Momma Talks Life in the Bug House

The LA grunge-pop group takes us on a tour of the fictional world of their new album Two Of Me.

The Bug House is a fictional world we conjured, kind of like a purgatory — an underground place you go to if you commit a crime. It’s kind of like hell, I guess. It’s inhabited by a bunch of different characters, and throughout the album we talk about these characters and the things they might have done to get sent there, whether they enjoy being there or not, and the ideas and revelations they have about their own morality once they’re stuck there. 

It’s up to the listener to decide, as far as the literal sense of what the Bug House looks like. We kind of pictured it like the real world, except it’s filled with these copies of people living in the real world. The landscape of it isn’t necessarily different from earth, but there’s kind of a sense of stillness and pause as to what you can actually do. If we were to envision the Bug House, we wouldn’t envision it any different than a suburban neighborhood house. It’s what happens behind closed doors, and what the characters make of it. We wanted to leave the actual details of the home up to the listener — it’s whatever they envision. 

For the majority of the album, our main focus is how the characters get sent to the Bug House. We allude to each character in different songs, which is a fun thing for people to try to take note of when listening to the album. Tracks four through seven — “Stringers,” “Double Dare,” “Carny,” and “Ready Runner”  — are all one moment in time where a kid gets in a fight at a county fair and gets separated from his lover and sent to the Bug House.

I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the movie Nightcrawler — it’s Jake Gyllenhaal and he’s riding around with a camera trying to film car crashes and sell it to news stations. That’s a real thing people do, and they’re called “stringers.” There’s also a Netflix show about them called Shot in the Dark, which we love. The song “Stringers” is from the perspective of one who eventually stumbles upon a county fair, which leads into “Double Dare,” about two lovers who go to the fair. The guy gets into a brawl and is sentenced to The Bug House where everything is still the same — he’s still at the fair, but he’s the only one there. “Carny” is from the perspective of the girl who’s left behind, mourning his existence and longing to have him back. 

The lyrics are pretty self-explanatory, but if you don’t know what the concept is, it might be kind of hard to pick out. “Biohazard” is about a man with Dissociative Identity Disorder who kills someone when he’s in an altered state and doesn’t realize it, because he has two halves to himself — he gets sentenced, but doesn’t have the cognitive awareness of that side of himself. In the first half of the song, the character is saying “He took my muzzle off/What a bastard/He should know I’m a hazard;” but in the second half, he says “I took my muzzle off/I should know I’m a hazard.” That flip of realization is one example of the duality that is a present theme throughout the album. 

“Habitat” is kind of the grand finale. We tried to make it a bit more anthemic. It’s about how The Bug House can manipulate people in a way to be in love with it, like how you could fall in love with the dark side of yourself, or how you can kind of easily fall into something that’s not as ethical or moral as you might want. “Habitat” is basically about a person who surrenders themself to The Bug House and wants to die for it. 

We love true crime, which was a big influence. Like for “Biohazard” — there’s a show called I Survived, and there’s an episode where this guy shoots this woman in a car, and he kidnaps her. But while they’re in the car, he keeps forgetting why she’s there, and she convinces him that he picked her up on the side of the road and saved her. She finally manipulates him to the point where he calls the ambulance and directs them to his house. It’s a crazy story. We also read a lot of the same things, and that definitely helps in terms of visualizing stuff, and wordplay 

We took shrooms one day, and were having this really creative day where we were enjoying being in that altered state. The album isn’t about shrooms or psychedelics or anything, but it kind of catalyzed this idea of writing about something that is outside of yourself but also exists within yourself. This is going to sound kind of cheesy, but where the title of the album, Two Of Me comes from — we realized that we’re practically the same, but just different entire people. We’re very, very similar and had this, I don’t know [Laughs], spiritual moment where we had an epiphany that there’s a duality between us. That’s a theme that’s picked up in the album a lot. 

The writing continued naturally. Because we’re separated while going to school in different cities, we’d call each other like, “I have this idea for this other thing that could happen in the story!” It took the pressure off of us having to make Momma’s songwriting so personal and relevant. We just created this other creative venue to throw all of our feelings into.  A lot of the characters are stemming from real life experiences that hopefully people can pick up on and relate to. 

Two of Me will be out June 5 and is available for pre-order now.

(Photo Credit: left, Matthew James Wilson)

Momma is a four-piece grunge band from Los Angeles. Their new album Two of Me is out June 5 via Danger Collective Records.

(Photo Credit: Rachel Filler)