I Mother Earth was formed when brothers and Hamilton natives Andrew and Christian Koshowski hooked up with singer Edwin Ghazal while rehearsing in Toronto. With Andrew on guitars and Christian on drums, they recruited Franz Masini on bass, and continued rehearsals while working on some original material.
Ghazal dropped his last name, and Andrew and Christian Toshowsk adopted the names Jagori and Christian Tanna, and together the band only played 13 shows around the GTA over their first year. Putting together a five-song demo that they shopped around, and in late 1991, they signed with EMI Canada, with Capitol handling their affairs outside the country.
They flew to LA the following spring to work with Mike Clink, most noted for his work with Guns N Roses. During the sessions, Masini was fired and Tanna took over on bass himself. By the time the sessions were done and the record was being mixed and mastered, Bruce Gordon (ex of Rocktopus) took over on bass.
Their debut album DIG was released in the summer of 1993, full of spunk and vigor in the first of four singles, “Rain Will Fall,” which peaked on the Canadian AC chart. They hit number one in the spring of ’94 with the laid-back “So Gently We Go,” the exact opposite of the general direction of the album. With a debut platinum record, they found themselves on the podium accepting a Juno Award for Best Hard Rock Album, with a nomination as well for Group of the Year.
Extended jaunts around the world continued, starting in Toronto the night after the Junos opening for heroes Rush (who they beat out for the Juno), kept them busy until mid ’95. After some down time, where Edwin guested on Alex Lifeson’s solo project, Victor, they hooked up with new producer Paul Northfield (Rush).
They recorded in both Toronto and Morin Heights, Quebec, and released SCENERY AND FISH in the fall of 1996. Packed with a follow-up of hard driving beats and psychadelic rhythms with eclectic subtleties, it sold 200,000 copies (double platinum) in Canada, with “One More Astronaut” hitting #1 and “Another Sunday” peaking at #2. Along with the other two singles, “Used To Be Alright” and “Raspberry,” the band was mainstays on the airwaves and video channels at home, and in the US and overseas for the better part of the next two years. Other noteable tracks included “Like A Girl,” which featured Rush‘s Alex Lifeson on guitars.
But looking for new challenges and complaining about lack of input in the music, Edwin left following the tour’s end in 1997 to begin a solo career, releasing three albums. The band was also in the news for complaining about former basssit Franz Masini advertising his new group as “featuring members of I Mother Earth,” which abruptly stopped.
EMI cashed in on them one last time while Capitol dropped them, with EARTH, SKY AND EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN in ’97, an album the band strongly objected to. Along with a few unreleased tracks and acoustic versions, it also included a live studio session the band did at Mushroom Studios in Vancouver earlier that year for a radio special.
They were picked up by Universal, and began auditions for a new singer. After an exhaustive search, they hired Brian Byrne (ex Klaven) on band friend and Slik Toxic drummer Neal Busby’s recommendation. They returned to the studios with Northfield for the next project.
1999’s BLUE GREEN ORANGE was somewhat of a critical and sales letdown, with more experimentation than its predecessors, more textured and refined, and lacking some of their grit. Although the record was still in the alt-rock vein, it only hit #8 and the highest charting single was “Summertime In The Void,” stalling at #5 on the Alternative chart, but was still good for a gold album. Although it received no nods for the music, Northfield and Tanna did take home the Juno the next year for Recording Engineer of the Year.
After opening their own studio in Toronto, The Mother’s Hip, work began on the next project, but was plagued with setbacks from the start. Byrne had required surgery to correct rupltured vocal cords, then Christian Tanna broke his arm, so drum parts were delayed. Those sessions were ultimately all but scrapped entirely. Added to the injuries were office arguments with the label over the direction of the music. The suits wanted a more commercially accessible album than what they were hearing.
Jag Tanna was forced to team with new producer David Bottrill, and their collaborations began with the song “Juicy” on the movie XXX, starring Vin Diesel. The song was re-worked and showed up as the lead single on the new album, THE QUICKSILVER MEAT DREAM in 2002. “Like The Sun” and “No Coma” followed and the album hit the gold mark, but the record stalled outside the top 40 in Canada, and had little impact on outside markets. Not exactly what the label was looking for, it was sort of a quasi-concept album that left the critics baffled and fans spending their money elsewhere.
With support from the label all but dried up, the touring schedule was also shorter than before, and following the last trip in early 2003, the members all stayed out of the media eye and the studio, and quietly went away for awhile. They returned for a special show in Barrie, Ont called “Live Off The Floor” in November of that year, and rumours circulated they might stay together, but it didn’t materialize.
Universal officially dropped them by the end of the year, and everyone went on to their own projects. Byrne started a solo career, releasing three albums. Jagori Tanna set up a new studio, production company, as well as a record label, Upper Left Side Music, with brother Christian. Christian has also dabbled in various recording projects before organizing events around Toronto, and setting up his own club, The Venue, in Peterborough, Ont. Gordon joined the Blue Man Group lineup, among other projects.