Week in Pop: ETA, Mommy Long Legs, Natural Velvet

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Mommy Long Legs

Mommy Long Legs’ party at the mythic, “Bitch Island”; photographed by Linda Fenstermaker.

Seattle has never fallen off. Seattle is the northwest bastion where both commercial-capitalism runs rampant while the underground artist denizens continue to stick it to the techie & bourgeoisie hordes with middle-fingers up & an arsenal of progressive arts that no draconian regime can ever take away. The uninitiated will talk about the Seattle they never knew, lamenting the former grunge-era and how they liked so & so before they signed to a major, etc, etc, ad nauseum. The Seattle subterranean sects & counter-culture scenes are cultivated by the people who continue to put this Washington State metropolis on the map through ethics & aesthetics that have nothing to do with binary b.s., algorithms, focus groups, or tiring nostalgia, but rather the indefatigable & undefeated resolve & inherent talents that can only be created by a force of humanism that understands the importance of resistance & the futile efforts of any & all who attempt to stop or silence them.
Today we cast a spotlight on the influential Seattle band Mommy Long Legs who proudly present the world premiere for their anticipated 7″ Rock Product available May 19 from Youth Riot Records (recorded/mixed by Ian Kurtis Crist via Office Space in Seattle, WA & mastered by Youth Riot Records’ Spencer Johndrew). Here to smash up the over-hyped pantheon of traditional patriarchal pettiness are Lilly Morlock, Cory Budden, Melissa Kagerer & Leah Miller who deliver their latest hostile-takeover with their own unique style of scuzz shining sounds & a sharp irreverent humor that warrants repeated listens & obsessive fandom. Following on the heels of Assholes & Life Rips—their new 7″ Rock Product destroys the reductionist notion of art/progressive politics as a construct of corporate commodity for a new gender neutral that shatters the statues & busts of the overstated bastards that get too much ink in the world of DIY coverage & so forth.
Mommy Long Legs photographed by Sam Leung.

Rock Product throws a hammer & sickle into the mechanics of manufactured manifest pop destiny that are sold to the troves of media outlets like phallocentric payola. Mommy Long Legs makes music for all peoples marginalized under these oppressive banners by an industry machine more interested in tallying up clicks, web traffic & short-term sales over substance & the sound of what’s really motivating a world that is sick of hearing & reading about the same thing just because it’s trending internationally or because it has best new music sticker-tag next to a replete abysmal decimal based metrics. Lilly, Cory, Melissa & Leah take aim at the overused acronyms of bro-dom to fly their own anarchic flag of reclaimed fun on “Diva Night”. Beginning with a sample from the beloved G.I. Joe PSA alterations with “last one there is a penis pump,” Mommy Long Legs spout off a litany of ubiquitous slang from “420,” “69,” to “666” & more that takes back the notions of girl’s night/guy’s night to create “Diva Night” where the quartet reclaims a night that is all their own (while encouraging their audience to join in on all the ultra-energetic antics).
And Mommy Long Legs’ Rock Product could not have arrived a moment sooner. From last year’s disastrous elections (and the international socio-political meltdowns currently in progress) to the just-passed GOP so-called health care bill passing through the house; MLL are here to commiserate with a call for action coupled with escapist fantasias. Take “Bitch Island” where the group imagines running away from everyone on a permanent vacation to an imagined island where they can be left alone from the rest of the judgmental jerks. The track employees Cory’s heavy floor tom beat with an attitude that is dead set on living out the life you want to live on an island that is all your own. Complete with an entertaining & hilarious music video directed by Linda Fenstermaker; watch as the fearless foursome are seen done up in the latest vintage-shop glamor attire (all of their own styling & choosing), partaking in playground games, eating Barbie & Ken dolls in gigantic subway sandwiches, teeing off on defaced mannequin heads & rocking out with any & all household items on hand. Their aesthetic & attitude recalls the antics of local supergroup Childbirth, but make no mistake that Mommy Long Legs are their own self-asserting rabble-rousing institution that the world outside of the Pacific northwest are just beginning to get hip to.

And “Bitch Island” is just a quick palette cleanser before Mommy Long Legs go straight for the jugular on “Dick Move”. The dumb dudes of the world get buried in just a little bit over one minute & a half where self-importance & white male privileged is met with a showdown of shouts and addictive dissonance that re-asserts that the group has no use for entitled assholes in the memorable lyrical bar of truth that states, “we’d be better off without you.” Mommy Long Legs cover of The Cramps’ “People Ain’t No Good” (recorded & mixed by Brendan Krueger) begins with the iconic Poison Ivy Rorschach sample quote that states; “I’m the queen of rock n roll and for this not to be recognized is pure sexism.” The group makes the 1986 punk classic sound as relevant in 2017 as it did then by tearing down the status quo that celebrates the majority & rejects the causes & creativity of the minority groups. The Seattle band takes back what is rightfully theirs through a four song cycle that answers the world’s nihilistic howls & cat calls with an unabashed belief in themselves that makes for one radical statement that will hopefully get the complacent & apathetic world woke af. Join us immediately after the following listen for an insightful interview with Mommy Long Legs.

