Inspired by Nirvana, The Smashing Pumpkins and Veruca Salt, LA duo Momma party like it’s 1995 on their new album Household Name – and the result is pristine nouveau grunge with irresistible riffs, and hooks that take up permanent residence in your brain.
Yet while their songwriting is finely honed, when it comes to gear, guitarist/vocalist duo Etta Friedman and Allegra Weingarten aren’t fussy...
How would you describe your sound?
Allegra: “It’s alternative rock with grungy influences. Someone once said that we were neo-grunge, which we thought was really funny. I’m down for that comparison, but we don’t really listen to much grunge besides Nirvana, so I don’t know how fair it’d be to call ourselves that.”
Household Name is your third record, but the first you’ve recorded in a studio. What was that like?
Etta: “We had all of the gear at our disposal, so that was super-fun. Our bass player and producer Aron [Kobayashi Ritch] is super-savvy, so it was exciting to not just be in his bedroom being like, ‘I wanna get this [Smashing] Pumpkins sound!’ We could actually sit and pull three different amps and however many pedal combinations until we got a sound to our liking.”
What tones did you find that you really love?
Allegra: “I had never heard of this pedal before, and I’m probably going to butcher what it was, but it was this really big Boss Chorus pedal [most likely the Boss CE-1 Chorus Ensemble – Ed]. It’s apparently super-rare and costs $700. We used it for the solo on Rockstar. That was one of those things where we didn’t know what it needed until we plugged that in.”
What are your guitar collections like?
Allegra: “Pretty slim. My first guitar was a Mexican Fender Strat that my Dad bought me. Then my grandma, when I graduated college, wanted to buy me a guitar and I ended up choosing a Gibson SG, which was my ode to Veruca Salt. That’s what I’m playing now. I have a really nice Martin acoustic back home that’s probably one of my favourite guitars ever. It was left out in the rain the first day, and I swear to God, it sounds perfect!”
Etta: “My brother got me a cheap Fender Duo-Sonic off Sweetwater that someone changed the pickups on. It’s one humbucker and one single coil, so you can get a versatile sound. It’s kind of a crappy guitar but I love it.”
Do you have favourite amps?
Allegra: “So, we don’t have amps! It’s kind of been the Momma ‘bit’ for years: us going, ‘Hey, can we use your backline?’ But we talked about it on tour very seriously and we’re gonna get two Fender Deluxe Reverbs, and everyone’s gonna be happy.”
What do you admire most about each other’s playing?
Etta: “Allegra is my biggest inspiration. We’re so different but also symbiotic. Allegra’s just a shredder!”
Allegra: “Etta’s very good at having really emotive guitar parts that are on the gloomier, more edgy side. I tend to lean towards poppy, melody-driven parts, and when you put it together, that’s where you get the marriage!”
- Household Name is out now via Polyvinyl Record Co. / Lucky Number Music.