Single Mothers guitarist Mike Peterson is quick to correct the notion that he plays in a hardcore band. He briefly considers punk as a description, before adding:
“What does punk even mean? I used to just tell people I played in a rock band.”
Regardless of genre, the Ontario-born quartet returns to Winnipeg next week, performing with fellow rockers The Dirty Nil on Feb. 25 at the Good Will Social Club. Their recently released debut LP, Negative Qualities, received a strong critical reception. It even landed a 4-star review from Punknews.org, who applauded the “amazing riffs, frenetic drum work ... and matching lo-fi feedback.” The band went through over 30 different songs over the course of two years before narrowing down the final 10 tracks.
“Each song would start with an idea from me and then grow and evolve organically together with the band,” Peterson says. “It was more collaborative this time.”
Originally based in London, Ont., the band currently hangs their hats in Toronto, which is home to a notoriously tight-knit music scene.
“It’s been a challenge, having us come in as outsiders,” Peterson says. “Everybody knows each other in Toronto. They came up together and played together. We had our own version of that in London. It’s just not there anymore.”
Over the past four years, the band also faced a major change in lineup, as Peterson and bassist Evan Redsky were brought in to replace exiting members. According to Single Mothers’s Wikipedia page, the band’s gone through no fewer than 16 members since 2013, yet Peterson was more shocked to learn they even had a Wikipedia page. Thankfully, the changes have all proven creatively positive, though Peterson admits the process can be an understandably daunting commitment.
“Maybe everyone says this about bands or creative projects, but this isn’t an easy thing to be involved with,” Peterson says. “It’s so time consuming that we have to give up having any kind of a normal life. It’s a test of character.”
Peterson jokingly describes touring as an endless slumber party. He’s had some of the best experiences of his life with Redsky, vocalist Drew Thomson and drummer Brandon Jagersky, crammed into a 12-seat van out on the road. However, Peterson notes the sleeping arrangements haven’t always been ideal. Once in New Orleans, the band was given access to a temporarily abandoned house to spend the night, which had been the site of an apparent domestic dispute.
“We walked in and there was blood everywhere, needles, money everywhere,” Peterson says. “Everything in the house had been left on. It was like a Twilight Zone episode. I slept in the van.”
The amenities continued to droop the following evening in Houston, as Single Mothers reluctantly accepted an invitation to spend the night at a house without windows.
“There were stray dogs everywhere,” Peterson says. “Somebody had written Meth Daddy on the wall and I woke up covered in insects. Not even flies. Silverfish. It’s funny now, but at the time, it was like: ‘I want to go home.’”
Despite the struggles, Peterson insists he’s ecstatic about what has become a full-time job.
“I love it,” Peterson says. “I’ll lose my hearing, hurt my back, break my arm. I don’t care!”