“Don’t eat any of the cookies before you’ve had your dinner. Clean your room, take out the trash, and most importantly, make sure you give me a kiss goodbye before you leave the house!” These are certainly not the typical statements given by the New Jersey-based punk band, The Moms. Recently, this power trio has been hitting the road, and hitting it hard.
After touring the bottom half of the country, The Moms managed to land themselves a gig at The Stanhope House as openers for the established ska band, Big D And The Kids Table. After climbing on top of their beat up tour van, Betsy, I was able to speak with guitarist and co-frontman, Joey Nester, after their set. It was there that Nester revealed to me some rather intriguing secrets behind The Moms. The conversation is below:
How about we start with a basic rundown? How long have The Moms been in existence?
The Moms, as a band, have been around since June of 2011. We started writing some songs, maybe eight months prior to that, at the house in New Brunswick that I used to live in. Jon [Stolpe, bassist] and Don [Saraceno, drummer] would just come over and jam on some songs that I put together. When I dropped out of school, I moved back home, and we really hit the ground running. We finished up the set and started booking some shows. So, technically, we have been together for a year, but for all intents and purposes, a year and a half.
You mention that you dropped out of school, which is when The Moms took flight. Did you drop out of school for music purposes or was it just where you saw yourself in life at the time?
It’s kinda where I saw myself in life at the time. I did a year at Rutgers and I really didn’t enjoy myself. I found myself cutting class, smoking pot, and playing guitar more than anything, rather than reading, writing, or studying. So I certainly didn’t enjoy school by any means. I have always enjoyed playing guitar, writing songs, and being in bands. I knew that if I dropped out, I could start a job with my father as a plumber. I chose this to have some steady income and some wiggle room for going on tour, which is really all I ever want to do. To be in school and try to be in a band is tough. You can really only tour [during the] summer, but now I can tour all year round, and that’s the plan… Stan!
How would you classify your music?
When we were on tour this past month, we got asked that question a lot. We call ourselves punk, but we’re not Oi!, we’re not hardcore punk, and at the same rate, we’re not pop punk. We’re loud and for the most part, we’re fast and all around catchy. The Moms are kinda all about the hook; punk rock—catchy, good, punk rock. Maybe alternative. Maybe. Definitely blues and classical influences though.
Is there a theme or belief behind The Moms music, whether it be hidden or presented?
Well, we don’t really have a central theme or a purpose that we’re trying to do. A lot of the songs have a common thread in them that embody malcontents. We just put it out there and try to write clever lines about it. Of course we don’t like racists, and we don’t like fascists or anything like that, but we try to be a little more coy about it. Basically, what we like to do is have fun and in terms of punk rock, we like to create mischief. We have this thing we like to do, which is called “fucking shit up a little bit.” We’ll be in a place and we’ll play pranks—pranks that don’t really hurt anybody. We just fuck shit up a little bit, like turn all the things over in your kitchen or steal a sign from you or steal one of your friends’ paintings from the wall. Ya know?
Of course! So what’s the writing process like for The Moms?
The writing process for The Moms is that most of the time, I’ll come to the table with a riff, or maybe a riff and a chorus. Basically, one of us—most of the time it’s me—comes to the table with a starting point. From there we just kinda work on the song together. We don’t tell each other what to play. I don’t tell Jon what bassline to play and certainly don’t tell Donny how to play his drums, because nobody wants to be told what to play. You just wanna play what you want to play. We all add our own little something to the mix. As far as the lyrics go, I write all the lyrics. At the same time, Jon comes up with all of his parts, and his counter melodies. We try not to step on each other’s toes too much. Sometimes writing songs like that, a song might take a day or a couple months. It’s a process getting things to come together.
How did you guys come up with the name The Moms?
We were throwing around a bunch of ideas for names, as any band does, and Jon actually brought the name The Moms to the table. At first, we were all like, “The moms? What?” So we got to thinking and it was catchy enough, and made sense. Everyone’s got a mom—at one point, they had a mom. And we thought, “Let’s be everybody’s new mom!” We’ll teach everyone the new morals. We’ll take care of everybody. And also, the way I like to look at it is that my mom would always ask me to write a song about her but I figured if I named the band The Moms, then that’s good enough. Now I don’t have to write a song about her.
What is your favorite aspect of playing a live set?
With our set, there is a lot of energy because none of us really ever have any breaks. We’re all always working, doing something during the set. I’m usually not far from the mic. There’s usually not much time where I’m not on the mic. We rehearse a lot, so when it comes time to play live shows, we just do our thing. The three of us have been playing together, collectively, for probably about five years. The way we gel on stage is very…effortless, so to speak. We get along in real life, and that translates to the stage. We give it all we have, every show, and it takes a lot out of us. I’m sure I sweat near a quart every show.
Sounds like a lot of hard work! How do you smell after each show?
Well, that’s kind of a loaded question. I haven’t changed any of my clothes in two, no, three days, and I’ve been sweating a lot. So right now…well, I usually smell great. I have a nice natural musk to me. My body just gives off a fantastic, fantastic smell. I get complimented for it all the time. If I go without deodorant, I get a little b.o. As long as I have my deodorant on I’m good. My head makes great smells, my skin makes great smells. It’s a nice musk. I’d like to turn it into a perfume for men called Dé Musk. But in all seriousness, usually it’s pretty bad. When we were gone on tour for a month, personally I can say that I showered three times. And we were in the south, so it was hot as balls. We were sweating a lot, and sleeping in the van, so I’m sure I didn’t smell great.
What are the future plans for The Moms?
Last week we demoed eight new songs. We’re going back on tour in the fall. We’re trying to travel down to The Fest, in Gainesville, Florida, and hopefully play it. There’s hope that we may have a spot, but it’s still up in the air at this point. We’re going to tour down south again in October. Aside from that, we’re gonna play some shows locally. We have a show at the Asbury Lanes on August 22. Panic State Records will be putting out our 7”, and we are working on a full-length, tour-based comic book. Then we would like to do another music video. We already have one out for “Bedtime,” which was a blast doing. We also plan on going back out on tour in the spring again. Basically this is a very busy time for The Moms.
Lastly, what is one thing you would like to say to your fans?
If you like The Moms, it’s for a particular reason. Some people really like The Moms, and some people really don’t like The Moms. In any case, all I can say to those that either like us or don’t like us—thank you. We write songs for people to listen to whether they like it or they hate it. For those of you that like us, thank you and continue to support us, because it’s hard being in a band these days. It costs a lot of money. Any support is great. Thanks guys!
The Moms will be playing at the Asbury Lanes in Asbury Park, NJ, on Aug. 22. For more information, go to facebook.com/themomsthemoms.