Before accordionist and keyboardist Corn Mo started Brooklyn glam rock group .357 Lover, he toured with Polyphonic Spree, Ben Folds, and They Might Be Giants — and before that, he got his start singing between sideshow acts at a family circus. In some sense, he never left the circus. His vaudevillian stage instincts, storytelling knack, and appetite for glam rock theatrics have not only earned .357 an ever-expanding following — they’ve kept Mo on tour, opening for major artists.
What did you take from your circus days into your live act today?
The best thing about touring with a circus was that I would come out to do some songs and I noticed people used that time to go to the bathroom. It made me try harder. I toured with this burlesque group, and I had to follow some hot girl who just took all her clothes off. It forced me to be more entertaining without looking like I was grasping for straws.
Do you have any advice for opening acts about how to disarm their audiences?
I still get nervous before every show, but I think that helps. Respecting the audience is a good idea. [They Might Be Giants’] John Flansburgh told his manager that I was the best opening act ever but I still feel like I have some work to do. Not that I listen to the hecklers, but they give a definite chiseling of where to place things and where to take out things.
What was your big idea for .357 Lover?
I started it in ’96. The songs I was doing on my accordion gave a hint that there should be more, so I decided to try it out. It’s sort of grown over the years, but still keeps that late ’70s, early ’80s rock feel.
How do you feel about the comparisons to Meat Loaf?
It depends on why they’re saying it, but I’m a big fan of Jim Steinman and Meat Loaf. “Bat out of Hell” is a giant, epic song.
You guys go for epic, high production values but the songs are playful and fun. How do you keep the mood light in the studio while upholding such high production standards?
The best way to record for us is with scratch piano and scratch vocals. Usually, when we record I think we all know what we’re going for and we’re just too excited for any low morale.