Not even rock stars escaped the day-to-day grind of homeschooling during a pandemic.
Christian Tanna, founder and drummer of iconic Canadian rock band I Mother Earth, is looking forward to getting out from behind the computer and back in front of an audience this weekend for the band’s first live show since New Year’s Eve 2019.
I Mother Earth is performing Aug.14, along with fellow Canadian rockers Our Lady Peace and The Trews -- as part of the month-long Endless Summer music series at Burl’s Creek in Oro-Medonte. The series, which started July 30, features several of Canada’s best musical talents in a variety of genres.
Tanna told BarrieToday.com the band had actually planned on stepping out of the spotlight after that New Year’s Eve gig to focus on writing new material, so when the pandemic hit in March 2020, it didn’t actually impact their plans all that much.
“We didn’t really plan on playing a whole lot so (we thought), let’s just get to work. Here we are, all this time later, and this is our first show,” he said, adding this weekend’s performance is among only a handful of shows I Mother Earth will be playing this summer.
“We had our first rehearsal (on Aug. 10) and it’s the first time we’ve all been in a room together since that New Year’s Eve show. It was pretty cool … Just a bunch of old farts having a good laugh.”
Since releasing their debut album Dig in 1993 and touring the globe on and off for nearly two decades, Tanna said the band tends to take a pretty relaxed approach to things these days.
“We try not to put too much pressure on ourselves except to play well. We are doing a bunch of rehearsals this week, so you play, you have a laugh, you play again,” he said. “It was pretty cool and it was good to see everyone. We’d all been in touch (over the pandemic) staring at each other’s ugly faces.”
Having live performances again, he added, has created an interesting refocusing on the band after so much time apart.
“We are all cruising along in our personal lives (so) it’s nice to have something to work toward here musically, instead of homeschooling and horrific stuff like that.”
While the band is excited to get up on stage this weekend and play to a live crowd again, Tanna admitted they don’t really know what to expect.
“It’s still not going to be normal. I think there’s a capacity limit on the crowd. We are playing a festival in Edmonton at the end of the month where it's a field full of tables, so it’s not exactly the same where everyone (was) all mashed together and singing every song,” he said.
“There is kind of a great communal spirit with our shows where the fans have known each other all these years and just sing along. We know we will go in and make it fun for ourselves and hopefully that will come off the stage and everyone gets involved. That will make us pretty happy.”
Unlike many other artists, I Mother Earth chose not to release any new music over the last year-and-a-half, instead preferring to focus their efforts on writing new material and waiting until the world returns to normal so that they can get back on the road and play live.
“Not that it’s throwing it away, but if (we are) releasing something we want to get out and play behind it. It was such an unknown so we were just resigned to the fact that we wouldn't be releasing anything likely until early 2022,” he said.
Despite having all that extra time, sometimes finding the focus and desire to write while stuck at home wasn’t always easy.
“It’s mostly me and my brother Jag together in a room bashing stuff out. It was this up and down and (it was) weird. For a couple of weeks you’re all over it. I was talking to some friends in bands and there was a bit of a demotivation at times, because there didn’t seem to be any end in sight (but) we are currently back at it pretty hard.”
When I Mother Earth stopped playing at the end of 2019, Tanna said they knew they wanted to freshen things up a bit musically before returning to the live stage.
“We are kind of getting up there and we were playing the same things so we wanted to refresh the whole thing and that’s what we will be looking to do when we hit the road again is have a refresh on everything,” he said. “It keeps it interesting having new material, plus people are harassing us and we are happy to oblige.”
With five studio albums under their belt, I Mother Earth’s sound has evolved over the years -- but the one thing that remains consistent is their rock roots.
“Like any band, you go through stages where your sound evolves. It’s not a purposeful thing, you just get writing and that’s where your mind is at. I always look at any artist’s album as a kind of snapshot of where their head’s at at that given time,” he said.
“I feel like your earliest instincts are kind of your best ones. We get in a room and start making noise and what comes out sounds like us from however long ago. How it’s going to end up sounding at the end of the day is hard to say, but the one thing we are is an unashamed rock band and that’s the way we are going to stay as long as we decide to do this."