Mother of Fire on recording Feral Children and DIY spaces

Album art for Feral Children.
Album art for Feral Children.

Hypnotic groove psychedelic rock trio Mother of Fire are known for creating intensely haunting, loud, mesmerizing shows in unique environments. In DIY spaces (their favorite) art galleries, punk squats, house shows, and even rock clubs, they transport listeners visually as well as sonically. Their Feral Children record release show tonight (4/20) will be no exception as they have major plans to transform the warehouse space behind Joe's Garage near Loring Park.

Below, Gimme Noise spoke to all three members of the group ahead of tonight's show.

Mother of Fire began four years ago when Naomi Joy (violinist/vox) and Jason Misik (bass) began performing with a drum machine -- used on first album Lambs. They added Andie Mazorol, formerly of duo Jose Bove, on drums, and the fiercely primal rock triumverate was complete. Having been in numerous bands over the years, Mother of Fire appears to be the culmination of the trio's varied experiences brought together in a mesmerizing and cohesive whole. Their music is rife with primal, elemental, ritualistic and darkly mysterious vibe and themes via Joy's FX-laden violin and eerie otherworldly vocals creating unearthly layers of textures over the deep groove foundation of Misik and Mazorol.

Gimme Noise: What are the types of spaces you play in? I know they're out of the ordinary.

Naomi Joy: We like the DIY spaces best. We're trying to branch out. The aesthetic of the venue is important to us, visually, sound quality, the size.

What is one of your favorite spaces you've performed in?

Jason Misik: We did a Grumpy's residency this summer, and that was one of our favorite spaces. Long and narrow, charming brick walls, dark, the stage was 6 inches off the floor. The sound is awesome. I really liked the sardine can feel of that. It seems the higher stage, the more freaked out we are.

Naomi Joy: And we like to turn the lights almost all the way down, so if a place is not willing to do that, we sort of back away. [laughs]

Talk about what kind of environment you're trying to create along with your music.

Jason Misik: We always pull something out that's special for the album release shows. In the past, we did the Lambs LP and the S/T that was on Destijl, at Bedlam. We were able to construct sets or using sets that they had, work for eight hours transforming the space. We're excited about this record release because we're going to do the same thing.

How has your music changed over time?

Naomi Joy: It's funny because you know, this idea that our music now is terrifying... I think it was more terrifying on the first album, with the drum machine, being very icy, and driving. Then the second album, on De Stijl, had a lot of metal influence. Someone said they saw us at Bitchpork festival in Chicago. I remember it being way more scary than it is now. The material on this release is actually old. Our new material is very different. Mellow and trancy and very strong melodies. It'll come out in a year, maybe on our new label, Swordfingers.

Do you have other artists on your label yet?

Naomi Joy: We have plans! Some from Minneapolis, some from East Coast, yeah.

I'd like you to talk about your violin. Your approach is experimental, psychedelic, do you use FX?

Naomi Joy: I've been playing since I was 9, classically trained. I was in the Twin Cities youth symphonies for many years. My grandfathers both played violin. One played fiddle, and the other played for the Opera Orchestra in Paris. He in the midst of battling with Alzheimer's disease, came over when I was 9 or 10 and bought the violin I have now for me. I played with him a little, Bach duets and stuff. Then I went to the Arts High School... I didn't realize you could play other things besides classical music. So it didn't sink in that I could play rock 'n' roll, until I was 15 and I started playing experimental music.

I play solo once in a while too, without FX. But for Mother of Fire it's been a new experience to have like ten FX pedals and really fun. It's like painting, where I get to, through these FX pedals, add textures and colors. It makes the violin, which already has so many endless possibilities and its closest to the human voice - to add these FX on top of that, just makes it really fun!

Andie Mazorol: I grew up playing piano but started playing drums when I was like 10 or 11. This band is probably the one that's become the most established and had the most clear direction, and a lot more challenging to me as a drummer.

Jason Misik: I don't really consider myself a bass player but I happen to play bass in this band. Then I started playing guitar in bands in Jr High and High School, and singing. Then the Knotwells formed in 2000 and I played drums for them. And now I'm playing bass in Mother of Fire.

Tell us about some of the spaces you've played and the reception in various places by comparison to here?

