Mom Jeans is a newer band in the California punk scene that’s making their second FEST appearance this year while on their “Puppy Love” tour.
“A lot of our friends have been playing FEST for the last few years,” lead singer Eric Butler said. “Everybody was constantly telling us about how we had to play, and we had to go. The only other festival experience we had was South by Southwest, and its generally agreed that FEST is a million times better. It was a really great time get to hang out with friends for three days straight. For me, FEST is one of the only places I get to see all the people I normally have to go on tour to see in one place.”
Butler, 23, met Austin Carango, 23, while they lived on the same dorm floor their freshman year at UC Berkeley. Butler said they became fast friends when he found that Carango listened to Joyce Manor and Modern Baseball, unlike many of his other friends at the time. Their first EP in 2014 was what Butler describes as just messing around.
Gabriel Paganin, 24, also went to Berkeley with the two. The three became Mom Jeans in early 2015 with Butler singing and playing guitar, Carango on drums, and Paganin on bass. In 2016, they released their first album “Best Buds” and Bart Thompson, 23, joined the crew shortly after.
They’re named Mom Jeans as a joke. Butler said it’s a sort of play on some memes that were floating around at the time poking fun at emo kids who listened to punk and probably wore mom jeans. He thinks it’s kind of disarming and lets their audience know not to take the band too seriously.
Mom Jeans gained popularity in the punk scene fast. The four are making their way across the U.S. now, promoting their latest release “Puppy Love,” with FEST as one of their stops. Butler said they’ve been around the country a lot over the past couple of years, but this year is the first time they are also touring Mexico and the U.K. which he said is an honor and a privilege.
“Playing a basement show with a beer-soaked floor for like 50 kids was the dream,” Butler said. “So being on tour is kinda surreal.”
Despite his band’s fast rise in popularity, Butler is utterly down-to-earth. He can’t believe so many people listen and connect to their music. But for anyone who listens to the raw honesty in his lyrics it’s not surprising.
Butler said he has always used music as an outlet. It’s a way for him to be able to put his feelings into words when he normally finds that difficult or embarrassing.
“Music has always been a vehicle for me to do that without feeling weird or self-indulgent or selfish,” Butler said. “As a person, I have my own difficulties with, you know, mental health and my identity like my gender identity and sexual orientation, things like that, and all any of us want is to feel loved and accepted and like we can be ourselves and have that be okay.” Butler said. “This band is very open venue for us to do that.”
Butler said he looks to the newest bands who are just starting for inspiration, because that’s when he thinks music is in its purest form. His advice to those new to the scene is to make music that feels good to you and that you want to listen to. People will connect to it.
“All I want to do is make people feel like they matter. Their opinions, their bodies, their space, they matter and they have a voice,” Butler said “That’s not unique to us but I hope that’s why people like us.”