The Core: The Mother Hips
Tim Bluhm discusses The Mother Hips’ new album, new bassist and new approach to their old methods.
We started Behind Beyond about three years ago. We had a lot of other projects going on so the record took a long time to make. But because of that, we were able to refine it and listen to it for long periods of time. We were able go back and fix certain things – address certain problems. So it was frustrating that it took so long, but the result is far superior than if we had been under pressure to finish it sooner.
Because it took so long to record Behind Beyond, there was definitely some strong material that we ended up not putting on the CD version of the record. My favorite song [ “Broken Open” ] ended up only being on the vinyl because it didn’t fit with the rest of the songs. I think that is partially a result of recording all this stuff over a long period of time. One season, you will be listening to Alice Cooper and, the next season, you’ll be listening to the Grateful Dead. And if that influences your songwriting, then you are going to have a problem when you put a record together.
Paul Hoaglin was our bass player when we started Behind Beyond and he played on the record. Then, he ended up quitting [in 2011], not too long after we started the record. He agreed to stay on for the recording session, so he finished the record, which took a long time. He kept coming back to the studio even though he wasn’t playing in the band. He’s cool enough to come down and finish all the bass parts – he sang a ton on the record and played a lot of pedal steel, clarinet, acoustic guitar, and some keyboard parts. He left for personal reasons. I can’t go into it too much, but he needed to make a change in his lifestyle.
We met [new bassist] Scott Thunes because Scott and [Hips co-founder] Greg Loiacono’s children go to the same school. They were just dads together at school – Scott wasn’t playing actively for about 10 or 11 years because he was raising his kids. Not too long ago, he started putting out feelers and looking for gigs. It didn’t necessarily seem like the perfect fit at the time because his pedigree is so different than ours, but it’s been amazing. [Thunes has played with Frank Zappa, Wayne Kramer, Steve Vai, Fear, The Waterboys and others.] It’s been an interesting twist for both The Mother Hips story and Scott’s musical story.
We played [our first album] Back to the Grotto on tour last year. Songs can be like memories from your childhood – there will be a certain story that gets told again and again about something that happened when you were a little kid and, at some point, you forget whether you remember the event or whether you just remember the story because it’s been told so many times. Some of those older songs are like that for me, where they don’t seem that old because I’ve played them constantly the whole time – they’ve grown up with me. But then, there are other ones that we haven’t played since back in the old days and those are like looking at an old picture of yourself. There are zits on your face and you’re wearing something stupid.
Playing Back to the Grotto influenced our new album because there’s a musical innocence to those early recordings. There was a lack of understanding of how music is supposed to work and that’s pretty cool when you can look back and remember that you can still do those tricks, even though I know a lot more about music now. I can still emulate what the band was trying to do when we were teenagers – even though we did it unconsciously then – and use those tricks more effectively. It’s that idea of accidental innovations. We didn’t know any better so we would do stuff that a more trained musician would never do. But that doesn’t mean it can’t work, so we definitely visited a lot of that on this new record, which was fun and refreshing. It’s only our first 22 years and we have another 20, easily. So many new ideas come all the time, and the band members are so versatile and open-minded. We are going to start making the next record soon and, hopefully, it won’t be three years before it is done.