Mohawk radio interview, January 2017

I spoke to Mia, singer with Mohawk radio to talk about the band’s new EP and plans for the year..

Mohawk Radio are probably a new name for most music fans in the UK.  Can you tell us a bit about the band?

We started when I moved over here from Bermuda.  There was an ad on an online website and I answered it and came to Stockport.  They lured me down into a basement and we just kind of rocked out and have been a band ever since.

What on earth made you want to move from Bermuda to Stockport?

Just the music scene really.  The UK and the North West particularly is a hotbed of activity for music in my opinion.  I love Oasis, Stone Roses and stuff, so it’s a natural fit for me.  My sister lives in London but it was a bit too much for me at the time, so I came to Manchester which I love – I love it here.

You’ve got a great new EP coming out in February – Shoot from the hip. What’s the songwriting process in the band?

It depends really.  Sometimes it’ll start with an instrumental and I’ll just come up with the songs and the lyrics, or I’ll start with a vocal melody and they’ll write an instrumental around it, so it’s kind of fifty-fifty.

Where do your inspirations come from for writing the lyrics?

I think it just depends.  Sometimes it might be something that I just see or hear like on the street, or I’ve gone through something, so like “Deserve” on the EP, I was really really angry, so I wrote that song. “Eyes wide shut” came to me in the middle of the night, at like four o’clock in the morning, so it might just be a saying or something I’ve had rolling around inside me head then finally it’ll just come out in a song.

I think emotions like anger help give a different feel to the songs.

Definitely.  I think any sort of extreme emotion really.The opening track on the EP, “On your knees”, when I wrote that the music came first and that lent itself to a real summer vibe, a real feel-good kind of catchy riff that reminds me of being at a festival so I wanted to write about how I feel at a festival and be a quintessential festival song, so that’s where that derived from.  It just depends if I’m trying to get across a theme or emotion, but extremes of both are good for songwriting, especially anger.

The production sounds very professional and excellent quality.  

We have a big core fanbase in Somerset which is great – we love it down there and go down there several times a year.  We met a gentleman by the name of Tony Hopton who is a really good producer and we wanted to work with him.  He introduced us to Clint Murphy whose main base is Modern World Studios so Tony couldn’t work with us for the full time on this project so he handed us over to Clint who has done work with manic Street Preachers, 50 cent, you know he’s really cream of the crop so we were really lucky to fall on our feet with this.  He’s an awesome writer, musician, producer in his own right, and he felt like a fifth member of the band.  When we went in we really connected with him, so we were pretty lucky with that really.  Absolutely loved working with him, he’s brilliant.

Have you got plans for a full-blown album?

Yes, we’re in the process of putting together some packaging so we can tout it out and get people involved financially because as far as everything goes, we’ve got potential and we’ve got a good cornerstone for what it is to be a band, but you need financial help, so we’ve paid for everything ourselves so far including this EP which as you know is not a venture for the financially faint of heart, so we’re putting some stuff together in order to raise some money – do something like Kickstarter. We’re just looking for some other financial avenues in order to make an album.  We wanted to make an album this time but we were sitting on these songs and thought we really needed to get them out, and we had the opportunity to work with Clint so we just went into the studio.

It’s quite good in that with the EP out you’ve got something for people to listen to and if they like it then they can contribute to a kickstarter campaign.

Exactly, you’re exactly right.  It’s a great teaser, a really delicious appetiser that will hopefully make them want the main course of more rock.

Hopefully plenty of people do buy it because as you say, it’s not a cheap process getting an album professionally recorded and produced.

I read this really interesting quote, I can’t remember who it was by, but it basically said that music and creatives are becoming more and more watered down and nobody wants to pay for it, but production, studio and all these costs are remaining the same if not more, so the balance is really bad.  What these guys do in the studio is incredible and it’s right that they get paid what they charge but it’s not marrying up to when it goes out to your audience, there’s something lost.  It never used to be like that I don’t think. I’ve been in a digital music age my entire life pretty much, so it’s interesting; people used to get a record, I love vinyl and have a burgeoning vinyl collection, and they’d get excited and have that relationship with the artist as you have that tangible product, and you’d be happy to spend your money on that new album, but now it’s become more homogenised, and the connection has been lost.  The internet has been really incredible, but there are things coming out that aren’t working right.

There are some real benefits, but equally some downsides to the internet.  I prefer CD or Vinyl as I prefer that tangible product – spending money on a download never feels as satisfying.

It doesn’t, you don’t have that same emotive connection with it.  I think it’s unbelieveable the amount of choice of music you can get now, and the amount of exposure we can get but at the same time I have my Eagles vinyl that was my mum’s, and that to me is better than any download I have.  When I put it on and hear that crackle, it’s hard to explain, it’s something about the human experience with that form of listening that I really enjoy.  I’m glad vinyl is making a comeback.

