Momma by Sophie Hur no border 1

IN CONVERSATION: Momma

Momma, the Los Angeles band led by singers/guitarists Allegra Weingarten and Etta Friedman, released their new album Household Name earlier this month. It is a sun-kissed thrill ride through their joyous connections and relationship traumas with hook-laden, melody-infused anthems that take you on a trip back to the ’90s but are carved out in their own affectionate, playful and personal way.

It marks their debut for Lucky Number, who signed Momma in the midst of the pandemic before the band members had even finished college. In chasing their idols and embracing personal storytelling, the band has skilfully produced an album brimming with tunes and all of their own.

Allegra and Etta met and formed Momma in high school, culling lyrical inspiration from their own lives for the first time – a contrast with the conceptual fiction of their 2020 album, Two of Me.

“The record is split up in a new way for us where half the songs Allegra and I wrote together and I have three songs that I wrote on my own, but collaborated with the rest of the band“, Etta explains, “Then Allegra has three songs of her own as well; ‘Lucky’ is one of mine and that’s about you know, being in love with somebody and being separated from them distance wise and just kind of reminiscing on moments spent together and how, you know, you can be in kind of a mundane situation or do mundane things with the person that you love is still the best feeling ever!”

Fresh off a series of dates with Wet Leg, the band’s new full-length Household Name is their third album and has caught the ears of more people. Now based in Brooklyn, New York, after relocating from hometown Los Angeles, the duo upgraded from GarageBand and took their time writing and recording in a proper studio alongside multi-instrumentalist/producer Aron Kobayashi Ritch.

Some songs the lyrics were just written by Etta and there are some songs where the lyrics were just written by me.” Allegra explains, “So personally I was going through a heartbreak at the time that Etta was not experiencing. So basically, all my songs like ‘Brave’, ‘Motorbike’, and ‘No Stage’, I guess would be about that and inspired by that.”

IN CONVERSATION: Momma

Recent brilliant single ‘Speeding 72‘, is a song that captures the escapism of free spirits vividly, telling the narrative of a fast-burning romance between two kids who meet at a show and go for a ride. The fuzzy see-sawing riffs of the chorus are a nod to Pavement’s ‘Gold Soundz’ and laden with infectious-sparring Breeders-like harmonies. Get behind the wheel and speed down the highway, leave your cares behind to this summer anthem!

‘Speeding 72”’is probably the most collaboratively written song on the new record. We wanted it to be the sort of summertime anthem that you can turn on during a drive to impress your crush,” explains the band. “The most important part of the production was setting the right mood to transport the listener. The song starts with Aron getting into his car (which is featured on the album cover), and then turning on the ignition.”

‘Rockstar’ meanwhile is an awesomely infectious cut of retooled grunge-pop, redolent of mid-period Hole and the fuzz-laden sounds of early Smashing Pumpkins, replete with Momma’s trademark insidious harmonies their rock fantasy has its tongue firmly planted in its cheek. It plays with the notion of the rise and fall of a Rockstar, an enduring troupe of the music business. “Etta and I wanted to write a song about making it big and becoming rock stars. We didn’t want to take anything too seriously, lyrically, or musically. We just wanted the song to sound big,” says Allegra. “We thought it would be cool to have our own little rockumentary condensed in a three-minute music video. It’s also kind of a manifestation – I think we shamelessly want all of these things to happen in our careers.

Its accompanying video – directed by LA-based duo Batshit! (filmmakers Ben Joyner & Henry Drayton) – it is a tongue-in-cheek tribute to Friedman and Weingarten’s rock music comedy favourites like Josie and the Pussycats, School of Rock and Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny

‘Medicine’ was the first Momma track I heard last year. It has a minimal hooky, enveloping quality that bleeds into an infectious melody that trades on dissonant Kim Deal-esque verses, brooding bass lines and scratchy guitars, and a chorus that lets fly, consumed by the rush of love “one hit and I’m hooked on your medicine”.

“I think that one’s definitely like one of the more like, hook-focused, I think. Yeah. Also, it’s not as heavy or loud, necessarily as the other ones. ” Etta explains.

Allergra continues: “Well, the funny thing about that song, actually, kind of talking about what we were talking about before, is that that song, I remember, we wrote, lt had been in the works for a while. But when it comes to like lyrics, mainly, we wrote that together, I’m pretty sure in LA.

“I just remember, we both were like in the happiest parts of our relationships. Like we had both kind of instinct. Just been like, wow, we’re really excited about these people. Yeah, and then wrote, like, a happy love song,” Allegra enthuses “I think is kind of what the intention for that was. It’s actually really fun recording and like being in a room with us. Because I’m, like, nothing like from an outside perspective. I enjoy being with us because we just laugh a lot. And we don’t take things super seriously”

“I mean, Etta and I have kind of always been like, I would say, like playful lyricists, I guess. So I think we’ve kind of honed in where it’s like, we’re not using a bunch of like, allegories and metaphors and stuff, but it’s still has that kind of like, playfulness and like, yeah, humor to it.” Allegra explains “Which is fun. It’s just funny writing those songs. And they always ended up taking like 10 minutes just because we’re, like, this is hilarious. Let’s just write it down. It’s like the most honest way”

The album directly musically nods towards and literally references- icons like Nirvana, Pavement, Smashing Pumpkins, Veruca Salt and the Breeders’ Kim Deal, so while the record might give you all the feels and memories of that era, it’s informed by their own perspective and experiences. Whilst the influences are clear they’re doing it their own way after many years playing and learning, forging their bond, that’s what they think makes the Momma more than just a pastiche. “Yeah, I mean, I think that just comes from, like, years of guitar playing.” Allegra points out “I’ve just been playing guitar for over 10 years, not that we have like a crazy amount to show for it but like, we just like, we have our own style and we know what we like, and we know what inspires us. But at the end of the day, I think we play like individuals. I think I play like me and Etta plays like Etta. So I mean, hopefully I would hope that that’s like what differentiates us or, like, makes it stand out.”

Etta agrees “I’m not trying to sound like “Oh, were amazing guitarists” or anything like that. But like I know if Allegra sent me a random song and, like, didn’t say that she wrote it. Like, I could tell she really did. Like, you just have, like, such a style and I would like to think hopefully I do as well. But I feel like that just comes from years of grabbing from a bunch of different sources that aren’t just the ’90s, like, think we really love that era, obviously. But yeah there’s so much other music that we appreciate. So I think that’s influences influenced us in our own way. And I don’t know we like weird stuff too. So I feel like that’s kind of helps”

I offer that the lines between guitar music and pop are blurred anyway; it doesn’t matter anymore the divides are gone. They’ve just got off a tour with Snail Mail who is a perfect example of an artist who defies these pigeonholes. Allgera concurs “Exactly. Yeah. A great song resonates no matter what.”

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.