A Dreadfest conversation with fuzz-fuelled doom newcomers Dark Mother.
Astral Noize had the pleasure of covering a sold out Dreadfest at Temple Of Boom, Leeds last month; one of the most thriving DIY extreme metal and hardcore festivals in the UK, headlined by Wormrot, Rotten Sound and Fukpig. We also had the delight of sitting down and chatting with Notthingham-based doom trio Dark Mother, after witnessing their wall-rumbling, loud-as-hell set in the Meat Locker.
The trio are currently preparing to record a full-length album, following their promising demo and 7″ single. Dark Mother bring a fresh perspective to an already swamped UK doom scene and proved to be one of Dreadfest’s most memorable bands. We chatted about the band’s origins, feminism, and the wonders of Nottingham’s incredible music scene…
How and when did Dark Mother form and how did you get together?
Holly (guitar, vocals): We met almost five years ago now. I moved over to England from Ohio. I met my husband when I was backpacking in Europe, and now I live here and we shacked up. Bethan’s ex-boyfriend was best friends with my husband. He knew that I didn’t know anyone in England yet and he knew I wanted to be in a band, and she wanted to be in a band, so he kind of pushed us together and said “make music!” And so we did. We formed a band and played as a two-piece for a good couple of years. Then we decided we needed a bit more oomph to our sound and we put on Facebook that we were looking for a bassist. We never thought in a million years that a local legend that we really look up to as musicians wanted to play in our band, so it worked out really awesome to have another friend that we knew from home.
Bethan (drums): We were hoping Tanya [bass, also of Bismuth] would say yes!
Holly: We were like “really, you want to be in our band!?”
Tanya (bass): *Laughs and blushes*
Tanya is extremely talented! So how would Dark Mother describe your sound in your own words?
Holly: I think all of us have extremely different influences. If you listen to my vocals, I try and do a bit of riot grrrl influence, but also a bit heavier. A lot of my influences are from L7 and Bikini Kill. But I have completely different influences to these two…
Bethan: I don’t really like riot grrrl personally, but I think we work well together bringing in these different influences.
Tanya: I basically like loud and bassy things!
We picked up a kind of ’80s/’90s Seattle vibe too, such as Earth and Melvins…
Holly: Yeah definitely, it’s more vocally influenced.
Are there any particular lyrical themes that you want to express with your music?
Holly: Mostly feminist themes and like cheesy, witchcraft things and worshipping nature. Portraying women and embracing your inner Goddess, totally!
So how do you find the feminist themes come across with your audiences, and do you feel you get your messages across?
Holly: I think if you don’t know the words you can’t understand them anyway, so people don’t know what the fuck I’m saying! *laughs* I don’t really read lyrics unless it’s from my favourite bands and I become obsessed with them.
Bethan: I don’t have a clue what any of our lyrics are! *laughs*
Holly: My husband knows a couple, only because he’s picked them out by ear.
Tanya: It’s kind of weird because I pick out certain words for when the riff changes. *laughs*
Holly: We’re not super political or anything…
Tanya: …I am!
Holly: I’m political privately, but not so much in my music.
Bethan: We all have quite different views, so our music can’t speak for all of us.
Have you ever found yourselves victims of mansplaining, chauvinism and/or sexism within the metal scene?
Holly: I don’t get it as much as Tanya does because she is way more of a gear-head than I am. I just plug my shit in and play. I don’t obsess over gear or anything. I couldn’t tell you half as much about my gear as Tanya. I don’t really get a lot of sexism personally. The worst I get is dudes grilling you on your knowledge, like “oh you like that band, which album, what song!?” Like they’re testing how much I know. But that’s about it. I don’t personally get a lot of sexism because I feel that the scene that we’re in and our friend circle are very forward-thinking and really awesome. The men in my life are my biggest fans.
Tanya: It’s not so much in this band that it’s been a problem, but in other bands that I’m in, I’ve had men try to explain to me how to use my own amps that have been custom built for me, and I’m like “you what!?” Some people can be incredibly patronising. Earlier on today there was some crusty dude who thought I was just the merch person and just threw money at me.
That shit is lame!
Tanya: Crusty dude, YOU ARE NOT COOL!
How does it feel to be playing Dreadfest and which bands have you been excited to see?
Holly: Turns out we got asked to play last year and it went into my spam folder! We’re all really excited to be asked to play. A lot of our friends have played here. Unfortunately we can’t stay all weekend as we have jobs to get back to. We’re excited to see Human Leather and Wormrot, they’re such lovely dudes!
*at this point, two of the members of Wormrot overhear the conversation and sneak up behind Dark Mother, smiling and raising the devil horns*
So there are plenty of good bands in Nottinghamshire where you are based. Who are some of your favourites that come to mind?
Holly: My favourite band right now is Human Leather. They’re really good musicians, awesome at what they do. My favourite band in Nottingham isn’t really a metal band, they’re called Slumb Party, which is more alternative. They’re very quirky and weird. They give me Minutemen–meets-Devo vibes.
Holly: Yes, they’re really good dudes, really awesome to play with.
Bethan: Monolithian are one of my favourite bands in the UK, we did a tour with them. They have the best drummer ever!
There are some great venues in Nottingham too like Angel Microbrewery and Stuck On A Name…
Tanya: SOAN! That’s our home! That’s where we practice. That’s where all the Nottingham bands practice! *laughs*
Holly: There are a couple of other places but everyone goes there and we want to support our friend’s business. They’re amazing, they record all the bands there, they don’t charge to put on shows there; you try and give them money and they don’t accept it. They put all their own effort into that scene.
Bethan: Nottingham are really lucky to have such an amazing scene for the size it is. I lived in Cardiff as well and it doesn’t really have anything like that, though it’s about the same size.
So we hear Dark Mother are working on a full-length album, what can you reveal about that?
Holly: The plan is to start recording in the summertime. It’s been pushed back because of obligations in our own lives. We’re recording at Stuck On A Name!
For further Dreadfest reading, check out this interview with noise rock oddballs Cattle.
Words and band photo: Chris “Frenchie” French
Live photo: Dave Jerome (World Downfall Photography)