Words: Danielle Cohen ‘18
Photos: Tricia Merlino ‘18
The members of Mom are what I like to call VQHs – Very Quirky Humans.
They are endearingly silly and adorably weird.
They are also virtually impossible to interview.
I should start by mentioning that I interviewed Mom in the middle of a field – specifically, the field behind Long Lane Farms, where they posed for exceedingly cute photographs, contemplated creating a human totem pole, and discussed what they’ll do at dinner parties when they’re old and rich.
Answering in semi-sarcastic witticisms and slightly absurd jokes, Mom rarely responds to questions in any sort of traditional way. The sunny fall afternoon I spent with them in the field behind Long Lane Farms proved one of the most delightful and intriguing (albeit challenging) interviews I’ve conducted thus far.
It’s unclear how the three members of Mom – Jonah Wolfson ‘17, Sam Friedman ’18, and Ben Klausner ’18 – came together. When I asked how they formed, Ben replied, “In our mother’s wombs.” Either way, their cohesiveness is clear in conversation: They build on each other’s jokes and puns, extending each to its most outlandish limits. What’s more, they revel quietly in their humor, either remaining completely deadpan or letting out a brief chuckle at the most.
Their name seems to have risen as spontaneously as the group itself. The only previously considered band name they recall is “The Moms,” which quickly become “Mom” – and the name stuck.
“We wanted to be called Kanye West but someone had taken that,” Sam kids – still deadpan.
While Mom remained somewhat mysterious about their background, I was able to squeeze some logistical information out of them. Their inaugural performance was last May at 200 Church, where they opened for Sneaky Sugars. When I mention the performance, which actually occurred before Jonah joined the group, Sam jokingly corrects me, with winking charm, “Actually, Sneaky closed for us.”
Since their inception, they’ve been playing at various concerts, including the MASH at the beginning of this year. Their favorite show was September’s performance at Art House, where they opened for Chef, which you may remember as “that time Art House turned into the Amazon rainforest.” They sarcastically cite the humidity as the quality that made it so memorable.
All the members of the group contribute to writing their original pieces, oftentimes free-styling in jams or throwing jokes into songs, until the night before concerts, when Ben writes more official, serious lyrics. They’ve also done a slew of covers, ranging from Green Day’s “Basket Case” to Kanye West’s “Runaway.” They tell me Joey Chipman ’18 is their manager, and identify Noah St. John ’18 as their hype man. And, they’ve already come up with the name of their album (for which they have yet to write or record songs): Pretty, Happy, Good.
“We’re the kind of Mom that tells our kids they can do whatever they want, and we actually mean it,” Ben announces.
Jonah adds, “But then the kid feels super responsible about it, so they don’t fuck up.”
So if Mom is a cool mom, I couldn’t help but wonder, who is their child? “Our kid is the music,” Ben replies mystically. Their “child” sounds like sometimes-peppy, sometimes-funky, sometimes-dissonant rock. The Facebook event for the initial 200 Church performance calls it “alternative, psychadelic, post-pubescent, mystery-rock.”
The members themselves, in classic Mom fashion, decide to use “less human-centric terms” to characterize their sound: Ben cites the image of a whale jumping out of the water and giving the bird above it a refreshing splash through its blowhole.
Sam says their music is like the first time you go on a roller coaster and aren’t scared. Then, after hearing Ben’s whale comparison, he comes up with a different one: “It’s like going on a whale watch, and then you don’t see whales for most of it, but at the end you see one crazy whale.”
After a couple minutes of passionate debate during which they consider “golf cart music” and “jet-ski music” (both deemed too bourgeois), the three of them finally settle on “scooter music” – Razr music, to be specific.
You can come up with your own description (human-centric or not) of Mom’s music by listening to it on their Bandcamp: http://momtheband.bandcamp.com. Or, you can sit back and revel in their unapologetically quirky rock.