Photography by Andrew Quist
Legendary Northern California-based rock ‘n’ roll outfit, The Mother Hips, are celebrating their 30th anniversary in 2021. In recognition of this career milestone, the band’s record label Blue Rose is reissuing each of their ten studios albums on vinyl. The series will work its way chronologically through The Mother Hips’ discography with one LP released each month, while all proceeds from sales will benefit The Blue Rose Foundation, which provides grants for preschool scholarships to financially disadvantaged children. In only a matter of weeks since being announced, the initial pressings on the first three titles: 1992’s ‘Back To The Grotto,’ 1995’s ‘Part Timer Goes Full’ and 1996’s ‘Shoot Out,’ have already sold out.
“When I heard the test pressing for ‘Back To The Grotto,’ I became emotional,” explains The Mother Hips’ Greg Loiacono. “The idea for this series came from Blue Rose Founder, Joe Poletto. Our families got together last Fourth of July. While we were talking about what to do for the 30th anniversary, Joe suggested releasing our entire catalog on vinyl. It wasn’t more than a month later that the BRM team was making this vision come true. To watch that spark of an idea come to life and for the entire body of work to be brought to life again in such a beautiful way means the world to us.”
In addition to the reissue series, The Mother Hips have commenced work on their 11th studio album with the support of Blue Rose. In a typical year, founding members Tim Bluhm and Greg Loiacono, who share vocal, guitar and songwriting responsibilities, would perform close to 100 dates on the road. Although best friends, upon returning from tour, they’d typically go their separate ways tending to their personal lives and communicating mostly through emails. With touring, however, not an option in 2020, Bluhm and Loiacono’s friendship was re-energized as the pair began talking more frequently and supporting each other through the many anxieties caused by the pandemic. With their relationship stronger than ever, Blue Rose’s Poletto once again instigated forward momentum when he suggested The Mother Hips start writing and recording a new record.
“When you feel like you’re believed in, it’s amazing what you can do,” says Bluhm. “It’s really affirming to work with a label that just wants to see you thrive and make great records. 30 years into this and we’re as excited to be in the studio making a new album as when we first started. It’s a fortunate position to be in.”
Making great records has been The Mother Hips singular focus ever since the band formed in 1991. While still just students at Chico State, the group began playing college parties, which quickly gave way to club shows, regional touring, and national buzz, and before they’d even graduated from school, the band was signed to Rick Rubin’s American Recordings. While mainstream success alluded them, The Mother Hips would in fact create something more enduring over the ensuing three decades; a loyal and open-minded fanbase willing to embrace the band at every creative turn. Hailed by the San Francisco Chronicle as “one of the Bay Area’s most beloved live outfits,” the group’s headline and festival performances became the stuff of legend and helped earn them dates with everyone from Johnny Cash and Wilco to Lucinda Williams and The Black Crowes. Rolling Stone called The Mother Hips “divinely inspired,” while Pitchfork praised their “rootsy mix of 70s’ rock and power pop,” and The New Yorker lauded their ability to “sing it sweet and play it dirty.”
With the reissue of their entire catalog serving as a cornerstone event for one of the finest rock ‘n’ roll bands of their generation, while pacifying fans who can’t see the band live in pandemic times, The Mother Hips are digging in their heels and reading themselves for perhaps even another three decades.