When speaking with an artist about their ambitions and accomplishments, it’s easy to confuse confidence with arrogance, and the lines are even more blurry in the world of rock ‘n’ roll.
Kenneth James, frontman of the now six years deep Ottawa power-pop institution Mother’s Children, has some big words for his own group. “I truly believe this band needs to exist because we are an integral piece of the great rock n’ roll puzzle,” he says. Before you stop reading, however, understand that he’s approaching this from a place of humility. “It’s possible that is all in my head, but still, making music is something we need to do.”
Plus, Mother’s Children have a seriously sturdy body of work to back them up. The band, which is rounded out by guitarist Michael G. Hurts, bassist Davey Quesnelle, and drummer Tim Ostler, is a product of Ottawa’s ridiculously fertile garage, punk, and power-pop scene. Between them, they keep plenty busy with projects like the Steve Adamyk Band, Voicemail, and Pregnancy Scares, but they always end up coming back to being Mother’s Children.
“We’ve all done brief touring stints with various bands,” James says, “but Mother’s Children has always remained because we have a no-pressure, positive outlook. We simply believe that making this music is the right thing to do.”
And they have. To date, the group have released three singles via labels like Taken by Surprise, P. Trash, and Going Gaga, as well as the That’s Who! LP for Deranged Records.
Lemon, their sophomore full-length, is being released by Mammoth Cave in Canada and Taken by Surprise this summer. A punchy collection of timeless rock songs, it’s another worthy collection of rock ‘n’ roll anthems. That’s because, according to James, the songs are written to last.
“I approach every song like its the first, last, and most important song I will write, like any songwriter should,” he says. “We don’t go by any song formulas. Formula is for mass production, which is great when music is a job and you need to crank out albums like annual reports. I’d rather make records that will last the test of time.”
While Mother’s Children makes sense in Canada’s current power-pop climate alongside bands like Sonic Avenues and The Mandates, James says his influences come from all over. Citing songwriters like Sparks’ Mael brothers, Nick Lowe, Ray Davies, Jeff Lynne, and Roy Wood as influences, he says the band got lost in the studio. “We take inspiration whenever it hits us and convert it into something original. Everything we do comes naturally and honestly,” he says. And the inspiration flowed when they recorded Lemon at Ottawa’s Meatlocker Studio. “When we start laying down songs in there, ideas just never stop flowing,” he says. “There will be full weekends when we don’t see the sunlight.”
Though he’s clearly spent a lot of time and energy on the project, James said he’s not interested in forcing Mother’s Children down listeners’ throats. “I don’t like pushing my music on anyone, especially since there are just so many bands and varying tastes out there,” he says. “But I’d like people to know how to find us when they’re ready.”
Regardless of how long that takes, James hopes they’ll have a body of work that sounds as relevant and energetic then as it does now. “Our goal is to contribute something special and unique to music that can be cherished by people, and be continually rediscovered,” he says. “[It] doesn’t matter if we get huge, only that we stay true and do our own thing. If music has an honest urgency, time will never deplete that.”
[magazine month=”june” year=”2014″]