WORDS: BECTON SIMPSON
Earlier this month, Laura Jane Grace graced the world with ‘Bought To Rot’, a beautiful, incredible collection of songs from her new side project Laura Jane Grace & The Devouring Mothers. An organic process that developed from working and touring with close friends & bandmates Atom Willard and Marc Jacob Hudson, the idea for The Devouring Mothers first came about “back in 2015 and 2016” when Laura was doing a spot of promoing for her book. “The shows were like a mix of music and spoken word,” she told us. “Atom and Marc came along and did the shows with me. At the time I thought it needed a name, cause it was a band playing songs but it wasn’t Against Me! so I dubbed us “The Devouring Mothers”…Marc recorded the last AM! album and he is our sound person live, so its all family…But we just kept running with the idea, getting together whenever we could and playing music.”
“We’ll all be lucky if we make it out of Trump’s presidency alive.”
The Devouring Mothers are different from Against Me! in many ways, but Laura says it’s difficult to compare the two. “I think every album regardless of the band name its under is like a snapshot of the period of time that it was made in,” she said. “If there were like an AM! album that was made simultaneously as this record it might be a better exercise to compare them but there isn’t. Overall the album isn’t overtly political, which maybe sets it apart from AM! but I don’t know.” It still contains plenty of punk attitude though, which is something Laura’s always had running through her veins, and something she’s clearly still passionate about – the importance of using music to make a statement in some way. “If it’s not saying something or questioning something it’s not punk. Bottom line. Punk as a style of music means nothing.” In the current political climate, that kind of outlook is almost more important than ever, and Laura certainly wasn’t mincing her words when it came to the President. “Trump is an authoritarian, a white nationalist, his administration are white supremacists, the only people that matter to them are straight white Americans. They don’t care about minorities, immigrants, children, LGBTQ people, science, the environment, nothing. Just money and themselves, that’s all they care about. We’ll all be lucky if we make it out of his presidency alive.” Much of the new record, however, was actually inspired by Laura’s love of Tom Petty, which is a much happier topic to move on to; more specifically, the first album she ever bought – ‘Full Moon Fever’.
“I realized it was stupid that I’d just kept it sitting there for all this time…”
The comparisons between Petty and Laura are certainly interesting. Petty was 37 when he made that album, the same age Laura is now. He also released it as a solo album separate from the Heartbreakers, the same way Laura is doing with TDM. “[It’s] the album I would point to when I told my management that I wanted to do this and they were trying to talk me out of it,” she told us. But Petty had a much more direct influence on the album than that, as Laura went on to explain. “When I was living in Gainesville back in the early 2000’s I bought a 1964 Fender Jaguar off of Stan Lynch, the drummer from the Heartbreakers. It’s a beautiful guitar, pristine condition….I started thinking about how if you’re a guitar, your dream is to be played on records and played live and this poor guitar never had that chance…I thought that was kind of tragic. Imagine being a drummers guitar and all you want is to be played by a guitar player and loved. I realized it was stupid that I’d just kept it sitting there for all this time and decided this was the guitars’ moment….So that was the guitar I used on the entire record, the guitar I bought from Stan Lynch from the Heartbreakers.” It’s a delightful story, and really adds something personal and exciting to the album, one that hopefully won’t be TDM’s last.
“I plan on making music until I die.”
And to those concerned that Laura’s new side project might mean less content from AM!, she had this to say. “To me music is all about making connections with the world around you, spreading ideas and starting conversations. I don’t think that will ever change. I plan on making music until I die, whatever it’s released under is pretty inconsequential to me…That being said, I have no plans at the moment to stop doing AM! and we’re working a new album and planning shows for next year….For the Devouring Mothers we’re going to do a proper North American tour and hopefully a Europe run next year.”