Jason Misik: They just pay you better in Europe. We were invited to play this festival in Belgium. A guy booked a tour for us, so we were there almost a month. We toured with this amazing musician, Arthur Doyle, who is one of the second wave free jazz. He was playing classic jazz when Ornette Coleman busted out free jazz. Arthur then committed to free jazz. He's like 70 now and we were on tour with him for awhile in Europe. He's a fascinating individual, and his music was just, the most beautiful. This guy was powerful. And his body was in rough shape, but he was still going. It was a real honor to play with him.

Generally the shows there were like... you'd be paid like $900 U.S. dollars to play a 45-minute set. In Denmark, Norway, Sweden... there's laws in some of the countries where each musician has to be paid a minimum of $200 Euros. Each.

Tell me more about the bands you've played with when you tour or the bands you look for.

Naomi Joy: We are constantly seeking out bands that would fit with us. And its really difficult! [laughs] We can't figure ourselves out! We're too terrifying!

Jason Misik: Its usually that the person who books the show tries to find bands that they think is related to our music somehow. And often its surprising to us, how the music doesn't have anything to do with us. But I like a diverse bill in any case.

Is there anything you can reveal that people might expect at this upcoming release party, in terms of vibe or environment?

Jason Misik: We've got lots of long lengths of fabric that will be torn into strips and hung... and made into shapes throughout the space.

Naomi Joy: we have a film artist from L.A. whose been working on projection art, so there will be projections and fabric ...

Jason Misik: ...and feral children running amok! [laughs]

Naomi Joy: Yeah. We have two troops of feral children lined up. (laughs)

You recorded with Mike Wisti at Albatross, how was that?

Jason Misik: All of our albums we've done there. I love working with Mike! He's the most hardworking, dedicated, person I've ever worked with on any project.

Andie Mazorol: He's also low-key and laid-back.

Jason Misik: He's really good at staying out of the way and letting the band do their thing, and then at the right moment when something needs to be said, or some slight adjustment or direction . .

Naomi Joy: Yeah at the 11th hour he'll be like "Well, let's listen to this one part again, I think it could . . ." Seriously like after 11 hours, others might be tired. He has so much energy.

I think about how people describe your music, being ritualistic and such and I think about environmental metal a friend likes . . . do you think about the occult, the elements in nature, does that stuff come into play in your music?

Jason Misik: We lived in in a really remote place in Northern California, for six months out of the year, in the mountains in the forest and did not play music for six months,. Then we'd come back and start working really hard and get new material, record an album in the next six months. And then go back to the woods. So I feel like the elemental vibe might be in part informed by being in a remote wilderness place. But that's not the only thing. I think that affects it.

Naomi Joy: Also I think it's a conscious choice - if I could create any world that I wanted to through art and music I would create a wild, and mysterious and colorful and otherworldly place, I'm not going to focus on our so-called experiences in this mundane life. There's so many more subtle and vast experiences a being can have. So why not go there, if you can, with art or music?

Any influences cinematically or literature . . .

Naomi Joy: I'd say my lyrics are inspired by visual art.

Jason Misik: Werner Herzog had the film Encounters at the Edge of the World where he went to Antarctica and that informed . . .

Naomi Joy: That film inspired a LOT. That whole S/T album was inspired by that film. And the ocean in general. Sometimes I'll read a book and just be so inspired by the way the author is putting words together, that it makes me think about how I'm sculpting the songs with the lyrics. Really, it tends to be about nature. That film, the deep sea creatures and the landscapes were stunning. Sometimes a few images can be enough to inspire a piece.

Anything you'd like to say in terms of describing your music.

Jason Misik: We don't fit into the really freaky noise music scene, which we sometimes get billed with. A friend of mine who's in a freaky art rock band, told me, "You guys are a straight up groove band." And somebody the other night in Iowa City said, "You guys just groove!" We don't really fit into the noise genre.

Naomi Joy: As far as the terrifying aspect that we sometimes get described as, I think if its because of the ritualistic nature mysterious dark kind of stuff. . . if mysterious is terrifying, I can take it, that's okay.

Mother of Fire Feral Children Release Party with The Blind Shake, Paul Metzger, The Soaking Rasps and DJ Soft Abuse The warehouse behind Joe's Garage, near Loring Park 9 p.m./18+

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