When you hear Single Mothers play, you think anger. We’re talking the kind of anger that puts fists through walls and bottles to the ground.
The band’s frontman, Drew Thomson, is best known for his aggressively snide songs that tackle everything from religion to the Richmond Row. He’s a well-dressed and well-versed hardcore veteran, speak-shouting to the angst of modern living.
So to catch-up with the band’s frontman while he was learning Can’t Stop Loving You by Phil Collins was a bit of a surprise… but as we talked about his writing and sobriety, it all came together in the best kind of way.
The Southern Ontario band just released their new studio album, Through a Wall, with 14 new thrashy songs reminiscent of the early hardcore scene (complete with heavy bass drum kicks and a violent swarm of distortion).
The poppiness of their last album Our Pleasure has been laid to rest with agitated revival of the earlier sounds found on their first studio release, Negative Qualities.
Through a Wall was recorded with the core duo of Drew, and producer/percussionist, Ian Romano (Attack in Black, City & Colour, Career Suicide) and included a rotating cast of musicians. Though sounding angrier than ever, it’s a surprisingly positive record. Drew takes his characteristically dark humour to the front lines while chalking up the satires of reality. Because, after all:
“It’s easy to be miserable.
When you’re waiting too long
for your macchiato.”
(song: Dog Park)
First and foremost, how is Drew Thompson?
I’m good… I’m very happy. I’m learning Phil Collins songs.
Any particular reason?
I just saw him play at the ACC. I was given the tickets kind of ironically, but it was actually an amazing show. So now, I’m thinking I’ll cover some of his songs for my side project, Drew Thomson Foundation.
Nice! Weren’t you just recording an album with the Drew Thomson Foundation?
Yeah! We have an EP out on Spotify, and a record that just wrapped and should be coming out in 2019. It was really cool actually, we went to LA and recorded with Alex Newport, who used be in the bands Fudge Tunnel and Nailbomb. He produced some City and Colour and At The Drive In records.
Awesome – can’t wait for that release! So, I know the Drew Thomson Foundation is a lot tamer than your Single Mothers stuff, especially the new album. This release (Through a Wall) definitely feels a lot more hardcore than the previous ones – what inspired that shift?
Well, we’ve gone through different phases of Single Mothers, with other faster tempo stuff in the past, and some slower stuff too. And, really, I just love to play the faster songs live. They’re the ones I get excited about performing. I think everyone in the band has gone through a hardcore phase so we all have had these influence to lean on.
With that said, I try to stay out of the music as much as I can.
It’s weird, Single Mothers is kind of like an experiment that’s gone on this long. I just get a bunch of musicians together then see how it turns out.
Clearly the experiment is working. When you sit down to work on new songs, what does that process look like?
On Our Pleasure, I wrote some music and songs, but for the most part, I stay away. I’ll listen to the demos and then if it’s a good song I get ideas right away, usually in the studio while recording. I try not to edit myself or over think too much.
If the songs are good and the music speaks to me there’s inspiration right away.
Honestly, I do must of it in the studio. It’s just how i do it… I’m also a procrastinator and wait until the last minute, but it works for me.
A couple songs were written right in the vocal booth for this record. Same with Our Pleasure and Negative Qualities.
It just has to have a good sound behind it. If it doesn’t strike me as inspiring it’s harder… but I’m lucky to have so many talented people in and out of this project that it’s never usually a problem.
I’ve also got notes in my phone from years and years, so if I’m stuck on an idea I’ll see if there’s anything that can spark a thought.
Now that you’re going on several years sober (congrats by the way) how has that influenced your writing?
Well my life has definitely gotten better… in the past, if I wanted to do something I would get drunk and do it, then credit booze for everything.
If we had a record, I’d drink a case of beer or a box of wine and write all the lyrics.
I’d kind of expect the booze to do the job, but I realized after I quit drinking it wasn’t the booze doing it, it was still me.
So for the most part on this record, I didn’t write about drinking and then hating myself for drinking like I had for the last few records. Though it sounds angry, this record is actually a lot more positive. It’s the result of making a change, but always having past struggles tugging at your coat tails.
On stage, I used to be so drunk and used to just fall over everywhere, which was fine, I liked doing that, but now I am more in the moment and less reliant on booze, so I’m just having more fun.
Fantastic Drew. I know you’ve got a show this Friday [November 2nd] at Call the Office, but any last things you’d like to get out there?
Support live music – support Call the Office.
It was really great to see the whole city come support Tony’s GoFundMe earlier in the year.