Musicscan: How does it feel to be back with another album already and being back in Europe after 5 months?
Mother Tongue: Hello Matthias. It's very very late here in Los Angeles. I'm trying to stay awake all night so that I'll sleep like a corpse on our flight to Vienna , which is in a few hours. It feels reeeeeal goooood. It feels great to have a new record and we have been looking forward to coming back to Europe since the airplanes wheels lifted off the ground on our departure home from Austria last fall.
Musicscan: Are European audiences any different than American ones? Are you maybe perceived differently over here than you are in the States?
Mother Tongue: There is a huge difference between European audiences and American audiences, especially with our band. Europeans really listen and go with the band and the music which in turn really feeds the energy of the show. Americans have a very short attention span and especially with our band its hard because we love to improvise and stretch things out and go somewhere different each show. We've found that people in Europe are very receptive of what we do, and we're very appreciative of them and the support and energy we get playing in Europe.
Musicscan: What do you think is the biggest progression and difference of "Ghost Note" to you last album?
Mother Tongue:The biggest progression with ghost note as opposed to streetlight is the production and depth and sonic quality of this record. and working, recording, mixing, and completing it in such a short period of time and at such an intense pace was a huge difference from any recording experience we've ever had. Especially with streetlight which took almost a year to complete because we recorded it in the most ass backward, ghetto style possible. We didn't know what we were doing and just learned along the way, making many mistakes along the way. With "Ghost Note", definitely working with Robert Carranza was a huge blessing and learning experience . He kept things moving, and we really learned a lot from his work ethic and from his direction.
Musicscan: How come you decided to record the album in the "Cello Studios" again where you already worked on your debut album? Do you feel you have come full circle with this album?
Mother Tongue:Actually, this was our first experience ever recording at Cello studios. I think you've got it confused with Soundcastle studios , where we recorded our first record. we did some vocals for "Ghost Note" at Soundcastle and most of the mixing there. About coming full circle, I don't feel there has been any kind of circle. It's more like a pretzel shape. The band is so different from how it used to be, internally and emotionally that is. The sound of our first record is so dynamically different from "Ghost Note." I'm very proud of all our records, but they are each very different from each other and will always be that way. We've already began work on songs for our next record and it's a lot different from "Ghost Note." No, I don't feel we've come full circle. We're still drawing the lines and shapes.
Musicscan: What was it like working with Robert Carranza? What impact did he have on the final result of the record? "Ghost Note" sounds a lot better produced than your previous albums. How did you approach things differently this time around?
Mother Tongue: Working with Robert was a very inspiring experience for all of us. We met Robert through Mario Caldato. Mario recorded our first record and both Mario and Robert mixed the "Streetlight" record. When we began working on "Ghost Note" we gave ourselves a very short time line to complete it. We found ourselves from the beginning, already getting overwhelmed with everything and we feared having another long "Streetlight" recording experience. We called Robert for some advice about some things, he was great. Then a couple of days later he called us saying that a session he had booked had fallen through and that he had some time open and would like to help us. He said he wanted to record, produce and mix the record, but it had to be done before he began working on another record in a few weeks. We were like, "hell yeah"!!!! We couldn't believe it. We worked quickly which was something very different. Some songs on "Ghost Note" were just bodies of music with no lyrics or vocals. We recorded the music and while Robert was mixing the drums or someone was doing an overdub or something, we were writing words and lyrics. It was different because these songs were being written in the studio and when it came time to sing, man, we were just going for it, winging it and asking Robert and each other, " hey man, does that shit sound cool?" It really brought us closer together. Instead of us microscoping something and tripping on a tone of a guitar or trying a bunch of different vocals till we were satisfied (which never really happens), Robert would keep us moving and it really pushed us to just do it and not trip.
Musicscan: You are known to be one of the most intense and energetic live bands around. Where do you take the energy and inspiration to go out there every single night and perform on the highest level?
