Mother Feather are a seriously cool rock band. They’re the odd one out on Metal Blade Records, a rock band who owe more to T-Rex and David Bowie than Slayer and Sepultura. But Mother Feather fit the metal ethos and are a passionate independent act who love to party. During the recording process for their new album I spoke to their amazing vocalist Ann Courtney about the band’s origins, their self-titled album, the new material and the US election.
Jack: Hey, thanks for taking the time out of your day to answer my questions. How are you doing?
Ann Courtney: We’ve been spending the past few weeks working nonstop in the studio, which is a happy place to be, so I’m very well!
Jack: How did Mother Feather form?
Ann: I paid attention, made a wish, and worked my ass off.
Jack: There are a lot of influences in your music including T-Rex, David Bowie, Black Sabbath and The Stooges. Are there any influences your fans might be surprised by?
Ann: A Busta Rhymes remix directly influenced one of the songs going on the new album. There’s nothing that screams “Busta” about the end result, but it’s definitely in there somewhere. A few of the new songs really call for the kind of epic fuzz-soaked and shimmery guitars that defined bands like My Bloody Valentine, Lush, Cocteau Twins, Sonic Youth, and Smashing Pumpkins — bands whose sonic landscapes make up a huge part of my musical tastes and teenage heart. We have one song on the new album that is like a dream of Billy Idol —I was imagining him when I wrote it, hopefully it channels something about his essence.
Jack: Retro rock and blues rock is making a comeback, why do you think it is?
Ann: I don’t know, but I do know chasing trends seems like a pretty good way to make music that ends up sounding hack and dated! I just listen to my instincts and try to cultivate that.
Jack: Your self-titled debut came out last year, are you happy with the response it got?
Ann: I’m extremely happy that those songs got to reach a wider audience and our two self-released EPs got to live out a whole new life as a full-length album on an amazing label. Landing a place on the Metal Blade roster expanded my idea of what our audience could look like. Brian Slagel knew all along, which is testament to his vision.
Jack: What was the recording process like?
Ann: It took place over the course of many years, which I think is fairly typical when you are an independent band trying to make your music and pay rent. Steve Wall, who produced that album with us, helped us discover and define what the studio version of Mother Feather is. He’s extremely game, the kind of guy you want on your team.
Jack: My favourite song on the album is ‘Trampoline’. What inspired the song?
Ann: Cool! “Trampoline” is very simply about the transformational magic of exercise. It was written while literally bouncing on a trampoline. Obviously it’s loaded with innuendo but that song is very pure and heartfelt!
Jack: Why did you decide to go down the route of self-titled album?
Ann: It couldn’t be called anything else. Mother Feather was the spark that started the whole band. It’s the mantra and the mission statement, it had to be Mother Feather.
Jack: The album was released on Metal Blade Records after you were signed personally by Brian Slagel. How has working with them been?
Ann: It’s been amazing. Brian Slagel is a special human and I feel tremendously grateful for this opportunity. It’s a unique and privileged situation to be in and one that I do not take for granted.
Jack: When you were signed a lot of people were confused as to why Metal Blade signed you. Do you look back at this and laugh?
Ann: No, but I have laughed at some of the YouTube comments I’ve read— that’s some funny shit!
Jack: You’ve been working on your follow-up, how will it be different from the self-titled?
Ann: We are diving way deeper into the question “Who is Mother Feather?” and I think that the answer is extremely emotional. That’s how music should be! This album is more exposed than the first. It’s got love songs and pathos. I hope it really fucks people up. It’s very eclectic and it all sounds like Mother Feather, so I think this album is going to expand what that means.
Jack: How has working with Joshua Valleau been?
Ann: Totally awesome. Josh is the most fun dark overlord at the party! I trust him implicitly to serve what’s essential about this music, the unique chemistry of our band, and elevate our sound at the same time. I could wax on, but I will say that he has a knack for seeing people as they are and helping them achieve the music they dream of making. It’s obvious he loves making records. He’s an extraordinary, natural producer.
Jack: Ann, you stated that “The newest songs for the album were written last fall and winter in the midst and aftermath of the US presidential election. The political climate and outcome were personally devastating, but it also re-ignited my sense of purpose”. Will the album primarily deal with the election?
Ann: Not directly. I reacted to the shock and disgust I felt after the election by retreating. I conveniently locked myself away to write new songs for the album, but also because I was often too depressed to go outside. I felt crazy— and a tremendous amount of pressure to make something really good. The album does not deal with the election per se, but it did put me in a position where I had to stare down some gnarly feelings about isolation, fear, paranoia, drugs, a friend lost to suicide— and it helped me deeply reconnect with why I need Mother Feather in the first place.
Jack: Will Mother Feather be on tour at all this year? If so, will you visit the UK?
Ann: I hope so, to both!
Jack: Finally, what album has been the most important to you for your musical direction?
Ann: How am I supposed to only pick one Madonna album?!
Jack: Thank you for your time!
Ann: Thanks MetalRecusants! \m/ \m/