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Momcat redefines success, rock and roll

Getting to know Grand Rapids' thoughtful new garage rock band.
Underwriting support from:

Listen to Momcat's Debut EP

The First Litter
Eric Kehoe

Eric North and Russell Rockwell

Eric North and Russell Rockwell /courtesy of Momcat

Eric North and Russell Rockwell sit in a corner of Wealthy Street Bakery, sipping coffee and conversing about music amid the din of the lunch crowd and the intermittent spurts of jackhammer-like blenders operating at full power.

This scene is their band Momcat, imagined: thoughtful lyrical conversation surrounded by loud rock and roll.

North and Rockwell do not shy away from thoughtfulness, even if Momcat inhabits an aural domain of grit and spontaneity.

"Strong, lyrically driven rock and roll is really special," says North. Musically, the two-piece garage rock band drops the same record needle as traditional blues, rock group The Kills, and another Grand Rapids band, Bangups. Lyrically, however, Momcat evokes thoughts of American storytellers.

"The Knife" is "actually a storytelling song about love and betrayal; it's a little bit violent," says North. He nearly conceals his lyrics in dastardly, screeching guitars and Rockwell's bludgeoning drums. But the music buttresses the emotions of the words.

"Wild One," a new track, "rose out of a song suggestion from [Rockwell] about the American notion of progress; I was disenchanted with America's ideas," says North.

They tackle large issues in song and in our conversation. I ask the two if they have anything they would like to discuss.

"Success," says Rockwell, "How do we define it? Where is the line between risk and reward in music?" Tough questions.

Their Indiegogo campaign helps to tackle these issues. The tool will fund their debut LP and is online, waiting for supporters to donate to the band's cause. The album will be produced by local engineering genius Peter Fox at Stone House Recording.

"Peter is simply awesome," says North. Momcat seeks $1000, barely enough to produce an album, but, says Rockwell, "our fans have given so much already, $1000 from the Indiegogo campaign seems managable for everyone."

Their thoughtfulness is matched only by an exuberance about making music, playing live shows, and deliberating the future of the band. Rockwell and North both gush ideas, as if they couldn't get them out quickly enough. For fans of their music, this is encouraging. An overflow of ideas results in prolific musicians.

Rock and roll, thoughtful lyrics, a focus on the big ideas, and a strong connection with their fanbase: Momcat maneuvers into the big new world of album making with intentional ambition.

But I shouldn't over analyze it- they just want to play rock and roll for you. Enjoy.

Donate to their Indiegogo campaign here.

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