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From early days as a burgeoning band in Berkeley, California to becoming a beloved global staple, the Mom Jeans story is one equally driven by authenticity and ingenuity.
MORE: NOFX: Fat Mike Chats Double Albums, Being Ghosted By Blink-182 & The Emotional Journey For The Last Ever NOFX Shows // DUNE RATS: Dance Lessons and Thinking Outside The Box REVIEWS: SLEEPING WITH SIRENS: Complete Collapse // blink-182: EDGING // FREEDOM OF FEAR: Carpathia // ARCHITECTS: the classic symptoms of a broken spirit // SLIPKNOT: The End, So Far // THE GLOOM IN THE CORNER: Trinity // THE COMFORT: Experience Everything. Live And Die.
Evolving from standard emo tropes into connoisseurs of sparkling pop punk and rock in the space of 8 years, the esteemed quartet also ultimately spun the hurdles presented by the pandemic years into recent sonic gold, unleashing their third full-length album Sweet Tooth in February this year while spending the year relentlessly bringing their joyful live shows to various headline and festival settings. And it’s this very live show that will finally be making its way back down under in 2023, with the group primed to hit our shores in March, with countrymen Microwave along for the ride; and the band are beyond ecstatic to head back to Australia once again, as frontman Eric Butler recently revealed to Hysteriamag.com.
“We’re really, we’re really stoked,” enthuses Butler of returning to Australia in 2023. “I think international touring as a whole is a pretty mixed bag, it’s definitely not the easiest. The way we were raised as a band, driving around in a van and touring that way, sleeping on people’s floors and stuff like that is kind a staple. So, having to fly places and deal with planes, trains and automobiles, and all that kind of deal while carrying your guitar is extra stressful. That being said, we’ve had one other experience touring Australia before. We played back in, I think, 2020, right before everything shut down. And up until that point, that was honestly the most fun any of us ever had on tour before.”
“I think we were just in a really great mindset as a band getting there. Our tour manager was amazing, all the shows were amazing. We had a super fun experience and we’re super excited to come back, we can’t wait! In fact, the album cover of Sweet Tooth is a picture of us in Sydney! The first time that we were in Australia, I feel, was a very formative experience for us, and we’re really excited to come back to such a super special place in our hearts.”
“We knew before we went to Australia that it’s not like the States, it’s an entirely different market musically. And we were kind of told to almost be careful because if you go to Australia for the first time being a band from the States and you don’t have a great tour – you’re kind of in trouble. But knowing that we had a great tour last time and that we’re just being welcomed back with open arms – we’re super excited, it’s gonna be a lot of fun!”
While early 2020 when Mom Jeans were last in Australia seems almost a lifetime ago at this point, the band traversed the insane disruption of the usual band rollercoaster, i.e. write, record, release, tour, and repeat, over the past few years with razor-sharp focus and their trademark charm. And as to what potential surprises Butler and the Mom Jeans team have up their sleeves (or is that jeans?) early next year when they take the lengthy plane ride down under?
“We don’t have many secrets,” laughs Butler. “We’re pretty straightforward. I mean, we haven’t talked a whole lot to be honest about what we’re actually gonna play, like what songs we want to do in Australia. Personally, I would love to see us just practice as many songs as we possibly can, feel really comfortable playing them and honestly be able to play a different set every night. We want to find out what people really want to hear! Like you said, it’s such a long way to go and I hate, especially with the concept of somewhere like Australia and with Europe….even last time we were in Australia, we know there’s so many people who aren’t from Sydney or they’re not from Melbourne, or not from Adelaide, they drove two hours or they took a flight to come and see us.”
“It’s the same in the UK, it’s not easy, as hard as it is for us to get there, people sometimes work just as hard to come see us. And I hate the idea of us travelling super far and people travelling super far and then not getting to hear their favourite songs. I think there’s a handful of tracks that will definitely be difficult to make available just because we’ve never really played them live and we don’t really have the infrastructure or the instrumentation for them, especially when travelling overseas. I would love to see us be in a position where it’s a little bit more like a “Mom Jeans jukebox”, set-wise. And most of these shows are gonna be a lot more intimate, at least compared to what we’re playing in the States right now.”
The landscape has changed a lot and even though it’s very small amounts of money, streaming-wise, there is opportunity out there, if you can make an album and get enough people to listen to it, you can generate a little bit of income.
[ Eric Butler ]
“We don’t really have the capacity to interact with everybody when the shows have between a thousand or two thousand people there,” Butler pauses, smiling. “When there’s only 400 people at the show, like in Europe there’s only around 200 or 300 people at the show; it’s a lot easier to kind of make the rounds and talk to people and say what’s up.”
“Our goal is to hopefully catch a vibe and find out from individuals: if there’s any songs that will make you start a riot if we don’t play it – let us know! And we’ll make sure, if it’s even at all possible, that we put it in the set list. I’d love to see that because there’s always pressure when you’ve released an album more recently, I think, to play songs that are off that new album. The last time that we were playing internationally, we were playing a lot of stuff from our second record. And I think now our set list is a really nice mix of stuff from Sweet Tooth and a bunch of hits from the past – plus a couple of deep cuts peppered in there as well.
