Entertainment

Brooklyn Indie Rock Duo Momma Are Going to Be Rock Stars

With their new album, they're aiming to become a 'Household Name.'

Design by Mallory Rosten for Thrillist / Photo by Sophie Hur
Design by Mallory Rosten for Thrillist / Photo by Sophie Hur
Design by Mallory Rosten for Thrillist / Photo by Sophie Hur

For musicians, there are a lot of varying degrees of success. When you’re a DIY group starting out, it could be a first-ever headlining tour or a series of reviews that gives you a sense that you’re on the up-and-up. Levels of rock stardom, though-like constant radio play or stadium shows or festival headlining slots-can feel few and far between.

With guitar music just entering the mainstream again, it might be hard for bands to imagine rock superstardom. But for Brooklyn-based duo Momma, that’s not a problem: The group already knows what their most shameless dream is. Guitarist/vocalist Allegra Weingarten describes it as the moment “when you’re on stage and singing the words, and then you pull back for a second and everyone is singing it with you.” She says, “That’s No. 1,” and fellow guitarist/vocalist Etta Friedman agrees.

Momma is at the helm of Friedman and Weingarten’s friendship, which began when they were in high school together in Calabasas, and has since grown into a full-fledged indie rock project, featuring the additions of Zach CapittiFenton on drums and their producer Aron Kobayashi Ritch on bass. After releasing the underrated concept album Two of Me in 2020, they relocated to NYC and this year caught the attention of bloggers and nostalgic fans alike-not to mention indie rock faves Wet Leg, who they joined on tour-with each ’90s-inspired garage rock single drop. Now that their LP Household Name (out via Polyvinyl Record Co./Lucky Number) is here, their jam-out-worthy tunes will likely become an on-repeat, summertime album for indie fans. Its massive sound and the band’s unabashed ambition to just go for it with this release, though, feels like the catalyst that could make their starry-eyed rock dreams feel not so far off. It’s right in the title what Momma is going for on Household Name, and they’ve got the sound to match-drawing from ’90s acts like Smashing Pumpkins and Veruca Salt, in conjunction with their own sly writing, head-banging crescendos, and joyful hooks. Weingarten says they were always “gung-ho about the idea” of making a record with big arena vibes and industry themes ever since the release of Two of Me, which they felt was rushed and didn’t necessarily sound as intended. She says, “We knew going into [Household Name] that we wanted it to be really loud and really big. During the demoing and songwriting process, there were times when [our producer/bassist Aron] would be like, ‘I think it’d actually be cool to have a quieter song,’ and we’d be like, ‘Nope! That’s not what we want it to sound like. This is what we want!'”

That grandness and its bountiful hooks, not to mention many on-the-road, getaway references (“Speeding 72,” “Motorbike”), make the album the perfect windows-down driving album-not unlike many rock favourites that came before it. It makes sense then that that’s how Momma envisions fans playing it. “To me, [the best way to listen to Household Name] is driving in your friend’s car at night or in the day-but a long drive where you can really listen to it,” Friedman says. “That is such a meaningful way to connect with, not just the music, but also the people around you, and I feel like that’s what this record’s about.”

That sentiment is something they’ve long recognized, growing up in LA and taking road trips throughout the west together. The two can rattle off memories of specific drives and the records they listened to, from the first time they heard Alex G’s Rocket as they went thrift store hopping in their hometown to playing Soccer Mommy’s Clean while cruising through mountain ranges. (In addition to Rocket, El Dorado by Electric Light Orchestra, Jail Break by Thin Lizzy, and Aha Shake Heartbreak by Kings of Leon are some of their all-time favourite driving albums.) Hearing songs as major as “Medicine,” it’s not hard to imagine cars full of young people road-tripping to lakeside cabins with the track on blast, just like Friedman and Weingarten used to do.

Photo by Sophie Hur
Photo by Sophie Hur
Photo by Sophie Hur

Momma describes their love for music as a “hyper-fixation” and what united them in the first place. At the time, Friedman wanted to make something more personal than what they were with their riot grrrl band, and Weingarten felt jaded because the music she was listening to from the now-defunct Burger Records proved to come from a toxic environment. “When the scene imploded, I was like fuck DIY, that shit sucks, and then when Etta and I started playing, it was like wait, no, DIY is everything,” Weingarten says, noting how she and Friedman started writing two weeks after they became friends, with dozens of late night talks turning into songs.

