Interview with vocalist Ann Courtney | By Jonesy | Photo by Austin Phelps
Mother Feather started to turn some heads in 2016 with their self-titled debut LP, which not only landed them a spot on Warped Tour the same year but also a live session for the BBC Radio 1 Rock Show.
On their latest album, Constellation Baby—released by Metal Blade Records on Nov. 2—the New York City-based band, led by charismatic vocalist Ann Courtney, really upped the dosage of rock riffs and punk ’n’ roll energy while continuing to combine elements from different eras and genres. Together with her bandmates—vocalist and keyboardist Elizabeth Carena, guitarist Chris Foley, and drummer Gunnar Olsen—Courtney blends together influences as diverse as Iggy Pop, Miss Piggy, My Bloody Valentine, Smashing Pumpkins, and Madonna to bring a unique mix of deeply-felt rock ’n’ roll and psych-glam aesthetics.
“I knew the album needed to be better than our first, and to capitalize on its momentum, it had to happen quickly. It was a tremendous amount of pressure to put myself under,” says Courtney, who locked herself away during the writing process to concentrate on staring down uncomfortable feelings and facing depression. “I went to some very dark and lonely places, but once I let myself go there, that’s when the album started to take shape. There’s a lot of fever and intimacy in those songs and I laid myself bare.”
“When I emerged from my self-exile, I discovered my band waiting for me on the other side, so there’s exuberance and catharsis there too,” she explains.
The result is 10 songs that inspire a wide range of emotions with lyrical themes including self-imposed isolation, freedom, passion, desire, embracing your shadow, and, as Courtney puts it, “dancing your ass off to unlock the secrets of the universe.”
At the very heart of the album is the title track, “Constellation Baby,” which Courtney describes as a feminist prayer of super-connection.
“In the darkest hours writing the new songs for the album, forcing myself to stare down some gnarly feelings about fear, isolation, paranoia, drugs, [and] a friend lost to suicide, it was always inspirational women and girls who led me back to a crystal-clear sense of light and purpose,” she shares. “‘Constellation Baby’ became the centerpiece of the most exposed and intimate writing I’ve ever done.”
With the release of the new album, Courtney is eager to get out and play shows all over the world and expand the cult around the band, gathering new fans who she affectionately refers to as “motherfeathers.”
According to Courtney, Mother Feather bring the same kind of care and attention to detail to their live set as they do in the studio. Anyone who has had a chance to catch the band’s incomparable live show—whether on Warped Tour or in intimate NYC clubs like Cameo Gallery and Glasslands—knows how much effort is put into their costumes, makeup, and choreography. Every breath and every dance move onstage is heartfelt and perfectly embodies the music.