Twenty-five years into a celebrated career is an unlikely time to switch things up, but The Mother Hips have never been ones to follow convention. For their brilliant and exhilarating new release, ‘Chorus,’ the California stalwarts turned their recording process on its head, laying down elaborate studio demos to serve as a detailed roadmap for the album a full year before official recording sessions began. It was a step that offered both the time and the space to fully realize their music like never before, and the result is the most refined and cohesive album in The Mother Hips’catalog, one that marks the beginning of what promises to be their most creative and prolific chapter yet.
“We never did a lot of pre-production on our previous records,” says drummer John Hofer. “We had a system where we’d start recording and lock in the arrangements as we went, which was a fun way to work because you never knew how the songs were going to turn out.”
That spontaneity has always suited The Mother Hips, a band whose lofty reputation was built on the back of their spellbinding live shows, but by pushing themselves to work in a completely new way on ‘Chorus,’ they unlocked a slew of artistic rewards.
Bluhm co-founded The Mother Hips along with fellow guitarist/singer/songwriter Greg Loiacono while both were studying at Chico State in the early 90’s. Performing at frat parties quickly gave way to club shows, regional touring, and national buzz, and before they’d graduated from school, the band was signed to Rick Rubin’s American Recordings on the strength of their debut album, ‘Back To The Grotto.’ Over the ensuing two-and-a-half decades, they would go on to release eight more studio albums as they cemented their status as architects of a new breed of California rock and roll, one equally informed by the breezy harmonies of the Beach Boys, the funky roots of The Band, the psychedelic Americana of the Grateful Dead, and the soulful twang of The Byrds. Hailed by the San Francisco Chronicle as “one of the Bay Area’s most beloved live outfits,” their headline and festival performances became the stuff of legend and helped them earn dates with everyone from Johnny Cash and Wilco to Lucinda Williams and The Black Crowes. Rolling Stone called the band “divinely inspired,” while Pitchfork praised their “rootsy mix of 70’s rock and power pop,” and The New Yorker lauded their ability to “sing it sweet and play it dirty.”