Indie

Indie Mixtape 20: Mom Jeans Just Want To Be Comfortable On Stage

California punk outfit Mom Jeans have been making waves in the pop-punk/emo scene since their 2016 album Best Buds. Now, the band is prepping a new quasi-conceptual record called Sweet Tooth. This record marks the first time that the band has had a full studio experience, and it shows in the final product. More polished and focused than ever, Sweet Tooth is primed to be the record that launches Mom Jeans into the stratosphere.

To celebrate Sweet Tooth, vocalist/guitarist Eric Butler sat down to talk Crocs, The Story So Far, and The Wrong Missy in the latest Indie Mixtape 20 Q&A.

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What are four words you would use to describe your music?

Loud, fun, simple, and bittersweet!

It’s 2050 and the world hasn’t ended and people are still listening to your music. How would you like it to be remembered?

Hopefully, we’re just remembered as a band that really loved being a band and making music and playing shows together. I also hope that we’re remembered as a band that contributed something to the overall scene or to the success of our peers, and as a band that cared enough about their fans to prioritize their safety and their experience. If people ARE still listening to MJ in 50 years, I hope we still have the ability to inspire others to start making music or art of their own, and I hope that being a listener of this band will continue to provide a positive and supportive community that allows one to connect with other cool and like-minded people.

What’s your favorite city in the world to perform?

Personally, it’s impossible for me to pick a standalone favorite. I will say though that my favorite place in the world to perform so far has been Australia. We had an amazing experience there and we can’t wait to go back. Anywhere in Florida is a close second too because Florida always goes crazy.

Who’s the person who has most inspired your work, and why?

I def can’t speak for the rest of the band, and I’m not sure if there even is a unifying musical or artistic influence that really inspired us as a collective. I would say that our own individual middle school and high school band directors/music educators have probably had the biggest influence on us as a whole. We were all really lucky to be a part of excellent music programs as teenagers and those directors and instructors really gave us an insane foundation of musical knowledge to build upon. I’m genuinely not sure if we would have ever gotten to the point as individuals where we were even ready/able to be in a band if it wasn’t for the guidance and mentorship that we received from those folx.

Where did you eat the best meal of your life?

Cookout. Any location, doesn’t matter.

What album do you know every word to?

Either Psychic Reader or Lightning Round by Bad Bad Hats. I was in the top 0.005% of their Spotify listeners in 2021 and I’ve probably listened to both records hundreds of times in the last year alone.

What was the best concert you’ve ever attended?

Our bass player Sam has his own band called Just Friends. My last summer before leaving to go to college (circa 2013, long before MJ), Just Friends played a free show with my hs ska band in the rec room of the city library in our hometown. There were probably 50 people total at the show but at the time it felt like thousands. Witnessing the power of local music and local community that day was one of the most influential moments of my musical life, and a large part of what MJ does and aspires to be is based off of replicating that experience at the library.

What is the best outfit for performing and why?

People (my parents included) make fun of us a lot for wearing athletic shorts and sneakers and stuff when we play, but I think it’s really all about what makes you the most comfortable when you’re onstage. For some folks that can mean having an awesome, eye-catching outfit that you know makes you look good/accentuates your features, but for us it means being physically comfortable and essentially like we’re going to the gym to work out haha. We jump and dance and thrash about a LOT when we play so having loose-fitting, breathable clothing is always going to be my go-to outfit choice when we perform. Perfect gig outfit imo is an oversized cropped t-shirt, short-inseam athletic shorts (Adidas and Champion are a band favorite), and a pair of Vans or Crocs LOL.

Who’s your favorite person to follow on Twitter and/or Instagram?

Anything dog related. We’re all either dog owners or big fans of dogs in this crew so most of us follow dog and cat-related meme and photo pages. Big fan of Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary myself, and I know for a fact that about 85% of Sam’s Instagram discover page is comprised of English bulldog puppy videos.

What’s your most frequently played song in the van on tour?

