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Scottish Deaf Valley Surfing Turf: Interview with The Animal Mothers

a0942472309_2There isn’t very much surf punk music splashing out from the Scottish town of Falkirk, and there’s a very good and simple reason for this: there is no surfing of any kind there, or in the surrounding area. However, seemingly nobody bothered to tell this to intrepid garage-surf punk guitar-and-drums duo The Animal Mothers, named after a character in the 1987 Stanley Kubrick Vietnam film Full Metal Jacket.

This is a very good thing.

Falkirk is a functional, not-bad, ho-hum Deaf Valley midway between Glasgow and Edinburgh, a commuter town where people live and go to work elsewhere and then go home again to sleep perchance to dream of a night out in the twin big cities they are nestled in between. Rinse and repeat to inspiration defeat. It’s not usually a place to find a never-at-peace two-piece with their fevered brains ablaze with napalm-hewn neon frescoes of surfer queens and Cadillacs and hippie murder novas, mixed with a snide salad of totally Scottish working class songs about selling and taking drugs and erotically enjoying being beaten by the police.

Make no mistake about it, The Animal Mothers are just a great wee band from start to finish. Purveyors of Charles Mansonics, feverishly trancescribing the moonhowler lycanthropic anger and energy of coming from a post-industrial shopping maul environment, surrogate sons of American song mixed with their own kinky and cheeky and effortlessly pervy brand of smalltown fuzzcrunch glamslaps. The meatybeat combo have taken a quintessentially American sonic form and made it their own, jumping into the soundwaves of a mythical 50s-cum-60s-cum-70s USA ocean of buoys and bikini girls with machine guns and Beach Boys and go-go parties and Killer B movies and hypnotic wailing wah-Watusi dance moves and sleek assnailing gasguzzler cars and glitteryeye lysergic acid tests and cult leaders and occult bleeders and keg parties and prim pantie-dropping good girls gone bad and dad-and-mom-mad-making, a gaudy Atlantic-filtered psychedelic kaleidoscope of long-gone American pop-and-unpop cultural flashpoints…and coming up with something new and strange and different altogether. Just fucking listen to them before everybody else does. You won’t regret it.

Anyway, here’s a few words from the young men of the sonic power hour. So without further ado…

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Diabolique: What are your names, and what instruments do you play? 

The Animal Mothers: Wallace Pate, guitar, vocals, bass and keyboards. Alex Abate, drums and percussion.

Diabolique: Why are you only a two-piece? Couldn’t you afford a bass player? 

The Animal Mothers: We’re too lazy and inflexible to add a 3rd person.

Diabolique: How did you end up doing garage-cum-surf punk in Falkirk, an area that has no surfing? 

The Animal Mothers: Surf rock is a genre, we like it. Garage rock is a genre, we like it. I didn’t realise there was an unwritten rule that you could only use your local area as an influence. That’s us fucked then.

Diabolique: How long have you been together? 

The Animal Mothers: 1 year, 7 months.

Diabolique: How did you meet? 

The Animal Mothers: The crossroads at midnight, we were trying to sell our souls. Alex wanted to trade it for some more padlocks for his jacket, I realised I don’t have one and the Devil’s not really into haggling.

Diabolique: Your music is pretty different from (what I perceive at least to be) the Falkirk music scene. Do you feel like you fit in there? Got any fave bands from the scene? Or from any other scenes? 

The Animal Mothers: Falkirk is absolute garbage. It sounds cliché to rag on your home town but its not exactly been welcoming. The best thing to come out of Falkirk in a while is probably Mathew Symes, he rips. It’s not somewhere we’ve played that much in fact its only ever been once at North Star (Rialto’s) but that pub is cool so if it was anywhere I’m glad it was there. The garage rock scene in Glasgow has been much more accepting and we have a lot of friends there. We dig bands like Black Cat Revue, Faiides, The Reverse Cowgirls, there’s more. The Draynes from Edinburgh are sick as well and of course Thee Rag n’ Bone Man from Montrose is the best motherfucker to pick up a guitar.

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Diabolique: What music do you guys listen to, and are there any major differences in your listening habits?

The Animal Mothers: The Animal Mothers: Not particularly, Personally I dig Krautrock quite a bit. Same with some techno and house, Alex is in to rockabilly a little bit more than me but it’s nothing major.

Diabolique: Who would you list as your musical or artistic inspirations?

 The Animal Mothers: Well we both really dig 60s and modern garage rock and punk. I go through really intense Delta blues phases. Surf rock is a big one as well. A lot of girl groups from the 60s are fucking groovy as well.

Diabolique: Have you ever surfed, or wanted to? 

The Animal Mothers: Don’t think either of us have, wouldn’t mind giving it a go though. I like the sea and we both used to skateboard.

Diabolique: I hear the ghost of The Jesus and Mary Chain floating through some of these tracks; the Scottish noise connection. Fave songs or albums? 

