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15th April 2016
METAL DISCOVERY: You’re quoted in press blurb as saying “Every song is a challenge - to myself and the audience. I want catharsis and I want it now."
ANN: Yeah! [Laughs]
(Ann Courtney on the live Mother Feather experience)
"… I want it to feel like a stadium rock show but it could happen in a small club."
Mother Feather - promo shot
Interview by Mark Holmes
Photograph copyright © 2015 Shervin Lainez
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Mother Feather (2016)
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Thanks to Andy Turner for arranging the interview.
Official Mother Feather Website:
MD: Is every show a cathartic experience for you? And do you feel at one with the audience in a mutual catharsis?
ANN: Every show has the opportunity, and has multiple opportunities, to experience catharsis – release; joy; sadness… whatever. I mean, catharsis embodies all of these things. If we’re all present and we all show up, maybe it will happen. You know, it’s not a given. And that’s part of the showing up and that’s part of the trying and you can’t just kind of rest on your laurels; like, “oh, we all had a really special time that one show, it’s gonna happen every other time.” No, you have to be present.
MD: At core, would it be fair to say that it’s an anti-repressive vibe you’re aiming for, and the catharsis comes out of that anti-repression? Obviously, it’s all very colourful and theatrical with all the costumes, makeup and everything, along with the optimism, so it strikes me as an anti-repression thing as well.
ANN: It’s interesting that you call it anti-repression… I would call that freedom… [Laughs]
MD: I guess repression is more a subjective thing for the individual as a particular person might feel more repressed that other people with their emotions.
ANN: Yeah, I think there’s something very child-like in a way… I can be a little bit ratty sometimes, on stage… [Laughs]… and I really get a big kick out of it, and I think this is really true to my young self. I recently saw some old home movie footage and it’s kind of remarkable how similar to my onstage self I can be. I think there’s just like a truth and a freedom and it’s like, okay, well, I can be like a kid acting out, that is very freeing and that maybe, as I’ve gotten older, there wasn’t really a place to do that, so I started a band!
MD: The perfect vehicle.
ANN: Yeah!
MD: You have this prominent theatrical element to your shows, as we already talked about, with the makeup and costumes, so have any artists, in particular, inspired that aspect? David Bowie’s mentioned in press blurb…
ANN: Yeah, I mean, tons and tons of people have inspired that. Where do you wanna start? It’s such a collage of influences. Visually, I want something that’s gonna be big and spectacular and sumptuous to see on stage – costumes that move; costumes that make me feel larger than life. So, a lot of the stuff we assemble ourselves. I mean, Lizzie and I style everything, for the most part, ourselves, and we try to work with independent designers as much as we can, and kind of mix and match various pieces. But, in terms of… there’s a Viktor & Rolf fashion show, I think it was spring/summer 2010 maybe, that has these incredible shaped dresses that have actually served as a huge style inspiration for me. Obviously, Gaga is a huge one in terms of contemporary styles…
MD: She’s a big metal fan too, of course.
ANN: She is a big metal fan. Lady Gaga’s more of a metalhead than I am!
ANN: I’m still learning. I have so much to learn about metal. I mean, I knew very little about metal, so…
MD: There’s time. Now you’re signed to Metal Blade, you’re gonna get so much more attention from the metal scene, so I’m sure that it’ll be a natural education!
ANN: It’s been very interesting to hear all the comparisons. When people compare us to bands that I’ve never heard of, I get such a kick out of that. I try to look people up too because I’m like, “oh, okay, it’s interesting that you see that because I’ve never heard of them!” [Laughs]
MD: What’s the most bizarre comparison you’ve had so far?
ANN: Oh gosh, I’m trying to think of a name…
MD: When you check out these comparisons, can you hear the similarities yourself?
ANN: I don’t know. I don’t think so. I guess that’s my point, is that when people compare us to things that I’ve never heard of, I sort of shrug my shoulders ; I’m like, “alright, oh well, maybe.” There were some glam acts I was checking out a few months ago when our first video came out and people were like, “oh, this is like this and this is like this.” I’m sorry, the name escapes me. There are certain things that I do hear… my voice, sometimes, gets compared to Chrissie Hynde… it actually has been for years. I can hear that.
MD: Oh wow, a big compliment.
ANN: It’s a huge compliment and I say that with all the reverence and awe that I can.
MD: That’s the kind of comparison you want!
ANN: Yeah, I’ll take that! You know, and Siouxsie Sioux… I think that mostly has to do with the styling but, definitely, I listen to a ton of Siouxsie and the Banshees.
MD: I think from a journalistic perspective, and from a general listening perspective, I think there’s always an innate need for people to compare bands to other bands, unfortunately. I guess that’s also kind of lazy because people can’t think of actual words to describe the music they’re listening to.
ANN: Yeah, well, one of these days, people are gonna start comparing other bands to Mother Feather!
MD: Absolutely!
MD: Very soon, hopefully!
ANN: That’s when we know we’re breaking through!
MD: You played a free show over here in London last month, so how did that go? Did the UK crowd dig what you do?
ANN: Oh man, that was a really special show. We played at the Crobar, which was a lovely little metal bar and, yeah, the place was packed and we had a very enthusiastic crowd. And, yeah, we made a lot of new friends over there. Obviously, Daniel Carter, the DJ of the Radio 1 Rock Show, he was there and, I mean, he’s been our biggest advocate and pretty much helped us get over to the UK in the first place by being so enthusiastic about our singles. Yeah, so we had him, we made a lot of new friends and we’ve been having some very promising conversations about coming back.
MD: Cool, so we can expect some more shows later this year?
ANN: Later this year or definitely next year, if not this year.
MD: The final thing I was going to ask - do you have a long term vision for Mother Feather? Like, will you be aiming to build the live show and make it a more theatrical experience?
ANN: I would love to go to Japan. I would really love to do some real touring in Europe and I would love to go to Japan. I mean, anything where we can find ourselves in a position where Mother Feather can do Mother Feather more. I mean, it’s incredible, we have the support from Metal Blade, but we’re still fighting, you know!
ANN: It is still a struggle, every day, to balance these things, so if we can get to a place where it’s Mother Feather and no-one’s panicking about the light bill… [Laughs]… then I think we’ll be in a really good place. I would love to be able, for us, to feel like everyone can commit to the band, then it would be a realistic thing. So that’s a very practical answer! [Laughs]
MD: Oh no, that’s cool, and when you reach that milestone then you can aim for arenas, and then stadiums and, you know... the moon or wherever… I don’t know, what’s bigger than a stadium gig?!
ANN: Well, it’s interesting because, when I started the band, I want it to feel like a stadium rock show but it could happen in a small club. So… we’re ready for the stadium! Bring it on! [Laughs]
MD: You have the big, anthemic songs, so the stadiums are waiting for you! Okay, thank you so much for your time, it’s been a pleasure chatting.
ANN: Thank you, Mark. Thank you so much. And thanks for telling me your favourite tracks; I'm always interested to hear what people like.
MD: I'm listening to the album a lot at the moment so I'm sure I'll love other ones in a week's time but, at the moment, they're my favourite three.
ANN: Yay!