When Edmond Hallas spots Vivian Sarratt waiting for him in a small café in New York’s East Village, his greeting is as archetypal as their band name: “How was your day?”
There’s no term of endearment attached, but if there were, it wouldn’t be weird. The pair, which plays music together as Mommy And Daddy, is also husband and wife. (They met at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., in ’97 and married three years later.) Hallas and Sarratt are the sole members of the band (named after some kitty talk; “Mommy and Daddy are practicing,” Sarratt told their beloved, interruptive cat one day during practice), but the Manhattan-based duo achieves a big sound via punch-drunk vocal chants, bass grooves as deep as continental shelves and some help from its Roland JX-305 synthesizer.
“The electronic component has always been more of a necessity than anything else,” explains Hallas. “We were tired of people joining the band and dropping out. This way, we can make music, have it full-sounding and put as much time and energy as we want into it.”
The unambiguous personal relationship, fluid roles (they trade off singing, playing bass and pushing buttons), eternal bottom-end presence and synthesized beats make Mommy And Daddy appear to be a bizarro-world version of the White Stripes. But only on paper. Mommy And Daddy’s sound is a cyclone, with the ghosts of Public Image Ltd., Bikini Kill and Suicide swirling around inside. Hallas and Sarratt cull their inspiration from minimal-yet-massive-sounding sources as disparate as dub and hardcore, and they describe their love for Basement Jaxx as readily as they discuss the Misfits.
Hallas calls Mommy And Daddy’s brand of breakneck dance rock “cheerleader songs for underdogs.” The frenetic pacing and down-to-earth lyrical bent aim to connect with the audience.
“Our worst shows are the ones where people don’t move,” says Sarratt. “I’ve said, ‘Someone heckle me.’”
“We totally bust our asses onstage,” adds Hallas.
Offstage, the pair recorded sophomore album Duel At Dawn (Kanine), its most fun and furious record, in one week. Hallas says one of the band’s goals is to release an LP or two a year, making the unofficial motto of Mommy And Daddy “write fast, record fast, play fast.”
Maybe add “drive fast” to that list; the lack of a drummer—or drum kit, for that matter—makes the band extremely portable when on tour. Hallas and Sarratt agree that all the time spent together in the car has only strengthened their relationship. And their love of gossip.
“The only magazine we read on our spring tour was Us Weekly,” explains Sarratt. “We are not a band for snobs.”