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Q&A
with Mother Hips'
Greg Loiacano

a golden-coast exclusive

by Hank Ten


photo courtesy of nd koster

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Mother Hips guitarist and vocalist, Greg Loiacano. Greg took time out of his busy schedule to talk to golden-coast.com about how the Summer is going for the Mother Hips. This interview took place on the stage at Mick's Lounge in San Francisco, as Greg was stringing up his acoustic guitar for a performance that very night. Upbeat and forthright, Greg talked about the recording of Mother Hips album #5, a couple rare Mother Hips recordings, the Hips latest plunge into cyberspace, movie sound track recording and the trials and tribulations of surfing with Tim Bluhm. Enjoy!

Q So how is the Summer of '99 treating you guys so far?

A It's been pretty good. It's been very mellow. Actually had some time to take a vacation or two.

Q Youíre not playing as much as normal right now. The gigs are kind of spread out.

A Yeah, weíre kind of focusing on recording a record. We were doing that today actually, over at the engineer's house... doing some vocals today and thatís taking up a lot of our time.

Q How is that in terms of recording with the band mates spread out all over the place?

A Its a little tough, it takes a lot of scheduling, a lot of times just going, "God when are we going to be able to do this?" It's hard. But, we get it done. It's a slow process.

Q I noticed that you guys are playing as a duo a lot more than you have in recent years. You and Tim, played in San Francisco in June and now youíre playing in July again, howís that--getting together as a duo again and playing in front of a live audience?

A Its great because thatís pretty much what we do anyway, you know. When Tim and I are together, the majority of the time is spent either talking about a song that weíre going to sing, or singing a song and we always liked the format. Weíve always wanted to do it more. Since the band hasnít been playing that much, we have had time to do that.

Q I was going to ask you about collaborating, how songs get written these days with the Mother Hips. How do the songs come together typically? Does the person bring the song to the band or do you guys just work it out as a duo first? How does it work typically? How do you collaborate on songs?

A It actually happens in every way...One guy might bring an entire song. Its pretty complete the way, heís kind of mapped it out, the way he wants it. Sometimes Tim will have part of the song and Iíll have a part and weíll put them together and theyíre two different songs. Or sometimes weíll just sit there and just start making something up.

Q It seems like-- from the audience's perspective, when you see a song played, it's pretty effortless...the the harmonies for instance. Is it usually that way when you come together to play a song tthe first few times, or do you have to, like you said map it out.... "O.K., you should sing this part or youíre not singing the part right," does it come together naturally or is it--

A Its usually pretty natural. I mean it's usually Tim coming up, I come up with songs on my own, but Tim usually comes up with the majority of them. And it's always kind of been like that. I've always had a really easy time just jumping in with whatever melody like that he has in picking out a harmony, I donít know why, but a lot of time it just seems like it's just there...like I didnít even have to think about that much, my voice just kind of slips into it.

Q How about with Channel Islandís Girl, how did that song come about?

A Channel Island Girl came about... Tim had pieces of that for a long time and then he finally did a four track version of it and that was, I think, what he did with that is have a couple different songs and he pieced them together. You might want to ask him specifically on that. With the band, I heard the four track and said we should get that thing together and started screwing around with it. I mean a song like that, when Tim did it, it didnít have any drums on it, so thatís when we had to go in and work out the dynamics.

Q So I saw that you guys just recently signed up with Liquid Audio to have your music distributed by them, I guess in digital format. How did that whole deal come about?

A This guy Dan who works there just approached us and liked our music and that he wanted to do it and he could get us on there. So we just told him that we would love to do it. I mean it was that easy really.

Q Are you guys going to try to do more Internet music distribution like that?

A Well with Liquid Audio, weíre going to start getting-- for instance, Tim bought this record today called Music For Swingers. It's an album weíre on. We recorded a song, it was a compilation album of San Francisco bands.

Q Really.

A Around 1994, it was done and he found it today in a record store. We never even got one from the guy who made the record.

Q What song was on there?

A Suburbian Child.

Q Oh really.

A Yeah. There was one before it, the sister album to that was The Night of the Living Dead. I donít know if you ever heard about that one. We had to write a song after watching the movie, The Night of the Living Dead, reflections of that movie. And we never even got a copy because that guy kind of disappeared off the face of the earth. This guy, Jacques, who made the record. So Tim picked it up today because it's rare.

Q Right. Is it a CD or a record?

A No its on vinyl. So we have stuff like that and some old out-takes that we put on Liquid Audio, so stuff that fans that canít get a hold of that we might have a pretty good copy in our house that we really donít want to part with, weíll put it on there, or just cool shit that people usually canít get a hold of, will be able to get a hold of it there. Which I think is a pretty cool idea.

Q And then youíll end up kind of promoting that from the motherhips.com web site or link over to it.

A Theyíre working on that right now.

Q So how did you guys get hooked up with Geronimo Pictures for that movie soundtrack?

