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Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Mom - Pleasure Island


Hailing from Malmö, Sweden, comes this new and very promising young band named MOM (Donny, Luke Frank and newcomer Spike). 

Their first full length, "Pleasure Island" is filled to the rafters with crunchy guitars and catchy choruses. It is certainly one of the best debut albums ever released in 2020. Watch out for these guys, they are going to be huge in the years to come. And remember where you read it first!

So it was time for yours truly to have a very interesting and enlightening talk with guitar player Donny.

1) For the viewers of this blog who would not know you, What would you tell about you and your musical background to introduce yourself? Can you also introduce the other members of MOM who participated in the recordings? 

I'm a product of my dad’s record collection. The apple doesn't fall that far from the tree. He has always had a great taste in music: Dwight Twilley Band, Elvis Costello, Iggy Pop... You name it! I got my first guitar when I was about 13 and I started to write songs as soon as I learned a few chords. Those first songs were kind of crude and childish, but I had a lot of fun. It was a magical time. It wasn't until a few years later that I got to play in a band that I started to take songwriting a bit more seriously. We played a lot of punk, at least it sounded punk, you know. Me and Luke go a long way back. He used to be the tough guy at our school, messing with all the kiddies. As for me and Frank, we used to be neighbors. He lived upstairs from me so I heard all this music blasting through the roof. That's really how the band started: one day I just knocked on his door and off we went! We had a common interest in songs, how they function and why some songs feel better than others. We used to show each other ideas and stuff, sort of a Lennon-McCartney relationship but with a lot less talent. Come to think of it, I guess that we were more like Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons: Just two teenage boys having fun, thinking that we were the coolest thing around. I don’t know, it’s not that long ago, but I certainly don’t see myself as a “Paul Stanley” type of person. Not anymore. 

2) About MOM's debut full length album "Pleasure Island", what can you tell about the recording process? Was this a "live" in the studio recording or a track by track recording with lots of overdubs?

Well, we recorded the album with a dude called Harry. I think that he and Luke knew each other from way back. Funny guy, but not much of a talker. Anyway, the album wasn't recorded in a professional studio, but in Harry's cramped basement. He took care of the recording, mixing and mastering. Because we didn't have a drummer at the time (which we have now and we call him Spike!) I had to do the dirty work of playing drums on most of the tracks. I believe Frank played drums on Suzie (Use Me) as well as on our version of The Miracles' "The tracks of my tears" (a single b-side). And because we recorded the album during the summer it was a warm, sweaty and vicious affair! I cannot remember exactly, but some tracks were performed with the drums and bass playing together in real-time to a click-track, but most of the tracks are mostly overdubs. The main reason is that I don't really have the physical prowess to be able to play a whole song all the way through. As I said, playing drums is hard work. Still, we strive not to make too many edits specifically on the drum tracks. Other than that, the album was a bliss to make; we had a few beers and played loud guitars. Luke, being the kind of guy he is, also spent time experimenting with different instruments to, I guess, enhance the soundscape: playing cowbell with a banana, putting kazoos through fuzz pedals, running half-naked around the basement trying to capture the sound of bare skin. Harry happily obliged. Some of it ended up on the record, I think! 

3) Do you use the nowadays digital recording technology or do you only work with analog machines in analog studios? 

 I don't really know, it’s all magic to me. Analog microphones. Analog instruments. Computers. Robotic players playing like machines. 

4) How would you describe the music you are playing? If I were to call it PowerPop à la Big Star, would you agree with this label? Are you proud of it or do you consider there is way more than that?

When someone asks, we usually just say guitar-driven pop music. It tends to paint the best picture of what we do. Powerpop, or simply rock ’n’ roll, is probably a good description as well although it certainly is up for debate as to what exactly merits those labels. I mean, something we realized after releasing this record is that people often compare us with a lot of bands we never even heard of. As for the Big Star comparison, we would be thrilled if anyone thought of our music as being similar to Big Star's in any way, but we don't necessarily draw that line ourselves. I grew up with their first two albums (#1 Record & Radio City), and I guess that it sometimes shines through in our music, but it's not necessarily by design, or that I'm aware of it myself. Obviously, the music is sort of centered around hooks; everything from melodies to specific drum fills and arrangement choices. The focus is always on the song and how to put it together. And we never jam! Mostly because we suck at it, but also because we don't have the luxury to spend too much time on an idea that hasn't already been worked through in the privacy of one's lonely bedroom. We live in different cities, you see, so we have to spend our time with care. 

