Playing a first show on a bus at the Albany Landfill isn’t much of a conventional beginning for most bands, but Moms, an Oakland-based band that is part rock, part surf and part noise, is not necessarily the conventional type anyway.
For starters, consider the band members themselves: a rough amalgamation of misfit kids spanning a five-year age gap who rehearse in a warehouse and play noisy, riffed-out, lo-fi rock'n’ roll.
There’s Chris Alarie (vocals, guitar, drums), the soft-spoken unofficial front man who is far more protopunk than he probably realizes. Occasionally trading places with Alarie is the baby of the group, newly-19-year-old Dallin Kapp (drums, guitar, vocals), who is as unassuming as he is spirited. Alexis Faulkner (saxophone, bass, vocals) serves as the foursome’s even-keeled center, with her frank and meaningful insight. And just as every band needs its diva, Moms has Amy Silbergeld (vocals, bass). Known in musical circles as Amy Aimless, Silbergeld fills the shoes of the assertive and oft dramatic frontwoman who is in it just as much for the image as she is for the music.
How the band came together is a story not unlike many other bands. Alarie and Faulkner met while attending high school in Santa Rosa, Calif., where both were active in the local music scene. Similarly, Kapp (a native of Indian reservation-turned-town Roosevelt, Utah) and Silbergeld (from Seattle, Wash.) met at California College of the Arts, where both are currently students.
The two worlds collided when Silbergeld went to a show at Mama Buzz and happened upon Alarie performing solo. “I thought, ‘He’s the next big…whatever,’” she said.
The two exchanged numbers in hopes of playing together, and after a short stint as a joke band, The Eegles, they got a bit more serious about writing and playing music, first adding Kapp to the lineup (“I just learned how to play drums with this band,” he admitted) and eventually Faulkner. After a mere two months of existence, the band has two shows and nearly a dozen songs under its belt, and there are no signs of slowing down. While Moms only counts a bus and a warehouse on its list of show locations, the band has plans to play house shows and legitimate venues alike.
“We’re going to try and play as many shows in as many different places as we can,” Alarie said from his perch on the edge of a couch in the Moms practice space. “Hopefully…we will be equally as comfortable playing in somebody’s garage and living room or on a bus as we would be playing at more of a…traditional venue.”
Yet it is the shows that fall outside of the spectrum of “normal” that the band believes will be most advantageous for its growth, as Oakland arguably has a larger underground than mainstream scene.
“The character of the city lends itself to more non-traditional venues,” Alarie said, speaking of the spread-out nature of Oakland. “There are a lot more warehouses…and weird, old, abandoned buildings.”
Silbergeld also attributed the versatility of the scene and the strong sense of community to people’s openness to mixed-media collaborations.
“People want to combine art, shows, music,” she said. “There [are] a lot of good opportunities to meet other people who are doing similar stuff or want to put together weird shows that aren’t just a band playing in a room.”
But it also helps that Silbergeld is the “social networker” of the group, whose duties extend beyond singing and playing and into finding and promoting shows.
“I know everyone and everyone loves me,” a half-clad Silbergeld explained between cigarette drags.
The band already has two future shows lined up and eventual plans to record. While the details are still under discussion, the first recording will most likely be released as a limited edition cassette.
And while each of the members have side projects (some with other people, some with one another) in varying states of array and disarray, all four members can agree that they don’t want Moms to be a short-lived, one-off kind of band, rather one that evolves and grows.
“We hope to be as famous as Michael Jackson,” Faulkner said with a smile.