Mobina Galore got me through 2020, their song „Escape Plan“ has become my personal away-with-pandemic-anthem. But I cannot even say which song and which of the Winnipeg punk rock duo’s albums blew me away first. Can you believe that only two people constitute such powerful chords? Well, two vocals plus drums, bass and guitar, that sounds more accurate. Yet, I still suspect that Marcia Hanson and Jenna Priestner eat more breakfast than other people, do additional weight training, or have very heavy pets that they regularly lift to put pressure on their instruments and lovely aggressive voices like this.
Curtains up for Mobina Galore, which are Marcia on the drums and vocals and Jenna holding the guitar, bass and her voice! Jenna has answered most of my questions, even the suspicious one about their pet with a disarming photo.
Congratulations, your band is celebrating its 10th anniversary! Did anyone bake you a cake, for example one of your labels, and how did you two celebrate this precious moment?
This year marks our 10 years as a band which is pretty wild to think about, unfortunately no cakes were baked for us haha. Our first tour was in the summer of 2011 so it feels like this summer we will be looking back on where we were 10 years ago on those days and being thankful for everyone who has joined us on this ride! One thing we are doing to celebrate is recording two songs live in the studio to release this May.
Your previous album was entitled „Feeling Disconnected“ (2017). Who was the cool little girl on the cover – a relative, an acquaintance or just some unknown but cool kid? She also adorns one of your shirts.
The girl on the cover of ‘Feeling Disconnected’ is our niece Lilija, she would have been about 4 at the time and I’m pretty sure we should be paying her some type of royalties for the use of her face but we didn’t. She also designed one of our shirts and we tried to pay her $100 for it, but she said it was too much and only wanted $5 cause that’s how old she was, so we got a pretty good deal haha.
Your current record „Don’t Worry“ (2019) sounds a bit more cheerful and the title already carries this mood a lot. Not only „Escape Plan“ is an anthem (“I Want It All” is such a strong opener and the catchy songs do not stop). Watching the music video, I had to laugh a bit, how you roll on your bikes rather relaxed through a quite green neighborhood, while your melodic punk is just sonic speed. Where can you escape from your „home base“ Winnipeg or everyday life by bike and a bit more serious: what annoys you so much that you need to get away from it?
We live in a pretty cool neighbourhood here in Winnipeg making it easy to kinda “escape” from home by bike to lots of bike paths and river trails, we’re not too adventurous with cycling, but it is super fun to just cruise around and feel the sun shine on you! For myself, I need to escape from my mental state when it feels heavy or uninspired either from working too much or these days being a bit bored and restless. I find getting out of the house at least once a day is needed to clear my head, and having recently got a dog really helps with that.
Besides MG, punk rock listeners might know Propaghandi as another band from Winnipeg. How long have you been in this city of about 750,000 people and how is it (or was it before 2020) to make music locally, are there good infrastructures? Did you already play gigs at all the clubs twenty times and hardly anyone would still come to see you again, or is it still important for you to perform locally regularly (let’s take the years pre-pandemic as an example)?
Playing music in Winnipeg is amazing, there are so many bands in this city spanning many genres, but specifically the local punk scene is always thriving. Tons of local shows and the city is quite supportive, we were welcomed into the scene with open arms when we moved here in 2012 and used to play any opportunity we got but the past couple years we have to be more strategic about our local shows because of just what you said – people losing interest. We try to play a couple times a year on all local bills and then maybe a support slot here and there.
The topic of running away (or driving by bike, hehe) was present on both of your last two albums to me, but they are also coming to terms with experiences of loss and memories, and in general they carry the attitude of finding a way to deal with things in life. Looking back at your life as musicians in the last decade, when did such moments came up?
Having been a band and also a relationship for 10+ years it’s safe to say we’ve been through a lot together; good and bad, personally and band related. Shit happens when you aren’t expecting it, often making it hard to deal with. For example my grandma passed away while we were on tour a couple years ago and it was a back and forth with my dad for a whole day just trying to figure out if it made sense for me to cancel a show and come home for the funeral or not. In the end my dad wanted me to keep doing what I was doing, so what I did was spoke out the words to “Oh, Irene” and they played it at the funeral, that way I was there in a small way. That was a tough one and I don’t think we played that song that night.
Let’s talk about punk rock socialization. In my youth, I listened to many US bands first (e.g. Bad Religion, Pennywise, also Jimmy Eat World with their one pop punk single on „Bleed American“, which was my first self-bought record after the Backstreet Boys :D). In Germany there is a genre called “Deutschpunk”, which is hard to translate literally, but it’s a sub-genre that is a lot about squatting and radical leftism. As a country kid, though, that was always way too much in the doorstep for me; punk was kind of a first acoustic gateway to the world. In your youth, did you also listen more to punk in the distance, or was it a lot of stuff from Canada and the States?