Mother Tongue: Wow!! Thank you for saying that. I don't know really, it just happens. We bring it out of each other. We were all brought up heavily influenced by some powerful and amazing bands. Black Flag, X, Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Jane's Addiction, Jimi Hendrix, Black Sabbath. Those bands made me feel something that was magical and powerful. We don't try and imitate these bands, but we try and bring that power and feeling whenever we play. Like it's our last night alive. It may not happen every time, but we make a conscious effort to go there.
Musicscan: What has changed within the band since you broke up in '96? Is there a different chemistry among the members now? If yes, how so?
Mother Tongue: The chemistry in the band has changed in that we aren't fucking assholes. Man, the early days of this band were some dark fucking days. I really don't want to dwell in the past, I'll just say that we have grown up, learned a lot of lessons, gained a huge amount of humility, respect and appreciation for each other and for the band and our music and what we do together. even through the dark times, we've always been family. But we are tighter than we've ever been now.
Musicscan: You have already shared the stage with some of the most prominent and outstanding rock bands over the last 12 years or more. Is there somebody you would really like to tour with yet?
Mother Tongue: I don't know about the others , but personally, it would be a dream come true to tour with Iggy and the Mighty Stooges. Touring with Queens of the Stone Age or the White Stripes would be pretty amazing. What about this tour man, the Stooges, Johnny Cash, 50 cent, QOTSA, Mother Tongue... that tour would fuck some people up.
Musicscan: Where do you see yourself within modern music and what is going on with MTV and the likes? Do you find there is still a lot of good new music out there or do you mostly rely on the classics?
Mother Tongue: I see Mother Tongue fitting in perfectly well in modern music. Obviously , I'm an odd man out on that subject. Yeah I predominantly listen to what I guess a lot of people would call "classics." I don't watch very much MTV (I don't have cable to watch it). I really love QOTSA. It's great to see a band of bad motherfuckers, guys who can play their asses off, who aren't on some style trend of the month, be on MTV doing what they do. Same with the White Stripes. I mean, Jack White and Josh Homme are the baddest guitar players , and have been for years. On top of it, they write great songs that don't talk to you like you're an idiot. Or at least make you feel like you're in the know of something real and cool.
Musicscan: Do you guys still live in L.A.? What made you move to L.A. from Austin back in the day? It seems like Austin is one of the most exciting and happening places for rock music in the world right now.
Mother Tongue: I can only speak for myself. I've lived in Los Angeles my whole life. Davo was born and raised in L.A., too. He moved to Austin, met Christian, Geoff, and Jesse. They moved to L.A., Jesse left the band not long after that. Then, I got in the band. Austin is real cool, I know of some amazing bands and players from there. But at the time when the band moved to L.A. they had to do it , or else stay playing the same clubs in the Austin club scene. I'll let those guys expand on that question.
Musicscan: What do you still hope to accomplish with the band? Have you ever thought about totally dropping out of music and doing something entirely different?
Mother Tongue: To be able to keep making records and touring and playing shows. it'd be great to have music pay the bills. But honestly, it's all I've ever wanted and felt so deeply. Nothing has changed.
Musicscan: 3 current favorite records?
Mother Tongue: White Stripes "Elephant", Led Zeppelin "How the west was won", My Morning Jacket " Whatever their last EP is called."
Musicscan: Any last words or comments?
Mother Tongue: Thank you Matthias for being interested in our band enough to do this interview . It's very very late /early, I'm staying awake all night because we are about to fly to Vienna in a few hours for a short tour of Austria and Germany. Doing this interview is a much less toxic way of staying awake than my alternative, thank you Matthias for saving me from a regretful morning at the airport. Everyone that has written us and come to see us play and has come and talked with us has literally kept this band alive and strengthened our blood. Thank you all very very much . Hope to see you this summer. Here' s a little secret: if you slow your CD player speed down while playing the "Ghost Note" record, backwards, you'll here our next 2 records. And for those of you that get the vinyl copy, if you play it backwards, you'll hear Davo singing over the entire Ozzy "Diary of a Madman" record. Don't ask how we did it, it's all part of the Robert Carranza mysteries, seriously.