Motherhood recap the tours, festivals, recordings and friendships that have shaped their year so far.
The last time I heard from Motherhood they were holed up in a Saint John recording studio tracking their next album, the planned follow-up to the band’s 2016 release, Baby Teeth (Monopolized Records).
Working again with engineer Corey Bonnevie (Little You, Little Me), the band had put out a call through social media hoping to round up as many noisemakers as they possibly could with the obvious intent of adding new levels of eccentricity to their already unpredictable sound. After reading their plea, I dug through boxes of old instrument parts and musical junk I’ve been carting around for far too long but couldn’t find anything I thought would be useful. I was a bit bummed about not being able to help, but really, who wants a bent-out-of-shape tambourine and some plastic finger castanets? That was all I could find. I don’t even know why I still have that stuff.
Luckily, several other friends and fans stepped up to answer the call.
“We amassed a pretty nice pile of stuff,” said bassist Penelope Stevens, “mostly synths thanks to Kyle Cunjak (David Myles, Forward Music Group), Mike Nason (Young Satan In Love, Yorks), and Indigo Poirier (Wangled Teb), a marimba from Charlie Harding (Cellarghost, Property//), a few odd shakers, and a slew of amps and pedals from Mike Nason. Have we mentioned we love Mike Nason? He keeps us stocked up with gear we could never justify owning, and lends it without batting an eye. We still have a couple more sessions to complete, so we may make another call for specific weirdo instruments.”
To me, Motherhood are one of the few bands that warrant seeing live at every possible opportunity. Every time I’ve watched them perform, I’ve been surprised and inspired, and I’ve never got the feeling they were just going through the motions or dialing a show in. Each performance I’ve experienced has been its own thing. Maybe that’s one of the reasons they’re slowing gaining a national following and have been elevated to cult status with local audiences. That, and the fact that they’re three of the friendliest folks you could ever hope to meet.
“We’ve been able to meet up with bands and fans that saw us on our cross-country tour last year, which is really rewarding. Having people remember and feel enthused about what we do makes a real impact on us.” – Penelope Stevens
To date, 2017 has been a doosy for The Mums. At the halfway point of the year, they’ve already played festival stages all over the country doing what so many of us have only every dreamed about.
“So far 2017 has seen us play Paddlefest (NB), Quality Block Party (NB), Canada Music Week (ON), the Ottawa Explosion Weekend (ON), Lawyna Vawnya (NL), and Sled Island (AB),” said drummer Adam Sipkema, “and we’ve got a couple more coming up that haven’t been announced yet.”
“It’s been pretty amazing,” said Stevens. “We’ve been able to meet up with bands and fans that saw us on our cross-country tour last year, which is really rewarding. Having people remember and feel enthused about what we do makes a real impact on us.
“We’ve also played with a lot of great new-to-us bands like Frigs, Dead Beat Poet Society, Incredible Woman, PRIORS, and Sweet Dave & the Shallow Graves, and have seen friends like LAPS, Smokes, Saxsyndrum, Owen Steel, Crossed Wires, and Klarka Weinwurm getting the opportunities they deserve. Needless to say, it’s been a pretty rewarding few months! Exhausting, but rewarding.”
Outside of gallivanting around the country working the festival circuit, the band have also been touring – hard. They’ve already done the Maritimes, Quebec and Ontario circuit more than once, recently completing an East Coast tour with Quebec City’s FET.Nat.
“FET.Nat are one of those bands you wish you could see every night,” said Sipkema. “And experiencing it did not disappoint. It’s great touring with a band that you can learn from. In fact, you get the vibe that they’re learning from each other, taking chances on communication in the form of stop/starts, improving lengths of bars and ramping up the swing of parts. From experience, trying to surprise each other is the most fun you can have live. Being in a sharp but playful band like FET.nat involves a lot of trust and I think that’s at the core of what we really admire in their music.”
“We’ve met all sorts of hard working, inclusive and accommodating people everywhere and that warms my little heart. I’ve really enjoyed hearing the cool things people are doing all over the country. Canada has so many good bands.” – Brydon Crain
As founding members of the now defunct Shift Bits Cult (RIP), an artist collective responsible for shaking things up on a local level by inspiring countless musicians, artists and scene supporters and simply get out there and make shit happen, I have been in awe of the band and their work ethic. Their enthusiasm is contagious and has been the unspoken catalyst behind so many new projects and rousing endeavors to brighten our corner of the world over the past few of years.
So when I was able to put a few questions to the group in advance of their upcoming July 8 performance at The Capital Complex, I was curious to find out what they’ve been able to learn from the different communities they’ve visited. As a group that has inspired so many, what inspires them?
“There are cool people wherever you go,” said guitarist/vocalist Brydon Crain. “We’ve met all sorts of hard working, inclusive and accommodating people everywhere and that warms my little heart. I’ve really enjoyed hearing the cool things people are doing all over the country. Canada has so many good bands.”
Following this weekend’s show with David R. Elliott and Thomas Stajcer, The Mums with take a well-deserved break to refocus, recharge and complete a new album.
“We’re also going to be working out how to perform our new songs live because we agreed to be much less concerned with that aspect of the songs we wrote this time around,” said Crain. “We’re laying low show-wise but there are a couple things we’ll be doing that we’re really excited about. Basically we’ll be working but we may be hiding a bit too.”
“It’s been a really intense work period for ourselves as individuals, but also as a band,” said Stevens. “Being together as much as we have been has forced us to open up and learn more about each other and our goals. I think we’ve been learning our limits as far as touring and creating go, and the next couple months will give us time to regroup, finish the album, and start looking ahead.
“Like Brydon said, there are a few things coming up that we’re all really excited for, but I think the most exciting thing will be seeing our pals, Ferg at The Capital, and the Nashwaak River.”
Motherhood+David R. Elliott+Thomas Stajcer | The Capital Complex | July 8, 2017 | 9 p.m. | View Event