Mom Cars: A Return to the Idyllic 2010s

Hailing from San Francisco, Mom Cars is a recent addition to the area’s indie-rock scene. Consisting of Brendon Le (lead vox/ rhythm guitar), AJ Derise (vox/bass), Cole Winters (lead guitar), and Jacob Thrasher (drums), Mom Cars is prepping for the release of their new record with their recent singles “Sweaters” and “Artificial,” while also playing shows around Southern California and Nevada. Mom Cars’ sound is reminiscent of the more bouncy and enigmatic indie of the early 2010s. With the return of indie-rock-sleaze trends and nostalgia for the escapist post-recession alternative soundscape, Mom Cars’ new releases fit perfectly into this wistful atmosphere. Thankfully, I was able to sit down with the band and discuss their beginnings, influences, new music, and their hopes for Mom Cars’ success. 

Vlada: A question that I like to ask everyone I talk to is what got them into playing music. Was there a specific moment that you realized that you wanted to create music? And even just how the band came together can be included in that too. 

Cole: Um, I think all of us, like not individually, what got all of us together was a high school talent show. Back in 2020, early 2020. Yeah, we just formed for that specific talent show. And then we kind of just went on from there. And just kept doing shows, and here we are now.

V: Did anything specific happen at that talent show that made you guys wanna stay together? 

Brendon: Oh, it was so electric. It was so special.

C: I think it was special. 

B: Yeah, I feel like it was just like coming together. I don’t think I ever felt that chemistry with anyone else playing. I couldn’t just play music like that. The chemistry really.

C: And I never played live before that. I mean, I’ve been playing guitar since like, fourth grade. But like, I never actually played live before that. And I was like, “Damn, that’s kind of cool.”

Jacob: Yeah. And, it was like, a talent show. I always say there was a lot of people there. That was a confidence boost because it was you know, we’re actually we’re playing for hundreds of people as our first time playing. It’s like “Oh, we’re so cool now. We can do anything.”

V: Did you guys win the talent show by any chance? 

C: That’s the thing it wasn’t a competition. There’s no winning. We would have won, everyone else was…dookie.

AJ: No, there were many other great acts. Yes, definitely a lot of talented people there. 

V: So obvious question, why the name ‘Mom Cars’? 

B: This one is a funny story So I feel like we were just kind of looking for something we all kind of had in common. At that point [pointing around] he was driving like a Toyota rav4, he’s driving a Toyota rav4, he was driving like an SUV Lexus. So it was just really like “Mom Cars” as a joke for this talent show. Yeah. And then it just kind of stuck. And then we kept it to this day, but it did start out kind of as a joke.

V: So I was sent the demo for one of your new singles ‘Sweaters,” which I really enjoyed personally. What were the inspirations behind making the song? How did the songwriting process begin with that? 

B: I started the song on an acoustic guitar, and so it just started off as that. Then I started writing it after like…this sounds so cheesy…after a recent breakup. I just broke down in my garage sitting there. And then I brought it to the guys and then we just kind of finished up the lyrics and it came together.

C: I remember you playing it for me for the first time in your car just like on acoustic guitar, and I’m like, “Oh, you got to play that again. I want to hear that again. Like that’s a good one.”

B: Yeah, no, it’s a lot of fun. I think that one, I think we wanted something that had like, some energy and had some feeling to it.

C: I’d say it’s definitely like, “Oh!” Right in your face. It’s short and sweet

V: I’ve also heard about a new record in the works. Can you describe the energy and feel of what you’re planning for that?

B: Yeah, I think it’s all over the place. And now there’s definitely some ones that are structured, pretty complex, and some are kind of all over the place. At like certain points, it’s really high energy and at certain points really low energy. I think we’re gonna have our first feature too on this record, and I’m pretty excited about that. I think it’s gonna be really cool to work with another artist, for sure.

V: Do you mind saying who the planned feature is? 

