For the past month, one of Fredericton’s best bands, Motherhood, has been on the road in the US, gigging straight across the country—Maine to California—and back on their inaugural tour of the country. The band is celebrating their homecoming with a headlining show this Saturday at The Capital Complex, alongside pals Jon Mckiel and Construction & Destruction. Before they return to the friendly faces of Fredericton, we checked in with Penny Stevens (bass, keys, vocals) from somewhere in the middle of the continent for an update.
The Brunswickan: How has the tour been going?
Penny Stevens: This has easily been the best tour Motherhood’s ever done. We’re just under a month into it now, and every show has been worth the travel. The DIY community in the US is such a strong network—word travels through the DIY online hubs, so every good show brings out more people in the next town. We got to spend about 10 days in the Pacific Northwest, and we were able to connect with some amazing bands, festivals, and venues. We’re now in the heavy-driving portion of the tour (four straight days of driving to get to Toronto), and we definitely wish we were back on the coast playing shows instead of crammed in the van. But it’ll be worth it to get back East.
BRUNS: What has been the most surprising thing the band has encountered?
PS: The music culture in the US seems to be so passionate. Everyone always says that Canadians are so nice, but Americans have been exceptionally gracious hosts (possibly more gracious?). People really get amped up on music, buy merch, and are so friendly! We didn’t know what to expect, so it’s been nice to feel so safe and comfortable in every venue, house and bar we’re in.
There are REAL LIVE tumbleweeds in Utah and Nevada. Like the ones you see in the movies! We got one caught in the grill of our van, and it felt very Wild West-y. In general, the American landscape is so diverse and beautiful, the aesthetic of small towns is so bizarre, and the people are so interesting—it’s all been really surprising and amazing. We also saw probably 200 elk or reindeer yesterday, that was pretty freaky and cool.
BRUNS: What have you learned about the band as a result of this tour?
PS: We’ve been able to work really well together, which is a feat of no small size, spending 24/7 together. We all have our quirks and short fuses, but learning how to work around those has been a nice challenge. Fortunately, we haven’t had too many trials or tribulations on this tour, so we haven’t had to test the team in any extreme situations—no car crashes, knife fights or anything too major.
BRUNS: What are your best tips/tricks for killing the boredom of a long drive? PS: We have lots of books, which we trade off; podcasts and seven phones worth of music (no joke). Because we have to (errr… get to?) spend every hour of every day together, we tend to use van time as “alone time.” There’s a point of zen that you reach after about day five, where you’re able to look out the window and get your deep thinking done, and you hardly realize any time has passed. We don’t talk that much and only stop when we need gas. We have a cooler of food, so we don’t even stop to eat, usually. We save the laughs for the show.
BRUNS: What do you miss most about a Fredericton crowd?
PS: Playing to new audiences every night is really exciting. We honed a really tight set, and it’s a fun challenge to win over strangers every night. It’s a totally different experience to play to a room full of your best friends and biggest supporters. The hometown crowd isn’t as easily tricked by our sudden twists and turns, but they know the words and are able to follow the set more intently. We’re really excited to play with two of our all-time favourite bands in our all-time favourite bar with our all-time favourite people and the all-time best bartender.
Motherhood’s homecoming bash takes place Saturday, April 7. Doors at 10 p.m. show at 10:30 p.m.