Rocket Paloma’s ‘Mother Moun­tain’ is a mon­u­men­tal de­but

Wisconsin Gazette - - Wigout - By Mike Hol­loway Staff writer

It’s so dif­fi­cult for mem­bers of Rocket Paloma to ac­cu­rately de­scribe their sound that once they used a ge­o­log­i­cal gag to rep­re­sent their mu­sic.

As silly as “meta­mor­phic rock” sounds as a genre, it’s pretty ac­cu­rate.

Sit­ting around a small, cir­cu­lar ta­ble, the four per­son­al­i­ties be­hind the band ex­plained the themes and cre­ative pro­cesses be­hind their de­but, full-length al­bum Mother Moun­tain.

As they talk, it be­comes eas­ier to un­der­stand how Rocket Paloma’s lay­ered sound de­vel­oped.

Each mem­ber brings some­thing dif­fer­ent to the ta­ble, and they en­joy one-up­ping each other in a com­pet­i­tive but play­ful way — sim­i­lar to the way gen­res com­pete to de­fine the band’s sound.

“What we’re find­ing out is that we all come from very dif­fer­ent mu­si­cal back­grounds and we’re all skilled song­writ­ers,” says Joanna Kerner, gui­tarist and vo­cal­ist for Rocket Paloma. “We’re in this place of ex­plor­ing ev­ery­body’s ideas.”

Rocket Paloma started as a solo project for Kerner in 2012.

She didn’t have any con­nec­tions in the mu­sic scene but still be­gan per­form­ing and hon­ing her skills as a song­writer. Ev­i­dence of Rocket Paloma’s early days ex­ists on the 2016 EP Great, which can be streamed on the group’s Band­camp page.

Kerner felt there was some­thing miss­ing in the early sound.

“When I’m writ­ing a song, I think about all of the other things that should be go­ing on — like har­monies and backup vo­cals,” Kerner says. “I en­vi­sion a larger thing hap­pen­ing.”

She de­cided it was time to en­list some band­mates. She met drum­mer Bob Schaab and bassist Jonathan Blohm through mu­tual friends.

Schaab had been mak­ing the rounds in the Mil­wau­kee mu­sic scene drum­ming in The Direc­tion­als and The Su­gar Stems.

Blohm was play­ing in ska bands, open­ing

‘We can trust each other’s im­pulses and we can cre­ate some­thing that’s just way dif­fer­ent and bet­ter than the orig­i­nal idea.’

for big names in the genre like Reel Big Fish.

Lead gui­tarist Jack Beyler was a co-worker of Kerner’s and, when she learned he was play­ing gui­tar for a play, she asked him to join the group.

The band mem­bers proved so com­pat­i­ble that songs come quickly. The mu­si­cians write songs faster than they can record them and they wrote much of Mother Moun­tain around the time they re­leased their self-ti­tled EP in 2017. The EP con­sisted mostly of songs that Kerner had writ­ten as a solo artist, and she put her faith in her new band­mates to add the fin­ish­ing touches.

“We can trust each other’s im­pulses and we can cre­ate some­thing that’s just way dif­fer­ent and bet­ter than the orig­i­nal idea,” Kerner says.

Mother Moun­tain is the most col­lab­o­ra­tive ef­fort yet from the band in terms of song­writ­ing and pro­duc­tion.

“I think it rep­re­sents who we are,” Schaab says.

Recorded by Shane Hochstetler at Howl Street Record­ings and sched­uled for a Sept. 21 re­lease, the nuanced al­bum is just un­der an hour long. Lyri­cally, the al­bum can be heavy and dark, but mu­si­cally it isn’t solemn or gloomy — it’s as if the band is pleas­antly wal­low­ing in its own de­spair.

The al­bum be­gins at “The End,” an epic build-up that tran­si­tions into the first sin­gle, “Ghosted.” The two songs are writ­ten to be per­formed to­gether — like Queen’s “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Cham­pi­ons.”

Kerner’s vo­cals shine on “Ghosted” as she flexes her opera-wor­thy pipes. She sings of heart­break, but her bold at­ti­tude and the up­beat in­stru­men­tals con­vey con­fi­dence.

“‘Ghosted’ is fun be­cause it’s a badass song and I don’t re­ally be­have that way in real life,” Kerner says.

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