Written by Meghan Ianiro
New York City's bluesy, hard rock powerhouse MoTHER—consisting of frontman Nick Fargo, guitarist Mike Gowen, bassist Johnny Bass, and drummer Dan Traglia—has been rocking our ears since 2013 with two EP releases and a touring history featuring bands like Buckcherry, Slash, Pop Evil, Godsmack, and Red Sun Rising (just to name a few), MoTHER continues to pick up momentum with their latest single, 'Medicine' released with David Ivory (Silvertide, Halestorm, The Roots) under Flexitone Records, and freshly-announced show dates.
We spoke with MoTHER's very own Nick Fargo about music, adrenaline, fire, and West Virginian moonshine. Wondering how that came to be? Check out the interview below!
"In addition to NYC, MoTHER also based in Jersey City and you've talked about wishing there were more rock and music venues around. How do you feel about the local rock scene?"
"Our studio is in Jersey City and that is where we do most of our rehearsing and writing, but we consider ourselves a NYC band since that is where our live chops and fan base have been developed over the years. I do wish JC had some more solid music venues. I also wish we had the money to open one. I think its time for a scene to be built here. There are so many people moving in from all over the place, and the downtown area is a hotbed for the arts. I am glad White Eagle Hall is finally opening up! Hopefully that kickstarts a little something."
"How do you feel about where rock music is right now in general? It seems so rare to hear rock music in the mainstream or on the radio."
"I think that’s just the nature of the area we live in. Rock radio is very scarce in the NYC area unless you just want to hear the same classic rock songs over and over. I have to go out and search for new music which I don’t mind doing. It’s interesting, getting caught in a YouTube vortex and finding some cool new artists. Rock music isn’t as cut and dry as it used to be. There are tons and tons of sub-genres and honestly, I think it’s out there more than ever. TV commercials, movie soundtracks, sporting events, etc. all still need that high-energy movement behind their brands. Bands are still selling at shows at every level. It’s just about getting out there and finding your fans, your niche, and making them truly believe and buy into what you are doing, just like any other medium."
Pictured: MoTHER frontman Nick Fargo (courtesy of @ksayegh_photography)
"Did you always want to be in a rock band? How did you end up starting MoTHER?"
"I have always been into playing and listening to music. Different instruments always intrigued me. As a kid, listening to the music of some of my favorites. They were loud, raucous, passionate, and easy to latch onto. It was early on in high school when I got into playing the “rock” instruments. I finally picked up an electric guitar and played with everyone I knew that was a musician. As years go by and things start growing, you find more and more people to play with on various levels. MoTHER was started after a band I had tried to keep through many lineups finally just called it quits. There was no direction. I met Mike through a mutual friend and we instantly started jamming and composing songs and parts of songs. I had already been playing with Johnny Bass for years and I felt like we could be onto something. We actually made the name before the band even fully existed. It’s big, it’s nurturing, and it’s versatile."
"I love that MoTHER incorporates so many different musical styles. What bands are you influenced by now, and what bands did you listen to growing up?"
"Some of my staples growing up are Queen, Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Pink Floyd, Alice in Chains, etc. as well as a lot of old soul and crooner type stuff. These days, I look for anything that’s raw, emotive, and lyrically captivating. I’m really into this chick Bishop Briggs right now. While it may not sound like our usual rock n roll style, to me that is some powerful shit. Some other newer artists I love are Royal Thunder, Highly Suspect, Royal Blood, Black Foxxes, Nothing But Thieves. They are all doing something unique and special, really pushing the genre on a great path. Honestly, this is one of those things I could talk about all day long. It’s tough to answer in short."
"In addition to singing, you also play keys and harp for the band. Are there any other instruments you play or would like to play?"
"I dabble with the guitar a bit as it helps me write. I used to play rhythm guitar for MoTHER, but it became unnecessary. Mike and John fill up so much sonic space with their respective guitar and bass tones, and it helps me to focus on being a front man. I like to perform. I like to move. I hate being stuck in front of the center stage mic stand. I’d like to learn or at least mess around with any instrument I can. I think someday I would take up cello. It is so powerful and sits in this perfect frequency range that just grabs me."
"You're also a Jersey City firefighter! This might be a stretch, but are there any similarities between the rush you get running into a burning building and the rush you get performing on stage?"
