Cotton Mouth

Call & Response: Cotton Mouth

Not too long ago, I spoke with up-and-coming Montreal indie rock band Parlovr. Well, there's another reason to like them: they're involved in another Arcade Fire/Wolf Parade-inspired project.

The brain child of Montreal native and Parlovr producer Martin Horn, Cotton Mouth (with all three Parlovr members backing Martin up) have only recorded four songs so far, but you can already a hear a really quirky pop sensibility combined with some interesting sonic exploration.

Cotton Mouth open for Parlovr and Black Hat Brigade tonight at The Boat. I spoke with Martin about his songs, his recording process and he confesses to liking Toronto - at least a little bit.

blogTO: Why did you pick Cotton Mouth as the name of this project?

Martin Horn: I spent ages looking for a name for this band. I finished my tracks for the EP well before it was released, as I couldn't settle on a name. Eventually my girlfriend suggested Cotton Mouth. She's a painter, but she also works with fibers, so she's got fabric on the brain. No one seemed to object to the name, so I went with it. It is not a reference to weed or snakes, or Kill Bill, as one might be inclined to think.

What inspires your music?

I've been playing music since I was 6 years old, but I'm not gonna say it comes naturally. Writing is still difficult. So is singing. Probably it comes from listening to other people's music and wanting to participate in that in a way that's more involved than just listening. It's the same reason I record other people's music.

What about your lyrics? What inspires them?

I'd say about half the songs I write are love songs. But not songs about being in love, or how great it is to be in love. More songs about living with someone after some sort of imaginary apocalypse. Life in the woods after we've run out of oil, and the only can opener you have access to was made 30 years ago. That kind of thing.

How did you record the songs on your first EP?

I have my own recording studio (Digital Bird Studios) so I just wrote the songs and built up the parts one by one in between jobs. Jeremy (from Parlovr) came in to play drums on 3 of the tracks, because I couldn't do it.

I like the keyboard sounds you picked. What keyboards/synths do you use?

On the recordings, it's mostly an old Yamaha synth. I think it's about 28 years old. I like it because it has great bass sounds, some interesting lead sounds, but it's very limited and you can only play one note at a time. It's what I usually start with when writing a song. I find it easier to sing over simple bass lines than guitar chords, and being forced to write most of the instrumental parts for a song with an instrument that only plays one note at a time helps a lot in terms of keeping the arrangements open. It leaves more room for the vocal.

How long do spend on finding the right sounds?

I don't spend much time on getting the sounds right. The EP, as opposed to the recordings I do for other people, sounds more like a bedroom recording to me. If it's my own music, I don't feel the need to get things sounding super professional, as long as it doesn't feel wrong.

Everyone in Toronto wants loves Montreal in the summer. What's great in Montreal this summer?

Lots of thunderstorms this year. I like those.

When I spoke to Parlovr, they admitted that Montreal still has something against Toronto. How do you feel about our city?

I actually really like Toronto, but I only really figured that out about a month ago, when I spent a night in town during NXNE. I can see why lots of people don't like it. It's big and doesn't look that nice. It does have much better sushi for cheaper than Montreal.

Montreal is one of those places people go because where they are from isn't working for them, especially in terms of culture and stuff to do. But no one comes to Montreal to get a job. There aren't that many and they don't pay that well. Toronto isn't bad at all for a second choice. A compromise between fun and business I guess.

I have no particular reason to move to Toronto, but if I had to, I would probably enjoy it. You can't get hot dogs on the street in Montreal.

What can people expect to see/hear/feel at your show?

I've been told I tend to stand pretty still while the guys in the band move around a lot. One can expect to see Alex smiling at me like a crazy person, Louis almost kissing his keyboard, and Jeremy looking like some kind of ominous drumming monster. I, at least, find them exciting to watch. It's probably my favourite part of playing shows.

Black Hat Brigade, Parlovr, Cotton Mouth
Thursday, July 30
The Boat
158 Augusta Ave
Doors 8pm
$5 Cover

Call & Response is a series of Q&A's with bands from or playing in Toronto.
Photo: safesolvent.

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