Texas-based power trio Mothership inhabits a world where rock ’n’ roll is still a larger-than-life proposition—a world of black-velvet sci-fi posters and psychedelics, where willowy rock stars wander arena stages in rhinestone kimonos, all Les Pauls and leather pants and flowing feathered hair.
Mothership bass player Kyle Juett blames his dad. John Juett was Mothership’s founding drummer, with Kyle’s brother Kelley rounding out the trio on guitar. And even with the eldest Juett’s inevitable departure—he ceded the drummer’s chair to current member Judge Smith prior to the recording of the band’s self-titled debut in 2013—his influence still looms large over the seven-year-old stoner-metal outfit.
“The music we play is the type of music my dad always listened to when we were growing up,” Kyle says during a recent phone interview. “The rock music of the 1970s, from the songwriting to the singing to the concert performance, it was all so bigger than life. People back then just wanted to get out of their daily grind and lose their minds. It was a great era for music, especially live music.
“My brother and I, we went through our different musical phases over the years. But eventually, we got back around to good old-school rock ’n’ roll.”
Kyle recalls the early days of Mothership, of playing four-hour marathons at Dallas-area Harley-Davidson dealers, sneaking in the occasional Juett original in between blues jams and Johnny Winter covers.
“Usually no one knew the difference,” Kyle chuckles. “Every once in a while, someone would come up and ask, ‘Hey what was that one song you played?’ We’d pass it off as a deep cut from ZZ Top.”
Sliding in easily alongside the stoner-metal scene’s current crop of retro rockers—think Graveyard, Ghost, et al.—Mothership’s music might best be described as ’70s-centric proto-metal, throwback heavy rock with a decidedly European bent.
Kyle lists Germany’s Scorpions—’70s-era, mind you, before the band became a pop-metal juggernaut—and London’s UFO as foremost among his own influences, and it tells. Mothership ornament their big-screen blooze with the baroque flourishes that characterized classic Euro-metal giants, a certain minor-key elegance that set those bands apart from their earthier U.S. counterparts.
“I absolutely love UFO, and that has to be said in print,” Kyle says with no small enthusiasm. “We got to open for UFO in Dallas a while back, and it was a dream come true. It was something that we had actually joked about in the past, and then it ended up happening, for real.”
In addition to playing shows with several of their childhood idols, Mothership has also produced three fine albums on California-based stoner/doom label Ripple Records, the latest of which, High Strangeness, came out earlier this year. All three records were produced by fellow Texan Kent Stump, himself a stoner-rock icon as leader of the Dallas-based heavy-groove trio Wo Fat.
And much like their old-school favorites, the members of Mothership are turning into tireless road warriors, having played close to 300 shows over the last two years, including appearances at European stoner festivals Desert Fest and Freak Valley.
“I think we’re part of a new movement,” Kyle says. “I think a lot of musicians have gotten tired of this realm I like to call ‘fake music’—where everything is done over the Internet, and no one wants to play live.
“I think people are ready for rock ’n’ roll to come back. They want something real again, and we’re as real as it gets.”
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