“Life is so short, you kind of have to try to do it all”: The Story of Motobunny

Motobunny are a brand spanking new Rock’N’Roll (and I mean that in the truest sense of the phrase) band comprised of members of The Wooly Bandits, The Love Me...

Motobunny are a brand spanking new Rock’N’Roll (and I mean that in the truest sense of the phrase) band comprised of members of The Wooly Bandits, The Love Me Nots, and Zero Zero and who have, at one point or another, shared stages with the unlikely diverse likes of Karmin, The Dirtbombs, Billy Corgan, Little Richard, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, New York Dolls, and Franz Ferdinand… The band, who are based out of Phoenix and LA, characterize themselves as, “Icona-Pop-Meets-Iggy-Pop.”  And although you can currently count the number of live shows they’ve played on one hand, they already have a self-titled full-length out, which hit shelves this May, courtesy of Rusty Knuckles Music.  The album is a rabbit hole of teenage rebellion, with a sonic palate ranging from rockabilly to sleaze rock, both proto-and-post-punk, and the sassiest kind of new wave and synth pop… Tuesday, July 21st they will be playing their sixth show ever, opening for Dead Sara at Valley Bar in Phoenix… The band is comprised of vocalist/synth queen Christa Collins, vocalist/keytar aficionado Nicole Laurenne, guitarist Michael Johnny Walker, and bassist Rik Collins, three-fourths of whom recently took some time to give us the story of Motobunny…

Izzy Cihak: First of all, how did you come up with such a cool moniker?  I’m pretty sure that’s the name of an unreleased  Russ Meyer film… I’m kidding, but it totally sounds like it…

Christa Collins: Every name you can possibly think of has been taken! Your only option is to make up nonsense. We basically turned it into a game of Mad Libs. We were fairly certain we wanted “Moto” somewhere? We kicked a bunch of different things around for a while and eventually MOTOBUNNY stuck.

Nicole Laurenne: It sounded better than Motoslug. Wait, Motoslug is pretty cool.

Izzy: This band is still kind of brand new.  What have been the highlights so far?

Christa: It is brand new! We’re still figuring things out as we go sometimes. The highlight is that it’s gone so far so fast! We didn’t really know what would come of it when we started. It was literally four friends getting together and having a good time! That said, we’re all professionals so when we “do something” we want to do it right, and in that sense we took it very seriously. It was really just an outlet to do the things we couldn’t in our other bands. So it’s fair to say it started as a “side project” but grew a life of its own.

Nicole: The highlights so far have been recording in Detroit, performing live at Roland Headquarters, our awesome record release show in LA, finding out we’re opening for Dead Sara later this month, and watching people sing along with us at the shows.

Christa: Having Rodney Bingenheimer introduce us at our record release show was a special highlight for me.

Nicole: And this interview. This interview is definitely a highlight.

Izzy: Have you had any favorite reactions to the music?

Christa: The whole experience and everyone’s reactions thus far has been humbling and inspiring. We had resolved that we would have to put the record out ourselves, which was fine since that’s what most musicians choose to do these days. But it’s not always easy to cut through the noise that way. Then out of nowhere Rusty Knuckles steps up. Within a week we signed on with Starry Management and secured a full endorsement with Roland Co. Now we’re out there playing live shows and we’re blown away! We’ve only had a total of five shows and the record hasn’t been released that long, yet there’s people in the front row dancing and singing along to the lyrics. We love it! We have a fan in France named Yann who suffers from a debilitating and painful disease, who in so many words told me our music is like oxygen to him. We love stories like his and being able to share in each other’s lives through music.

Izzy: I know you have all worked on a plethora of different musical projects. Are you still dividing your time between acts, or is Motobunny a primary focus?  Can we expect more albums?

Christa: Motobunny is definitely the priority for all of us! It took us a bit by surprise how quickly it all came together and we had prior commitments on the books with our other bands, so we’re all keeping busy in our down time. We have already started writing a second album. Lack of content won’t ever be a problem for us, it’s how to get it out fast enough!

Nicole: It’s hard to be patient when you’re having this much fun. Our other bands, The Love Me Nots and The Woolly Bandits, are both always busy doing interesting things too. Life is so short, you kind of have to try to do it all.

Izzy: I know you’re not supposed to ask this, but I almost always do: At the moment, do you have a particular favorite Motobunny song?  “Apocalypse Twist” is probably currently my “feel-good” dance song of the summer.  It sort of reminds me of if Josh and Keith from Buckcherry got together with Horrorpops to do a Blondie tribute band (Hopefully you don’t take offense to that.)

Christa: Well that’s one I’ve never heard before! There’s a lot of fun songs on this album, but my personal favorite to sing is  “I Warned You.”

Nicole:  I like “Apocalypse Twist” too. Christa’s lyrics are awesome on it and I can picture the Munsters in gas masks doing the twist to it.

Michael Johnny Walker: “I Warned You” and “Shake Me” are my favorites.

Izzy: What would you consider to be the band’s most significant collective influences, whether related to music or not?

Christa: Iggy Pop was the catalyst that brought this whole project together. Japan is a place we have all wanted to go to for some time. I have a background in pop music and Michael’s favorite band is the Spice Girls so we got to emote that. We all love the B52’s and Motown ethic. And we all love Rock’N’Roll as it was intended.

Nicole: We want to rock hard but also add a little pop sparkle to these songs, to get a sound we don’t get to explore much in our other projects. I love the dual-lead-vocal sound that Icona Pop and the B-52s have, but it’s fun to put that kind of vocal over some real MC5, Joan Jett kinds of rock tracks.

Michael: The Damned, Nick Cave, James Hall, Pappy Van Winkle, and The Spice Girls.

Izzy: Not to detract from the music but you all, collectively and individually, have really great wardrobes, so I’m curious: What is it that inspires that sense of style?  Do you have any particularly significant “style icons?”

Christa: David Bowie, Klaus Nomi, Peggy Moffit, and Rudy Gernwright, Gem and the Holograms (but I wanted to be a Misfit) and of course 60’s B movies.

Nicole: Michael Maker, Joan Jett, The Dum Dum Girls, and Icona Pop. Not in that order.

Michael: Italian drug lords. But my band insists it’s Armenian drug lords.

Izzy: Finally. I’m imagining that a Motobunny live show is pretty insanely fun and entertaining.  Any chance of some more extensive touring in the near future, and maybe a Philly show?

Christa: It is our priority that fun be had at our shows! We hope to do both national and International tours. We will happily tour wherever we are wanted, which hopefully will be everywhere one day! We want to thank everyone who supports their local and independent music scenes.

Nicole: We all love playing in Philly, so we can’t wait to get there. It’s a great local scene and we have a bunch of friends there. Not to mention that we love the late-night pizza there.

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During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.