B: She’s from our town? And so, we’re from a pretty small town. So I was thinking it’d be cool to work with another artist from our town, and just kind of connect in like that way. And I think that would be a cool feature. But her name is Jenny Stenger. She has some music on Spotify as well.

Yeah, she does more I would say like, indie-pop kind of stuff. Singer-songwriter.

V: How does it feel to be from a small town, not really having a music scene or really having that much of a community to be surrounded by? Do you think that hinders you in any way? Or is it helpful in any way, like, to not really have anything else to compare to, if that makes sense? 

AJ: Just gonna say, I feel we’ve kind of found our scene in other places that’s not in our own town. Like a little bit of Sacramento. I guess that’s kind of where we’re from. But also like Reno and Santa Cruz, like we played shows at both those places. I feel like it hasn’t really hindered us that much. We just have to drive a little bit more. But like, we love music, so yeah, at the end of the day you know, we’ll do it.

B: I would say it motivates us more to like, get up and actually try and put effort into doing music just because of the fact that we don’t have anything going on here. You know, we’re pretty bored sitting here.

V: Do you guys have a favorite show memory from the few shows you guys have played so far? 

C: The first time in Santa Cruz.

J: Right. That yeah, the first time we’ve ever gone that far for a show. And it was also a house show right by the ocean in Santa Cruz. Yeah, it was very crowded there.

B: We’d never seen anything like it from just being from the small town. That was the first show that we had played outside of our town. And so it was like, it was a mind-opener for us, for sure. 

V: Do you guys have a town or a city you would like to playto like play at? 

AJ: Honestly, Vegas. Yeah. Vegas. I mean, or San Diego. 

V: What’s going on in San Diego? I feel like that’s a little random.

AJ: Like Southern California in general right now, like LA to San Diego, right? Anywhere there’s a lot of people. 

B: I mean, literally San Diego just because I think there’s a good indie-rock scene out there. And I think there’s a lot of bands that are playing out there that I really want to personally play with. But like, LA area to San Diego, for sure.

V:  I’d love to see you guys when you guys do come to Vegas. It’s getting easier to get a show here if you’re a smaller band. I feel like it was so hard back just a few years ago.

V: Do you guys have any prominent inspirations, like certain bands that you have a certain ‘taste’ for? 

AJ: Well, I mean, we are all Backseat Lovers for sure. A big big inspiration, you know? Catfish? Catfish, for sure. 

C: I would say like, even more recently, like, Kings of Leon. Yeah, definitely. Definitely. Like for me personally.

B: That’s fair. I think for me, I’ve been trying to branch out and listen to new artists. For myself, personally, I know Beach House is one I’ve been recently getting into and they’re like, I mean, they’re pretty mainstream, but that’s okay. Cage the Elephant is a big inspiration to us. Arctic Monkeys… 

V: If you each could recommend one song to whoever’s reading this. What would you recommend?

AJ: One song….don’t put me on the spot like that. 

C: “Panic like Tom.”

AJ: Okay. You got to put people on that. Yeah. “Panic Like Tom” by the Riscas. I’m pretty sure they don’t ever play anymore. They’re from the UK. Yeah, but that’s a song that we all flock to.

B: I’d say the song called “Jenny” by Collins Beach. They’re really small right now. 

C: Also, “Talk Your Mind” by the Riscas. 

J: Okay. Okay. “Waiver” by Quarter Conscious. Yeah. 

V: Since you guys are having your first feature on the upcoming record, do you guys have any ‘dream’ collaborations? 

C: I don’t know. If I’m shooting for the effing stars, I’m gonna say the Backseat Lovers. Yeah, just but like, a little more realistically, I don’t really know.

B: I feel like I have to discover more or look into the more female indie artists scene. I’ve been listening to Wallows lately and the Clairo feature on their most popular song is a cool idea too.

