Interview With Adam Cohen From The Mommyheads
The Mommyheads just released Finest Specimans. Got a chance to catch up with Adam.
Artofthemix: What’s going on? How’s New York City?
Adam: The weather is changing.
Artofthemix: Fall is upon us.
Adam: Yeah more root vegetables in my food.
Artofthemix: Well you guys got this record coming out so that’s kind of exciting: Finest Specimens.
Adam: It is cool. Actually wasn’t even our idea, we were sort of ‘brought’ over to Sweden. There’s a group of people there that got into the band in the 90’s and were waiting like 10 years to see us. They just were like, “you need to get back together and come play here and we will set some shows up. We will have interviews ready for you and we will take pictures.” So we did that.
Part of that whole package was the concept hey we will make a greatest hits record. We will find a label, etc. It was nuts. It was sort of their socialist upbringing of getting things done. You know as a community, where everybody puts in to make a project happen. We never experienced that before and it was amazing.
And so then basically now we are reissuing it here [in the states] because it just ends up being kind of a cool record. It’s a good introduction to a lot of people who don’t even know the band here.
Artofthemix: I was wondering who picked the songs. It feels like a mixed tape you would make if you were trying to turn your friend on to the band.
Adam: Well, this guy Burt, he works at a cultural agency there in Sweden. It’s adult education organization that gets funded, I think by the government. I am not totally sure but it’s sort of like a free standing government organization for the arts and they have 4,000 bands that are part of the organization and they can put shows on. They said well come on over and teach some clinics and so we each spoke for about an hour on different subjects and that paid our airfare and lodging to some degree. And so this guy Burt, who always liked us, basically masterminded it. He basically would send me emails saying “if I have my way, this would be the record” and I said “well you know you don’t know one or two of the records as much as I do, let me suggest some stuff” so I would send him my ideas. It just went back and forth until he agreed it was good and the band agreed it was good. So it ended up being like the mixed tape that you want to send somebody to introduce them to the band you know.
Artofthemix: I listened to your stuff back in the day so it was fun for me to listen to it. I haven’t listened to some of those songs for years!
Adam: Me too![laughes]
Artofthemix: The stuff from Acorn was sounding really good, I got to say.
Adam: Well I did my own mastering on this because there were so many songs it would have cost too much. I tried to equal the quality of the last record, which is sort of modern and has a lot of like sound qualities that we couldn’t achieve back in the day. So I just tried to make it even and actually some of the older tracks started to really come alive you know, some of the songs from Acorn especially.
We definitely didn’t go for radio ready Bob Broderick mastering job, we just wanted to even it out. It’s kind of a cool record. Just to see the different years all the way to 2008 and hear it all together. It’s just weird because for like 10 years, or at least 8 years, I didn’t think about the band at all. And now it’s like it’s been the year of Mommyheads. It’s insane!
Artofthemix: I remember when Acorn started making the circles among my buddies. It was like this cult thing like, “hey do you know The Mommyheads? They are amazing!” So it’s really exciting to see this come out. What I am curious to see is if you will pickup new fans?
Adam: It’s a crap shoot, there’s a lot of stuff happening. We are in a commercial right now.
Artofthemix: Really! [And here it is]
Artofthemix: So the Matador 21 birthday party show just happened. All these bands from the 90s. And you guys are back. Is there something in the water, what’s going on?
Adam: Well 10 years is a good break for people to have.
Artofthemix: I hear Babe The Blue Ox is back together.
Adam: Oh totally we played some shows with them, they are awesome. They are still better than ever. All these bands are better than ever in my opinion you know.
I got two opinions about that, one is back in the day you had to play in tour and you had to be really good and so when those bands get together, if they just play their catalog, it’s fun, it’s like a good show. Now bands spend too much time on Twitter or their iPhone, they spend too much time making videos, too much time doing content and they don’t just woodshed. You know so it’s kind of like a weird syrupy pleasure to see these bands get back together that woodsheded and toured for 10 years in the 90’s and had no distraction. Because you are just like “wow their material, it’s different. There’s something about it.” It’s about playing together and it’s not about being cool or being hip or you know, it’s a different vibe those bands have from the 90’s you know.
And they have catalogue, you don’t get bored during the set if a band put out 10 records and they took a break for 8 years, you know there’s going to be 45 minutes set of almost complete sound and music you know – no clunkers.
Artofthemix: So if we get nostalgic can we go back, can you talk a little bit about when you guys recorded Acorn and sort of what was the context, where did Acorn com out of?
Adam: Well New York was full like a hotbed of same music, I mean there was, the downtown scene, it’s like the weirder your work was, the cooler it was. The Knitting Factory was a little place that was turning out crazy music you know, people screeching on horns, trying to be Ornette Colman but they were white! I mean it was like and New York was a different place, it was edgy and tough, there were no Whole Foods in the lower east side.It was just very eclectic, the bills were nuts you know, there was no theme nights, it was pretty insane. And Acorn just came out of sort of like that John Cage meets Pop you know. We wanted to make our own instruments like the original drummer Yon passed away was playing hub caps! There was a shock value.