|it's only cock'n'roll
Jen Mergott - May 11, 2012
This lady-led and glamorous Brooklyn troupe let fly a very promising four-track EP in the fall, highlighting flight motifs and their spirited, bouncy, charismatic, and danceable sonic personality. The record is a whirlwind of genres and indefinable subtleties, and showcases a band with a range spanning from punchy dance tunes (“Trampoline”) to old school Blues Rock (“747”). The star here is Ann Courtney and her voice, which can - at will - be a rock powerhorse or betray delicacy and vulnerability (like in “Beach House”). Courtney and band mate Lizzie Carena, with their fearless style and unapologetic attitude, are like a modern day Joan Jett and Cherie Currie. The band embodies empowerment – and make us think that maybe the ladies really need to take over what’s left of the NYC rock’n’roll scene.
I read somewhere that Mother Feather started out as a cathartic endeavor for you - that it has helped you channel negative energy in a positive way. How has this cathartic process shaped your songs?
Mother Feather is a righteous mission or nothing at all. It is imperative that I believe every single thing I’m singing and doing onstage. And there’s no better catharsis than fun, so we try to have some of that too.
A friend of mine and fellow Deli writer, went to your show at Santos Party House recently. She said there were some crazy performance moments like when Ann spit water into the crowd. Ann’s outfits are also known to be quite a performance piece. How do you get your ideas for your performances and your fashion choices? Do you think about it beforehand or do things just come to you in the moment? Do you have any fashion influences?
Pop cock-rock is epic and shameless, so that informs everything we wear. Emotional responses to certain colors factor in a big way. The Viktor & Rolf spring 2010 collection remains a big influence in terms of shape. Lizzie and I spend hours trolling for inexpensive vintage and club-wear that we alter to make more Mother Feather—which is all at once a little Sabbath, Donna Summer, and Liz Taylor’s Cleopatra.
We’ve also collaborated with the incredible designer Suzanne Rae, who is our fashion fairy-godmother. She gets it. Suzanne has made some exquisite custom pieces for us.
I don’t recall spitting water into the audience. They must have looked like they needed a drink of the holy water.
Though you guys identify as a “pop cock-rock” band, I hear a lot of different musical influences in your music. The most surprising for me is the touch of blues and soul in some of the vocals. Specifically on “747” -- it’s got an old school blues/rock flavor, with a catchy pop spin -- sort of reminiscent of Ann Courtney & The Late Bloomers. How do you think that musical project has influenced this one?
ACLB utterly informed Mother Feather. I cut my teeth on that band. I had just figured out how to play guitar and it was my first time writing songs and leading a band. I was 21, and those songs, my performances, --even the band name--are self-deprecating in a way I romanticized then. But I got bored and sick of that shit and found my Mother Feather. Lizzie was ready for it too. This band is a conscious rejection of shame….with better riffs. “747” was written after a night out dancing with the girls. There are no songs in the ACLB catalog about going dancing. That was something I knew I urgently needed to address.
There’s a definite air of empowerment associated with the band’s songs and overall presence. I feel like people should listen to it right before they quit their jobs or run a marathon. It’s music that pushes you. Is this something you aim for in your songwriting or something that naturally evolves?
It is absolutely intentional. It is a message to myself as much as the audience. I need to be reminded every single day. Heaven is waiting.
Who are your biggest musical influences?
Easy: PJ Harvey, Marc Bolan, and Missy Elliot. But I can’t deny the 8 zillion shows I’ve seen at Rockwood Music Hall over the past 6 and half years have been a huge part of my musical education. When I started working there I simply had a gut sense of what I did and didn’t like. Over time it has developed into a much clearer understanding of what makes an effective writer and performer. I’ve studied and culled my favorite elements from some incredible musicians that have come through that club: Emily King, Alan Hampton, Taurus, Rich Girls, Julia Haltigan, Nanuchka, Jeff Taylor, Camille Atkinson, Jennifer Niceley…it goes on and on.
Anything else you would like to add?
We could not be more excited to perform at the Nova Festival in the UK this July. To help support the trip, we will be releasing a live EP through our website that will only be available during the month of June. It will include some unreleased tracks as well as the Futures dance remix of “Mother Feather.”
Additionally, we funneled all the proceeds from our sold-out Mercury Lounge show in February into a studio recording with our favorite badass Steve Wall (who engineered and co-produced the “MF EP” with us.) Thanks to the motherfeathers who bought tickets and shirts we were able to track at Cove City Sound and we have an absolute MONSTER recording in the pipeline.