A Oh, Molly Hamilton...Tuttle has been our biggest fan since I can remember. We started playing in her house. We had all our gear set up one summer, the Summer of Ď91, I think in her house, the whole summer and we played at her house three times a week. We practiced there. When we were practicing, people showed up and thatís where we really got our thing together as the Mother Hips, got to know how to play with each other, learn how to rock out.

Q So have you seen some of the film that they have put together?

A I have a little bit, have you?

Q No, I havenít seen any of it.

A Looks good.

Q So what did you guys do for it, was it full band or was it--?

A Yeah, there was just some Tim and Greg stuff and there was some full band also.

Q Are you done with that project or you going to keep recording.

A No I think we stopped, weíre kind of on their schedule. When they want us to come back in and do some more recording, weíll do it. But Molly has made posters for us and art work and also sorts of kind things for us for years and years.

Q Do you guys have any other aspirations for film or music videos or anything like that?

A You know just the little experience that we have working, doing some sound track stuff, has been really fun, I loved it. Personally, I would love to hook up with some other project and do it, but thatís basically if someone comes up to us and says--we have no business shopping ourselves round for that, we have enough work elsewhere.

Q Does that differ a lot from when your writing a song or rehearsing for Mother Hips record in terms of creativity and what you guys can play.

A Yeah, because you have specific idea that you have to play along with, you know you have to make--youíre setting a mood you know, and its someone elseís mood, its not your mood. So it definitely has some impact on it.

Q So I am curious, you grew up in Marin County and Tim is from down south, Southern California, Iím wondering how has the landscape and your surroundings affected your song writing and the music that you write, or has it even affected you guys. From an inspiration standpoint, do you guys draw from that, like your natural surroundings and going to school in Chico, and all that?

A I donít know if I draw from that, that much. I think Tim does a little more than I do on that. I usually get stuff just writing about people.

Q Where do your songs come from usually, is there a certain spot that produces the best songs for you or certain frame of mind or so.

A Yeah, for me I usually get the songs that I like to sing the most and that I can feel the most, its usually kind of a melancholy place you know, I donít know, Iím not much of a real 'happy songwriter guy.

Q Yeah, I noticed that the acoustic songs you guys play are certainly mellow, melancholy.

A Yeah, most of them are pretty sad. But, I donít know, it's usually not from a darker place, but just ... a little more introspective, you know?

Q Right, like the song Del Mar Station, to go back to that. Thatís a super catchy song, but its also pretty dark and it's definitely melancholy, right?

A Itís pretty melancholy, I mean obviously the chorus is pretty melancholy, but there's hope in the third verse a little bit you know? But, again its almost more of just a feeling Iím trying to catch, instead of putting together a story, you know? I have very few songs that are real cohesive, story-wise. It's usually a feeling that Iím trying to get across... a mood.

Q Would you classify the Mother Hips has having more of like a California sound or California influence, or do you think that you guys or kind of a pop sound or nationwide wound? To me it seems like you guys kind of have a West Coast western feel, so Iím wondering if you think, what your perspective is on that.

A I definitely think that its a West Coast flavor. You know a lot of the bands that weíre influenced by are the Birds and Buffalo Springfield and Beach Boys who are all Southern California bands. Thereís a lot though... I mean lately weíve been listening to a lot of Bee Gees and thatís completely on the other side of the pond so to speak. But yeah definitely, we have a feel for the West Coast, or a West Coast feel.

Q Have you guys thought about playing abroad and playing in Europe at any point?

A We would love to, we would love to. Weíre waiting for an invitation.

Q You guys listening to anything modern or current today that you like particularly, any bands on the scene, that you like today.

A Letís see. Thereís a band called the Minders, I like a couple of their songs. I donít know if you have ever heard of that band and what else ---

Q How about the new Wilco album have you listened to that at all?

A Yeah, thatís great, I love that. I like that a lot, its a good album. What else-- I donít know. I was listening to a Lucinda Williams record the other day, thatís pretty good.

Q Do you guys listen to any Chris Issak at all?

A No, I donít and I donít think Tim does either.

Q Yeah, I think youíd like that, its good stuff.

A Iíve heard some on the radio, it always sounds good, real kind of moody stuff.

Q So does Tim drag you out to do any surfing lately?

A Yeah, actually, down in Ventura after the show the other day. We went in but it was pretty bad and I didnít really catch anything, but we were on a surf trip about three weeks ago and that was great. That was fun.

Q After the Starbuckís show?

A No that was before Starbucks, yeah. That was great, actually got some waves on that one.

Q Really.

A Yeah.

Q What kind of surfboard were you riding?

A It was a 9'5 or 9'6".

Q Longboard...

A ...yeah, easier for me to catch waves on. It was great. Iíve tried a few times, but youíve got to really do it a lot. I admire Tim for picking it up two years ago, and just like doing it every day, cause really....

Q ...you have to do that in surfing.

A Have you been surfing for a long time?

Q Yeah, about 15 years.

A Nice.

© Golden-Coast Productions, 1999