Monday, 2 June 2014

INTERVIEW: Mongrel


Mongrel is a female fronted aggressive rock band with punk and metal influences that was started in 2003 and is based in Boston, MA.  Originally featuring a male vocalist, the lead vocalist spot came up in 2010 and Jessica Sierra stepped up.  The band have gone on to tour and release a number of EP's and an album as a female fronted ensemble.  On June 3rd they release their new EP - Evolution.

Founding member Adam Savage spoke to Femetalism recently about the band, their new release and their future plans.

Can you give us a brief history to Mongrel - how you came together and your previous releases?


I started the band back in 2003 with our original singer Matt Rowe with the intent of creating a band where the emphasis was good songs regardless of what influences we wanted to bring to the table. Over the next 7 years we had multiple singers, bassists and drummers come and go. We released a few EP's and a full length CD that got picked up by an indie label and did fairly well.  In 2010 we had parted ways with our long term male singer, had gotten a new male singer who left abruptly due to some personal issues and I called upon the only singer in the local scene I thought could cover some shows on just a few days notice...this was Jessica Sierra. While it was initially intended just to be a short term fill-in situation, it worked FAR too well and really brought the material to a whole new level. Jess and I had been friends for years in the local scene and I was a fan of her as a singer since I'd first encountered her performing. Jess threw her name in the hat for the job (and even insisted on going through the audition process even though she was about 10 shows in with us at that point - she wanted no doubts that she EARNED her spot). From that point on there was no doubt that Mongrel was to be a female-fronted band.

We shortly there after hit the studio and re-recorded 6 songs from our prior album with the new line up and this was released in September 2010 as "The New Breed of Old School". We thought it best to let the fans adjust to the drastic change vocally (and conceptually) by letting them judge the sound with Jess on songs they were familiar with already. It went over great and the band was off and running full force once again. In 2011 we released another EP entitled "Declamation"  (which also featured our cover of the Misfits classic "Dig Up Her Bones") as a prelude to the 2012 full length CD "Reclamation" (on THC Music / Vanity Music Group) which spawned two videos/singles "Bored to Death" and "C & a 1/2".



We ended up replacing the drummer and bassist and in time brought in Mike "Hoagie" Hogan on drums and Michael "Blue" Ariza on bass. With this new configuration we started the writing process again and after a successful Kickstarter campaign, hit the studio in the summer of 2013 to record the "Evolution" EP.  We put out the preview single "Snakes" in October 2013 and will be releasing "Evolution" on Unable Records worldwide on June 3rd.

Over the years we've gotten to play with some great bands as well including Danzig, Korn, Lacuna Coil, Misfits, Sepultura, Godsmack, Otep, Butcher Babies, Halestorm, etc.

How would you describe the bands sound?

Jess has gotten comparisons vocally ranging from Janis to Otep to Wendy O to Skin (Skunk Anansie), musically it's somewhere in the realm of aggressive hard rock but with old school punk and metal influences. So somewhere between Guns N' Roses, Misfits, Motorhead and old Metallica but with a badass powerhouse of a female singer.

Can you describe each member of the band in 3 words (including yourself)?

Jess -  force of nature
Blue -  artistic, funny, squirrel (in the easily distracted sense - lol)
Hoagie - loyal, enthusiastic, drummer (obvious I know but he's ALL about playing, can't sit still without tapping stuff, etc)
Adam -  reluctant leader, taurus (determined, stubborn, driven)

Can you tell us about the new EP - Evolution?

Lyrically I think a lot of it is just about life and those we interact with. It doesn't touch on the political/societal elements we have in the past as much but themes include betrayal, negative situations we find ourselves and those we love in, and about making the present count and overcoming.  Music is our therapy essentially, it is cathartic so a lot of the lyrics are a working through of frustrations, anger, etc. Overall though this was the most collaborative release Mongrel has ever done. Jess wrote the lyrics for the track "Consumed", Blue brought in the main riff for "Over and Over" and the bassline that really made "Oxygen Mask" into something special. I contributed the lyrics for the other 4 tracks and a lot of the music but we really worked out arrangements more as a band unit this time, the monster that is Mongrel had evolved for sure.



We recorded at Red 13 Media in Framingham MA (US) with Jim Foster (POD, Nullset, Thy Will Be Done, Sully Erna) who had recorded and mixed everything we'd done since Jess joined the band. Thanks to the help of our supporters and the kickstarter campaign we were able to bring in Dave Fortman (Slipknot, Otep, Evanescence, Snot, Godsmack, American Head Charge) to mix the CD and Howie Weinberg (Metallica, Pantera, The Cult, Nirvana, Soundgarden, etc) to master it.

What do you like about playing live?  Which Mongrel song is your favourite to perform live and why?

The connection with the audience is the best part, the release of energy and emotion and the exchange of it with the people listening, moving, singing along is the greatest feeling.  That's always hard for me since they're all sort of my "children" to use the old cliche and at certain times it's one, others something completely different.  Seeing "Snakes" and "Over and Over" from the new CD instantly become sing alongs and crowd favorites even before a recorded version was released has been really cool though so those are currently at the top of the list.

What is next for Mongrel?

We're releasing the "Evolution" CD worldwide on June 3rd, we just got a track on the cover mount CD with an issue of Terrorizer Magazine, we've got a video coming out very shortly for "Oxygen Mask" from the new CD, lots of great shows coming up including our official CD release party in NYC on June 7th, a cancer treatment and research benefit show, and a show in August with Powerman5000 & Hed(pe). We're also in various stages of working on videos for the rest of the tracks on the "Evolution" CD and in writing tunes that will make up the next CD whenever that will be. Things are looking good and we're having a blast.

One of the goals is definitely to try to get over to the UK as we've gotten a great response from the sites/mags over there so far, so as soon as we can make that work and make sense it's definitely on the "things we must do" list.



Evolution includes 5 new tracks:

Snakes
Oxygen Mask
Consumed
Best Revenge
Over and Over

and can be pre-ordered from the bands Bandcamp page along with their back catalogue.  Go check them out!

Femetalism would like to thank Adam for taking the time to talk to us.  We are looking forward to hearing about possible UK dates from the band in the future and hoping for a date up North! 

Follow the band on:

Sonicbids

Originally posted by Emma Sheridan on Femetalism