On Feb. 13, 2020 the lights shined bright throughout the Rainbow Bistro onto every gleaming face waiting to hear from the last band on the setlist.
They didn’t know it yet, but local alternative rock band Motherland was about to play their last set for a while.
When lockdown hit due to the rise of COVID-19, the boys went on their own paths into isolation and, ever since, haven’t been able to jam out like they used to.
For Tom Anthony, the band’s lead singer and guitarist, their final gig’s send-off had left him feeling lost. A close friend of his made plans to go to that February show, but ultimately didn’t come.
“Without them there that night, I felt like crap,” he said. “I thought they didn’t care about me or my music.”
His thoughts spiraled that night, wondering “What am I doing this for?”
He knew who he was doing it for—the people who enjoy his music, his band mates, and himself. However, somewhere deep down he was unsure. On stage, he felt briefly blinded by those open spaces in the bar where his close friend could have stood.
Since then, the months of isolation have had their perks for Anthony. He’s continued to write music at home, which has helped him overcome his depression and recent losses of friendship.
“I write music to express how I feel,” said Anthony.
“Even now, with the pandemic everyone is so boxed in and secluded. So, I’ve been writing tracks to make people feel at least comforted in the fact that they’re not alone in their feelings.”
Anthony faced depression and self-confidence issues growing up, and music mended a lot of those wounds. He first picked up the guitar at 12 years old. He started writing music right around the time he met fellow band mate Gabe Caldwell in high school.
Motherland categorizes their music as alternative punk-rock. The majority of songs have an upbeat tempo created by the trio of guitar, bass, and drums.
Anthony initially had plans to finish an EP with Caldwell and drummer Alex Evans this year, along with uploading it to Spotify, making music videos, and getting a merchandise store running. With all of these plans being derailed, Anthony isn’t letting his parade get rained on.
“The fact that all of us can’t be together with a fusion of other bad stuff that has happened this year is just fuel for the fire,” he said. “Rather than letting it break me, I am using it as a push when it comes to me writing music.”
Their newest release “Atlas,” featuring Sarah Gagnon, was released on Nov. 6, 2020 and is about picking oneself up after getting hurt. The line “I won’t lose my head” explores keeping composure and not falling into old habits.
He has resorted to the instruments he has at hand—guitar and drums—and even released an acoustic EP with seven new tracks on Dec. 19, 2020. The track list features songs that are produced with vocals, guitar and some percussion. Anthony sees this as a step in the right direction to just getting their new music out for people to listen to.
The EP was promoted on the band’s Facebook page and is available for listening on Spotify.
He has been working alongside Evans in short recording sessions over the last little while and the dynamic between them has improved from previous projects.
“I have definitely gotten better at listening to Alex when he gives me tips for production-type things that we’re doing,” he said. “I feel like I wasn’t so great at that before and I really value his input when it comes to these things.”
Anthony has also turned to his family and friends to help keep himself grounded and connected to his band mates. He recognizes that neither one of them is greater than another and they are only equal.
“I’m done with ego. I’m done with letting people get in the way of my music and what I love,” he said.
Quarantine has also allowed Anthony to reflect on his previous efforts when it came to certain things like social media, connecting with bandmates, and finishing up any projects they have set out to do.
“I’ve learned that I need to try harder. I look at my previous efforts prior to now and it doesn’t feel like I’ve been doing enough,” he said. “So, I’m putting my whole self into this and making an effort to prioritize what I love.”