Sofa City Sounds


I Have Something to Tell You… Stay away from the open mouth of Jag Tanna!

Interview By Amanda Tulk

I had the honour and pleasure of chatting with Jag Tanna of I Mother Earth and many things came up. Playing, touring, and of course, what’s new with I Mother Earth.

Let’s start with the most basic question…Why guitar?

I grew up with music always in the house, with my dad being a working musician as well. I actually started on the drums when I was about 12, but once I moved on to high school, along with my skills on a ukelele (thank you grade 7!) my father handed me a guitar. Chris was already starting on the drums so let the games begin! I had a real knack for it and things kept developing without too much effort. Thats the key! I learned everything my father played which was a relentless amount of fifties and sixties music, and didn't even engage with anything 'current' musically in school... I think this is where a lot of my rhythm chops come from actually, as well as a deep respect for music and it's roots. Chris and I can still lay down a mean polka! Yes, it’s been a blessing and a curse working with my brother, as we can't really escape from each other musically, but we still work and fight well together. The beauty of it is that when the fight is over, it’s over and we go back to playing. We have always been the songwriters in the band and it's never personal... we just butt heads 'professionally', not like when we were kids!

And now that we have covered the basics…

What has driven you to this moment? From the nights of sleeping on a park bench in Toronto to being in one of the biggest Canadian Rock bands. What is it that drove you?

Honestly I have no idea. Drive is either inside of you, or it isn't. I moved to Toronto right after high school and just knew I wanted to play, even though I had no idea how to make it a bigger part of my life. I feel very lucky to be creative musically, as it helped me escape working all day in crappy factories with shitty bosses, (and 2 hrs on the smelliest of routes on Toronto Transit!) The goal has always been to have fun while playing and never have it become work, when it does, you will always have problems. When we first started we had no idea what the business was about, or even that it was a business. Total naiveté. As things started happening, it was this weird roller coaster, trying to live, trying to be creative, and learning to swim with the sharks. We have taken more lumps than most, and looking back, I admit to at one time craving complete and total revenge on those that hurt us, but sitting here today, I’m very happy with the way things have turned out. I actually thank those people, as it has shaped who I am now, and the lessons learned in turn help me to help others. I can't move forward in any aspect of my life carrying such negativity in front of me, it has to be WAY behind. Good vibes attract good vibes, I believe this more than anything. I’m happy we got through everything and came out as good people, still feeling good about ourselves, and still enjoying what we are meant to do... make music. The reunion came about really naturally, as we all felt the benefit of the lessons learned. Actually, first time I spoke to Brian again after the hiatus was on Skype, and I was kind of nervous! It was kind of like speaking and learning about him for the first time, but with an understanding that we have this crazy bond, and have been connected for so long. And his beard frightened me.

You said back in 2011 you were no longer doing albums, only singles if the fans demand it. Does this still hold true?

For sure. We’re not into making albums as a business concept at this time. When you record an album, it’s almost like you are in lock down for 6-7 months at a time, who's got time for that? Life is happening and I don't want to miss it! I want music to enhance my life, not handcuff it. Recording and releasing singles, psychologically works way better for us... Well for me actually. It's too much responsibility. I wish more bands would do this too as I really believe you can hear or feel the moment when they became disconnected with their album. It totally allows us to be more creative with our songs, with no rules as to length, style, meaning etc. and have a ton of fun doing it as well. It’s much more fun to work song to song, keep the energy really positive and develop new business concepts as we need. It also lets us engage with our fans with a renewed energy and focus and build something special.

What’s the most interesting venue you have ever played?

I don’t know if I can choose just one. All of Europe to start. Europe was crazy, just incredible. Favorite place to play, hands down. We did play this mountain in Newfoundland once, and it was absolutely freezing. We were on playing on this of a mountain seeing icebergs everywhere. Moist was on after us and I remember seeing David Usher singing oh so sweetly to a bunch of frozen people and my brother stripped down to nothing but his boots and walked up and put his arm around him. He was horrified. Then Chris did this huge stage dive naked into the crowd and they parted like the Red Sea! Orange snake and eggs everywhere! He ended up in the frozen mud. I can also remember this festival in Arizona with 40k people all walking around eating giant turkey legs. My guitar tech comes backstage after line check totally covered in gravy. dejected that he had been pelted by a turkey leg. "Who does this??" He needed a hug....

Did it surprise you how well We Got the Love did?

100% yes. I was totally shocked, we all were. When we put together the reunion shows in Toronto, we couldn’t believe the first one sold out... and then another. We just couldn’t believe the feedback and the excitement. We were proud of the song and so were the fans, and then hearing them singing the words after only 2-3 days of it being out was incredible. It is always our goal to keep moving forward and never take a step back and if it did feel like that, that would have been it. Game over. The support from the fans was so incredible, everyone around us in the industry was baffled. We didn't do press, didn't do much promotion and didn't allow press passes to the show. We had around 20-30 different publications at the show asking for photo passes but we said no to all except one indie guy who I doubt even worked for anybody. We figured, if we already sold out the shows, what do we need 'press' or some bullshit review for? The radio stations even contacted us and asked if we could settle the fans down with the requests, and it's happening again with the new release (the Devil's Engine). They did mention though how polite the fans were, adding after they would play the request the fans would call back and say thank you. We wrote a good song and wanted to share it, and I have actually encouraged people in the past to steal our songs as long as they in turn share it and recruit more potential fans!

You have a crazy loyal fan base; the IMEnation. It’s almost like a religion, what’s that about?

I have to say we are really proud of the fans we have. They’re genuine and come from all walks of life, and all ages. Everyone is completely different from the next, but at the end of the day we all speak the same strange language, with this cool understanding between the band and the fans. The fan base we have gives me confidence we’re on the right track and because of them, I never get nervous before a show. They are with us! We try to stay close to our fans and have no buffers between us and them, and unlike most bands, we really try to know them and learn what we can about their lives. It's been that way throughout our career.

What is I Mother Earth really about?

Nothing. We are a band. A bunch of guys just making music. What are we supposed to be? We are what we are. I prefer to leave the interpretation of who we are to the fans, and we will always be what they perceive us to be. We can't change that. There is a certain comfort knowing them how we do, and we we actually understand what we mean to them individually in some ways, and they know what they mean to us. It's important to give the fans something with actual substance to hang on to... Belief is everything.

What’s new in store for I Mother Earth in 2015?

We’re hoping to get coast to coast this year. If the song does well, we’ll be in for a good enough year that will allow us to travel. We do everything on our own so we need these little successes and victories to fuel us. We’d like to do more of our extremely long electric and acoustic shows for sure. We’re just trying to get everything to come together. We would love to do what the major label acts get the opportunity to do, but we have to work ten times as hard to make it so. We want to do it all but we try to keep reasonable expectations and keep the dreams attainable, knowing what we are up against.

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