It sounds like we had a similar background of music. Basically BSB to Pennywise and Jimmy Eat World for me too haha. My brother got me into punk rock when I was about 12 so I was listening to a lot of the American So-Cal bands that were big in the 90s like Bad Religion, Ten Foot Pole and Pennywise but at the same time I discovered Blink-182 and that was like my first find, you know? And Saves the Day, they were huge for me. Also lots of Fat Wreck and Epitaph stuff but then from there it was about the emotion of the song, I didn’t really think about where a band was from or what their politics were, I just listened to the songs. When I was in highschool I got more “punk” or at least that’s what I thought I wanted to be, you know died my hair black, put some studs on a jacket and thought I was cool. We’d go to tons of local all ages shows and that’s when I first discovered this more sort of “underground” genre you mentioned and it spoke to me. Street punk/oi kinda stuff, there were tons of awesome punk bands in Edmonton back then! I don’t listen to that so much anymore but I think it helped define my as a musician and as a music listener.
Marcia, you learned to play a lot of instruments like piano, ukulele, guitar and of course drums. Why and when did drums become the instrument for you?
Drums always seemed like fun. I liked the idea of starting a band and my dad always said bands always need drummers and bass players, everyone wants to play guitar. So I got a kit and learned the basics, and here I am years later in a band still playing the basics 😉
Jenna, how did you come to play the guitar?
I started playing guitar when I was 12 because I didn’t want to take piano lessons anymore but my mom said that I had to play an instrument so I chose guitar because my brother was already learning and had one. I caught on quite quickly, I took weekly lessons for a year maybe and learned a bunch of theory and all that, but I basically remember nothing of it! Doesn’t matter though, I just play what I play and I love it.
Oh, I can relate to this so much, some day in my keyboard lessons I rather asked my teacher to paint my budgie. Did you actually both sing from the beginning, or how did this happen? And what do you think, how does it affect a band’s structure when both or all members combine vocals and instrument? Spatial division due to the instruments might still construct something like front and back, but I imagine a slightly „democratic“ effect, if there is no single leading voice or leading instrument anymore.
I was always the lead singer of the band and I’m not sure that Marcia wanted to sing of not to be honest, I think it just happened because she is a great singer and great at harmonizing. Neither of us are trained singers I just knew I wanted to be able to scream, so that developed over the years as you can hear from our first album ‘Cities Away’, my scream isn’t where it is now. We both love harmonies so the more singers the better!
Some of your lyrics appear to be about conflicts in social relations (which are mostly not only social, but can also be very political). Some are also about experiences as female music creators. „Bad Love Song“ from your first album is such a song. Back in those days, you sang about “Satellite Radio” after you asked a radio station why they did not play your music. They said that they already had enough female fronted bands in their airplay, haha! How did you come to ask them this question and would you say that you are annoyed by all the female and feminist punk bands we can hear on the radio?
I had hired a radio tracker who basically tries to plug your music to radio stations and he is the one who gave me that comment back from Sirius XM about “there are already 2 other female bands we play, they would be in direct competition…” it made me so furious. Why do we have to be placed against each other? There’s about 100 male bands and 2 female and that’s enough for their quota and their listeners aren’t very brave, they want familiar. Anyway, this shit infuriates me and I don’t think it’s changing any time soon. College radio is great cause they play whatever they want but that doesn’t get you paid like commercial radio does nor have the listnership.
2021 seems to bring a second summer at home for many of us – do you have a n y plans for that time? In another interview it seemed, apart from all health worries, that you were also able to enjoy last summer with its longer break a bit.
Summer in Winnipeg is the best! I say that today on April 12 where there is currently a snowstorm happening haha, but come May/June life is great! I’m quite enjoying knowing that we will be here for another summer because we can make plans, and by plans I mean like plans to go on fun adventures around the city and putter around our beautiful yard and go golfing and shoot some hoops and just relax. It’s pretty cool.
Please fill in the following question: Before I played my instrument (drums or guitar) for the first time, I listened to the following bands and acts:
Saves the Day, Blink-182, No Doubt, Jewel, Cher, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, and we were absolutely in the era of Spice Girls, Backstreet Boys, NSync and all that pop that we loved haha, no shame.
Currently I love listening to:
Taylor Swift (we still love our pop!), Lana Del Rey, we listen to a lot of Americana/Folk music like Brandi Carlile, Courtney Marie Andrews, Sarah Harmer, Jason Isbell. For punk rock we love our local pals in The Ripperz and Clipwing, I love Touche Amore and The Bouncing Souls and The Menzingers … lots of stuff!
Thank you, take care and please never stop recording music! ❤