If there is one solid takeaway from the chaotic year that has been 2020, it is that nothing should be taken for granted, and life should be lived to its fullest.
The band, Mantra of Morta, have applied that philosophy and energy to making music since well before the pandemic rattled the status quo, and forced people everywhere to adapt to a ‘new normal’.
“Morta was the Roman goddess of death,” explains Thomas Duvall, the band’s lead guitarist. “Our name is a reminder that nobody really has that much time on earth, and that people should be using that time to make an impact, to love your friends and family, and to do things to make this a better place.”
Hailing from ‘Farmland, Indiana,’ the band traces its origins back to a pop-punk band that Thomas had played in in high school. By 2015, they had evolved into ‘Mantra’, and by 2018, added ‘of Morta’ as they developed their sound and cemented their current lineup. That sound, described as ‘melodic metal’, is fueled by the diverse tastes of the band’s members, with influences that range from ‘Lamb of God’, to ‘Motley Crue’, to electronic music, and bands that hold down the less commercial end of the ‘metal’ spectrum. It is a heady mix, but the ingredients seem to blend to their advantage as they build an impressive repertoire of original material.
“It always starts with either me bringing in a song, or Justin, our drummer, and I, just jamming out,” said Thomas. “Together, we will hash out an idea, see if we can shape it into something. Then, we bring in the other band members, and they work on figuring out their part while me and Justin continue to mold it until it is done.”
Their sound has definitely struck a chord with audiences that have enjoyed seeing them play all over the Midwest, and as far away as New York, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, and Texas. As with almost all live entertainment, the Covid-19 crisis had limited their appearances for a while, but online live streams and a recent performance at the Midwest Horror Fest After Party at the State Theater in Logansport have kept them in the public eye as they continue to play as if there is no tomorrow.
There are a lot of clichés that people quote when it comes to extolling the power of music, but it doesn’t mean that they aren’t true. Jessie Cochran knows this, as she attributes music as the catalyst that brought her husband into her life, and by her account, “saved” her in other ways.
“To me, music was the only escape from my shitty reality,” she says. “Music is like a place where I can get lost- while still feeling as if I belong.”
Growing up, Jessie was a classically trained vocalist who had found an outlet for that talent by participating in Show Choir. When she found herself in need of acoustic guitar accompaniment for a 2005 performance, Josh Cochran volunteered his brother, Josh. It was a fortuitous meeting, but not one that led immediately to romance, as Josh would move away, and Jessie would follow music down a different path.
“I had a boyfriend who was in a band with me,” she explains. “We played loud, screaming garage metal at places like the Lion’s Club, and it filled a need in the part of me that thrived on music.”
In 2007, when they decided that they needed another guitar player, Josh happened to move back to Farmland, and he stepped into that role, as well as a more important position in Jessie’s life.
“Unfortunately, my boyfriend/bandmate had begun to choose drugs over our relationship and our music. It was a rough time for me, but having Josh there kept it from getting worse. He listened to me, and chose to grow with me as a person and musician. We found that we could test/teach each other, and provide balance within one another.”
Their most important collaboration has been their daughter, Elliot Minerva in 2011. They learned that there are traumas that go with being young parents, but have found that there are many rewarding lessons that come with it as well. Their extended musical family has helped provide a stimulating environment and loving support network for the now nine year old as they juggle homeschooling with day jobs, rehearsals, side-projects, and gigs.
“Josh also plays guitar in another local band, and is a commissioned artist on top of that, and I am a professional dog groomer,” Jessie says. “It’s a busy lifestyle, with horseback riding lessons on one day, and playing on a stage in Michigan, or, Illinois the next. We love the thought of all the places our music will take us as a family, and we wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
Mantra of Morta members:
Jessie Cochran- Vocals
Thomas Duvall- Lead Guitar
Josh Cochran- Rhythm Guitar
Dillon Duvall- Bass Guitar
Justin Ashley- Drums
Find Mantra of Morta online at:
You can find their music on Spotify, Amazon Music, and other streaming platforms.