Born in the beautiful mountains of Colorado, Tenth Mountain Division have been a local favorite for nearly a decade. Like those that came before, Tenth Mountain Division, push the sound found in the mountains into bold, new directions with their exploratory take on Americana, that dips freely in the well of all their diverse influences; classic Southern Rock, the progressive bluegrass that was born in their backyard, the adventurous spirit of sixties psychedelic blues, and straight ahead driving rock ‘n’ roll.

The Colorado mountains became a breeding ground for a spirited bluegrass, jam, and folk movement that has since taken the world by storm. Acts like Hot Rize, Left Hand String Band, Leftover Salmon, String Cheese Incident, Yonder Mountain String Band paved the way for today’s music scene. Countless bluegrass festivals have popped up all over the state, including the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, WinterWonderGrass, Palisade Bluegrass & Roots, Rail on the River, Rockygrass, and more. This movement, among others, has since inspired modern bands and acts like Railroad Earth, The Infamous Stringdusters, Greensky Bluegrass, and of course, Tenth Mountain Division.

Formed in 2013 at the University of Colorado in Boulder and named in honor of the famed military unit, 10th Mountain Division. Tenth Mountain Division the band is built upon the long-friendship of Winston Heuga and MJ Ouimette, who first met and started playing music together in high school. The two eventually landed at the University of Colorado together and formed Tenth Mountain Division as an acoustic trio. Over the next few years they added drummer Tyler Gwynn and keyboardist Campbell Thomas. Bassist Andrew Cooney replaced the band’s original bassist a few years later, solidifying the lineup.

Since forming in 2013 the band has released three albums, Cracks in the Sky in 2016, In Good Company in 2018, and Butte La Rose in 2021. During that time the band has been a touring machine taking their sound on the road from coast to coast across the U.S., with stops at some of the most prestigious festivals in the country including the Aiken Bluegrass Festival, Summer Camp, Boogie at the Broadmoor, Yarmony Fest, and WinterWonderGrass.

Now in 2024, the band is preparing for the release of their fourth, self-titled album on May 11th. Produced by Erik Deutsch of The Black Crowes, with contributions from Charlie Rose of Elephant Revival on the pedal steel, the album is a testament to the band’s creativity and their boldness in pushing musical boundaries.

“Oil in the Water” is the album’s lead single and has just been released on all major streaming platforms. This driving rock song features expansive vocal ranges, right, cohesive interplay among band members, and hair-raising instrumental moments that exemplify their ability to blend and bend genres.

The release comes with a bittersweet announcement, however, as they’ll also be taking a planned hiatus from music. The band plans to take a step back from touring to focus on their mental health, navigate the evolving status of the music industry, and wait to play their next card when the ideal opportunity arises.

The album release will be accompanied by a celebratory show at Denver’s Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom on the same day. The evening is set not just to showcase their latest work but to encapsulate the evolution of their sound—melding rock, bluegrass, and Americana—and to honor the band’s continuous influence in the music world. This pre-hiatus finale is also part of the band’s last six performances throughout Colorado and New Mexico, with their last show taking place at Denver’s Levitt Pavilion on July 13th. You can grab tickets to one of their final shows here.

We had the opportunity to speak with the band ahead of their album release and farewell tour. You can check out our conversation below!

[Rooster]: With your fourth album set to release soon, can you give our readers some insight into the creative process behind this record? What themes or experiences inspired the songs on the album?

[TMD]: For this record, we decided to be more unprepared than our last couple of records. What I mean by that is we wanted to leave our songs unfinished to a point where we could take a lot of creative liberties while in the studio. Erik Deutsch (our producer) really emphasized this point. No song shows this more than “Oil In The Water”. It started out as a more of a bluesy rock song, but it just wasn’t lining up how we wanted. So we all set up in the studio and Deutsch conducted us like a mad scientist, yelling out parts and arrangements to us on the spot.. That energy and feeling of being on your toes really comes through in that song. – Tyler Gwynn (Drums)

Taking a hiatus from touring is a significant decision. Can you talk about the reasons behind this choice and how the band plans to utilize this time away from the road?

It’s not a decision that we take lightly. We love playing live and being able to play out for the last 8 or so years has truly been a gift. The music business over the last few years has made the touring model harder and harder to sustain at our level. We were faced with the decision: to either keep on down the road of more and more shows which means more time from home, more time in drive-thru lines, sleeping on floors, and driving through the night, or we could take a step back and catch our breath and wait for the right opportunities to arise.
While we’re off the road we’ll still be writing songs and working together on the creative front. I know Cooney will be playing gigs on gigs on gigs. Cam will be living in San Diego surfing and working on his tan. MJ will be going back to school. Winston will be following his passion for rafting any chance he gets. I’ll most likely be biking somewhere. Im not sure when we’ll all be back on stage but whenever the right moment presents itself, we’ll be ready. – Tyler Gwynn

Throughout your career, you’ve performed at various festivals and venues across the country. Are there any standout moments or performances that have been particularly memorable for you as a band?

