Originally from Chico, California, The Mother Hips now call Marin County home. They have been making music together for three decades. In the course of their career, they’ve released albums, worked with prolific producers like Rick Rubin and played shows around the world.
This May The Mother Hips will be playing Northern Nevada at the famed Crystal Ball Casino in Lake Tahoe.
I had a chance to catch up with singer and guitar player Greg Loiacono about the band’s most recent album and this show.
The album Glowing Lantern was released in 2021. Written and recorded in the midst of the pandemic, the record gets back to the core of The Mother Hips sound. It’s rootsy and raucous at times, but also has great space and breathing room. The song “Looking at Long Days” is a great example of one of the more rocking songs on the album. It has growling guitar tones ranging from bluesy overdrive to Jimi Hendrix-style fuzz, all complemented by an uptempo feel.
“Yeah, ‘Looking at Long Days’ was a fun one,” Loiacono said. “And that was a good example of how we collaborated. I had the main riff, and when I came up with that–and that was one of the first ones that I showed Tim [Bluhm], and then he’s like, ‘Oh, I think I have a verse thing that I was messing with’. And we sort of wedged those things together, just like I was talking about, sort of two different song ideas started by us individually that we melded together. That one has entered into the live set. And we’ve been playing that pretty much every night, or most nights.”
One of the more introspective tunes is called “Nature’s Twisting Heart.” The song hits on philosophical themes like impermanence, the Buddhist concept that everything that exists will one day fade away.
Loiacono told me about the inspiration for that song as well. He explained how the song came from a time when his wife took him to a memorial service that a friend had set up. The service was for the friend’s mother. As a part of her grieving process she had made a movie about her relationship with her mom. The whole event was kind of heavy but very touching as well. And there was a sense of levity to it, because the daughter had some time to grieve.
He explained, “We went to support and to watch the piece of art that the person had made. And we were driving home, the sun was starting to set through the trees and, and I just had one of those, you know, I don’t know how to describe it. But it was kind of a transcendent moment, where I had been in a place of sort of hearing about this experience. It was really heavy and then seeing the sunset going through these trees, and I went home and wrote down those lyrics. They’re really about impermanence. Nature is just going to do whatever it’s going to do, whether you want it to or not, and it’s about wanting to be more like that, rather than holding on to things so tightly.”
Avid outdoorsmen, both Loiacono and the other frontman Bluhm found inspiration in nature while writing the record. The two met up during the pandemic to hike and chat about music, and bring ideas to each other.
Loiacono told me, “What I can say about it, a couple of things that stand out is that Tim and I had time to collaborate more than normal on the songwriting. A lot of times it would be, I’d bring something and he’d bring something, and we’d be kind of coming from two different things. Some of the writing and creating of the songs happened to be outdoors while we were walking around and hiking and stuff. That’s how we would meet, and it was still in 2020, and people weren’t really going into each other’s houses at that point. So we’d go out and meet outside, and I guess that influenced it.”
The band will be playing the Crystal Bay Club Friday, May 27. They’ve played this venue and Northern Nevada many times over the course of their 30-year career.
“Yeah, yeah, we’ve played the Crystal Bay Casino many times,” Loiacono said. “Awesome room, great venue–big, nice space. The sound system is always killer there. And yeah, I’m looking forward to it. It’s been a while since we’ve done that.”
The band has been playing shows and getting back on the road following the lifting of the pandemic-related shutdown.
Talking about crowds in general Loiacono said, “Everybody that’s coming to the show is just so excited to be out again. And that energy is still there, even though we’ve been playing shows for a while now.”
The Mother Hips have plenty of plans for this year. They recently recorded a new album, and it will be released later this year. They have plans on touring and playing shows as long as COVID-19 doesn’t get in the way. Keep an eye out for new releases. They have a solid catalog of recordings and live performances under their belt, and they show no signs of slowing down. Their blending of California rock and soul continues to seek out new sonic territory, yet maintains a classic vibe.
The Mother Hips play the Crystal Bay Casino Crown Room on Friday, May 27 at 8 p.m.
Find tickets here: https://www.ticketmaster.com/
Listen to the Roots, Rednecks and Radicals podcast with The Mother Hips here.
Will Houk covers the music scene for The Ally. Will’s radio show, Root, Rednecks and Radicals, is broadcasted live on KNVC 95.1 fm, Carson City Community Radio. Take a moment and support Will’s work here.
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