As a hard-rocking Melbourne outfit, the Drunk Mums ply a stripped-back sound. Live it conjures an elemental energy. -there’s a power and resonance to what they play. Fresh of a European tour and with their latest ear-bashing EP Denim hot in the pipes, they’re again gearing up for a national tour. Ahead of their Brisbane and Gold Coast shows we caught up with the Mum’s resident bassist-vocalist-recordist Adam Ritchie. Here’s what he had to say...
RR: We’re at that time of year between the End of Year Album lists and triple j’s Hottest 100. Has there been an album, track or EP which stood out for you in 2017?
Adam: Not particularly! I just listen to music from the ‘70s and ‘80s [laughs]. I don’t really pay much attention to anything unless it’s hardcore or heavy metal and it’s kind of hard to pick one song if that’s the case.
RR: In a sense Australian music seems to have built its identity around a hard-rocking sound. Starting with The Easybeats as well as other R&B acts in the ‘60s and moving forward all the way to into the present. Even when prevailing tastes have lay elsewhere there’s always been a wealth of talented guitar groups. Why is it that you think Australians are continually drawn to this rough-hewn sound?
Adam: I guess previously it was kind of a reaction to the working class. I think that kind of still rings true a bit with Australian bands and culture - the Australian way! I guess that could be why, I’m not sure. We’re a bit rough around the edges and so is the music.
RR: The Drunk Mums have been going for at least six years now. What’s been key to keeping the group together? Sometimes bands can be a bit like being in a dysfunctional family…
Adam: [Laughs] Yeah! I think the band actually been together for seven years now, I’m not quite sure because I wasn’t actually in it from the beginning. The reason why we’ve stayed together for so long is just from kind of changing the way we go about things.
Obviously at the start we’d all get together and practice every week for a year or something. That kind of put a drain on it. Nowadays we write our own songs in our own time and then come to practice with a complete song. It works better like that now, we can have time together as mates because that’s what we were first.
RR: What motivates you personally as a musician?
Adam: Motivation? I don’t know if I’ve necessarily got it. It’s more like I’ve got something that I can’t stop doing now because I’ve been doing it for so long.
Maybe one thing is a drive to educate other people about music. Another is just being able to travel overseas, we just did a big European tour last September. That was just so good! Such a good experience to be able to see a different side of a country by touring.
RR: The Drunk Mums education! What is it? Do you feel like you carrying on a grander tradition of rock music or something like that?
Adam: We’re trying to keep rock ‘n’ roll music true to itself. I’m not sure what people get from it really, I just hope that they’re havin’ fun.
RR: What has been one of the highlights of slogging it out with the Mums this long?
Adam: Touring Europe was great. We were a bit scared going into it, we thought we might end up hating each other or arguing all the time. But by the end of it we were like, “We could just keep going! We could do this forever. We don’t have to stop!” Just being able to tour overseas was amazing.
RR: It hasn’t always been smooth sailing. One example is when you were robbed of your van and gear while over in the States a few years back. Has there been a rock bottom low?
Adam: Okay so, even though I said touring Europe was the best thing that’s happened we actually missed our flight home from Paris. That was pretty shit, waking up and realising that we’d all slept through our alarms because we got too drunk the night before. We were so excited that we’d finished and accomplished the thing!
RR: A hear a lot of Joey Ramone in this new single ‘Hot Flush’. It has such a great delinquent edge to it, but maybe also an element of coldness too. Is there a story behind the lyrics?
Adam: I wrote that one and it’s kind of about when you go through a hard time but trying to remember that you’ll be okay. If you’re struggling with anxiety sometimes you get that feeling, an energy and a feeling. So really, I’m just trying to explain those things and saying that it’ll be okay. It happens to everyone.
RR: Tell me where this new single is leading. What can people expect from forthcoming EP Denim?
Adam: Leather was the EP before this one, so we’ve tried to make this one sound similar. We’ve tried not to necessarily change the direction of the band, but also tried to maybe ring true to ‘70s rock ‘n’ roll a bit more. In terms of similarity to Leather it’s a little more poppy, it’s got a little more melody. It’s less aggressive but it’s still got its tough bits.
RR: So you’re pushing further into melodic territory?
Adam: We’ve always had these two sides I think. We love listening to power pop which is purely melody based but also love listening to hardcore punk which is purely aggression. Now we’re just trying to meld them together. Kind of mix between the two.
RR: At the breaking dawn of a new year, what’s on the cards for the group in 2018?
We’re doing the Australian tour and we’ve also got a Spanish label putting out two tracks from either Leather or Denim so hopefully we’ll head over that way as well. We’re going to start writing a new album too! Hopefully we’ll put that out by the end of the year, get things going.
Saturday 16 December - Geelong Bandroom, Geelong
Friday 12 January - Miami Sharkbar, Gold Coast
Saturday 13 January - The Zoo, Brisbane
Friday 19 January - Landsdowne Hotel, Sydney
Saturday 20 January - UOW, Wollongong
Thursday 25 January - The Eastern, Ballarat
Saturday 27 January - Ed Castle, Adelaide
Friday 2 February The Night Cat, Melbourne