5) What is your favorite topic/topic that comes easily when you write a new song?   I'm not sure that I have a favorite topic. Songs usually just come to me, and I'm not really in charge of when and how. I'm not really that aware when I write lyrics, but I know that it's more important to get them to sound good rather than what they contain. However, some of the usual stuff that I end up writing about are the same things that any sensible songwriter ends up writing about: Difficult love, loneliness, boredom, having fun, wanting to have fun, etc. But then again, I don't know what topic the next song I'll write will deal with. I have a big heap of new songs that I'm currently working on. Some of them have lyrics, but most of them don't. We'll see, maybe the next album will be all about riding horses and eating ice cream. 

6) Do you have a new video on youtube featuring a track from the newly released LP?? 

Unfortunately no. We made a quick and silly video ourselves for ”Tonight” when we released it but have yet to find someone more professional interested in making a video for us. But it’s definitely something we want to do in the future, probably for a new release. We’ve noticed we don’t look that good on film. Luke can’t seem to behave on set either, he gets too excited. Guess we’ll have to work on that. 

7) What can concert goers expect at a MOM's gig? Are you playin' any famous cover songs during the concert? 

It will definitely be great fun and, hopefully, loud! All those years of hula-hooping have made me half-deaf. Some of us have been playing together for a long time so I think we sound really tight as a group. Since the world has been on more or less lockdown for a year we haven’t been able to take this outfit on the road at all, so we are very stir-crazy at the moment and eager to play. Those first gigs, once they come, will surely be something you don’t want to miss out on. Because the album is just over half an hour long we feel compelled to take on a few songs to cover, which is fine because there are so many good songs out there - powerpop or not! Maybe we should do one by ABBA, I don't know. We'll see. 

8) Are there any bands in Sweden today you consider yourself close to, musically speaking? 

 To be honest, not really. There are a few good rock bands but they tend to be either more punk or "rock" than we are. Most contemporary pop bands in Sweden play some kind of mellow synthpop, or indie rock, which tends to be either too serious and/or sad for our taste. Still, there are a few good bands out there. We like our pop music to be fun and heavy on guitars. Now when I think about it, the band The Wannadies is probably the closest bet. Catchy tunes, a great look. And fun! Their song "So happy now" is great. 

9) To what kind of music did you listen to as a teenager? What were your favorite bands as a teenager? Name 3 bands that you consider still have an influence on your own work today. 

Oh man, I listened to a lot of bands that can be considered either shit or awesome. This is a tough one because I got into The Replacements, Teenage Fanclub, and Fountains of Wayne way later, which are the bands that I sort of connect the strongest to nowadays. Other than Big Star I also listened to a lot of Matthew Sweet. 100% Fun is my favorite album by him. I guess that I also have to say Tom Petty. What a guy! Too cool for school. And the songs! Quality stuff. That kind of rock’n’roll music keeps coming back to me and maybe, unconsciously, it influences my own music. You are what you eat. Nonetheless, it brings me great joy. 

10) What are the plans for for 2021 as far as MOM is concerned? 

Hopefully, 2021 will be good to us. 2020 was good for us too since we released a debut record on a whim that recieved way more attention than we might have hoped for starting out. In hindsight we were kind of stupid releasing an album in a year like the last one so first off it would be really nice to be able to do some touring this year. We’ve also got a ton of new demos that we want to do something with. Just what exactly is undecided but there will definitely be new music coming this year, that is all I can say for sure. We’ve also found ourselves a drummer so it’s great to finally be able to rehearse a lot together this year. 

11) Do you guys love your Moms? 

Of course, we’re not monsters! Although, it does cause some tension having to give 20% of our revenue to them for the copyright of using their names… By the way, is "mom" a title you get? A role you play? Anyways, we adore our moms, even though they always tell us to make our beds! 

12)   Anything   you   wanna   add? 

Yes! We just got Pleasure Island on CD’s available for purchase through our Bandcamp and we’re working on getting it out to record stores. It will also be available on vinyl through Wanda Records in Germany by early March this year. If your readers like our music then buying the album helps out a great deal for planning a future tour. And thanks for the interview! 


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