The Animal Mothers: They only have 1 good album which is Psychocandy. Seen them at the ABC the other week and it was possibly one of the worst gigs I’ve ever been to. They started out as a kind of iconoclastic thing but its went full circle and now everyone’s sucking their hypothetical cock.

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Diabolique:You had three releases between April and December last year. 27 songs, fairly prolific. I see that Alex produced the last one. Who produced the other two? 

The Animal Mothers: All Alex on those 3, the fact he’s got the equipment and the skills is a massive help

Diabolique: You just recorded your fourth release in an actual studio. What sort of environment did you record your first three releases in, and what difference does working in an actual studio bring to the sound?

The Animal Mothers: We recorded them in Alex’s bedroom. And that’s true we did. I’m going to be 100% honest and say that I haven’t actually listened to anything because I get a bit too self conscious. Alex seems to think the stuff we done at Green Door (a digital and analogue recording studio in Glasgow’s West End – Graham) kicks fucking ass though. Sam Smith who recorded us knows his shit and Green Door’s an awesome environment, plus it’s popular as fuck so I trust that he’s made it sound sick!

Diabolique: On the most recent release, you brought in a bass player called Martin Ritchie, who also did backing vocals, yet you don’t play with him live. Why did you bring in a bass player, what do you think it brought to the sound, and why don’t you play live with him? 

The Animal Mothers: Obviously it rounded out the sound and it meant I could practically mutilate myself live a bit more, but it made arranging gigs and practices more awkward. We had different influences as well. He’s a cool motherfucker though.

Diabolique: You have a song about Ed Wood. Any fave exploitation films/directors apart from him? 

The Animal Mothers: Roger Corman is cool, I like the fact he’s still going. In all honesty I don’t really pay much attention to directors. Schlocky B movies are more our bag.

Diabolique: You have a few songs about drugs. Any fave recreational substances? 

The Animal Mothers: Coke because it makes me feel like a balla. MDMA can be pretty good too. Obviously psychedelics are a lot of fun. Weed isn’t though. How do you know someone smokes weed? Oh they will fucking tell you!

Diabolique: In a fight between Hasil Adkins, Dick Dale, and Ron Haydock, who would win? 

The Animal Mothers: Dick Dale, he’s the only one still alive for a start so he has that going for him. Plus he’s been doing martial arts for years. Even if everyone involved was still alive it would be Dick Dale. However if you add a living or dead Bo Diddley into the mix that changes everything.

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Diabolique: Why did you stick the song Pussy on two separate releases? Did you think that nobody would notice? Well I did, so fuck you, ya filler-slinging merchants!

 The Animal Mothers: The second version has a bass and a different outro, we’ve rerecorded another song for the new record as well. What the fuck are you going to do about it?

Diabolique: If your band was a drink, an exploitation film, and a sexual position, what would they be? 

The Animal Mothers: Mojito, Vanishing Point and the rusty bike pump. You can create your own reasons why.

Diabolique: You have an album called Charlie Monsoon! You also have a picture of Charles Manson on your first release, Lost My Mind, as well as a song referencing the family’s crimes. I have seen you mention Manson and sicko cult leader-cum-mass-murderer Jim Jones on your Facebook page. What’s with the Manson/cult/true crime obsession? 

The Animal Mothers: I think it’s fascinating how one person can control so many others. I think if music doesn’t work out I would like to be a cult leader. I already have a pair of aviators now all I need is a white suit. The Blackburn Cult is fascinating as well. I’ve been reading up on the occult boom in 1920’s America.

Diabolique: Is the reason that there is no water in Death Valley the reason Charlie don’t surf? 

The Animal Mothers: He probably gave it a go, told the family that the water was all in their minds man! Just believe in what Charlie says.

Diabolique:You use 60s/70s American terms like ‘groovy’ and ‘dig’ and ‘trip’ in your speech. Why the preoccupation with verbiage from this America era? Golden drug times? 

The Animal Mothers: It’s not really anything deliberate, just a kind of idiosyncrasy that’s part of our identity.

Diabolique: You recently recorded a new album. Any details available on that yet? Name, release date, song titles? I heard you got kicked out of the studio hours early for being drunk. What happened there? 

The Animal Mothers: We don’t have a release date yet but its going to be soon. 14 tracks and its called The Incredibly Strange Animal Mothers Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies. Our friend and ally Stan Intihar from The Draynes did the artwork and its fucking sweet. It’s kind of a non issue about getting asked to leave. I’d skelped 2 bottles of Buckfast and couldn’t play guitar any more. 

Diabolique: Any further future final thoughts? 

The Animal Mothers: Long live the new flesh!

Check out more from The Animal Mothers over at their Bandcamp here

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About Graham Rae

Graham Rae has been writing about weird and wonderfueled cinematic oddities for nearly 30 years. He started off writing for the legendary Deep Red, and since then has been bounced around like a human pinball around such venues as Film Threat, American Cinematographer, Cinefantastique, and Realitystudio.org.. A selection of his genre writings are available at www.facebook.com/raewrites, and he runs a Mad Foxes page on Facebook too. You have been warned.

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