In the semi-enjoyable romcom ‘About A Boy’, Hugh Grant’s character realizes that dating single mothers is the way to go. Turns out that being in Single Mothers isn’t quite as enjoyable. Vocalist Drew Thomson even hated it for a long time, but says that it has now at least become tolerable. Something that is way better than just tolerable, is the band’s latest album “Our Pleasure” (out now via Dine Alone Records and Big Scary Monsters). Read on to find what else Drew had to tell us.
PRT: The new record is called ‘Our Pleasure’ and it is an absolute pleasure to listen to. It made us wonder though… what is your biggest “pleasure” in life?
Drew: I love touring. Getting on stage and playing every night in a different city is by far the greatest thing I’ve ever experienced. I would never be able to do anything like it without the band, it’s amazing how much yelling into a microphone has changed my life.
PRT: Overall, the record seems more accessible, a little less raw and aggressive than ‘Negative Qualities’. As you sing: whatever happened to Single Mothers?
Drew: The songs are just a reflection of where we were when writing. Maybe it’s toned down a bit from Negative Qualities - but I think every release we’ve put out stands apart from the last. We weren’t trying to sound any different, we weren’t really trying at all.
PRT: I read somewhere the album almost didn’t happen due to certain struggles within the band and others of a more personal nature. Do you mind telling us what happened?
Drew: Nothing tragic or that interesting happened, we just didn’t have our shit together for a long time. I started writing songs for other projects, we stopped playing shows for a bit. A couple members moved on. The band was on tour pretty constantly for a while and it just took a toll. I was drinking a lot, too much. Alcohol was controlling my life and that’s not easy to be around. So we took a break from each other and the band. And as that break got longer and longer you get used to your life away from it. But then, magically - the opportunity came to record another record and like a brick to the face the wake-up call hit and we got it together.
PRT: How did you end up with Wade MacNeil producing ‘Our Pleasure’?
Drew: Wade and I had known each other for a bit through mutual friends and he just hit us up when he heard we were going into the studio, he knew we didn’t have anyone lined up to produce - and said he had some time if we were interested. It was just one of those things. The stars aligned.
PRT: In what way was he an influence on the sound and songs?
Drew: It’s always great to have someone else in the room. Wade has a fantastic instinct for hooks and a great ear for tone. He was really great to work with and just a nice funny guy to be around in general.
PRT: Single Mothers are often lauded for the lyrical side of the songs. Is that something you’re proud of? Or are you, like most writers, eternally malcontent with your own work?
Drew: Ya, I mean - it’s what I bring to the band so I’m proud of it. It’s not like I’m much of a singer or musician so I’m happy I get by doing what I can.
PRT: Do you have any “heroes” in the literary world? People whose writing made you want to pick up pen and paper?
Drew: Ya, definitely - I have a bunch of main influences and I’m always reading and looking for inspiration. I’m more of a ‘fan’ first and a ‘writer’ second. I love a good line.
PRT: Have you ever thought of taking your writing beyond lyrics?
Drew: Most of the Single Mothers lyrics are done in the studio. ‘Christian Girls’ was written on the spot in the vocal booth. So was ‘Money’ along with a bunch of others. Writing to music gives you the boundaries to work within which make it a lot easier than other mediums. I know how long/short the song needs to be and often the music will set the tone. I kind of just shut my mind off and go. It’s harder writing at a desk, looking at a blank page - but I do have some short stories I’ve been collecting about my time as a gold prospector although I’m not sure what I’ll ever do with them.
PRT: It is no secret that you were living in a van for a while. How do you look back on that period of time?
Drew: It was fun. You can live anywhere if you stay drunk enough. I wouldn’t do it sober.
PRT: Ambition is one of the themes on ‘Our Pleasure’. What are your ambitions? Do you have any, despite what the negative ideas and sarcasm in your lyrics sometimes convey?
Drew: I like being in this band, finally. I’ve been a real estate agent and I hated it. I worked at a bank and I hated it. I worked in a kitchen and I hated it. Gold prospecting was fun but it was in the middle of nowhere, you can’t do it forever. I hate having a boss and working 9-5 and I’m horrible at it. I want to make a dent in the world - even the slightest. I know most everyone hates their jobs, it’s dumb to list a bunch of things that you hate but - I hated being in the band for a long time too, although now, it’s the only thing I’ve stuck with for this long and it’s finally tolerable - so I’d like to keep going with it and see what happens. Staying the course doesn’t sound all that ambitious, but for a quitter - it is.
PRT: Poverty and (failed) relationships are some of the other themes on the record. Is there any hope at all to be found somewhere in your music, or in life in general?
Drew: I think there is hope in all of it if you look at the songs in the right way.
PRT: I remember a show at the Belgian festival Pukkelpop where you were drowning yourself in Jack Daniel’s, falling over and running around like a madman. I hate to ask, but do you remember anything of that show?
Drew: No. They put a security guard in my dressing room and locked me in after that set. I guess I broke some microphones and stands and they wanted us to pay for them. We had a crazy flight with some delays and stopovers and then the airline lost all our luggage, not to mention I lost my wallet in New York with all our money in it. The situation was stressful and I started drinking as soon as we got off the plane and started driving to Pukkelpop. It wasn't a great idea. When the security guard left to take a piss and I went through the window and bummed a smoke off Kate Tempest. They took me back to the room and put 2 security guards in there.
PRT: I read somewhere that the band was one of the reasons why you both started and quit drinking. How did that happen? What triggered both those situations?
Drew: I started drinking well before the band. I stopped though, halfway through recording this record. I always thought the booze was helping but realized the opposite. Justis, our guitar player, gave me a look one day in the studio as I was going to fill up a glass of wine -just a certain look like ‘why are you doing this’ and it hit me a certain way. I put down that glass and haven’t had a drink since.
PRT: Lastly, what do you hope this new record will trigger?
Drew: Some sales