?
A: I love Asbury Park, and the scene in Asbury is incredibly supportive. I couldn’t imagine having this event anywhere else.
Q: Why did you choose the bands you chose to play the Planned Parenthood benefit and what do you like most about them?
A: Teenage Halloween are amazing friends and extremely talented. Curtis Cooper is amazing and great. EVL MOMMZ are super-talented as well. And, of course, Well Wisher are like a power group of all the best Asbury musicians.
Q: You seem to share a particularly close relationship with Teenage Halloween. What’s the connection?
A: I’ve known Luke since they were very young, and they’re such special and unique people. I love them so much. Also Brian and Hakeem are two of the funniest people in the world. Teenage is so fun and positive, and I love being around them.
Q: Are there any other causes and issues about which Secret Mountain are passionate and that you have and/or will benefit and/or help in some way?
A: We’ve donated to the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood in the past. I’ve also worked with the Humane Society and All Fur Love Animal Rescue. I’m very passionate about animal rescue. We also donated money to Bernie Sanders’ (presidential) campaign.
Q: Besides recording your next release, what will be going on with the band after the Planned Parenthood benefit?
A: We’re kind of in grind mode, trying to find the next step for us. The past five years have been amazing, and we’re ready to move up in the world.
Q: How has the DIY scene impacted the band and how has the band impacted the DIY scene?
A: I think DIY shaped us and made us into hard-working individuals. I think we’ve made DIY a safer and more inclusive space.
Q: What do you think of the New Brunswick music scene, its basement shows and its local musical landscape outside of the basements?
A: The New Brunswick basement scene shaped me as a teenager, and now as an adult, it’s a part of me. It’s incredible. Sadly, the pay-to-play venues in the city are terrible.
Q: Secret Mountain are very amusing and share a lot of contagious fun. What is the funniest thing the band and/or your audience have experienced?
A: Oh god, I couldn’t think of one thing. When we’re together it’s hysterical. I’m non-stop laughing. Our tour with Coolshark was incredibly hysterical, and at one point, at one of the many waffle houses we visited, Ray performed “Bennie and the Jets” in its entirety, walking around the restaurant.
Q: Is there anything I didn’t ask on which you would like to comment?
A: I would just like to say that I’m very thankful to be a part of this band and the New Jersey scene.
Bob Makin is the reporter for MyCentralJersey.com/
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