Mother Falcon Pushes Boundaries and Stage Capacities

At first glance, the Austin-based Mother Falcon look like a mini-orchestra. With multiple violins, cellos, guitars, saxophones, trumpets, bassoons, bouzoukis, mandolins, drums, an accordion, bass, glockenspiel, piano and as many as 21 members on stage at once, the band pretty much boasts everything needed to shake the walls of the Winspear Opera House.

But to lump Mother Falcon into the classical music genre would severely undermine their talent, both individually and as a collective.

The majority of Mother Falcon has been playing music since middle school. Granted, the members range in age from high school senior to recent college grad, but what's more impressive is that most are proficient in more than one instrument.

Take, for example, Claire Puckett. Although she is a guitar and bouzouki player for the band, Puckett sings lead female vocals and is known to bust out her trumpet every so often during a set. As of late, Puckett says she's also been jamming on electric bass in other musical projects she participates in around Austin. Nick Gregg, one of the founders of Mother Falcon, too boasts multiple instruments on stage; he plays cello, mandolin and guitar all while singing as the lead vocalist. Maurice Chammah, meanwhile, plays violin and sings. Matt Puckett plays saxophone, glockenspiel, guitar and drums. Tamir Kalifa plays the accordion, bouzouki, piano and sings. All five of these core members of the group laugh when asked how they're able to fit all of their instruments into their van alongside them, let alone on a stage.

For Gregg, it's the invigorating challenges that make every performance different from the next. The reason he started Mother Falcon in the first place was to escape the conventionalism of his high school orchestra program.

"Sure, that's good for your résumé, but it's not really what we love to do, which is rock out," he says in the green room at Hailey's Club before a recent performance. "We wanted to play clubs and show that you can apply this knowledge and classical training to something relatable outside that genre."

Sometimes, though, the band's classical instrumentation and its sheer size can get in the way. Chammah jokes that it's been awkward for the band to be too distant from one another on stage. Their practice space, he says, is not much bigger than the 12-foot-by-15-foot Hailey's green room. Claire Puckett agrees.

"There's a certain chemistry that comes out when we're all in each other's faces," she says earnestly.

It helps sound-wise, too. Mother Falcon prefers not to mic their instruments because the organic sound is more powerful; if the band is too spread out, some of that sound gets lost.

"We'd much rather be squished than spread too far apart," Puckett continues.

Regardless, the magic that bonds these musicians is more than evident on stage, as the band exchanges facial cues and members sing along to every song. Through swimming melodies that evoke angst in the soul and intricate compositions that cause jaws to drop, Mother Falcon is uniquely and capably bridging the gap between classical and indie music.

Their new song "Pennies," for instance, is a sultry, funk-infused tune that showcases the horn section and a cat-call. Compare that to "Marigold" off the band's debut EP, Still Life; it's a whimsical pop song that takes a punk-rock edge when the band screams "Fight, fight, fight, fight!" during its climax.

Moving forward, Gregg, Chammah, the Pucketts and Kalifa are all adamant in confirming that their band will continue pushing the boundaries between genres. There's talk of adding a flute player in the near future. Perhaps some electronics. Maybe even an MC.

"I think it would be cool to do a dubstep band with multiple [stand-up] basses," Gregg says, straight-faced. "Really, the possibilities are endless."

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Tiney Ricciardi
Contact: Tiney Ricciardi