What's good people? I recently had a chance to catch up with one of my favourite new bands, London Ontario's Single Mothers, at a show in Hamilton. We sat in the back of a Dodge Caravan and drank beer, discussing the band's signing to Secret Voice Records, Ontario's reemerging punk/hardcore scene, and reptile people living under the Earth's crust. Oh, and don't worry, we also talked about Meshuggah's new album, because that's really all that matters, amirite? The interview was kind of lengthy, so I had to trim some of it-- but if you're interested, I've got the entire thing up on my blog.
TMHT: Okay, let's introduce ourselves.
Drew: My name's Drew, I do vocals in Single Mothers
Mat: My name's Mat, I play drums for Single Mothers.
Evan: I'm Evan, I play bass.
Justis: My name's Justis, I play guitar. Mike, the other guitar player's absent, he went to a wedding with his girlfriend.
Evan: A vegan wedding.
Mat: A vegan, boozeless wedding.
Justis: He's gonna be here, though, he's coming.
TMHT: Good news. First question: Jeremy Bolm from Touche Amore loves you guys. Punknews loves you guys. How does it feel to be making waves in the scene so to speak?
Mat: Honestly it's flattering because most of the bands I've been in have kind of sucked, and now legitimate people are taking us seriously. It's really nice. It's nice to go on messageboards and not see a million people talking shit.
Drew: It's exciting.
TMHT: Cool. So Secret Voice Records, how did that happen? We all know Jeremy Bolm saw you at a show (in Hamilton, apparently) and went mental for you, but what behind the scenes kind of shit was involved?
Mat: What pretty much ended up happening was we did that stuff in Hamilton, and then we talked about doing stuff in the future, and us being an unorganized, like, idiot band...
Evan: We didn't even know what our own band e-mail was, so he had no way to get in contact with us.
Mat: Then like months later TA were playing a show in London, so I went and saw Jeremy – he didn't quite recognize me at first until I was like “hey man, I play in Single Mothers” and his jaw just dropped. He was like “I've been trying to find you guys for like months.” So we became Facebook buddies and one day he messaged me and asked for my phone number. Then he brought up this label idea that he had, and naturally we were receptive. His whole idea was that he loved our band so much he just wanted to be the first one to get his hands on it and release it.
Drew: He's just like, the nicest dude, too. It's crazy to have somebody like Jeremy behind us with all the respect and pull he has.
Justis: Not to mention how much we love their band. That new record they have? I listen to it nonstop.
TMHT: So you guys are all living in different places, but you're still writing and playing shows. How do you guys co-ordinate all this?
Drew: We're kinda doing it fly by night
Justis: In terms of the writing process, Mike writes a lot and shows it to us, then we kind of talk about it. I think we've had one practice in the last nine months...
Mat: ...and I don't even think I was there.
Mat: I think we've got a really good chemistry going right now. I mean, I honestly thought for a long time about letting it go and letting them find a new drummer, but we all just work so well together. We've had a lot of member changes, and this is by far our strongest lineup.
Drew: Yeah, but Mat, Mike and I have been playing in bands since we were like 17. So we're kind of at the point where if we don't practice for a long time we just go and have fun with it, and it either works or it doesn't.
TMHT: I saw on Facebook you've got some touring in the works. What are your plans for that and is there anything else you have planned for 2012?
Mat: Mike's doing a lot of the heavy lifting right now. We're all busy as fuck, and Mike just kinda hangs out, so he's muscling through, and I think he's booked like 20 shows for a summer tour.
Drew: Stateside, we're just really doing it D.I.Y. just trying to book whatever we can. We're actually going out with a band from Michigan called Hollow Earth. They're more of a hardcore band, but they're really good and they're helping us out a lot. We're just gonna hit up the states, because unfortunately, it's really hard to tour in Canada.
Mat: Yeah, everything's really far apart, it's like 10 hours from Sault Ste. Marie to Thunder Bay, and that's not even that far, compared to some of the other drives.
