Joey Nestor and Jon Stolpe, two thirds of New Jersey punk trio The Moms, are sitting at a private bar on the second floor of Maggie Mae’s on 6th Street. The street is a haven of venues, the locale of most of the festival’s showcases, and nicknamed “Dirty Six” by locals. As chaos festers outside, drunk fans stumbling form venue to venue, The Moms are cooling down, prepping for their first official SXSW showcase. The venue’s walls are lined with framed Rolling Stone covers: Johnny Rotten, Mick Jagger, Fleetwood Mac. The Moms have no pretensions of being rock legends: they’re here to have fun, make music, party, and confuse people about the fact that a band full of dudes is called The Moms.
We sat down with them before their showcase to talk about the future of the project, and that ever-enigmatic name.
THE MOMS INTERVIEW
E.R. (HIGHLARK): So this is your first SXSW?
JOEY NESTOR (GUITAR + VOCALS // THE MOMS): That’s right.
E.R.: How do you feel? How do you sense the energy here?
JOEY: I mean, everybody’s so excited it’s hard not to feel the same way. It’s our first official SXSW; we’ve played the festival before, but on like the complete opposite side of town where there was like nothing going on. We played and some people came to the show and asked “what the hell are you guys doing here?”
JON STOLPE (BASS // THE MOMS): They said we were on the wrong side of town. [Laugh]
JOEY: It’s a little bit different this time around.
E.R.: I want to ask about your name because you guys are…dudes. [Laugh]
JOEY: We started 6 years ago now, and we were just thinking of names. Jon thought of The Moms, and it was just short, sweet, kind of to the point. It’s kind of funny: some people think it stands for something, but it doesn’t. It has no meaning.
E.R.: What have people thought that it stood for?
JOEY: I don’t know; my mom actually swears it stands for something but she has yet to tell me what she thinks it stands for. Nobody’s come up with anything yet.
E.R.: When I found out I was going to interview you guys, I was looking at your music and was surprised to hear a hardcore rock sound. When you think of a mother, that’s a very tender image, and I’m just interested in how you reconcile your sound with that name.
JOEY: I guess we’re just trying to be a punk band and, true to form, the name doesn’t mean anything. We’re “The Band,” “The Something…” we’re just The Moms, you know? We’ve had a couple artistic campaigns with motherly imagery: classic mom stuff, like baking pies or something. But the two don’t really connect, as far as the music and the name goes.
JON: A lot of our lyrics are kind of humorous and it goes with the whole kind of attitude, you know? Just humor, you could say.
E.R.: You guys were based in Jersey. How does the music scene there affect your sound?
JOEY: Jersey has an amazing music scene: it has everything, you know? There’s so many bands playing in New Jersey, and there are so many venues for bands to play at. There’s a huge basement scene, and it’s just a very well connected scene that has a voice and has certain groups connected on Facebook or stuff, so groups are constantly going to shows and promoting each other’s shows.
It’s very tight-knit but it’s so large, you know? So really it’s influenced our sound in that there’s just so much out there you don’t have to stick to one scene or one genre if you want to play a show. A lot of the underground shows are just a mixed bag, so you don’t have to ascribe yourself to any one type of music, and it provides a pretty broad spectrum, which we have in our sound. That’s probably a result of the scene; there’s no need to label yourself one way or another, it’s playing music for the sake of playing music and having fun.
E.R.: How did you guys meet and form the band?
JON: We’ve known each other for I think 20 years now. Me and the drummer are brothers, and Joey’s known us for about 20 years now.
JOEY: Same hometown. Grew up like basically around the street, and we’ve been playing in bands together since high school. Can’t get rid of him. [Laugh]
E.R.:Where do you hope to take this project? What’s next for The Moms?
JOEY: We went and recorded a full length record at the beginning of the year, so that’s coming out on Bar-None.
E.R.:Oh sick, I love Bar-None!
JOEY: Yeah, they’re cool. They’re real cool. They released an EP of ours last September, and then this new LP is coming out probably within the next couple of months. We like to play, we’re gonna continue to play. Any opportunity we can take, we take, either to play or to travel. Just have fun, you know? Takes the mind off of other things.
E.R.: Such as?
JOEY: Work. [Laugh]
E.R.: Tell me about that.
JOEY: Jon’s the manager of a burrito restaurant, and it drives him crazy. Matty [Stolpe, The Moms’ drummer] delivers burrito’s for the same company, and I work doing plumbing; it’s tough. So it’s kind of having an escapist attitude toward the whole punk rock thing. It’s fun to go out and play and party.