Treefort 2023 Profile: New Brunswick’s Motherhood

Most artists we’ve featured so far in this series on international bands playing Treefort Music Fest will step into Idaho for the first time when Boise’s music extravaganza runs from March 22, through Sunday, March 26.

But avant-rock trio Motherhood is an exception to that rule, as they’re playing Treefort for the third time this year.

The entire band — bassist/keyboardist Penny Stevens, drummer Adam Sipkema and guitarist/vocalist Brydon Crain — all generously set aside time to talk with the Bad Penny about Treefort and their experiences at the festival so far. The trio also revealed it didn’t know about Idaho until committing to participate in the festival the first time around.

Additionally, and they also shared an anecdote for the ages: Discussing marine biology while they soaked in a hot tub with their friends in garage-rock band (and Treefort alums) Serpentfoot.

[Go here for a primer on this series of Treefort Music Fest previews. Check back for new profiles of international artists playing the festival every day leading up to the fest’s kickoff on Wednesday, March 22.]

Artist: Motherhood
From: New Brunswick, Canada
Genre: art rock
Treefort info: Playing Thursday, March 23, Hound Garage (Bus Station) at 10 p.m.; and Friday, March 24, at Camp Modern at 4 p.m.

Is this your first time playing Treefort? If so, how did your booking come about? If not, why did you choose to return?

PENNY STEVENS: [Treefort Co-Founder and Festival Director] Eric [Gilbert] saw us play way back in 2017 in Halifax (for the former Halifax Pop Explosion). He offered us a slot at Treefort right after we got offstage, and I accepted without really knowing where Idaho is. Turns out it’s extremely far away from New Brunswick! It gave us a good reason to get our visas and head to the U.S. This will be our third time to the festival since then.

Have you visited Boise/Idaho before? If yes, do you have any fun stories to share? If not, what have you heard about Boise/Idaho?

BRYDON CRAIN: We’ve been to Boise twice in 2018 and 2019 to play Treefort. We had a lovely time both years. We met the nice fellas in Serpentfoot and spent some hot tub time with them discussing marine biology. And we got to see them perform a couple times. They rip. We also got to hang out with Partner (fellow maritimers) one year, it’s always fun to see people from home when you’re away from home. We also played some shows in the area with Thick Business. They were an excellent band.

What expectations do you have for your experience here and at Treefort?

CRAIN: Based on our previous Treefort experiences, I’d say we’re all expecting to have a great time and see lots of cool music. 

What other artists on the Treefort lineup are you excited to see? Are you friends with any of them?

ADAM SIPKEMA: Some artists we’re excited to see are Built to Spill, MIKE, illuminati hotties, Guerilla Toss, Mavi and Knitting (who are from our neck of the woods-ish).

What do you enjoy most about performing at music festivals in general?

CRAIN: Performing at festivals is great because a lot of people go to discover new music, so they’re coming in with that mindset. As a touring band it’s nice because you get to see band friends that you don’t get to hang out with a lot. We love to play shows and see shows. and festivals are great for that.

STEVENS: It’s also one of our best chances to discover new music and make new friends.

What can Treefort attendees expect from your performance?

SIPKEMA: We make music with the abhorrent thought of boredom in mind — we want to be able to play the songs hundreds of times and never get bored. So the sets have a lot of twists and turns, high energy and really heavy moments, all designed to keep everyone’s focus and attention (including our own).

To us, no matter how good a band is, it can get monotonous in a live setting if it’s too steady of a vibe. So we go from Beach Boys-esque doo-wop to sludgy punk to introspective indie rock, sometimes all in the same song. [Show attendees can expect] post-punk, surf rock, experimental, post-hardcore, classic country, proto-rap, psychedelic pop, uhhmmm — and some very polite Canadians.

For more coverage of international artists playing Treefort, check out our recent conversations with:

• Toronto’s Debby Friday
• Mexico’s Son Rompe Pera
• Ireland’s Modernlove
• Montréal’s Thanya Iyer
• Mexico City’s Petite Amie
• Vancouver’s Mauvey
• Italy’s Dumbo Gets Mad
• Brazil’s BIKE
• Chile’s Sistemas Inestables
• British Columbia’s Mother Sun
• Norway’s Orions Belte
• Treefort Co-Founder and Festival Director Eric Gilbert

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