In February, Ottawa, Ontario rockers Mother’s Children released a two song EP called “I Like Mother’s Children” featuring two covers. This isn’t groundbreaking, but the fact that they chose “I Like Girls” by The Know/Gary Valentine and “Make Up Your Mind” by David Quinton further impressed upon me that Mother’s Children are one of Canada’s most electrifying and interesting bands.
As a point of reference, Gary Valentine was the original bass player in Blondie and wrote classics like “(I’m Always Touched by Your) Presence, Dear” and “X-Offender” before striking out on his own. David Quinton – a drummer and multi-instrumentalist released an album of excellent Power Pop in 1981 after spending a year on tour with Stiv Bators. Some might say these are obscure songs to cover, but it all makes sense when you listen to the Mother’s Children back catalogue (one previous LP, four EPs) and certainly their brand-spanking new LP “Lemon”.
A while back I heard a Mother’s Children track on a Going GaGa sampler featuring bands from Ottawa and was intrigued. That led me to check out their 7” inch featuring “Dance To the Rock and Roll Band”, a song that quickly began showing up on almost every playlist I put together months afterwards. Their 2010 debut LP – “That’s Who” was up near the top of my records of the year.
Taking their cue from the mid-70s to late 80s Power Pop and Glam scene as well as sneaking in the pub rock sound of The Faces and The Flamin’ Groovies, Mother’s Children are simply a great rock and roll band. Lemon’s lead off track – “Gang Is Back” has a Hanoi Rocks feel to it. “Not Fair” wouldn’t sound out of place on a 999 record – catchy stuff complete with handclaps, heavy breathing and Little Richard piano. “Break It To Me” takes its inspiration from The Only Ones classic “Another Girl, Another Planet” and plants its chorus deep in your brain. This is the perfect summer record. Seriously if you miss The Exploding Hearts in any way, you have to pick up Lemon.
Before they get ready to hit the road vocalist/guitarist Kenny was kind enough to answer a few questions for us:
Our sound might be best described as….
We get called Power Pop lots which is fine, but I don’t know if we totally fit in with that. To me we are about defiance. I don’t think we are seen as a defiant band, because the music is catchy, but to me that’s everything. We are against settling for any current norm, even though it’s the easiest and clearest path to success. We have our pop influences. 60s and 70s era music from when great song groundwork was still being laid out, must always be a major part of it, but the overall Mother’s Children sound we make our own. We want to do something that isn’t being done to death. That way we can last longer and have more freedom. I just hope people will listen open-mindedly, find something they like or recognize and come by their own conclusions honestly of what genre they think we are. Call it anything you want really, just don’t call it pop-punk.
Kenny voice & guitar, Mike voice & guitar, Tim on drums and Davey on bass.
We are originally from…..
Ottawa, Winnipeg, Sudbury… Nothing too interesting. Just a buncha Canadians.
The first time we met was…..
I’ve been in bands with Mike since we were 21. We were form the outskirts of the city, so we didn’t really know everybody the scene or whatever, but I knew Davey and Tim from cooler early 2000-era bands. I guess it was 2008 I had rented out a basement studio in downtown Ottawa and had been unsuccessfully trying out members for an unnamed new band. One night I was drinking in a nearby dive bar called the “Aloha” and they were both there, and we realized we had no bands going. Garage rock was huge again at the time, so I wanted to do something that sounded nothing like that at all. I was writing really bright jangly power pop music. I tried my stuff out with Tim and Davey and they just added this really tough, ballsy sound to what I was playing, and the Mother’s Children sound was born.
Our musical influences are…
I’ll have to give this a short answer because I could end up writing ten pages. We try to sound something like in between Queen and Electric Light Orchestra. But since we don’t have that much talent or resources, you get Mother’s Children. Which is ok by me.
Tell us about the Ottawa scene………
Its great and always getting better. There’s no major label reps coming to our shows, and we know that, so we can do what we want because we love to make music and perform. Bigger cities have a lot of desperate industry bands that start out big and lose steam after one album because they didn’t get the rock stardom they were owed . What I feel about living here, is that there is no pressure to latch on to a certain pre-determined style. You can be yourself. Maybe even start out shitty, and let your creativity grow. If you have something worthwhile to offer, people will actually support you. I mean, you still have to have some degree of talent, but it won’t do you any better if you have a “rad” website and a manager hyping you up and getting you all your ridiculous guarantees.
You guys toured Europe in 2012, what was that like?…….
Completely life-changing for me. It was the farthest I’ve ever been, and yet I’d never felt so at home. I owe much of the inspiration behind this album to the better shows on that tour. We were asked to go at this crucial point where I was going through some, “It is all worthwhile?” type band-existentialism. From the first show in Germany, we had fans lining up to buy our records, who knew the lyrics to songs that I wrote sitting here in this same shitty Ottawa apartment. To some groups, I guess that’s just a part of it all, but to me that was absolutely mind-blowing. It was such a trip that we got home completely rejuvenated. We had never been so charged to make great music, and we wrote an album that I think is the best thing we’ve ever done. We will absolutely be going back in 2015, and my only lament is that we can’t do it every year.
What we are currently listening to on the road….
I guess I try to blast as much Alice Cooper, Deep Purple and April Wine as I can before it gets switched off in favor of some cool new punk album. But that is actually ok by me. I totally live in a time capsule and the other guys show that there is actually still amazing bands out there that totally deserve more attention. But the best thing to listen to on the road by far is history and science podcasts. Touring can make you numb-skulled, take the time spent staring out the window, and learn something new!
For fun we like to…..
We don’t really like outdoors. Not in the sun anyways. Really the best thing ever is just spending the day in a damp basement writing songs or rehearsing, or listening to records in my room. When we go “hit the town”, it’s out to shows. There are great bands and venues in our city.
The one thing we want you to remember while your listening to us……
Hmm not sure, I guess what I sometimes think about is if someone listens to one of our songs during a really happy moment; whenever they hear it again it might bring them back to that time. Music to me is all about feeling good. Even doom metal is feel-good music. If you enjoy the music your hearing then it’s making you feel-good. But that being said, we make real feel-good music. If your depressed, Mother’s Children will fix you.
Expect……………From us in 2014
2014 is the year of Lemon. It won’t be some instant smash. It wasn’t made to be. It was made to be a classic. Its brand new now, but it will always be there, and if you let it into your heart you might love it. We will be doing a quick tour of Toronto, Montreal, New York, Boston and D.C. and Ottawa in the summer to support the album’s release. We are trying to logistically figure out how we can tour more of North America. Since we support ourselves and don’t have some nest egg to fall back on, we will have to see how the album does. I’d really like to go to the West Coast where many of our friends are, but I don’t want to force ourselves anywhere we aren’t in high demand. Europe however, we know we can successfully navigate, so we are very excited to be going back in 2015!