New Jersey-Based Mom Band Mamadrama Cranks up the Fun


New Jersey-Based Mom Band Mamadrama Cranks up the Fun

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom 

It’s 9:30 p.m. on a chilly Wednesday night in February, a time when many parents of young kids are kicking back in PJ’s, settling down for a Netflix-and-chill night. But the five moms who front the six-piece band Mamadrama are turning it up, clinking glasses of wine and chatting like college besties.

The Monmouth County, N.J., fivesome just finished another two-hour practice and they’re psyched to talk about what’s happening with their band — their latest single, upcoming spring gigs, and summer festivals. The mood is jubilant, overflowing with the sense of awe and gratitude.

“To be in this position now and realize ‘we can do this and we can inspire other women and other people that it’s not too late’ is great,” Kim Grigoli, Mamadrama’s keyboardist, tells Rockmommy, as her bandmates nod their heads in agreement.

This is just a small glimpse of what Mamadrama’s weekly “mommy night out” looks like, with five friends enjoying each other’s company and finishing each other’s sentences. But don’t let their easygoing demeanors fool you. Mamadrama’s members — lead vocalist Beth Herbruck, bassist Renee Dorski, guitarist Carey Balogh, keyboard player Kim Grigoli, guitarist Lauren Riley, and drummer Todd Mohney — are dedicated musicians who’ve come a long way sonically and emotionally since they first came together in 2015.

So how do they make it look so easy and enviably fun? We recently caught up with the ladies of Mamadrama — whose live show from Transparent Clinch Gallery you can stream here — to find out more.

Rockmommy: I see you started in 2015. How did this band come together?

Carey Balogh: It honestly happened organically. I was on the ferry and ran into Renee, who I knew from Williamsburg (Brooklyn). We both had recently relocated to New Jersey, and we were looking for things to do with the kids. I had heard about a music school in Asbury Park called Lakehouse Music Academy and we decided to enroll our children. While the kids were rehearsing with their bands, we would hang out together and wait for them. At this time, Lakehouse was trying to promote their Adult Night Session Program and approached us about starting a ‘mom band.’ At first we thought it was a joke, but we love music, so we decided to give it a try.

Renee Dorski: They put us all together because they had a mom there who was already was taking lessons. I knew Beth and brought her along to sing. From the moment we started playing, there was this magic music moment where we all connected and realized this is what was missing in our lives. You know when you are a mom and have babies and little ones, it is easy to lose your identity. We decided this was the perfect outlet and made a commitment to the band.

Carey Balogh: And then the rest is history. While our kids rehearsed, we jammed in the other room. First we learned covers, then we started writing our own original music. Over the years we’ve had members come and go, however, Renee, Beth, Kim and I have been playing with Mamadrama steadily since 2018 when we decided to become our own independent band. This past year Lauren joined the band as a rhythm guitarist, and we just started playing with a new dad drummer. Although Mamadrama has evolved over the course of the years, we always stay committed to each other and our music. 

Beth Herbruck: I think it started out as like an interesting kind of dare in my mind. I was curious enough to be like, ‘alright, what is this like?’ And then it’s stuck.

Renee Dorski: And the kids really got along so well.

Rockmommy: So when did you take this show on the road?

Beth Herbruck: [It took a while]. I had to take a step away from the band for some health reasons for a little bit and just you know, some other things happening with career … Mamadrama kept going, with a couple of different vocalists. Kim stepped up, too. But then … a [couple of] years ago, there was a peer pressure moment where [Kim] was like ‘are you going to come back?’ And it was the right time, right place. And so at that point, I just kind of felt like, ‘if I’m jumping back in, let’s do this.’ Like, ‘we get to lay the ground rules. We get to decide who’s who [and] write our own bylaws.

Renee Dorski: I think I think what kept me going originally was the kids were young, and we’re just getting together. But we wanted to write more of our own music. We also have careers and businesses and we’re badass ladies. So we’re like, ‘yeah, let’s do it.’ And [we started practicing] at Carey’s house.

Beth Herbruck: I felt like I had more to say, we had more to say.

Kim Grigoli: I had always wanted to be in a rock band, but never had the opportunity and then thought that ship had sailed a long time ago. And then to be at this position now, and realize, ‘we can do this and we can inspire other women and other people that it’s not too late’ is great. Like, you can still go for it.

She Rocked It x Transparent Clinch Gallery by Brittney FOMO

Rockmommy: What kind of music does each of you love, or like to perform?

Carey Balogh: My dad plays the guitar and I grew up listening to him play classic rock — love the Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, Billy Joel, Journey, all of it. I love to play rock and metal now!

Kim Grigoli: I grew up pretty much the same way as Carey, I have to say, so most of our influences are pretty much the same.