Walk us through the past few years of releases from Life Rips, Assholes to Rock Product; what sorts of notable moments & stories have encouraged & inspired you all along the way?
We started this band to have fun and play music but the more we all talked and got to know each other the band became a tool for us to address the misogyny that we’ve all experienced and the harder things in life that have we’ve experienced/dealt with. We all love campy horror movies and Halloween and we all tend to use humor to deal with things and that’s really where our style developed from.
Playing shows for younger kids and teens has been a huge source of inspiration. Rain City Rock Camp is a summer camp here where young girls and gender non-confirming youth get to form a band and learn to play different instruments and we’ve gotten to play for them the past two years. It’s really great being able to inspire other people.
Tour is always encouraging and inspiring too. We get to meet so many great new people! This one time when we were in Joshua Tree we were camping next to these guys that were on mushrooms thought that we were rockstars sent from the gods.
Mommy Long Legs
Rocking out with Mommy Long Legs at Seattle’s High Dive; photographed by Sam Leung.

Compared to previous releases it feels & sounds like Rock Product is much more of a refined & hi-fi sort of, um, product. Tell us about the larger & higher definition sound that you all have going on now.
We love HD and we just want to get rich. [laughs] Just kidding, we already are. Life Rips was recorded in a basement, Assholes was recorded in an old church, Rock Product was recorded in an old office building…coincidence? We’re farting around different recording spaces and working on refining our sound. We were just getting our sea legs in Life Rips but now we’re the motha-freakin’ captains of the boat.
Mommy Long Legs live at Seattle’s High Dive; photographed by Sam Leung.

Best things about Seattle right now?
The constant rain. [laughs] The music here is pretty good tho. Also the space noodle, we love art and we can’t forget the legalized devil’s lettuce.
Worse things about Seattle right now?
It’s really fucking expensive and Paul Allen thinks that if he throws a big stupid music festival we won’t notice how his company is fucking up and further gentrifying our neighborhoods. : ) Suck it Paul Allen.
Mommy Long Legs live; photographed by Sam Leung.

How bad has the tech bro situation gotten up there? It’s been pretty, pretty lame here in SF but word has it that the tech bubble in the Bay might be on the decline….not sure tho.
It’s pretty bad but also easy to avoid if you don’t go to SLU or Capitol Hill. Although it ripples throughout our whole city in the form of new ugly buildings, our favorite businesses going away and being replaced with overpriced bullshit, having to move farther and farther out of the city… but if you want to run into a bunch of entitled turds IRL or get hit by a solo wheel just go to Capitol Hill on a weekend night.
Live at Seattle’s High Dive with Mommy Long Legs; photographed by Sam Leung.

Walk us through the anecdotes behind each of these righteous ringers:

“Diva Night”:

Inspired by our last tour with Boyfriends..it’s a lot of inside jokes but at its core it’s about being fun and flirty on tour.

“Bitch Island”:

We were talking a lot about how sometimes you don’t want to entertain anyone’s ego and just be alone and sometimes you’re called a bitch because of that but why not just be a bitch on your own island then.

“Dick Move”:

I think this was initially inspired by a particular dude being a dick to one of us? And then we started talking about all the things men do that are dick-ish like cutting in line at the grocery store and acting like creeps.

“People Ain’t No Good”:

This is a Cramps cover but Lux obvs wrote it straight from his heart into ours.
Local artists that you want to recognize?
DoNormaal, Guayaba, Lilac, Dude York, Baywitch, Slugs, Glover, Younger Shoulder, Yr Heart Breaks, The Black Tones, Hoop, Wimps, Mr. Wrong, Jenny Creep, My Parade, Ramona, Peace and Red Velvet, Tres Leches, Mascaras.
What is everyone listening to right now that we should be listening to too?
French Vanilla, Baus, Priest, Alien Ant Farm, Los Saicos, U.S. Girls, Grace Jones, Aye Nako.

Mommy Long Legs taking over Seattle’s High Dive; photographed by Sam Leung.

Local causes & activism that folks should be aware of?
Seattle Black Book Club is doing a lot of really important work around anti-gentrification efforts in specific neighborhoods, Kshama Sawant got our city to divest from Wells Fargo, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project in general, Nikkita Oliver is a really amazing activist who is running for major and we are really excited about that. Make Space Zine is a lovely quarterly zine that celebrates femme, queer, poc, artists, and makers in our community. We had the pleasure of being included in one of the past issues. Tuff is an electronic and digital music/artist collective that’s run by femmes and poc, they are putting on a lot of really cool art and music events.
Survival tips for 2017 and the ensuing years in these strange & less than stable times?
Try your best, don’t be complacent, be loud in whatever way is comfortable for you, use your power—however much or little you have—to help others. Take care of yourself, stay present, look out for people and practice empathy. This is an opportunity for growth so rock on and safety is punk.
Mommy Long Legs’ forthcoming 7″ Rock Product will be available May 19 from Youth Riot Records.