I’m not sure if there’s one solitary song that I can think of. Statistically speaking, Bart (guitar/vocals) does the most and has done the most driving of the van. Bart mostly listens to Say Anything when driving the van, therefore my best bet is that the song that has actually been played the largest number of times inside our van is probably one of the songs off of the self-titled or Is a Real Boy.

What’s the last thing you Googled?

”Why do dogs eat grass?”

What album makes for the perfect gift?

Any album is a great gift. Sharing the art and music you love with the people that you care about is one of the most awesome and special things in this world. Unless the person you’re gifting to HATES music. In that case, an album is a terrible gift idea.

Where’s the weirdest place you’ve ever crashed while on tour?

One time we stayed in an AirBNB and the hosts either got confused or managed to give us the wrong information because when we arrived and entered the unit (with the correct code/information I might add) it was clearly not only occupied, but occupied by someone who had not cleaned the premises in what seemed like weeks. After frantically contacting the owner we realized they had accidentally us into the OTHER property that they manage while their tenants (luckily) weren’t home. It was super weird to roll into the spot after the show and find a sleep-mode xbox with half-eaten chipotle and blunt guts in front of it when you’re expecting an empty house. I can’t remember if we ended up staying in the actual Airbnb or if we left because we were so put off by the whole experience. Lesson learned kis, AirBNB can be super hit-or-miss.

What’s the story behind your first or favorite tattoo?

Our drummer Austin and I have matching MJ stick and poke tattoos on our butts that we got done at our friends’ kitchen table in Portland. We were about to embark on our “year-off-after-college” to try and make the whole being in a band thing work, and we were playing a short run of shows with some friends from out east. Our evening after the show in Portland, paired with a friend’s birthday party just turned it into one of those nights. Once the drinks were flowing it was only a matter of time until somebody got a stick n poke tattoo so this time it ended up being Austin and myself. It’s a great memory and I’ll always cherish and embrace the “fuck it” energy that the tattoo reminds me of. If you look closely you can actually see the actual tattoos on the cover of our new album.

What artists keep you from flipping the channel on the radio?

I do not own a radio nor do I listen to the radio.

What’s the nicest thing anyone has ever done for you?

The continued support that I receive from my immediate and extended family as well as my partner will always be the nicest and most important thing that anyone can ever do for me. I’ve put a lot of myself and a lot of my time into this project, and it would crush me if the people I love didn’t see it as a worthwhile or healthy endeavor. The fact that I have an awesome support structure behind me and that they see the value in the decisions and choices I’ve made about how I’m going to navigate my life is the best. Acceptance is the nicest thing.

What’s one piece of advice you’d go back in time to give to your 18-year-old self?

I would probably tell myself to slow down a little bit, and to take more time to discover who I really am and what I’m about before becoming so eager to share myself and my experience with the rest of the world. I think for the longest time I was very wrapped up in the identity and self-worth aspect of being in a touring band and being “cool”. I’m super grateful to have had that tool and that vehicle to start navigating the world and my adult life but I don’t think it needed to be the entire focus of my whole personality. The last few years have allowed me to reach a place where being in a band is just a part of my life rather than the entire guiding principle, and doing so allows me to make artistic and logistical decisions that are way healthier and better support the sustainability of the band and my own mental health. I would definitely remind myself that it’s okay to not have your “career” be your #1 priority all the time, and that it’s always good to be evaluating your own feelings and asking yourself if you’re getting what you need out of any one situation.

What’s the last show you went to?

The Story So Far holiday show at the UC Theater in Berkeley. It was awesome

What movie can you not resist watching when it’s on TV?

The Wrong Missy, best movie ever.

What would you cook if Obama were coming to your house for dinner?

Hell, if I’m eating dinner with Obama there’s no way I’m cooking. He’s rich as hell, and I’m me, he’s picking up the tab and we’re going somewhere nice.

Sweet Tooth is out February 25. Pre-order it here.

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