Justis: It's fucked. So I think the plan is to do the States a couple times. We're gonna head out to California for Sound and Fury, and we got invited to The Fest in October.
TMHT: That sounds like a blast. So I saw in that Hardtimes interview that you guys like to get involved in a bit of social activism. I heard you guys talking about helping a woman's shelter, yet your lyrics seem to be coming from a different place.
Justis: Well I've thought about this before, and I see it like this. I think people forget what art is, and that art can represent different perspectives or different views. People seem to forget that just because you're in a band playing music, you can still be coming from that artistic perspective. I'm not speaking for Drew, because he writes the lyrics, but that's the way I see it.
TMHT: I've noticed in punk and hardcore there seems to be this kind of attitude where somebody will get pissed off at a band for what they write about. Like if you're an author, you can write about rape and people think it's great work; but if you sing a song about it, all of a sudden people are like “I don't like that band anymore!”
Drew: Yeah I agree. To be honest, I just like writing lyrics and I don't put a whole lot of thought into what anyone else thinks about them. I never thought anyone outside of London would ever hear our band. I mean honestly, going into the studio I only had half of “Hell (Is My Backup Plan)” written. I wrote the rest of the songs in the studio. So yeah, obviously I don't think of consequence when I write (laughs).
TMHT: Fair enough man. So, Bon Iver...
(The van erupts in laughter)
Mat: I wish Mike was here.
TMHT: ...you guys are trolling him hard on Twitter. What's the deal with that?
Justis: I don't really know. It's all in good fun. Like if I try and put myself in his shoes, where if I saw some stupid shitty band talking about me, maybe I'd be like “this is pretty funny.”
Drew: It's not like we all hate him either...
Evan: Yeah, I like all his music.
Drew: … but he's gotta know, he's like the poster boy for making fun of indie shit.
Justis: It's just fun to question what people think is cool and acceptable, and if people are getting mad at that it's...
Drew: It's hilarious.
Evan: I've actually noticed over the last year and a half London's kind of gone from indie dudes with acoustic guitars to bands that actually really rip. It's a cool shift.
Mat: I think that's kind of where our band's at, because we have a lot of indie kids who are into our music. I didn't understand it at first, but I think deep down, those kids are sick of going to their indie shows and just standing around and not getting into it, and we're cool with them showing up.
Evan: We hang out with them anyways, they're all like our friends.
Drew: Even if they don't come to shows, we hang out with them at bars and stuff. They're all great.
Well I don't know about you guys, but I find it kind of hard to find people who are really into punk music...
Evan: Well to be honest, we're not exactly into “punk music.”
Drew: Yeah, we all listen to a lot of different shit. I listen to a lot of like The Constantines, The Replacements, The Hold Steady and that kind of stuff.
Justis: I've been strictly listening to Meshuggah and Slayer for the past three years. It feels like I haven't heard a punk song in fucking forever.
TMHT: Are you stoked on the new Meshuggah album? I haven't heard anything from it yet.
Justis: Uhh... dude...
TMHT: People are like shitting themselves over it, I assume you're the same?
Mat: Meshuggah can do no wrong.
Justis: No, exactly. Their album cover alone is so huge...
TMHT: Okay, so I also saw on that Hardtimes interview that you guys believe in reptile people...
Mat: Where's Mike when you need him?
TMHT:… now I have a few friends who I really respect that believe that shit, but I think it's straight cray-cray. Pitch it to me.
Justis: Well you can just keep living your life under a rock, dude.
Evan: The worst thing is, it's racist. It's deeply rooted in anti-Semitism.
Justis [to Evan]: Okay, don't be that guy. That Jew hating stuff isn't cool. I just think it's fucking sick how they can shape-shift and all that. Plus there are like seven or eight people who I'm like 99 per cent sure are reptiles.
TMHT: Fucking straight up reptiles?
Justis: Reptilian fucking warlords. So obviously I'm not gonna trust them with my stuff. Honestly, I don't know that much about it but it's fun to speculate.