“I just wanna be prepared and give people a nice offering. And hopefully nobody goes home feeling like they waited three years to see us and we didn’t give them what they wanted,” Butler laughs.
For many Aussies, the very notion of international touring is happily becoming less of a novelty; and the recalibration offered by bands and fans being finally able to reconnect in a live setting as the pandemic begins to wane is certainly not lost on Butler or his Mom Jeans bandmates.
“Everything’s really messed up right now,” muses Butler. “So, the fact that we’re even able to travel and play music and do this sort of thing is super awesome.”
“Anytime, any chance somebody wants to put me on a plane so I can come rock – I’m a happy camper!”.
With Atlanta, Georgia rockers Microwave joining Mom Jeans in Australia next March, there’s plenty to get excited about for music lovers and fans of the emotive, catchy, and cathartic sonic stylings of both beloved bands. And while the touring modus operandi while in Australia undeniably differs from Mom Jeans’ usual fare when touring Stateside, their punk rock ethos may just allow for even more memorable Aussie moments to add to the Mom Jeans legacy.
“I don’t know what we’re going to be able to plan,” says Butler of the potential Australian bucket list for Mom Jeans when they’re in town(s) next March. “We’re going to the UK and Europe right before we come to Australia, we’re doing a month out there, and then we have a few weeks at home. So, it’s hard to say how everybody’s gonna feel and how much energy we’re gonna have after that. But at the same time, we’ve kind of gotten ourselves, at least when we’re doing international stuff, to a point as a band where we’re very low maintenance as far as gear and what we need. We all travel pretty light and we don’t have a tonne of stuff. We’re a punk rock band so we’re pretty straightforward.”
“We’re happy to just hop in the van and see where the adventure takes us, that’s super nice. We’re gonna be flying to a lot of shows, from what I understand that’s more commonplace in Australia than it is here. Here, you would never fly from LA to the Bay Area. But in Australia, you’d skip a five hour drive and you’d just fly, so that’s what we’re doing, rather than renting a van and driving around and stuff like that. So, that’ll be a new experience, a bunch of flights in a short period of time.”
“But we really liked our day in Sydney when we were last there, we went to the fish markets and we went to a couple of beaches and stuff like that. And next year when we’re there the weather will be beautiful, it’ll be really hot,” Butler grins hesitantly. “That will be an interesting experience!”
In 2022 alone, Mom Jeans have appeared at When We Were Young Festival, alongside My Chemical Romance, Paramore, and Avril Lavigne to name a few, as well as Furnace Fest with New Found Glory, Mastodon, Thrice, Alexisonfire and countless others, a huge array of other festivals, headline shows and support slots. But while the Mom Jeans live show is undeniably a well-oiled and critically acclaimed machine, repeatedly referred to as being a life-changing experience, returning to a live setting after lockdown meant nerves were once again back on the table for Butler personally; but, as he reveals, the experiences were nothing but positive, as was the creation of the new Mom Jeans album Sweet Tooth during the pandemic.
“I was really excited,” Butler enthuses when talk turns to the first Mom Jeans live shows post-lockdown. “I mean, I go to a lot of shows and stuff too, my partner is really into music, and as a band it’s how we were kind of raised locally. It’s just like: you go to all the shows and you meet every band, that sort of stuff – and we’re still kinda like that. I actually went to two shows this week. And back then, I was going to a bunch of shows, going to a bunch of my homie’s shows, I saw Japanese Breakfast right before we were about to go back on tour again. And I saw a bunch of my friend’s bands and local bands doing their first shows back.”
“For our own first show back – I was super nervous! I get stage fright really badly. I still get really bad butterflies in my stomach, and I get the shakes and stuff. It usually wears off when the tour starts and you’re playing a show every day and then it’s pretty normal. I was just shaky and nervous, and our first show back was in Denver, Colorado. But they go super hard for us there, so it was a really good experience. It felt really good to be back. If anything, I just felt a big sense of relief. It’s kinda interesting, like what you were talking about earlier with the pandemic, I feel grateful that we recognized how we were feeling when we felt it. I think doing Sweet Tooth and finishing it and releasing it when we did was a combination of good timing, and also just a realisation during the pandemic of like: “Oh shit! What are we going to do if we can’t play shows?”.
“I think that the landscape has has definitely changed a lot,” Butler continues, “at least for us, we’re all pretty solidly rooted in what we like with regards to our own preferences, and we weren’t really into the idea of the livestream thing and the virtual tours, we weren’t really into the idea of doing the Twitch and the Patreon stuff, like a bunch of livestreams and trying to keep some sort of relationship with the fanbase alive in that way where we were kind of intruding on our personal lives. I think that we realised probably about two or three months into proper lockdown that we were just like: “Well, why don’t we just get back into making music and writing songs again?”. Because if nothing else, we can make more songs.”