"Of course! Obviously, they have their major differences as well. Being on stage doesn’t usually have the “I might die doing this” factor but it is certainly a major rush, and is a very big reason why I continue to perform. I kind of get to disappear up on stage. Even though I may be in front of a ton of people, it’s truly an escaped moment. They are both big adrenaline-inducing lines of work, and I am a junkie for that stuff. It’s also very similar in the aspects of family, brotherhood, and teamwork. On the fire truck, there are four of us working as a unit to keep each other and those we serve as safe as possible. The same goes on stage: as we form this sound, this show, and these feelings as one. A lot of it comes down to unspoken communication which is a great thing to experience."
"On top of fighting fires and being a frontman, you're also in charge of the band's management/publicity. How do you manage your time? Are there any other careers we don't know about?"
"I love working with my hands, so I will always pick up jobs fixing things, building things, etc. Welding and woodworking are two of my favorite which I will occasionally do for extra cash. Hopefully soon, I will be passing on the management duties to the next level!"
"What do you like to do during the two seconds of free time you have?"
"What two seconds? (laughs) I am a bit of an adrenaline junkie, so I love riding Harleys, snowboarding, surfing, skydiving, etc. I’m also an all-around beach bum. Any chance I can get to be in the sun, sand, and surf, I will jump on it."
"What's been your craziest, or most memorable, fan experience?"
"Well, I’d like to say that every experience is a memorable one and there are a lot to choose from, but I’ll stick with this one. We were on the road for a small tour with a band called Saving Abel. We had just purchased this old beat up trailer and didn’t have the time to really fix it up so we just went with it. On our extremely long drive from Connecticut to West Virginia, shit hit the fan. We blew a tire in the middle of nowhere and made it to the show with just enough time for us to sprint right onto the stage and play. The place was packed and as soon as we finished our set we notice a ton of people start disappearing. As we are loading out there are people trading unmarked bottles and swigging, tasting, and sharing this mystery stuff. This became our first experience with homemade moonshine. One particular gentleman gifted us with nine bottles of his own lightning. I swear, it was the most delicious liquor I ever tasted, and it totally masked the fact that it was around 160 proof. We all made the mistake of not listening to this dude when he said to go easy. Thank the sweet moonshine gods that we had the next few days off because we might as well have been dead."
"From what I've seen and heard, MoTHER shows are super high-energy. How do you prepare for a show? Do you have any pre-show rituals/warm-ups or ways to pump yourself up?"
"This one is interesting because each of us has his own thing. There are moments of chaos before a show. There are moments of ease. No two shows are the same and you never know where your mind and body will be that day leading up to stage time. For myself, it becomes about focus, and digging into the moment that’s about to happen. It’s sort of like pulling back a slingshot—getting to the point where every little movement might be the breaking point. Just before it snaps, you let go and release the ammunition into the performance. Lately, we have been adding more layered vocals into our new stuff. Myself, Mike (guitar) and Dan (drums) get in the van or green room together and go over the songs acoustically. This way everyone gets a good vocal warm up going. Johnny (bass) likes to indulge in a few IPAs to get himself aligned."
"What cities are on your touring bucket list?"
"Chicago, New Orleans, Tokyo, London, Sydney, and literally anywhere we have or haven’t played. Honestly, I’d love to play anywhere in the world."
"I'm absolutely loving your latest single, 'Medicine.' What's your "medicine" of choice?"
"That definitely changes with my mood… But some of my usual suspects are saltwater, sun, PBR, and Jameson… And I guess West Virginian moonshine (laughs)."
"What's next for MoTHER?"
"We will be announcing our newest endeavor joining the mighty roster of the M7 Booking Agency. This means taking our sound farther and wider with many more touring opportunities at our disposal. We also do not stop writing and recording new ideas, and we are currently on track to have two more singles and some videos released by the end of the year."
Since interviewing with us, MoTHER has announced that they will be joining Buckcherry at Jersey City's White Eagle Hall on July 6th. They have also added several other tour dates:
June 22 - Maxwell's - Hoboken, NJ
June 24 - Oddity - Wilmington, DE
June 26 - Arlene's Grocery - New York, NY
July 6 - White Eagle Hall - Jersey City, NJ
July 22 - BLACKTHORN 51 - Queens, NY
July 27 - Stanhope House - Stanhope, NY
For more information on MoTHER, visit rockyourmother.com.