Eric Butler, the unassuming frontman of up-and-coming sad punks Mom Jeans, doesn't mince words: "Nobody deserves anything when it comes to music. No one is entitled to anything at all." Berkeley, California, quartet Mom Jeans are hitting the road for the largest tour of the band's five-year existence – the Sad Summer Festival – which means they'll be playing a show in Orlando alongside emo stalwarts State Champs, Mayday Parade, the Maine, the Wonder Years, Set It Off and many more. It's uncharted territory for a band with roots in a DIY scene grounded in self-management, busted and borrowed tour vans, and fans and communities found in crowded basement and house shows across the country.
The band's forthcoming level-up is nerve-wracking. They don't quite know if they deserve it, but they won't take it for granted. As Butler puts it, "I'm feeling like a freshman on the first day of high school, checking it out and not sure what to expect."
The band is committed to their underground roots, yet Mom Jeans collectively feel an immense sense of responsibility to the musical peers that didn't have the same overwhelming opportunities placed before them. "It's a huge privilege and I would have felt like a big fucking asshole if I wasted that," asserts Butler.
Butler's confessional vulnerability in conversation mirrors that of his lyrics; it's part of the innate power of his music. Mom Jeans speaks to the millennial malaise brought on by inheriting all of your parents' mistakes as well as a self-destructing world; there's self-doubt, a desire to be better without quite knowing how, and plenty of Netflix in between. In Mom Jeans, that reality is punctuated by angst-filled vocals, raucously winding guitar riffs, devastatingly decisive drums, and the occasional (and unforgettable) horn solo.
The opening track of the band's 2018 record Puppy Love, "Near Death Fail Comp (Must Watch Until End)" provides one of countless examples from the band's discography: "Turn off my cell phone, I'm going off the grid/Which is for me eating Cheetos in my bed."
There is a certain magic to Mom Jeans, and it's about to be shared with new audiences across the country. When asked why Mom Jeans resonates with listeners, Butler deflected accolades and reflected on timing and the band's mission instead. "As part of the sociopolitical climate right now, people feel a sense of responsibility to be better and to try to be more proactive about not being a shitty person," says Butler. "Ultimately that's what our music is about, trying to learn how to be a better person, less shitty."
We all could be a little less shitty. We could also use some more Mom Jeans in our lives. Butler shared with the Weekly that the band is already working on a new full-length album. No release date yet, but they're committed to the hustle, and delivering something that goes beyond genre boundaries and straight to listeners' collective hearts.
When asked for any final thoughts to share with Orlando Weekly readers, Butler revealed another personal mission: "I want people to start bands. ... It's ultimately gatekeeping that keeps a lot of people who otherwise would start great bands and put out great music from doing so, especially women, people of color, queer people. Everybody out there, consider this your formal invitation to start a band." We eagerly anticipate covering those of you who accept this invite.