Q&A Scene: Dave Johnstone – Mama K and the Big Love

Tell us about your new single/ album/ tour?

The single ‘Moth to the Flame’ is from our debut album ‘Blind’. It was produced by Stew Long (Violent Femmes, Luca Brassi), and has a soulful, funky groove which features our ‘heathen gospel’ call and response vocal signature. It’s about the similarities between a stripper and a priest, who both bait and tantalise their flock of faithful followers for financial gain.

What’s your favourite work at this point in time? (your own or your group’s work)

We’re pretty happy with ‘Moth to the Flame’ and how Stew has captured our live performance with that old school analogue warmth and authenticity. We also like the video which has a fantastic performance from acclaimed Tasmanian actor Jeff Michel, and is influenced by classic clips from Bob Dylan (Subterranean Homesick Blues) and the Black Keys (Lonely Boy) – in that we use static shots, dancing and captioned lyrics.

How would you describe your sound in food form and why? 

A substantial, meaty dish with a creamy sauce and a spicy kick. 

Tell us a quick, on the road or studio, anecdote.

We were on the big outdoor stage at MONA (Museum of Old and New Art) in Tasmania, on a beautiful Sunday afternoon and were playing a song called ‘Somebody’. We’d just reached the first chorus which goes… “so when you need to feel strong, call Jesus, he makes being pious and wrong, alright, sheep don’t like being alone, they call Jesus, he’s got you under his spell, what choice is heaven or hell, be scared of that kind of love…” when suddenly, a wild storm smashed us from behind, flooding the stage and soaking us, all of our equipment and scattering the crowd. The gig was immediately cancelled. Perhaps somebody, somewhere, took exception to the lyric …

What, or who, inspires you?

People who care for, stand up for, and speak up for others. Also, artists who create because of their passion (not just to make money). 

Which song do you wish you wrote?

This is a really difficult one, there are so many.

If we could have more than one, we wish we’d written…

Beatles – A Day in the Life (and 20+ more Beatles songs)

Stevie Wonder – I wish

World Party – Ship of Fools

… and so many, many more…

What’s next for you?

We’ll be gigging and promoting ‘Moth to the Flame’ and ‘Blind’ and also starting pre-production work on the next album (which we’ve already demo’d). We’ll also be working on producing a musical play as part of a script development initiative for Hobart’s Blue Cow Theatre Company. Mama K and the Big Love will be the ‘pit band’ and provide all of the songs. 

What’s your scene?

Because we have band members whose ages cover all of the decades between teens and 50s, we have multiple ‘scenes’. We have: hip, young conservatorium musos, alcohol loving, good-time socialites, and a cynical and jaded, grumpy hermit. It’s an aligning of the planets that bring us together in a unit that shouldn’t work… but seems to, rather nicely actually. It’s also means our audience is pretty diverse.

Australia’s Deep South birth’s a traditional old school Funk/RnB Band ‘Mama K and the Big Love’
“Hailing from Australia’s “deep-south” (Hobart, Tasmania), Mama K and the Big Love perform all original, old school Funk, Soul and Rhythm and Blues. – Think The Blues Brothers with Aretha out front”

The brainchild of Kartika Franks (Mama K) who formed the band back in 2014 with a view to creating an original group to fit in with ex-UK Guitarist and Composer Dave Johnstone’s musical ethos – “I think groove, melody and lyrics are the three key components of any song, and any one of those elements can spark a song idea. The complete lyrics always come last and take forever. I attempt to write lyrics that tell a story, or convey a message as poetically and efficiently as possible. I like the syllabic rhythm of words and their sound when they complement each other sonically… The song subjects either come from storylines or from the things I am passionate about,”

The debut record was recorded late last year at Red Planet in Hobart by producer Stewart Long (Violent Femmes, Luca Brasi) . The album was tracked through a 1975 Vintage Harrison 24/32 Recording Console and mixed to a Vintage Studer B67 Analog Tape Deck. “So much can be done with digital these days, but sometimes you just want some romance!” said Stew , We used old gear wherever it felt good.”

First single and video “Moth to The Flame” Is a story about a stripper and her loyal flock of followers (who hang off her every move), and a priest with his loyal flock of followers (who hang off his every word).

The Album ‘Blind’ will be released March 10; it is available for preorder here

Tour Dates
Thursday, March 2nd, 2017
‘Busting Out’ – International Women’s Day event for Women’s Health Tasmania
Moonah Arts Centre, 23-27 Albert Road, Moonah, TAS, 7009
7.30 – 9.00pm
Tickets $25 full / $20 concession.

Album launch party – Friday, March 17th, 2017
The Duke Hotel, 192 Macquarie Street, Hobart, TAS, 7000

 Recent Quotes
“…they’re an incredible band… a really, really exciting group, huge voicesRyk Goddard,
ABC Radio Hobart (Breakfast show 27/01/17)

“what an amazing band….  I already have people wanting your new CD” Alan Jennison,
Publisher/Editor Tasmanian Living Magazine (24/01/17)

Social Links

website: http://www.mamakandthebiglove.com/

facebook: www.facebook.com/MamaKandtheBigLove/

youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC21JvWyYBKgBW6mYqZ0UxsA

twitter: https://twitter.com/MamaKandBigLove

About Mary Boukouvalas 1612 Articles
Mary is a photographer and a writer, specialising in music. She runs Rocklust.com where she endeavours to capture the passion of music in her photos whether it's live music photography, promotional band photos or portraits. She has photographed The Rolling Stones, KISS, Iggy Pop, AC/DC, Patti Smith, Joe Strummer, PULP, The Cult, The Damned, The Cure, Ian Brown, Interpol, MUDHONEY, The MELVINS, The Living End, Foo Fighters, Smashing Pumpkins, Rage Against The Machine, The Stone Roses –just to name a few - in Australia, USA, Europe and the Middle East. Her work has been published in Beat magazine, Rolling Stone magazine, Triple J magazine, The Age Newspaper, The Herald Sun, The Australian, Neos Kosmos, blistering.com, theaureview.com, noise11.com, music-news.com. She has a permanent photographic exhibition at The Corner Hotel in Richmond, Victoria Australia.