Drew: Yeah, there's all sorts of crazy stuff, like inter-dimensional shit, but nevermind, let's move on.
TMHT: Well that was my last question, so we can talk about this shit all we want now. What do you guys think about Yetis?
Justis: 100 per cent true.
Evan: Totally plausible.
Drew: I just watched a special on that, absolutely.
Mat: Like in the seventies, when they lifted that carcass of like a dragon or what they believed to be something someone could have interpreted as a dragon?
Justis: Yeah, in Japan.
Drew: Shit's cray man. There's a lot more to everything than people want to think about. Like realistically, Single Mothers means nothing.
TMHT: Well let's wrap this all up. What's Single Mothers all about?
Drew: Fuck, I don't even know anymore. We were about having a good time and pissing off my ex-girlfriend, now I guess we're just about having a good time.
Mat: I just like the idea of playing heavy music people can party to.
Evan: I like the idea of people getting stoked, you know? Being unified by getting stoked.
Justis: I'm just tired of watching boring folk bands.
Evan: Fucking folk bands. I love folk music, but if I've gotta watch another boring folk music set, I swear to god...
Justis: Yeah, it gets really boring really quick. So I think we're trying to bring back that attitude, you know?
Drew: It's funny because there are punk bands in London, and there always have been, but the scene kind of died out. We used to have to beg for shows in London, and I'm really happy that we've gotten to a point where we can bring rock bands that we like to play with and just have a good time. Out of town bands too, because I think it's like an Ontario thing. People kind of forgot how to just let loose and play shitty, loud rock and roll music. They forgot about attitude. Everyone wants to be on their best manners, which sucks. Although we kind of have to watch ourselves...
Mat: We got a bit of a bad rap...
Drew: Yeah, we used to break our shit and be assholes, and people were kind of cautious of us. So we've toned it down a bit. Still, it's fun to bring your friends around and have a good time. There are so many good bands in Ontario, like The Dirty Nil. We played with them last night. They're so good.
TMHT: Well you're playing with The Penske File tonight, they're pretty good.
Drew: Yeah, great band. We played with them a while back and they were awesome.
Evan: Honestly though, shout-outs to...
Justis: Young Wife; Northern Primitive; Juliana Riolino...
Drew: Every band that's ever come out of Welland.
TMHT: Man, my grandparents are from Welland...
Mat: Justis is from Welland.
TMHT: No way. I thought Welland was for carcasses, like dead people. Then all of a sudden, there's like 40 good bands from Welland.
Drew: Every good band is from Welland. It's just like way back when all the good screamo bands were from Burlington.
TMHT: Well, I remember in like 2007, there were so many good bands in Ontario, like Attack in Black, Alexisonfire, The Flatliners and all that shit. I caught like the tail end of that, and the whole thing kind of just dropped off after. Now it seems like it's kind of started up again. Do you think the Ontario scene is reemerging?
Drew: I'd certainly hope so. I think it's on its way back up for sure.
Justis: Well I think when Alexisonfire and Silverstein got huge, the market got saturated. With that, you saw a lot of bands who were a lot more radio friendly and pulling for that spot on 102.1. Now it's a completely different thing. Bands are just kind of being themselves and we're just showing our true personalities, not just trying to fit a specific sound or whatever. In any band I've been in, it's never been like “hey, let's try to sound exactly like this other band,” that's just the worst to me. A lot of people fall into that trap sometimes, but we've never really had that problem because we're all so different.
Drew: Yeah, we've had a lot of different members and a lot of different songs, and we just got lucky in that we've clicked and written what we wanted. There was never a point where we had to compromise our sound, because the goal was just to play London and get girls to come hang...
Mat: Get girls to do STUFF!
Justis: Not me!
Evan: The girls were all over Justis last night.
Justis: Not even man, I have a girlfriend.
Drew: Some girl was touching Evan's arm last night, it was nice. For him.
Evan: It was nice... shout-out to that girl. Add me to Facebook!
TMHT: Well, my interview's been over for like five minutes now, so I'm turning this thing off...