Mother of Fire
“Shed all your skins and run, from the mountain to the sun.
Serpents tangle round and round to calculate and solve, burning,
spitting, tearing apart, when the sun comes up we explode.”
Burn your guitars, Mother of Fire is on the move. This hard-hitting violin-bass-drum trio from Minneapolis has just unleashed a beast of a full-length on the De Stijl label, offering a unique brand of hypnotic locked-groove psych with Naomi Joy capable of coaxing woozy textures to early Sonic Youth-level cacophony from her effects-laden strings. While gearing up for their summer tour, Naomi and bassist Jason Misik answered some questions about the origins of Mother of Fire and the making of their new album.
Jason: Officially, we began in December of 2007. Our first shows were billed as Blastoidea: an ancient extinct starfish-like creature. Then we changed it to Lambs for a few shows. All of this was with the drum machine. It wasn't until we hooked up with Andie that Mother of Fire came to us.
Naomi: County Z and Rotten Living, both anger and art punk violin/bass/drum trios, toured quite a bit from 2000-2005. Jason and I were in The Royal Flycatchers, where we put on elaborate performances involving, choreography, costumes, film: the works. We'd create a whole set and visual world employing a dozen or more artists and then perform the show once.
Andie played in a drum duo Jose Bove. Also, Hex (viola/tuba/drums) and now Myrrh. There have been many bands and projects for us all, too many to list.
A sort of murky, greenish and bitter cocktail was served to me in my childhood. A complex blend of Christianity and classical music. This influence caused an avalanche, becoming a miniature war starring my violin and I. Sonic rebellion. Abandonment of all known forms. Free Jazz, insomnia, destruction and noise. From destruction, comes creation, new life, comes punk rock, comes experimental rock, and now: somewhere in between. I still enjoy improvisation greatly. All these things: classical music, punk rock, god, violence and a new ingredient called Love. This is all in the mix for Mother of Fire. This is the first band I've experimented with effects pedals and I'm having a blast and learning how to curate the sounds/textures. It's like alchemy: finding the right bit of this and that to unleash the power and magic.
Jason: The first album grew out of a long-standing desire for Naomi and I to work together on a serious musical project, the manifestation of which would result in an LP. We had worked with one another in two previous bands: The Royal Flycatchers and Echo Masho. Both were inspiring ventures, but ultimately, for many different reasons, fell short of a full-length recording. Mother of Fire was a serious commitment artistically.
Working with a drum machine was a rather intense experimental undertaking. It proved to be challenging in many ways. Figuring out this piece of technology without reading the manual (I hate manuals) and trying to make friends with essentially a computer is inherently difficult for someone who has an aversion to those devices. Entire songs were sequenced, composed with layers of samples and sounds, stored and then mysteriously vanished the next day. I actually tore chunks of hair out of my head on more than one occasion. Also, it was not fun to work on the songs in rehearsal because the same mechanical beat would keep pounding away relentlessly while the humans tried to integrate. That was often a complete crazy-making headache for us both. Live was awkward. The machine is unforgiving in the context of a live performance, if you slip up, it moves on and the songs always felt like they were teetering on the edge of a total meltdown. Perhaps it created an interesting tension, though I'm skeptical of that. Moreover, having come from improv-based projects over the past 5 years, it felt really weird to train ourselves to play exactly the same thing every time so as to remain in step with the machine. That was a use of the brain we were not accustomed, especially for Naomi. Finally, for our personal relationship the rehearsal process and formation of the songs was less than ideal. That machine really drove its way into the marriage in a cold and calculating way.
Though we were very satisfied with the end result, the Lambs LP, after a six month hiatus we both returned to Mother of Fire with a desire for new energy in the form of a third person: an actual human being. Immediately, we felt liberated by the freedom and experimentation we were afforded. Energetically, we were inspired by three bodies vs. two. Andie brought a killer instinct that was a once a continuation of the machine-like patterning of the MPC, while offering passion, intimacy and humanity. It was a sonic and aesthetic match from the first time we jammed. The new album reflects all of that. Andie is absolutely integral to the new album and our sound.
Naomi: It is true. I am more inspired by the poetry and magic of fishes and wolves than the tedium of human drama. Music to me is so elemental. Air, earth, water, fire. All of this is reflected in my lyrics. For the opener of the second album 'Tendrilled Mass', water is the ruling element: the mighty ocean and the creatures therein. It's inspired by a film by Werner Herzog with powerful images from beneath the frozen surface of the Antarctic Ocean. The electric-like sounds of seal conversations; the colors and the way objects move beneath the ice, like an upside down mountainous landscape, busy with complex dancing and violence.
Inspiration can come flying at me from any direction. Sometimes one good sentence in a book or a photograph will send me off. I will first tune into the underlying feel or tone of the song and that will point me in a direction. Out come my lyrical antennae and I wait. Other times I have to get more forceful: chocolate, wine, haiku, anatomy books are employed to lure out the song.
Jason: At this point, we don't have plans to reissue the Lamb LP. We're very excited to be working with Clint and DeStijl. We're happy to have sold out of the Lambs LP: our first crack at it. If someone wanted to press more copies, we'd welcome the conversation, but we're a fairly forward-moving band. It's hard for any one of us to sit still for very long. We can only play the same songs 20 or 30 times before we want to move on completely and write a whole new set. Continually writing new material is important for us to stay inspired about the band. The third album's already mixed and the second one hasn't even dropped yet. It's hard to consider the Lambs LP as relevant to the band in its current manifestation.
After our record release show this Friday (July 9) here in Minneapolis at the Bedlam, we'll be touring the new record beginning at the Bitch Pork festival in Chicago on July 16th. From there we'll head east: 13 shows in 15 days, including 3 nights in Brooklyn. We'll have it posted on our MySpace page in the next week or so.
-- David Perron (28 July, 2010)