by Tim Mudd
Wildlife and metal collide July 22–24 when the Fire In the Mountains Festival roams back into the stunning expanse of Wyoming’s Teton Wilderness with its most colossal lineup yet.
Extreme metal legends Enslaved will plant a flag for Norway at the summit of the weekend’s music, art, food, and activities, all carefully curated to highlight the harmonious relationship between heavy music and mountain landscapes.
Ivar Bjørson will minister a feature showcase throughout the festival that presents—among others—Neurosis axeman Steve Von Till wielding headlining duties on Friday and, Wolves in the Throne Room invoking the spirits that reside in the majestic scenery for Sunday’s top spot.
So, what should you expect other than a stellar lineup of acts that also includes David Eugene Edwards of Wovenhand, Yob, Snakes, Eternal Champion, Visigoth, Wayfarer, Obsequiae, Yellow Eyes, Dreadnought, Ivar Bjørnson’s Bardspec, Mike Scheidt, Dbuk, Haunter, Tchornobog, Nechochwen (Acoustic), The Otolith, Helen Money, Lykotonon and Ghosts Of Glaciers?
Aside from your standard outdoor adventure fare set in and around Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, you’ll find tattoo artist Sean Parry of Sacred Knot fame; outdoor galleries featuring Blake Hoke, Matt Kuck, and Gershgoroth Arts; a Mountain Man Toy Shop pop-up; Yoga for Headbangers; and, bear training. Yes, you read that last one correctly. If you find your limbs* and cells remain connected after three days of excess aural and visual decadence, you’ll be treated to an acoustic set from Austin Lunn of Panopticon during the closing ceremony.
Just weeks before the opening ceremony, we caught-up with festival organizers Jeremy Walker and Alex Feher, as well as lineup curation mastermind Shane McCarthy, to get their thoughts on this most excellent metal adventure.
What are you most excited about offering to Fire In the Mountains festival goers this year?
Jeremy Walker: We’ve always had a grand vision for FITM where we create a deep holistic and multi-faceted experience for those in attendance – something that’s bigger than just the music. This is the year the vision we’ve had for years finally becomes reality. I’m most excited to share that vision with the people who make the trek here.
Alex Feher: FITM is based on the concept of re-wilding and connecting people with the natural world. The festival itself isn’t just about the music and the gorgeous surrounding wilderness, it’s about the educational component and the recreational opportunities—farm-to-festival food, unique art vendors, camping in the most densely populated grizzly bear habitat in the lower 48 without cell-service, being at Teton County’s oldest Dude Ranch for a weekend—it’s about the experience as a whole, which is a cultural event. Without all the pieces in place, the concept of Fire in the Mountains doesn’t really work. This is the first year we’re able to offer FITM in its entirety. I’m most excited to see how it translates.
Shane McCarthy: In putting together the lineup, it’s important to me to build something that serves as the best representation of the entire experience and provide a musical partner to the power and majesty of the surroundings. There is no one sound associated with the festival, but I think there is a common thread: a genuine feeling that all these artists bring in their own way that speaks to something moving, something primordial. It means a lot to us to bring household names and new discoveries alike to give a collective experience that is varied but also whole.
What makes FITM different for artists to participate in than any other festival?
Walker: The deep experience of being at FITM naturally creates a strong and robust community of people who are all camping together, cooking together, and being in this place together. We encourage the artists as well as the ticket holders to be part of the same community.
Feher: In many ways, the weekend should be just as relaxing and enjoyable for the bands involved. With the exception of soundchecks and their hour-long performance, the weekend should feel like a vacation. After all, FITM is a cultural experience for everyone who attends. We’re all in the same situation together. Check your egos on the plane and get back to reality with the rest of us. Most of the bands we choose to play FITM sing, on some level, about the mountainous or Western landscape we’re surrounded by. The backdrop of our stages offers a glimpse into the experiences many of our artists write songs about. This is our way of giving that music a tangible reality to many of the participants there to witness it, bands and ticket holders alike.
Decibel will be camped-out for the festival run to capture the soaring highs and grizzly details. As excitement builds our informal polling suggests various reasons for attendance; from the killer lineup to the unique experience to simply stepping outside our day-to-day for a well-deserved ‘reset’ in a diverse community with a shared passion.
One of the best responses came from Shannon Void of Perfect World PR, whose firm handles press and social media for this year’s iteration. We asked what she was most looking forward to, and her anticipation was palpable. “I’ve seen thousands of shows. All the festivals. But this will be my first time at Fire In the Mountains. I’m always searching for the emotional unraveling when you truly connect with the music. This setting, these incredible bands? It’s going to be wild. I think it will break me in the best possible way… and I couldn’t be more excited about that.”
Fire in the Mountains 2022 takes place on the Heart6 Ranch in Moran, WY, July 22–24. Learn more about the event and purchase tickets here.
*Don’t forget the bear training.