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14 Red Hot Questions with ANN COURTNEY of MOTHER FEATHER – October 2018

| 24 October 2018 | Reply

According to a recent press release: “Adding more fuel to the fire, NYC’s Mother Feather is releasing their second pulsing single today in anticipation of their sophomore album. The out-for-blood “Snakebite” makes its debut exclusively via Guitar World, clocking in at under two minutes without a second to spare. Explains lead singer Ann Courtney, “‘An homage to the evil impulse and the speed of its ambush, I wrote “Snakebite” in a hot 20 minutes. With its production setting it in the cinematic imagination of an 80’s punk cult-film, this is the riotous theme song for your psycho ex-girlfriend with an axe to grind.” New York City’s Mother Feather have perfected the formula to pay homage to the roots of punk’n’roll and heavy rock injected with their own brand of the divine feminine, and since their debut album have been keeping the audience on their toes. The evolution of their high-energy “pop cock rock” surges forward this November 2nd with their sophomore album Constellation Baby, out via Metal Blade Records and Blacklight Media.” We get Ann to discuss new music, influences, and much more…

1. Tell us a little about your latest release, Constellation Baby (release date Nov 2 2018). What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through? Are there any hidden nuggets the band put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

Without giving away too many secrets, there are a lot of vehicles and “things that go” on this record— including a Porsche we sampled. A few things from my original demos ended up in the final tracks. We re-amped and used the entire original demo vocal for one song, which was pretty satisfying, to be honest! The spaceship I sing about in “Supernatural” is among other things, a reference to my friend Everett DiNapoli’s space portraits, a reverent series he painted of friends and loved ones. The lyric about needing a “Stand-up MRI kinda guy” in the song “ICU” was inspired by the neon Stand-Up MRI sign on 5th Ave in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

2. “Red Hot Metal” has infectious hooks and a contagious chorus that drag you in and keep you listening, yet seems to have stepped up the “hardness” quotient over the self-titled release. Was this intentional or just a progression?

A bit of both. We knew we wanted to include some poppier stuff and a ballad and we weren’t exactly sure how that was going to go over at our heavy metal label. I’m not sure if we could get away with a song like “Desert Island” without a song like “Red Hot Metal.” That said, the eclecticism of the album is simply representative of my tastes and a fuller picture of who Mother Feather is. I don’t want to be fenced-in by genre. I don’t want to be limited by someone else’s idea of who they think I am supposed to be. Mother Feather is my opportunity to show you who I am. Luckily, Metal Blade was behind us, even though we don’t totally fit the mold. During production, Brian Slagel told me the most important thing was that we were making the album we wanted to make— and I took him at his word!

3. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

I’m sure the thirty or so episodes of “The Muppet Show” that my Grandpa taped off of Detroit television in the 80’s had something to do with it. I wore those VHS tapes out as a kid. My Dad plays the theater pipe organ and is very into pop music from the 20’s and 30’s— he hauled a Hammond organ and a giant Leslie speaker around the world to every country we lived in. I definitely absorbed a lot of the Great American Songbook through him. I’m not sure I can nail down one moment I realized I wanted to be a musician, but the moment I thought I could be a musician was during my senior year of college, when I picked up Lizzie’s neglected acoustic guitar, figured out how to make some noise on the thing, spewed out a batch of songs and declared myself a songwriter.

4. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste toward the punk-pop-rock-garage hybrid sound you have embraced on your debut release as well as the new disc?

Cynthia Hopkins, a performance artist and musician who had a band called Gloria Deluxe, was hugely influential on me. When I was maybe 19, a friend took me to see The Gossip play at the old Knitting Factory on Leonard St. in Manhattan. Beth Ditto rocked my world and that show ignited something in me, for sure. I was a huge PJ Harvey fan and finally got to see her live for the first time at Hammerstein Ballroom during the Stories From the City tour, which was deeply formative. Obviously Iggy Pop, who I was lucky enough to see perform with a few of the original Stooges at Le Poisson Rouge in the West Village, of all places. He was so close that I reached out and put my hand on his chest. It was like getting an electric shock. More recently, there is an artist from Minnesota named Haley (formerly Haley Bonar) whose albums Last War and Impossible Dream I wore out around the time I was writing the newest songs for Constellation Baby.

5. Who out there drove you to incorporate visuals into your live show to enhance the experience for your audience?

Probably the zillion acts that I saw perform at Rockwood Music Hall during my tenure there as a bartender. I witnessed a lot of incredible music in my 10 years there, but also too many shows that left me yearning for something that felt special and worth the audience’s time. I don’t need a show to involve spectacle, or even be my taste necessarily! I just want to witness something that’s cared for. I am also deeply concerned with NYC’s musical legacy and reputation. Do NOT get on stage in this town and suck.

6. Who would be your main five musical influences?

It is really tough to narrow it down to just five, but here goes… Madonna, PJ Harvey, T. Rex, Missy Elliott, and The Pixies

7. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

Cardi B. She is what I need right now.

8. How would you describe Mother Feather’s sound to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

The thing that makes me cringe is being misquoted in print. I actually love hearing what comparisons people make to Mother Feather, especially when it’s to acts I’ve never heard of. I’ll always look stuff up. I finally started researching more KISS because we get that all the time, but I didn’t really grow up listening to KISS. There’s a big hole in my rock and roll education where KISS was supposed to go! I understand the comparison better now, and I’ll definitely take it, but KISS was never a conscious influence of mine.

9. What’s the best thing about being a musician?

Writing your own music and performing it. That’s real power.

10. When the band are all hanging out together, who cooks; who gets the drinks in; and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

None of us are big cooks but we all greatly appreciate dining out! Generally when the acoustic guitars come out for a campfire-jamboree, that’s my cue to slip out the back door. I just can’t.

11. When was the last time you were star struck and who was it?

I still have not recovered from the time Belinda Carlisle tweeted a bunch of swoon-y heart emojis at me!

12. If you weren’t a musician, what would be your dream job?

Professional voice-over actor, which I am! But in the dream scenario that I’m actively pursuing, I’m working more (and therefore less at my other less-dreamy jobs!)

13. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over”, even if it didn’t change your current situation?

There was a moment when someone I considered a close friend and creative partner crossed a line. I took decisive action and stood up for myself and others, but I wish I could have seen the writing on the wall sooner. I deeply regret not hearing women until I was directly confronted myself.

14. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

I would love to be a fly on the wall when Madonna and Patrick Leonard made Like a Prayer. When Brian Slagel brought Lizzie and me as his guests to see Monte Pittman and Madonna play the Garden in 2015, I was incredibly relieved that I had the odd seat in a different section so that I could scream myself hoarse and sob freely without embarrassing myself in front of the boss!

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Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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