Mountain's Leslie West

Venue: The Boardwalk, Sheffield, UK
Date: 21st September, 2003

Glenn: Why did you decide to call the band, 'Mountain'?

Leslie: Because I look like a f*ck*ng Mountain is why (laughing). A friend of mine named the rock band and it sounded like one.

Glenn: How I found out about you is that I watched a German Satellite channel called WDR and you were supporting Deep Purple in 1985.

Leslie: Yeah.

Glenn: What have been your favourite tours?

Leslie: It's hard to say. I liked playing in Germany on that Deep Purple tour though. That was opening for festivals in England like Knebworth and I had a good time. If I have a good time on a tour then it's fun.

Glenn: How did you manage to assemble such an amazing line-up with Corky Laing (drummer of the late, great Rory Gallagher)?

Leslie: I called him up. (laughs). No, we've been playing for 33 years so far.

Glenn: Who would you say your main influences have been?

Leslie: Clapton, Hendrix and recently in the last 15 years it was Eddie Van Halen - my main one. Very simple. Keith Richard but not as much.

Glenn: Yeah - hence the backpatch on your jacket with The Rolling Stones logo (The Tongue)?

Leslie: Yeah. Mick (Jagger) played on one of my solo albums. He played guitar and sang backing. I've always loved 'The Stones'.

Glenn: Cool. What made you decide to write a song called 'Nantucket Sleighride'?

Leslie: I didn't write that, Felix wrote it. It's about a guy who went out to sea that didn't survive and the song's really about this guy called 'Owen Coffin' and if you go on 'Google' and put in 'Nantucket Sleighride' you'll read the story about him. They had to eat to him at the end of forty days - they had no food out at sea and they drew straws and he lost - so it's mainly about him.

Glenn: How was Woodstock - giving a live gig now, is it a similar sort of vibe to what it was then?

Leslie: No it was the oddest (Woodstock), it was 400,000 people so it can change your life. It was the 1st really big one and now we've been doing it for a long time. It was your first day of school. After you graduate it's not the same.

Glenn: The new Mountain album 'High' - why did you decide to call it 'High'? Is it like a high-point in your life?

Leslie: Well it's 'High' over here - it's 'Mystic Fire' in the States. I have no idea why. I really don't know - it just sounded good. There's the song 'Mystic Fire' on there and the label wanted to call it one thing here (in the UK) and one in the States. Very simple. I have a new blues CD called 'Blues to Die For' (out October 2003) with Ainsley Dunbar playing drums so things are going pretty good.

Glenn: So you've got your blues style and your Mountain style so you thought 'Right, I'll have two different albums and incorporate different things'.

Leslie: Well I'm mainly a blues style guitar player and Mountain's a lot of blues etc (although there are) a couple of the ballads (as well).

Glenn: I must tell you that when I was young my dad used to be a big fan of the 'Weekend World' programme.

Leslie: With 'Nantucket Sleighride'?

Glenn: Yeah and I used to watch that, (just) the intro and the outro - I used to dive back in the room just so I could hear the tune again.

Leslie: Well Ringo (Starr's) kid told me the same thing. He used to watch the show just to hear 'Nantucket Sleighride'. It wasn't us that played it but it was another group that did our song.

Glenn: How come you didn't play the song yourselves?

Leslie: Because it costs too much money but they get another band to do it even though we wrote it. We got money for that but if they had used us it would have cost them a lot more. A lot of people do that. They do different versions of the same song.

Glenn: Have you got many favourite tour stories that stand out in the last 30 odd years of your career?

Leslie: My favourite story. Yeah. That this turned into a successful group - that's my favourite story. At first it was just, you know, playing - f*ck*ng around - that's my favourite story. Isn't that a good way to end it?

Glenn: Yeah.

Leslie: Thanks man.

A big thank-you to all of Mountain, Bryn Slack (co-Promoter at The Boardwalk), Martin (Security), Paul Trigger (Tour Manager) and Mountains PR and Record Company and of course, my brother Paul for the lift to the venue.