Interview: The Mohrs Find New Life in ‘Nowhere’
For Jackie Mohr, Kings of Nowhere is by no means a slapped together debut album whimsically created and carelessly thrown out into the ether: this is a carefully constructed representation of an emotionally evolving human that wants to rock.
When catching up with Riffyou.com Mohr, reflects on the long road that brought her to this point. It was bumpy, filled with at least one toxic romance and the learning that it’s okay to dig deep from one’s personal archives for song writing fodder.
In many ways, the rock n’ roll outfit known as The Mohrs – which also consists of Marc Girardin (guitar), Greg Markham (bassist) and Max Trefler (drums) – began when Mohr met veteran Canadian musician and producer Hawksley Workman through a Canadian Broadcast Corporation (CBC) production.
“He just liked what he was hearing from me and I just thought he was great to work with, so our intention was to write together,” reflects Mohr, who leads her band with a blistering rock voice and guitar across her torso. “We didn’t know what would come from that, but after a week we decided to make a record together.”
During this process, Mohr recalls the perfectionist nature of Workman pushing her to take chances artistically. After a while, she too was tough to please, often leading to many ‘cool’ ideas being scrapped because they weren’t living up to the lofty expectations she and Workman began to have for the music.
“I like emotion and a lot of guitar-heavy songs. I don’t love singing about relationships,” says Mohr when touching upon the album-developing days with Workman. “When we sat down to make the album, I told Hawksley about this past relationship I’d had for five years…it was not a good relationship or happy time for me. At the end [of our conversation] he said, ‘that’s what we should be writing about…we have a whole album right there.’”
“A lot of it was frustrating for me and a trying period of my life…a lot of aggression came from that, so that’s what a lot of the songs are about,” adds Mohr. “I’m not angry about [that relationship] anymore, but writing about it was a way to touch on aspects of the past that I never thought about.”
Mohr concedes that the deeper she and Workman got into the process of making Kings of Nowhere, the more she felt open to throwing her soul onto the table. Just take a listen to the piss and vinegar-filled “Erase Her,” and hear Mohr expose the struggles of letting a lover go, and you’ll find a fearlessness that took time to hone.
“It was very therapeutic for me to write that way,” admits Mohr. “I’ve had people tell me that I should write happy songs because ‘happy songs will always be hits and nobody wants to listen to sad songs.’ I don’t think that could be further from the truth. People relate to that [sadder] stuff and it lifted a weight off of my shoulders.”
That weight wasn’t immediately removed, however, as it took about two and half years to get Kings of Nowhere out to the public after its initial completion. While Mohr says that she should be sick of the album by now, she isn’t. If anything, she remains grateful for the impact it’s had on her existence.
“It was a change in my life. Before this album, my life was so different,” confides Mohr. “I was carrying a lot of that weight, I was living in Winnipeg, and I wasn’t pursuing music the way I am now. Before this record, I was a different person leading a different life…it was one that didn’t make sense to me and didn’t make me happy.
“The album, for me,” she continues, “was reaching for something and I am really glad that I went for it. It’s changed my life for the better, forever. I’ll always love this record for that.”
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