Humboldt County, known as an epicenter of cannabis farming and one of the most dangerous places to live in California, also served as inspiration for Johnny Ironsights’ newest song “Murder Mountain.”
Despite the beauty which surrounds Humboldt County because of its location in the Redwood Forest, Ironsights describes the dark undercurrents of the area which led him to writing this song.
“People believe it’s linked to either the cartels, or somehow a serial killer or something to do with illegal marijuana cultivation, so that’s where that idea came from, Ironsights tells American Songwriter. “But then I was also thinking about isolationism and that kind of spirit of the people from my take on life in Humboldt County. They’re kind of like hippies, but with AK-47’s.”
His wife’s family is from the area, so he’s been able to really feel the atmosphere of the place. But what makes this song different is the way in which Ironsights weaves in broader themes of societal issues.
“I was writing this song also thinking about the racial tensions in the country, the war on drugs, everything. Kind of linked to that ultra nationalism, right wing nationalism, and that, in a sense, these people are in their own world,” Ironsights notes. “And not to criticize them or something, but that somehow they’ve created their own space that is outside of the law.”
With all of these topics circling in the forefront of his mind in conjunction with the bizarre anomaly which is Humboldt County, it only took Ironsights a mere minutes to write “Murder Mountain” and then perform it for his fans in an Instagram live session in which they encouraged him to record the track.
Just as the song is multifaceted lyrically, so is Ironsights’ music genre wise, as he describes it as Gothic Americana. Aptly titled, his voice is undeniably punk-driven but buoyed by unmistakable elements of Americana and supported by his distinctive songwriting capabilities.
Even so, Ironsights’ talents don’t stop there. He explains how he stepped up to the challenge of creating a music video from scratch during a pandemic by learning how to use Final Cut Pro and shooting inside a rented 1968 Airstream trailer with his iPhone, splicing in vintage public domain footage and photos of him as a child.
In the end, Ironsights created a wholly organic video which seems to tell a story of its own while also adding to the relevant and meaningful story within the lyrics themselves.
“Murder Mountain” is also the title track for his upcoming album, which was a labor of love and grief and therapy for him.
He hopes this song and others to come will have those same healing properties for his listeners.
“I want to touch someone’s heart,” Ironsights adds. “I want people who might have gone through similar things that I talked about on the album, and to give them some kind of peace. I know the whole world right now is hurting. Americans are really suffering right now. So many people I know have lost their jobs and homes and everything. So my goal is to somehow make it a little easier for them. And then enjoy the music.”
Check out the music video below.
The album Murder Mountain will be released on March 5, 2021 — check out more from www.johnnyironsights.com.