Interview by Tony Cannella
New York City‘s Mother Harlot is such an amazingly talented metal band. They have just released their self-titled EP and this should definitely please fans of melodic power metal. The band consists of Sonia Goldberg (vocals), Anthony Sallustio (guitar), Nick Curcio (guitar), Tom Mis (bass) and John Carlson (drums). Recently, vocalist Sonia Goldberg was kind enough to talk to Femme Metal and give her insights on a variety of topics concerning Mother Harlot. Here is what she had to say.
You just released your self-titled EP. For those who haven’t heard it, how would you describe it?
I would describe it as a healthy mix of 70’s influenced Black Sabbath style heavy metal with a lot of modern influence, in a sense it certainly incorporates a lot more melodicism and that kind of thing. Obviously, there are a lot of Iron Maiden influence in there, especially with the harmonies. I think at the end of the day, a lot of the power of it comes from what we do lyrically in terms of the occult influence and our presentation of it.
What are some of the lyrical themes that you sing about on the EP?
Lyrically each song is about a different female deity. We’ve god a track about the goddess Kali, and we’ve got a track about Morgon, who was a Celtic entity. We touch on some of the more classic themes like Lilith and The Whore of Babylon. I think the main theme tying them together is looking at them as more sympathetic characters as opposed to the villains that they are in modern literature.
The EP is very good. My favorite song is “Paradise Found”. What are the lyrics to that song written about?
That song is the only one on the album that I went a little more general with. A lot of the lyrics were inspired by Lovecraft, specifically “In the Mountains of Madness”. A lot of it kind of comes down to being influenced by the discovery of that ancient civilizing – the story. I think a lot of it also comes from other Lovecraftian tales; in it one of characters basically finds out that his soul – so to speak – has been sent back in time and that he had experienced this ancient civilization, so a lot of it comes down to that element of self-discovery, and that was the big theme that I want to incorporate in that song.
Can you talk a little about the writing and recording process for the EP?
The writing and recording process was excellent. It primarily came down to me and Tom Mis. The creation of the project was really the start of the recording and writing of this EP. We got together and initially we said, we wanted to do something very doom metal oriented and we started writing. The first song that we wrote was “Lilith’s Scorn”; initially it was in a lower tuning and significantly slow, and then we said, “okay, we’re going to speed it up, we’re going to add some harmonies here”, and it gave it a lot more of that classic metal feel. The writing process for us came down to a lot of Tom writing out the instrumentals and then me going back in and writing the vocal melodies and the lyrics.
The EP has been out for over a month now. Are you pleased with the response that you’ve gotten from the fans and the media?
We’re very, very happy. We went into this a little bit concerned because we knew that what we were doing was a little bit out there in terms of combining the heavier, riff-y, heavy metal aspects with a little bit more pop oriented vocals. We were really worried about how, especially, metal audiences would respond and so far, they’ve totally gotten what we’ve gone for. We’re very pleased.
When can we expect a full-length album?
We’re in the process of writing right now. There are about two songs in the works. I would say, currently we want to focus a little bit more on touring, and playing live shows, and getting out there. I would say that probably within two years you could expect a full-length.
When can we expect to see Mother Harlot on the road?
We just actually had a tour that didn’t end up working out. We would have been on tour in the very beginning of November, but unfortunately it didn’t come together. I would say, I’m hoping for the beginning of 2017.
Do you have anything lined up for a possible tour?
I don’t want to give anything away, but there are a couple of things we have in mind.
Have you played many shows at this point?
No, no, not at this point. We played with Nervosa and that was really the first big one. Fortunately, the members individually have experience with gigging and with touring and that kind of thing, through other projects, through other jobs in the industry. Getting on stage isn’t foreign to us but this band has come together very quickly. We started writing the first EP, I’d say, exactly a year ago, and that was the beginning of Mother Harlot; that’s how we started.
The band name, Mother Harlot, is really interesting. Where does it come from and why did you settle on this one?
It’s another name for the Whore of Babylon. She is the mother of Harlot’s. Obviously, simplifying that down to Mother Harlot made sense. I think, for me, especially, lyrically and because I do want to continue sticking with this theme of female deities for the next album, it was important for me to show this kind of dichotomy. I obviously wanted it to be a female centric name, but I also wanted to incorporate this darker reputation that these characters that I am writing about been given.
Who would you say are some of Mother Harlot‘s biggest influences?
Very clearly Iron Maiden. We are big Iron Maiden fans; I think it shows in a huge way. We definitely take some influence from some modern metal, especially some of the female fronted stuff. I think also – especially for myself, writing the lyrics and in terms of showmanship as well – We take a lot of influence, at least I do, from black metal; the engagement with the occult and really trying with our stage show to be extremely theatrical with costumes and these darker characters. I think it’s a staple of the genre, but unfortunately despite being a big fan I knew that it would really be difficult for myself to ever be in a project like that, because unfortunately I can’t scream (laughs). I wanted to bring some of my personal influences into the group without it being entirely overwhelming.
Who are some singers that you admire?
That’s actually a tough one. I’d say, definitely Charlotte Wessels from Delain. I think a big one is Kirsten Jorgensen from Evig Natt. I met her back when I was eighteen and I was like, “God, this girl has pipes!”. Again, I need to go back to Iron Maiden, but… f***ing Iron Maiden. I think what I’ve tried to do vocally is – I was initially trained to do musical theater, I’ve trained all through high school for that kind of thing – I had a lot of music teachers telling me my technique and teaching me in those regards, but I think more importantly I think I have been less trying to take influence from someone else and really more figuring out what I can do on my own.
Do you want to talk a little how Mother Harlot first got together?
Basically, me and Tom went to college together; we lived right next door to each other in the dorms. After we both graduated he said, “we have more time on our hands, let’s start this up”. Tom had been in several projects with the same group of guys over and over and over again. One of which he went to high school with and they’ve been recording together ever since, he also went to our college – Anthony Sallustio, he’s our lead guitarist – he and Nick Curcio our other guitarist also went to college with us, and he is extremely talented and so he was also a newer addition to the team. John Carlson, our drummer, didn’t go to high school with Tom, but they had played in several bands together during that period of time. So, it was a very natural choice of, “who do we go with”, for the rest of our band after me and Tom finished writing. Those three guys were obviously the first people that came to mind, and they were totally on board. We couldn’t be more excited to be working with them.
Getting back to the lyrics. One thing I really love about Mother Harlot is the lyrics and the fact that you have something substantial to say. Did you go into this feeling that lyrics would be very important to you?
I hoped so, because for me it’s the only way that I can express myself in the group, because quite frankly I am not good at writing instrumentals. I am not. I don’t know anything about it. I went to music school and I see all of these people who are able to so beautifully express themselves with their guitars and their drums, and everything, and I unfortunately just don’t have that ability. The way that I could was through my vocal melodies and through my lyrics. The lyrics were really where I knew that I could say my piece and I wanted to take the time and do that. I’ve been writing poetry and that kind of thing since I was super, super, super young. It was important for me to put a little bit of me at the very least into this project and I thought that was how I was going to do it. I’m really glad that it worked out for the best.
We’ve come to the end of this interview, Sonia. Thank you for taking the time to talk to Femme Metal. Do you have any final words for your fans to close out the interview?
I would just say keep an eye out. I hope that you guys will be seeing a lot more of us. Thank you for supporting this EP. Obviously, we are a newer band and for those who haven’t heard us yet go to our official FB and if you like it let us know, if you hate it let us know. We just basically want to get it out there, that’s the goal at this point.