Gearing up for their first full-length LP release with Metal Blade Records, Mother Feather lead vocalist Ann Courtney takes some time to answer some questions from staff writer Noah Moralis.
Broken Arrow: First, lets start with a fairly obvious question. The band name is incredibly catchy, immediately after seeing it I was hooked. I’ve seen you abbreviate the name and address your audience as Mfer’s. Did the name start as a simple play on words, or is there some deeper, more profound meaning to “Mother Feather”?
Ann: Mother Feather is the embodiment of my wildest inspiration. It’s something you need to elevate yourself to. Every song, lyric, and note is a challenge– to myself and the audience. Motherfeathers—or MFers for short—groups them as willing participants of that experience of which they’re an essential part. (And I love puns!)
Broken Arrow: You started in the New York City club scene back in 2010. What can you tell us about your early club shows from the infancy of this band and how do those shows compare to your shows nowadays?
Ann: Funny enough, I was just watching some old footage from our third show ever so I can tell you! I think the songs feel more lived-in in a really free way, and the fans are more unabashed. I think at first they didn’t know what to make of us, but we’ve been earning the audience over the past six years and it shows. Oh, and we have haters now! Mostly just some cranky internet trolls but I see this as an excellent sign that we’re doing well.
Broken Arrow: From the stage attire and photos I’ve seen, we can expect some influence from and homages to some of the greatest glam rock frontmen of all time. Strong influences from Marc Bolan and Bowie are immediately apparent. What can one expect from a “Mother Feather” live show?
Ann: Unwavering commitment to the service of my own heart.
Broken Arrow: You’re gearing up for your first release with Metal Blade records. When was it that “Mother Feather” caught the attention of Metal Blade CEO Brian Slagel? How has it been working with the heavy metal legend?
Ann: It’s been a dream come true on so many levels. Brian heard about us through the grapevine (aka Twitter) via Chris Santos. The way he found us is testament to the organic way we’ve been building our audience…keep doing good work and eventually word gets around, you know?
Broken Arrow: From the 2 songs I’ve heard (you can go listen to the songs and preorder their debut record via https://metalblade.com/
motherfeather) you guys pull influences from all wakes of music. The guitars on ‘Living, Breathing’ are retro and fuzzy, the bass tones vary but remain melodic and the vocals are immensely catchy, especially on the bridge all the way to the end for ‘Living, Breathing’.
The title track ‘Mother Feather’ feels like it has stronger 70’s punk influences, plus being NYC natives it feels authentic to me. What are some of the musical influences that shaped the upcoming LP?
Ann: When I wrote these songs I was listening to a lot of pop and mainstream hip-hop like Madonna and Missy Elliot, but I grew up listening to a lot of 90s guitar rock and new wave, which I can really hear on songs like “They Tore Down the SK8 Park” and “Beach House.” I wanted the music to have the fever of my favorite rock acts like Iggy Pop and the Clash, as well as more contemporary influences like the Duke Spirit and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
Broken Arrow: Tell us a little about the other members in the band. From what I understand you were the brainchild behind this creative quintet. Were you particularly selective with who you wanted in the group, or did everything fall in to place for you early on?
Ann: Mother Feather is also Elizabeth Carena, Matt Basile, Chris Foley, and Gunnar Olsen. I knew I wanted to be in a band with close friends I could trust with something so incredibly personal, and musical heavy hitters who elevated the project in a way I couldn’t on my own. Mother Feather is about aiming high, so that informed who I wanted in the band. Mother Feather started with songs that I really believed in, and so I wanted to serve them with the best musicians I could wrangle.
Broken Arrow: Was being a rock and roll front woman always an ambition for a younger Ann Courtney? I’ve got to say, the role suits you perfectly. Who are some of the other vocalists, female or male that made an impression on you?
Ann: I think so—although for a long time I thought I would be an actress. They appealed to me for similar reasons, having an outlet to express myself through my voice and my body and performance. My acting training probably led me to start a rock and roll band more than anything. It helped crystallize the notion that I didn’t actually want to play a character, I just was just looking for the way I could most be myself.
I spent a lot of those years finding my voice, and the vocalists that have helped me do that the most have been PJ Harvey, Beth Ditto, Missy Elliot, and Marc Bolan.
Broken Arrow: What are some of your hopes for your first LP release with Metal Blade? Where would you like to tour initially?
Ann: I LOVE performing in the UK and am eager to get back! I think Europe will eat Mother Feather up, and fingers crossed it leads us to Japan and other parts of Asia eventually. Ideally we can reach a point soon where we can survive and it’s not such a struggle, which thus far has just simply been the reality, as it is for most New Yorkers trying to make art AND make rent.
Left: Elizabeth Carena- vox + keys. Right: Ann Courtney – vox
Photo credit: Shervin Lainez.
We want to thank Mother Feather and Ann Courtney for sharing her insights. Be sure to check out upcoming info on the band on their website with links to other social media platforms: