An Interview with Mom Jeans

Eric Butler, lead singer of alternative band Mom Jeans, strives to create the most genuine music possible for his fans, his best friends, and himself. “Music is so subjective, and I think the same song or the same show can mean different things to different people. We want people to just be comfortable feeling whatever they feel and letting that guide them,” says Eric. The guys describe themselves as a “loud, sad band from California,” and have been releasing a number of EPs in addition to two full-length albums since May of 2014. Mom Jeans is currently gearing up for a week of shows in Australia. I chatted with Eric about the band’s formation, the recent popularity of one of their songs on TikTok, the artists that inspired them and more.

A Perfect Playlist: Tell me a little bit about how the band formed. You guys went to college together, right?

Eric Butler: Austin and I lived on the same floor during our freshman year of college. We had mutual friends and hung out a bit. He was mad chill and liked music and skateboarding. Eventually, I realized he liked a lot of the same bands as I did. Austin listened to Mobo, Joyce Manor, Fireworks, and a few others that I thought I was super cool for knowing. He also turned me on to a lot of bands I now love and we became really good friends after that. I think it was only a matter of time before we ended up playing in a band together just ‘cause that’s who we both are as people, so the fact that we found each other and managed to start THIS band is something I consider extremely lucky.

Bart joined the band in 2016 after Austin and I had played with his old band, Meet Me in Montauk, a few times. Bart helped us book our first few tours and even filled in on bass, so when I finally broke down and admitted that I needed another guitar player in the band, it HAD to be Bart.

Sam and I have been friends since high school. Sam has taught me everything I know about music and touring and being in a band. I play in his band Just Friends. Having him in this band is a literal dream, and it feels like a long time coming to be playing and writing alongside him.

Even though Austin and I are the OG members of MJ, I think its pretty fair to say that Bart and Sam have both contributed an insurmountable amount to this band. There’s no chance that we’d be where we are today without them. Even the shit they were doing for us BEFORE they were in the band. These guys are my team, my rid or die squad, my fashodie nation.

APP: What bands/artists especially inspired you in the beginning?

E: Mobo, Joyce Manor, The Front Bottoms, Transit, AF, Free Throw, Algernon, Walter Mitty, and Braid were the big ones. There’s also a ton of smaller California bands that don’t exists anymore or never made it big, but going to their shows is the reason I wanted to start a band. There’s a ton more, too. If you went to shows in SF, Oakland, SJ, or anywhere else in the East Bay from 2011-2017, you know.

APP: Since the band’s formation in 2014, you’ve shared your music on a lot of different platforms. (Bandcamp etc.) Do you feel this process has changed over the years? How are most fans discovering your music these days?

E: Today it’s mostly Spotify and iTunes, but we try really hard to have our music accessible on as many platforms as possible. This process has changed quite dramatically over the years, which can be good and bad. While I do think it’s cool that more and more bands/artists are getting attention via Spotify and YouTube, etc., it’s pretty sad that those are really the only avenues people listen with. Obviously there’s tons of streaming sites, but people typically only use one or two big services. This is a huge contrast to physically making and recording music, which is the easiest/most accessible it’s ever been. I hope that the spirit of DIY recording starts to permeate the industry again. I would like to see people go back to Bandcamp and other free sites which allow bands to get their music out to the world for free.

APP: How would you define your genre? A lot of people place label you as emo/punk.

E: We are a “guitar band.” 😊

APP: Your first full-length album, Best Buds, was released in 2016 on cassette tape. Why was it important for you to release your music in this way/format?

E: I mean, we originally released it on cassette tape because that was the only format we could afford to release it on. We didn’t have a label, we didn’t have any friends, and all the money we had was spent on making the album, so we definitely couldn’t handle the financial undertaking of pressing vinyl ourselves. Literally nobody cared about this band AT ALL until BB came out so we really started from scratch, haha.

APP: I was reading some fan comments on your Bandcamp page, and a lot of people are drawn to your relatable lyrics (as am I). How do you pick and choose which personal experiences you feel would translate well into a song?

E: To be honest, I don’t really. I just write what sounds correct/good to me. The more I let myself think about how another person will feel about or relate to what I’m saying, the less I like it. I feel that music and lyrics have to be entirely personal or there’s really no point.

APP: Going off of that last question, what do you hope fans will take away from your music?

E: Ultimately, we just want people to feel like we’re being genuine. Whether they like our music or not is honestly unimportant to me. We like playing shows because we like being around our friends and sharing the feeling we get when we make music together, not because we want to sell tickets, or feel cool or be “popular.” As long as nobody feels like we’re putting on an act or trying to make them feel or think any specific way, they can take away whatever they want from our shows. Music is so subjective, and I think the same song or the same show can mean different things to different people. We want people to just be comfortable feeling whatever they feel and letting that guide them.

APP: Dream collab? (Anyone, dead or alive!)

E: I’m obsessed with this band called The Beths from New Zealand, plus one from KY called White Reaper. Getting to meet/collab with members from either of those bands would be so sick.

APP: TikTok is a super popular new app among teens/college students right now. There’s a trend on there right now that uses the intro of your song “Heck You Bart, pt. II: Electric Boogaloo.” 10.7k people have posted videos using the audio clip! Check them out here. Thoughts on that? 😉

E: I have no love or hate in my heart for TikTok. I watch TikTok comps on YouTube because it reminds me of Vine, but I think the fact that it reminds me of Vine makes me sad and is the reason why I will never truly accept it.

Thanks, Eric!

Find Mom Jeans here:

Bandcamp

Instagram

Spotify

All photos are from the band’s social media.

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