Two that stand out in my head are Aiken Bluegrass Festival 2018 and WinterWonderGrass 2023. Being a rock band at a predominately bluegrass festival is like handing out free candy to kids. By the time the second or third day rolls around people are chomping at the bit to hear drums or electric guitar. They might not even notice it, they might be bluegrass purists, but in our experience, it has always worked out in our favor. 

In 2018, we had a mid-day set in the only indoor/air-conditioned pavilion at the festival. A few weeks prior we had hand-held fans made with our band name, logo, and set time printed on them. It had proven to be a perfect forethought as it reached 100-degree temps on a humid South Carolina afternoon. We’d spent the first day of the festival handing out our fans to festivarians and to our delight the fans had created fans! Our set was packed and Aiken Bluegrass Festival was one of our favorite places to return to after that. 

In 2023, we were ecstatic to take place in the 10th anniversary of WWG. We had 3 sets on Saturday and were perfectly sandwiched between Paul Cauthen, Neal Frances, and Leftover Salmon; plus a late-night set supporting The Lil Smokies. Once again, in a prime position to rock out at a bluegrass fest, we sprinkled in covers from Carey Underwood, The Chicks, Widespread Panic – featuring an epic 12+ minute sit-in from Kyle Tuttle, and closed out our second set with Song #2 by Blur. The energy in the tent as the snow fell outside was unmatched, and still, to this day, the band considers it some of our favorite sets. 

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention our first show in New York City, which was so packed people were hanging from the window sills or our first 3 night run at The Old Town Pub in Steamboat Springs. We owe a lot to these promoters and the care they put into running their venues.  – Winston Heuga (Mandolin)

As you reflect on your journey as Tenth Mountain Division, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced, and how have you overcome them? 

It’d be easy to say overcoming the challenges the music industry faced during Covid. Still, I think the most impressive challenge we’ve overcome so far is simply the longevity of our career within the music industry. The fact that we are 10 years down the road, playing incredible shows, and on the verge of releasing our fourth studio album speaks to our dedication to the craft. – Winston Heuga

I think the growing pains of life are really the biggest thing we’ve gone through as a whole group. The majority of us met when we were 19/20.  Now we’re all in our 30s. Your 20s are wild enough to navigate, there is so much growth and change alone as individuals. Doing that in a 5-way dude relationship is a whole other level of wild. We’ve had moments of pure bliss together as well as moments where we wonder if the band would survive the weekend.
There was a time when we all lived together in Denver (5 of us in a “cozy” 4 bedroom!). It was during this time we truly mastered the art of giving each other space and distance, albeit not physically in such a small spot. We recognized that while the band was our top priority it was not worth our relationships as people diminishing. – Tyler Gwynn

Your upcoming album release show in Denver marks the culmination of a chapter for the band. What emotions are you experiencing as you prepare for this event, and what do you hope fans take away from the experience?

Denver is one of the best music cities in the country right now. Cervantes is one of (if not the) best venues in Denver. To be able to call that spot our home away from home is something special that we don’t take for granted. We ( as well as most all bands in our scene and then some) have  Evan Marks and Scott Morrill to thank for this. From our first time opening at the Otherside ( I think it was supporting dangermuffin) to headlining the ballroom, it has always been where we gauge our success as a Colorado band. It reminds me of how comedians talk about being “accepted” to the comedy cellar in NYC, if you play here you’ve arrived in Denver. I don’t think this will be our last time here, I’m not sure when we’ll be back. While we’ll be celebrating our new album we’ll also be celebrating our times there and I think the audience will be too. So many people have been seeing us for years at Cervs, so I hope they are just as nostalgic and excited as us. – Tyler Gwynn

How do you see the music industry evolving, and where do you envision Tenth Mountain Division’s place in it down the road?

This industry, although incredibly satisfying, revolves around the constant scrutiny of your fans and peers. It’s easy to second guess yourself: “Will we sell tickets, will we get streams, will they like our music, will we be able to pay rent?” It’s an uphill battle for everyone involved and one that isn’t easy on the little guys. It’s no secret that venues, festivals, promoters, and mid-sized bands struggle to make ends meet, & until there’s a paradoxical shift in the way streaming services pay artists, it will continue to stay that way. 

It may take Congress stepping in to see such a change but nevertheless, after a needed hiatus, we hope to continue to push Tenth Mountain Divison out to the world in whatever way we can. – Winston Heuga

Is there anything else you’d like to share with your fans before taking time away from music?

It’s hard for me to put into words what this band means to me. Being in a band wasn’t really on my radar when I was 17, and since that time, it’s totally shaped my life. I’ve met some of my best friends, made incredible musical moments and collected a lifetime of memories that I’ll cherish forever. On top of that I’ve got to work with my musical idols, some of whom i’m now lucky enough to call friends, and with whom I’ve learned countless life lessons. Tenth Mountain Division isn’t “just a band” to me, it’s my life, & I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve achieved. Although the future is uncertain, we are excited for the next chapter  and we want to thank everyone that has supported us from near or far. This album encapsulates everything we’ve gone through over the last 10+ years. The joy, the pain, the sacrifices, the hardship and the rewards. This album is Tenth Mountain Division. – Winston Heuga