Canadian “avant-rock trio” Motherhood have apparently actually been kicking out jams for the better part of a decade. However, they just made their way to America for the first time earlier this year, and their first time in the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection will be tonight, September 18th, when they headline Kung Fu Necktie, on the second night of their current US tour. I recently got a chance to chat with Penny, Brydon, and Adam about the history of Motherhood and what can be expected of their show tonight.
Izzy Cihak: I realize that this is a big question, but the band still seems to be relatively new, with your second album dropping earlier this year, followed by your first major US tour, so what have been some of the highlights of the band, so far?
Penny Stevens: We’ve actually been a band for about eight years now, with 2/3 of us playing together since high school. Coming from (and still living in) a small Canadian East Coast town, it took a lot of time for us to build the networks and connections needed to tour in the US. We’ve toured quite a lot throughout Canada, which is a pretty rough road to travel sometimes… Anyway, glad we finally made it to the US! We intend to be back quite often from now on, we love it.
Izzy: Have you had any favorite reactions to your music?
Brydon Crain: My favourite reactions are always when someone doesn’t know what to expect or thinks they know what to expect and then they see the show. It’s fun to surprise people or even confuse them to a certain extent.
Izzy: Also, there doesn’t seem to be a ton of info available about you (even to us “critics”). Is there anything you think is important for fans and potential fans to know about your process of writing and recording together, or even just your aim as artists?
Penny: Our work is very diverse sonically, but we’re pretty sure it’s all distinctly Motherhood, whatever that means. It’s painful when folks try to describe our music by genre; “they’re like proggy country? Or black metal fusion? Or thrash pop?” I think people project what they want onto us, which is totally fine and hilarious. We write collaboratively in our studio, creating small snippets and ideas that later get smashed together into songs. So, you’ll see common riffs, lyrics, or progressions that reappear through several songs or albums. We’re not afraid to borrow, especially from ourselves! Brydon’s lyrics are composed as a single concept that’s broken into many songs that comprise an album – each album is its own complete work, which seems to be a rare sight in the world of Spotify and singles.
Our main concerns are, “Is it doing something new? Is it accessible but interesting? Is it fun to play and hear?” If the answers are yes to the above, we’re on the right track.
We try to make music that is intentional and boundary-pushing and capital A “Art,” but if you’re at a bar, you can still throw a fit to it. Cuz if it’s not fun, what’s the point?
Izzy: What would you consider to be your most significant collective influences, both musical and otherwise?
Adam Sipkema: We think a healthy dose of comedy can be a nice counterpoint to music. We love a good laugh and many of our musical heroes make ambitious music that doesn’t come off as grandiose by adding comedic elements – either through tone, premise, or lyrics. Levity is key and comedy is a source of inspiration.
Izzy: You’re about to kick off a handful of live dates. Are there any shows you’re especially excited to play, or just cities that you’re especially excited to visit or revisit?
Penny: We’ve never been to Philly, so we’re definitely the most stoked to go there. But generally, we just love playing in the US, meeting cool folks and hearing new bands!
Izzy: What can be expected of the live show when you play here at Kung Fu Necktie?
Brydon: With shows, we’re aiming for fun. We work hard making songs that will stay interesting for us and hopefully be interesting for the crowd. There’s also some wiggle room in the songs, so we can add little things to spice it up and, since we’ve been playing together for a while, a lot can go wrong without it throwing us off the rails. We’re strong believers in the humour of music because music should reflect life and life is as silly as it is tragic, so there’s a lot of giggling on our part.
Izzy: And what’s next for you? How do you hope and plan to spend the remainder of 2018? Anything you’re especially excited about?
Brydon: After this run of shows and a handful of others we’re going to be laying low for the rest of the year. Penny is taking off for a couple months to Toronto, so we’ll probably be working on ideas separately until she’s back. Then next year the record will come out and we’ll be back to work.