With two EPs and now a debut album, Nothin’ under their belt, this three-piece from Bendigo has done a fine job of leaving the depths of central Victoria and its thriving Cold Chisel cover band scene behind.
Mother and Father, now based in Melbourne, describe their music as more than just grunge revival but admit they’re guilty of borrowing some sounds. “You’d be a moron for thinking anything’s original and we’d be morons for trying to convince you otherwise”, claims the ‘Sounds Like’ box on the band’s MySpace. With that in mind, Daniel Clarke caught up with bass player Tolley after their album launch last month to talk band names, day jobs, their influences and their sound.
Music Feeds: So have you guys been gigging around recently?
Tolley: Yeah, we had a launch about a fortnight ago. That was a good night.
MF: So is it an EP or an album? I wasn’t quite sure…
T: We’re calling it an album, it’s about two songs off an EP.
MF: Fair enough. So what would you call a good album launch? Is it the number of people that show up, or the reaction from the punters that are there?
T: It’s a little bit of both. The closest thing we’ve had to an album launch was last year for the Protect Your Young EP launch. I think all the work that is done beforehand, you’ve gotta put as much emotion and make it as appealing as possible so people will turn up. People have got a choice of late night television or going out. It’s hard to beat American Idol.
MF: That’s sad, but unfortunately quite true… So how long have you guys been together as a band?
T: The first gig we played as Mother And Father was November 2007. Before that we were based in Bendigo under a different name. We started in 2006, but last year was probably our first real year playing in Melbourne. We were called Samsara before, but a metal band in Melbourne had the same name.
MF: Is there anything to the name Mother And Father?
T: Not really. Greg has more cryptic answers for that. I think we just tried a few names and that was the one that worked the best. It means things for us but really we were just trying to be simple.
MF: How’s the Melbourne scene been for you guys? Receptive to your sound?
T: Well, we left Bendigo because there was no scene at all. There’s a scene for cover bands that play Cold Chisel covers, and that’s about it. We know a whole lot of Bendigo people in bands that have emigrated south. Our first gig, there was probably as many people on stage as there were in the crowd… and we’re a three-piece… and that includes the barman. At first it’s not easy, you’ve just gotta put in, play the crappy gigs and look forward to the good ones. But overall it’s quite a healthy scene.
MF: Your press release says you’re ‘not just a grunge revival band’ but listening to the album I hear more of a pop aesthetic than grunge.
T: Yeah, we get pigeonholed a lot I think, people listen to three seconds of the album and think they know exactly what we’re doing. We obviously have our grunge influences but I wouldn’t label the album grunge. It’s bordering on pop, as you say. We’ve deliberately tried to make it accessible, without being easy listening.
MF: So between the EPs and the album this year, have you guys changed your sound much?
T: We had two little EPs before this, one in ‘07 and one in ‘08. The first two were recorded in bedrooms with friends, so they were quite lo-fi. This time we got the opportunity, basically through a friend who recommended us, to record at Birdlands with Rob Long who’s mainly worked with Magic Dirt; the owner of the studio produced Prisoner of Society, the Living End album. So we were quite excited to get in and do it. We had a lot of songs. With this album it’s probably a third of old songs that we pulled out and dusted off and the rest is new.
MF: Is it weird to have finished a CD so long ago and have to wait for it to be mastered and finally get released? I’d imagine you’d know the songs inside and out by then.
T: Yeah. By the time it’s done and you’ve heard it so much, it’s quite old. By the time it comes out we’ve got new stuff written. You’ve got to push yourself to perform the songs now that you wrote when you were in a different space, but that’s the challenge I guess.
MF: Are you guys all involved with the writing process or do you guys riff off Greg?
T: That’s how we started. Greg, like a lot of songwriters, would sit in his room with an acoustic guitar and work on stuff. The drummer we’ve got now we’ve only had for a year. Since we started we’ve probably had a half dozen people on the sticks. So the last twelve months it’s changed quite a bit. We come up with more things on the spot. At this stage it’s probably 50/50 Greg coming up with stuff and us thinking stuff up.
MF: And are you guys thinking of doing a bigger tour any time soon?
T: A few weeks before the launch we played in Brisbane. That was quite good. We had an August 21st gig booked in Sydney but it fell through. We hope to get up there before the end of the year but if not, then next year. We’re looking at Tasmania as well, and Adelaide. Probably not in one hit though, dribs and drabs.
MF: You still all have day jobs then?
T: Yeah. I think music at this stage is something you put money into rather than receive money from. We’ve all had a range of jobs. I can’t keep up with Andy; he seems to change jobs all the time. He makes coffee mainly. Greg works in a video shop and I work in a pub and an outdoor labour job as well. But that’s all part of the process. You work to live not live to work, that’s my motto.
Mother And Father’s debut Album, NOTHIN, is out now on Z-Man Records. They play the Ding Dong (heh) in Melbourne on the 16th December. Stay tuned for more tour dates soon.