“The landscape has changed a lot and even though it’s very small amounts of money, streaming-wise, there is opportunity out there, if you can make an album and get enough people to listen to it, you can generate a little bit of income – and that’s passive income that, if you plan on being a band for a long time, you plan on touring for a while, you can kind of live off that and make that work. That was almost our active rebellion in the face of the crisis. It was like: well fuck it, if we can’t go on tour then we’re gonna make a new album so that the second we can go on tour, we’ll have new songs, and people will be hopefully foaming at the mouth for a Mom Jean’s gig.”
“Luckily that has been sort of the way that it’s worked for us so far, and we’ve been really, really grateful. We’re just trying to, in the face of how everything’s going right now, keep that vibe of mutual respect between us and the people coming to our shows very much visible and very much alive.”
“I think that this relationship between artists and musicians and what we do, and the venues and the staff at those venues and folks who do what y’all do and everybody in PR and everybody who loves the bands and wants to support them and wants to keep doing it…that relationship has gotten so strained over the course of the last two and a half years. And with music and with bands who mean something to you…like you said, you leave these shows sometimes feeling like a better person. What makes me feel that way is making a conscious effort to make everybody feel like we all care about the same thing again. That we’re all here for the same purpose and that we all recognise the amount of work that every single person has put in to make this show possible.”
“And it’s not just about one band or one guy having their star moment,” Butler pauses briefly, smiling. “And it’s not about the band just getting their paycheck and then walking out of there. I think, if anything, the bands that are doing well are the bands that are creating an environment where people feel valued and they feel like their investment and their input into these bands is not taken for granted. I genuinely think that’s why the bands that are successful right now are being successful. It’s about trying to keep that going, and making people feel seen and feel heard and all of that stuff when they come to see us.”
It’s Butler’s infectious positivity when discussing the recalibration of the music industry that is equally resonating on the band’s latest wall-to-wall ear candy album Sweet Tooth which released earlier this year. And, as Butler explains, the upbeat yet meaningful flair constantly wielded on any Mom Jeans release throughout their career is never ever accidental.
“We feel like if we make that little extra effort to be, I guess, as vulnerable as we can or as much ourselves as we can,” shares Butler, “then people will actually see themselves in us and they’ll see the parts of themselves that they like and that they want to support and validate. You can’t do that if you’re not upfront. And the people who fuck with you and wanna support you and wanna be friends with you – they will find you. Positivity has gone a long way for us. I mean, you can try and be cool as much as you want to be, and being a cool guy goes pretty far admittedly. But I think at the end of the day, we all just want to be loved and be respected and we all want to find our people, find our little community.”
“Hopefully this band is a little slice of that for people sometimes, hopefully it’s a little community where they feel, if anything, welcomed in and invited rather than gate-kept or like: “Oh, you aren’t cool enough”, or: “You don’t wear the right clothes”, you know? I hope everybody can see as much of themselves as they want to see in us that makes them comfortable, and to be able to access it in whatever way they want to.”
“It’s nice,” Butler continues, smiling, “it feels like we’re at a pretty good place right now. The relationship, like I said, as strained as it has been for as long, it feels like we’re in a really good place where I think we feel really seen, hopefully, by our fanbase and I think they feel pretty seen by us as well. And that’s all you can really ask for. At the end of the day, it’s really hard to achieve that balance.”
With shows already locked and loaded well beyond their Australian shows in 2023, including in Canada and Hawaii, the Mom Jeans sweltering trajectory seems to only be set to burn bigger and brighter as the band venture forward into a brand new year. But, as Butler endearingly reveals, any future successes and accolades are truly delicious icing on a very humble cake/
“Me and Austin, our drummer, we always like to joke and say that our only goal when we started this band was to put out one album and go on tour,” Butler laughs. “And we did that, we did that summer of 2016 and everything after that has been just a complete gravy train ride. And I think that when you approach things, not to be cheesy or preachy or anything, but honestly when you approach things with gratitude – you get so much out of it.
“I’ve had very, very few points in this experience where I really felt like it wasn’t worth it or that I didn’t want to be in this band anymore – because it does happen for everybody, especially when you’ve been in a band for so long. But, in retrospect, thinking about how many bands don’t survive, just the rigours of this industry and what it takes to survive the changes in the landscape…I’m really, really, really, really grateful for everything.”
All in all, while there may still be a few months to wait until Mom Jeans bring their captivating selves back to Australia, you’d better believe that Mom Jeans are more than ready to give it their all.
“We’re gonna fucking bring it,” Butler concludes. “It’s gonna be a party. We’re so stoked to come back, it’s gonna be dope!”.
Catch Mom Jeans with special guests Microwave in Australia next March.
Tuesday 7th March // Lynotts Lounge // Perth 18+
Thursday 7th March // Jive Bar // Adelaide 18+
Friday 10th March // Factory Theatre // Sydney Lic/AA
Saturday 11th March // The Brightside // Brisbane 18+
Sunday 12th March // Corner Hotel // Melbopurne 18+