Interview, New Single, and Upcoming Tour
Mama’s Love has become a staple on the Southeast live music circuit for years bringing fans a taste of southern-jam-rock and developing a sound that is unmistakably their own. We spoke with lead vocalist & rhythm guitarist, Thomas Galloway, to discuss the groups most recent developments. We are also offering a special stream of their newest single “Beyond the Divide” until 10:00 PM CDT today only!
The streaming feature has been disabled as this stream for the the new single was only offered for a day as a special for the interview, however the track is available for purchase for .99 cents on iTunes HERE
Interview with Thomas Galloway
Q: The history of Mama’s Love is pretty interesting the group started out with Willow Streets Sessions that raised fans attention, then the group released Mama’s Love EP which saw the group developing a more mature sound, and The Great Divide further solidified the group’s developments. That album [the Great Divide] is a great piece of work you can look back on proudly with all those guys, but it also presents a good time to mutually accepting to move on to the next chapter in each one of your lives. Through it all you’ve remained the band leader of Mama’s Love. In what direction do you see the band going, you’ve got a great group of musicians to work with, how have you all evolved your sound with this new lineup?
Thomas: First of all I kind of got forced into this leadership role, I was in it from the beginning and I was the only one from the original members that wanted to continue after the breakdown. I explored other options, and even though Mama’s Love had disbanded for a couple months, I just kept coming back to the fact that I was already missing the experience. I knew I couldn’t get that same experience with those same guys again, but I guess I saw the band nameas a recognizable brand, and almost like a child I’d watch grow up, I wasn’t ready to see it die yet. When I started looking around for people to fill the void, there was a great group that became available very organically and they fit the direction I envisioned taking Mama’s Love .
Q: When did you begin working on your solo album Full Moon Fiction?
Thomas: That began in the winter 2010, right before we went in to record The Great Divide. I literally finished it up in Chase Park Studios in Athens, and the next day we were going in to meet John Keane as a band to figure out logistics behind the project for The Great Divide. Full Moon Fiction was done with some of the guys in Futurebirds. I was just really loving their sound, they have a unique sound that is their own, and before Mama’s Love ever got off the ground, I was doing acoustic stuff and I was just thinking to myself maybe I should have gone down that road, away from the electric scene, so its just a way to expose a different layer of sound. The idea was to have two parallel paths of music, a down-home roots acoustic road, and an aggressive energetic electric road, and I think within Mama’s Love now, we are starting to find a nice balance of both.
Q: What was it like working with John Keane, someone who has produced most of Widespread Panic’s albums, who is legend to all of us in the Southeast & particularly in the classic city?
Thomas: It started out being a slightly intimidating experience because he is a legend. When I recorded Full Moon Fiction the producer was Thomas Johnson who is a musical pier and a buddy. Before that was Tom Tapley, a younger engineer from Southern Tracks Studios in Atlanta, GA. It had always been a buddy-buddy type of project going on with plenty of goofing around and experimenting, but with John it’s almost like a very experienced father figure that knows what he wants and knows his form of perfection and you don’t really question it. He channels his clean and professional sound to whatever project he is working on. He costs a pretty penny, but the quality and expertise is what you pay for and he is one of the best.
Q: How did you all end up deciding to have him sit-in on a couple of songs?
Thomas: Just being of fan of Panic and other acts he’s played steel on. On straight up guitar he kills it, too. But pedal steel is one of my favorite instruments and I think it just adds a whole new rich layer to everything. Honestly when I was thinking about him doing it, I envisioned more of a background traditional country twang. He did the overdubs alone in his spare time in the studio. We just trusted that whatever he did would fit the tracks and be badass. For instance, in “Deadwood Special” his steel is more traditional and set in the background with ambient supportive swells, whereas in “Downstream” and the new single, “Beyond the Divide”, the overdubs ended up more like a Derek Trucks slide solo, ya know? Both styles facilitated the given songs well, too tasteful to deny.
Q: This new form of the band seems very energized and I know people were skeptical with what they perceived as the disillusion of “the Mama’s Love”, but with a lot of shows under your belt, such as the show last weekend in D.C. at Bayou, it seems ya’ll have really found that pocket and really built on that exponentially. What new opportunities have arisen with the new group you’re playing with?