V: I always like to ask if you guys have any other artistic endeavors that might influence your music. I know that a lot of musicians love to do some sort of art or even some sort of writing, which in turn influences their music. Do you guys have anything that kind of applies to that as well?

B: I wanted to get into like poetry but I feel like it never took off. 

V: Poetry is like songwriting though. 

AJ: Like we all just put all of our artistic endeavors into music.

J: Yeah, that’s the creative outlet.

V: Back to songwriting as poetry, do you have a specific way you like to write your song lyrics?

B: I feel like a melody comes to me. And then the lyrics kind of come with the melody too. And then we’ll change them up a little bit, but just kind of taking it from a situation and kind of writing about it, but also like, making it more general and relatable. 

AJ: Yeah, it’s a fine line between being honest, but like, not being super specific, where it’s like, nobody can ever relate to this because it’s only about you, you know? Kind of general, but also like, yeah, truthful, you know?

B: I find that writing about stuff that you can personally relate to you, you can enjoy the song  more personally. And I feel like when we write it’s a lot better when we can actually feel something for the song.

V:  You guys categorize yourself as indie. But I feel like that’s a broad category. It seems like everyone is indie now. Where would you like to take your music from this point? What genres would you guys like to explore? I was interviewing this rock band, and they were telling me that they get a lot of inspiration from jazz. Well, do you guys have genres you guys like to mix in?

AJ: Not jazz. 

B: I definitely want to add keys and stuff to our songs and like some synthy stuff in places that would work out. But I mean, maybe some psychedelic. It’s borderline now. That’s just me though. 

C: I’ll say for me, personally, I feel like a lot of my guitar playing comes from old 70s rock or blues. Or even like 60s and 50s doo-wop even? 

B: Doo-wop? What’s that? Doo-wop? 

C: Old 50s music? Yeah. Old popular 50s music. That’s the first rock and roll. The original rock and roll.

V: Your music video was also released recently. Was that your first music video? How was it to film that?

AJ: It was fun. Like, you know, we did it at his [Jacob’s] house, you know. So it’s just in his yard, which is cool.

B: It gives it a genuine feel, you know? It’s where we play all the time when we practice. And so it’s just cool to throw that factor into something that we’re going to be putting out there. And like from the backyard, kind of gives it a more, I don’t know, intimate feel. For us, at least for us.

V:  This might be an odd question, but a professor of mine teaches a class on music videos. While listening to him talk about the class, I realized I never thought about how integral it is to how we consume music.  Especially now with, you know, the video age.  Do you guys have aspirations for your videos now that you’re making them? Do you have an ‘ultimate dream’ for a video?

C: I don’t know. I feel like I want a little more like B-roll. I think that’s cool. Just like random shots of us. But for my dream music video, I feel like to just have more story involved with it. Yeah. Yeah, like more just more of an actual plotline.

AJ: Yeah, I think it would be cool to have like a live video but with the music. Like just kind of  a live video but like have that be the music video. I think that’d be cool. Definitely. Like really well shot and everything you know, and then just some crowd. Yeah.

V: And last question, just to round out the interview. Is there any specific milestone you would like to reach that would make you feel content with Mom Cars as an endeavor? 

C: Personally, I feel like, I don’t think I could be content.

B: I’m content right now. I guess that’s kind of a tricky question. 

AJ: I feel like yeah, I feel like we’re all satisfied with whatever will come. But we always want more, you know, yeah,

B: I feel like I would say that we’re content now. Like, just I mean, playing music with our high school friends is like the coolest thing and that’s the best part about it. So I think, you know, we’re gonna try to gain as much as we can, but there’s no like, set goal I guess for us right now.

J: The goal is getting enjoyment out of this. 

B: Yeah, as long as people are enjoying it. That I think, that’s the most important part.

Mom Cars: Instagram | Twitter | TikTok | YouTube | Spotify | Apple Music

Article By: Vlada Stark

Photos By: Pru Kessler

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