Just writing songs together was enough for Momma then as much as it is now, but it certainly is fun for them to think about their rock star fantasies-even if they don’t want to “put money” on them. (It is, for instance, a cheeky and self-deprecating joke on their song “Rockstar.”) “I think [the rock star dreams are] feasible, but we have a mountain to climb,” says Weingarten. “We have hooks and our songs are catchy, but I don’t see anyone selling out stadiums with heavy guitars. So I think it’s feasible, but we’ll just have to see if people are down for that.”

With HAIM selling out stadiums and names like Mitski and Phoebe Bridgers being stars in their own right, rock stardom seems alive and well, even if it’s evolved. So, perhaps the world could use a harder group in the mix. For now, the band is floored just thinking about the concept of their lyrics about connection and desire resonating with listeners, as the record did come out of a break up Weingarten went through that coincided with a Nirvana rabbit hole. (“If people relate to it, my job is done. I think any musician feels that way.”)

It may be a song about coping with loneliness, but the way they sing, “I can fill an auditorium” on “No Stage” feels both like a definitive statement and a promise to themselves. So while they wait for stadiums to sing back their songs to them, at least Momma can count on their music blasting from cars full of kids who are looking for records that are as big as all that they’re feeling, too.

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Sadie Bell is the entertainment associate editor at Thrillist. She’s on Twitter and Instagram.

Entertainment

Where to Celebrate Lunar New Year 2023 in Australia

And what it means to be in the year of the Rabbit.

where to celebrate lunar new year australia

Starting with the new moon on Sunday, January 22, this Lunar New Year ushers in the year of the Rabbit. We’ve put together a guide on celebrating the Lunar New Year in Australia.

What is special about the year of the Rabbit?

As you might know, each year has an animal sign in the Chinese Zodiac, which is based on the moon and has a 12-year cycle. This year, we celebrate the year of the rabbit, known to be the luckiest out of all twelve animals. It symbolises mercy, elegance, and beauty.

What celebrations are taking place and how can I get involved?

There are plenty of festivals happening all around the country which you can get involved with. Here they are per state.

New South Wales

Darling Harbour Fireworks
When: Every year, Sydney puts on a fireworks show, and this year, you can catch it on January 28 and February 4 at 9 pm in Darling Harbour.

Dragon Boat Races
When: Witness three days of dragon boat races and entertainment on Cockle Bay to usher in the Lunar New Year. The races will commence on January 27 and finish on January 29.

Lion Dances
When: Catch a traditional Lion Dance moving to the beat of a vigorous drum bringing good luck and fortune for the Lunar New Year. The dance performances will happen across Darling Harbour on Saturday, January 21, Sunday, January 22, and Sunday, February 4 and 5, around 6 pm and 9 pm.

Lunar New Year at Cirrus Dining
When: Barangaroo’s waterfront seafood restaurant, Cirrus, is celebrating the Year of the Rabbit with a special feast menu. Cirrus’ LNY menu is $128pp with optional wine pairing and is available from Saturday, January 21, to Sunday, February 5.

Auntie Philter
When: Hello Auntie’s owner and executive chef, Cuong Nguyen will be dishing out some of the most classic Vietnamese street foods with his mum, Linda. All of Philter’s favourites will be on offer, as well as Raspberry Pash Beer Slushies and other cocktails being served at the Philter Brewing rooftop bar on Sunday, January 22 and Sunday, January 29.

Victoria

Lunar New Year Festival
When: Ring in the Lunar New Year with food, music, arts, and more on Sunday, January 22, from 10 am to 9 pm.

Lunar New Year at the National Gallery of Victoria
When: Celebrate the year of the rabbit at the National Gallery of Victoria’s festival of art, food, and art-making activities for everyone from 10 am-5 pm.

Queensland

BriAsia Festival
When: From February 1-19, Brisbane will come alive with performances, including lion dances and martial arts displays. There will be street food, workshops, comedy and more.

South Australia

Chinatown Adelaide Street Party
When: Adelaide is set to hose a fun-filled day celebrating the Chinese New Year on Saturday, January 28, from 12 pm to 9 pm.

Western Australia

Crown Perth
When: Across January and February, Crown Perth hosts free live entertainment, including colourful lion dances, roving mascots, and drumming performances. The restaurants will also throw banquets and menus dedicated to the Lunar New Year.

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