Beth Herbruck: I am all over the place. I grew up playing classical piano for a long time, I’ve sung in courses and in choirs. I was in weird grunge bands in high school and then I went through all the phases from goth to raver to everything in between. The things I love and hang on to are just… everything from like Erykah Badu to the friggin’ Yeah Yeah Yeahs. I really latch on to great vocals and just really freaking great music, but I love performers, which makes sense because I’m like the rodeo clown singer person.

Renee Dorski: I think I’m really similar to Beth with as far as [how] I grew up like. I listened to my grandmothers singing oldies and watching black and white movies. My dad was a big Deadhead. Then I had my full-on punk rock stage as like a teen, when I used to go to hardcore shows, but then I loved hip hop. Anything what a heavy fucking badass bass, I’m like, ‘ooh!’

Lauren Riley: I am a punk rock girl. I grew up on classic rock. My dad would teach me Crosby, Stills and Nash and that kind of stuff as a little kid but once I found punk rock, I just fell in love with double-time drumbeats, lots of distorted grungy guitars. I love it. I love screaming vocals.

Rockmommy: You’re all parents. How do you make the band work?

Carey Balogh: Just roll with it on Wednesdays.

Renee Dorski: We are very dedicated, I would say, and we all definitely sacrifice. I think what makes me show up is knowing that they’re showing up. We’re also really forgiving [because] we all have partners and kids.

Beth Herbruck: Oh my God, the text chains are the other part of the band for sure!

Carey Balogh: And yeah, there’s a great work ethic.

Beth Herbruck: We’ve always kind of had a day during the week we get together. I think that we have learned over time that anything less than that, we kind of lose the momentum. Anything more than that is impossible so we can’t even try at all. Right now, once a week feels like just enough that we keep checking in with each other that, you know, we can remember what the hell we did that week. And I think we all like being together. I think that it checks so many boxes for us.

Rockmommy: Your first single was ‘MILF (Moms in Leather Forever).’ How did that come together?

Carey Balogh: We were going out with another couple and every time we went out both dads would both be wearing leather jackets. So I would always think about the two dads in the leather and I’m like, ‘oh, dads in leather! And then I was like, oh, DILF! It was such a joke. That was the start of it. And then I was taking some writing classes at Lakehouse Music school and I was like, you know, [we need a] fun mom anthem. And so it just came out like ‘moms in leather forever!’

Beth Herbruck: Carey, you had the base of it, the structure and I kind of took it and yeah, just kind of like, you know, worked on a chorus and worked on some verses that I think resonated and we just kind of made it ours.

Renee Dorski: Yeah, my daughter just figured out what [MILF] meant. And she was really mad at me!

Rockmommy: ‘Easy Target’ is your latest single. Let’s talk about that one. How did that come together?

Beth Herbruck: Yeah, that was just full-on political femme rage about everything going on in the media at the time. We wanted a female anthem to support a movement of powerful women who won’t be targeted anymore … it addresses the concerns of women’s inequality — and anyone’s inequality for that matter — with lyrics such as, ‘I wanna make a declaration/200 years to change this nation/One step forward, two steps back/Always picking up the slack … I’m an easy target.’ It was one of those where I wrote it super-fast. And I like the fact that it came together so quickly.  

Kim Grigoli: It just always seems relevant.

Renee Dorski: Yeah, we learned a lot with that recording, and we had a really good time recording that.

Rockmommy: Any work-life balance hacks you want to give to other moms who want to start bands?

Renee Dorski: My kids are still like, ‘why?’ and every Wednesday, they’re following me out the door. They give me a hard time, but I still know that they like that I do it. If it’s something you care about and you love it and it fulfills you, just carve out that time for that “me” time. I don’t go to a gym. This is my gym.

Carey Balogh: I can’t believe that we actually play out on the stage. If you asked me five years ago, or even three years when we first started playing out, if we’d be growing and playing festivals and things like that, I’d say you’re crazy. Anything is possible if you want it bad enough.

Kim Grigoli: It’s important to take care of yourself. Finding that passion and that balance is important.

Renee Dorski: And when my kids were little they would just come with me. They’d be, like, sleeping on the floor while we were practicing. Yeah, yeah, my bad mommy moment. I don’t know but maybe they like music better now.

Beth Herbruck: I think it’s a sanity saver. I have kiddos that are a little bit older. You know, they’re kind of teenagers now. There’s a lot of self-sacrifice that parents do and I would say with moms in particular, but all parents, there’s a lot of self-sacrifice. Being an example to your kids that you make time for things that are important … I think resonates for them and is a sanity saver for us.

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor and founder of Rockmommy,

1 Comment
  • Band Dad
    Posted at 16:17h, 04 March Reply

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