I think part of it was the artwork, with vinyl it was a big piece of art and you saw the details, CD’s lost that as it was so much smaller, and with downloads you rarely even see the artwork, so I think you lose part of the experience.

No it doesnt really matter now, but it should.  I still look at it, as you said, with vinyl it’s a full 360 experience and now it’s just one or two dimensional with downloads.  People are going back to vinyl which I think is a big nod for humanity.

I think more and more people are starting to appreaciate quality.

It’s hard when you’re an artist and trying to wade your way through all this, there are some incredible things that have come as people have had the opportunity to get the equipment in their basement, but then there’s the whole other side of that where it’s just a whole sea of people.

As you say there’s a sea of artists out there all making music and it’s very hard to stand out from the crowd to get noticed.

How do you?  I don’t really know.  I’m surprised anybody like Planetmosh even want to talk to us.  It is hard, it’s difficult because everyone now as audiences, we’re desensitised, so if you show your ass for example, well Kim Kardashian has been doing it on the internet for like three years so there’s nothing new.  When the Red Hot Chilli Peppers did it, it was like Woah!, obviously they had their music to back it up but I feel like people aren’t shocked by anything now, it’s hard to incite excitement in audiences now, or to cut through in the way that people like Alice Cooper did.  Lady Gaga did it recently I suppose.

The really cool thing about the internet with things like Kickstarter is that the fans become your record label, it’s like the peoples choice, it’s power to the people, and they can put their money to help bands like us, so it gives people more of a say than they ever had before.  So what I said before, this is kind of the flip side to that.

With things like Kickstarter, fans feel more involved and have more of a connection to the band.

Exactly. That’s a new twist, so we’ve put together some pretty cool packages including vinyl which we hope people are going to want to get involved with.

With the EP coming out, what live shows have you got planned?

We’re kicking off for 2017 playing at the Liverpool Philharmonic which is going to be awesome.  We didn’t actually take it into consideration until recently then the reality of where we’re playing began to sink in.  So we’re supporting a Pink Floyd tribute band there which is going to be great.  Then we follow that up with playing a home town show at the Deaf Inistitute in Manchester which is a really awesome venue, I’m looking forward to that one.  Then we’re down in Somerset for a couple of tour dates at the end of March, I think March 25th to 28th we’re down in Somerset.  So that’s between now and the end of March, then we’ve got some dates in May and I think we’ll have some in April as well.  Then it starts filling up with festivals.  We really want to take this EP on the road.  We’ve been to the states twice in the past 18 months so now we’re going to try and do a European tour.  If there are any big bands going on a European tour please consider us as support.  We’d play everywhere we could if we got the chance, and we want to, we love travelling and I think Europe is great because there are so many places with die-hard rock fans.  I’d love to go to Japan – that would be awesome, so hopefully.

The problem is the further you go, the more expensive it gets to do a tour

Exactly, that’s the thing.

You said you’re a fan of bands like Oasis and Stone Roses.  What about the other members of Mohawk Radio?

Dave our drummer, he’s really into the Arctic Monkeys, and then Connor and Gregsy are very much into metal so Pantera, Cardle of filth, System of a down, Nine inch nails.  That’s all we listen to in the van, non-stop metal which is cool with me because some of those guys voices – and ladies as well, but we listen to more male dominated metal, Phil Anselmos voice is absolutely unbelieveable, so is Serj’s (Serj Tankian), so I’ve learnt a lot from them.  A lot of our sound has a real undercurrent of that because that’s what influences the guys, so it’s interesting to learn from these masters who have made this beautiful hard sound which I think our music teeters on the edge of in some respects.

It’s good that you’ve all got quite different influences as it adds a lot more interest to the music you make.

I think so. Someone once said we’re like when Cher met Metallica which is kind of interesting. I like Cher but didn’t grow up listening to her or anything but she’s had a pretty kickass career, and Metallica’s not to shabby either, so if we could just have a smidgeon of both of those that would be nice.

So which singers do you think have inspired or influenced you most?

Freddie Mercury, Robert Plant.  I love Stevie Nicks, Dolly Parton – I grew up with a lot of Country.  I wouldn’t say his voice inspired me, but his writing – Bob Marley – absolutely love him.  Gwen Stefani, Madonna, the list could go on for ages really.  Dolly at Glastonbury I think it was the year before last, she’s just unreal.  I love Heart – I love the Heart girls.  Ann Wilson’s voice is just insane.  I went and saw them last year for my Birthday.  My biological father toured with them and Bryan Adams back in the late 70s, early 80s in Canada.

Mohawk Radio’s new EP, Shoot from the hip is out in February.  Check out “On your knees” from the EP here…

About Ant May

I spend half my life at gigs or festivals and the other half writing the reviews and editing photos, and somehow find time for a full time job too. Who needs sleep - I've got coffee.