Thomas: Well for instance Bill, Ross, and Bo all studied jazz for several years and are well versed in their instruments. They really have no technical limitations, which is great when you have an idea because they’re going to execute it professionally, and many times make it even better. Not to mention in a live performance when they go off on solos; sometimes I’m up on stage listening to one of them go off and it makes me happy as hell, like I have the best seat in the house. Richard and myself are the self-taught musicians of the group, I feel we share the same outlook on music in general. Richard holds it down on drums, a true rocker, and I also think he has the best voice in the group, a powerful range. He can really belt the higher harmonies that I’ve always wanted in the band. We can all write, so there’s almost too many songs on the table, but I think that’s a good problem to have. We’re really trying to pinpoint a sound, a distinguished geographical sound, where it’s like, we are from Georgia, we are from the south, we are based in rock n roll but we have many tricks and styles up our sleeves.
Q: So the Classic City has been home to numerous bands, the B-52’s, Widespread Panic, REM, and more recently the Futurebirds among others. There’s so many venues, The 40 Watt, The Georgia Theatre, New Earth Music Hall, the list goes on and on, how did environment of Athens foster your passion & your vision to where it is today?
Thomas: It does have a rich history of music, there are certain spots in the United States where music tends to grow, and in the Southeast, Athens is one of those hot spots. Going to school at UGA and going through the music business program there, I was exposed to a lot of good people in the industry, but you can also find these people by just walking the streets of downtown. I did not go the technical route of music in college, maybe I should have, but I would say I consider myself less of a truly technical musician and more of songwriter searching for songs that move me, and as an artist trying to make six strings sound decent. Overall, Athens fosters musicians, artists, and all types of music industry players, it is a great homebase for what we do.
Q; Your newest song, Beyond the Divide, is Mama’s Love matured it is something that hasn’t necessarily been done by Mama’s Love. It carries that distinct Mama’s Love sound, it literally is “beyond” what was previously done. Could you tell us a little bit about the song writing process behind this new song?
Thomas: Originally the last studio album, “The Great Divide”, comes from a lyric in the song, “Higher Sea”. For a while we were between “Higher Sea” and “Downstream” for that album’s title. I did some revisions with the Higher Sea lyrics and The Great Divide came up as a title option. Ironically, the album title ended up reflecting the break up of that line-up. So from there, once everything was kind of at a standstill, I wrote the basic portion of the composition for Beyond the Divide. I was feeling down because there was no concrete future to look towards, things were very up in the air, but I knew music was still a driving passion of my life and to keep the faith in that. It’s a layered song that starts out very simple, but it builds on itself gradually for a powerful conclusion. It is about how you have to deal with loss and changes, it is about the loss of band members, but you can generalize it as a loss of any relationship. For instance, someone asked me recently if I came from a divorced family and if the song reflected that, because he was from a split family and was maybe relating to it that way. There are situations that you can get hung up about in life, and the only way to get past the problem is to just let it go, free yourself from emotional attachment. The recording is also symbolic because William, the original keyboardist, is playing piano at the beginning of the track. When we started recording it, he was still in the band, but then he had to leave about halfway through the recording process, so when you hear the piano solo during the middle of the song, in a way it was his farewell solo, and the sound of it is really great and fits the overall emotions.
Q: Do you plan on releasing a full album soon after this?
Thomas: Yes, actually the songs and concept are pretty much there. It will be a more acoustic, more roots, more Americana sound I think. The idea is to start out very acoustic and then gradually become more electric. Some of the songs we are going to put on this album we’ve already been playing live for a while, and although we get good reactions from the new songs at our shows, fans can’t really familiarize themselves or dive deep into the ideal version of these songs yet without a proper record to listen to. This next album will be a conceptual album, in which each song will be connected by a theme, and that’s what I’m most excited about, trying to fit together these new songs in a way that makes them part of a bigger idea. In a way, I feel that’s what being in a band is all about, fitting together pieces and players, that alone are good, but together forms something greater than their individual selves.
Summer/Fall Tour 20138.31 – Two Rivers Festival: Terra Alta, WV 9.01 – Mantrabash: Ferguson, NC 9.05 – The Barn: Winston-Salem, NC 9.06 – Terminal West: Atlanta, GA
w/ Moontower & Sailing to Denver 9.13 – Brookland Tavern: Columbia, SC
w/ Pinna 9.14 – Brewskies: Winston-Salem, NC 9.27 – Private Event: Tuscaloosa, AL 9.28 – Soul Kitchen, Mobile, AL
w/ CBDB 10.1 – Martin’s Downtown: Roanoke, VA 10.2 – Rapture: Charlottesville, VA
w/ The Southern Belles 10.3 – Blue Nile: Harrisonburg, VA
w/ The Southern Belles 10.4 – The Camel: Richmond, VA
w/ The Southern Belles 10.5 – Sycamore Deli: Blacksburg, VA
w/ The Southern Belles 10.10 – One Stop: Asheville, NC
w/ Thomas Wynn & The Believers