Comprised of brothers Kelley Juett (guitar/vocals) and Kyle Juett (bass/vocals) along with drummer Judge Smith, the Dallas, Texas, trio Mothership self-released their self-titled debut back in June. The album (review here) was recorded by Wo Fat‘s Kent Stump and puts Orange-amped fuzz to work in classic heavy homage, ballsing up the tone of Grand Funk boogie and winding it around scorching Sabbathian riffage.
It’s a formula for success in heavy rock, and while they may not be the first to employ it, I dug Mothership‘s Mothership enough that I wanted to find out more about how the band came to be and where the brothers Juett got their love of rock and roll from. I had a sneaking suspicion it was their father — not an unreasonable assumption when you’ve got two brothers so clearly on the same page influence-wise in a band together — but it was great to get that confirmed from the Juetts themselves.
And in that, this is a little more than the usual six dumb questions, since after the answers came back from Kyle, I asked if he’d get a couple quotes from their dad as well. You’ll find John “Big J” Juett‘s quotes after the Q&A, which is below. Please enjoy.
We (Kelley and Kyle) started Mothership back in 2010 after the breakup of our previous band. We literally took all of our shit from our old practice spot, drove to our dad’s house and began writing what became Mothership tunes that very same day. A blessing in disguise, if you ask me. We wrote for a few months together before asking our dad to start playing with us. We were tired of sitting around, not playing shows and more importantly looking for a drummer. Since our dad kicks some serious ass on the skins we figured what the hell let’s do it. We had a great time playing biker bars doing four-hour sets covering classic rock and blues songs (tons of B-side shit that really lit up the party), as well as playing original shows all over the state of Texas. We did a one-week tour with Gypsyhawk with our dad on drums – that’s pretty bitchin’ this day in time to have your dad out there jamming with you on the road.
I (Kyle) met Judge around the same time Mothership started in 2010 I would say, maybe a little earlier or later can’t really remember much that far back lol. We met in a bar in Lewisville, TX, shared a common interest in music. We got along, had some of the same friends, took shots, drank beers, had a damn good time every time we hung out. I always watched Judge play drums at this bar with multiple bands some original and some playing covers. He kicked ass every time I saw him play and I could really get a sense that he was hungry for something new.
The dude has an incredible amount of drive and dedication and that really stood out to me. We started heavily talking about Mothership I would say around October of last year during the baseball playoffs. We would go get drunk as piss yelling at TVs and talking about writing records, touring the world, etc., etc. I had some good talks with Kelley and even my dad about bringing Judge on board and they were both very excited to see where the next step would take us. Judge came out to many shows in the previous months leading up to his arrival in the band always very vocal about giving him a chance to show us what he’s got.
Judge joined the band in December 2011 I think our first show with him was January 2012 and we recorded the debut album a month later. We hit the ground kicking ass when Judge joined the band with very little downtime during the transition of drummers, we wrote a couple of songs on the record the first day we ever practiced with him.
As for the songs on the record, four of them were written with our dad on drums (“City Nights,” “Angel of Death,” “Eagle Soars,” and “Win or Lose”) and the other four songs (“Hallucination,” “Cosmic Rain,” “Elenin,” and “Lunar Master”) were written with Judge. “Lunar Master,” the last track on the album, was written in the studio with help from everyone on board including help from Kent Stump, who recorded the album. He came up with some killer vocal arrangement ideas. That was an awesome experience to only have music written for a song and watch it come to life in the studio in that moment, watching all the band members and engineer come together to help write lyrics and vocal melodies was a unifying experience.
2. Where does the family love of classic rock come from?
Our Dad, John “Big J” Juett, without a doubt. The man has boxes upon boxes of vinyl, shit that makes your jaw drop and shit that you have never heard of before but will damn sure make you an instant fan after one pass through. He has a wide variety of different types of music… Blues, classic rock, hard rock, metal, Southern rock you name it he’s either got it or had it.
Most all of the bands we know today come from knowledge that was passed down from him. There are a ton of newer bands coming out so it’s fun to show him new shit and kinda go back and forth. There really is a lot of good music coming out these days from all over there world. Mothership was started on the sole purpose of bringing back rock ‘n’ roll, and with the knowledge passed down from our pops we have come to understand a good amount of the history of where rock n roll began and the direction that it can go from here.
“The gleam of the Mothership in the distant galaxy promised a future to music and mankind alike. Without the intergalactic journey, the legacy of rock music dies.”
3. How was your time in the studio with Kent from Wo Fat? How long did it take to record the album and what was the atmosphere in the studio like?
Kent Stump is not only a talented musician and engineer but one of the nicest and easiest people to work with. An all around awesome dude with great visions, ideas, and really knows how to capture the sound that encompasses who you are as a band. We sent out about seven or eight emails to local producers in the area to see if anyone would show the slightest bit of interest in working with us. The email basically laid it all on the line and we got back a lot of one word responses. Kent however wrote back a two or three page email breaking down why he would be the best candidate, an entire gear list, his credentials, and more importantly why he wanted to take on this project.
We had played with Wo Fat two or three times before recording the album so Kent really had a solid idea of who were as a band, our tones, our energy, and overall direction of the album just from seeing us play live. He had everything mic’d and set up in record time on our first day of recording, the energy and vibes were laid back and very relaxed. Tons of laughing, drinking cold beer, and listening back to the tracks really loud in the playback room. He always gave great feedback and input on certain parts where he knew we needed a little direction. He even laid down a killer solo at the end of the album, just an all around awesome experience!
We practiced for multiple days in a row before entering the studio to capture that “on the road” live sound that we really got on this record. This record is us setting up our gear and playing live with each other in one room. No click tracks, no isolated individual tracks. We had very, very limited time to record this album and we knew we didn’t have a lot of time to fuck around. We recorded all the music in one weekend eight-hour days on a Friday and Saturday, and came back the following weekend to finish up vocals and mix the album. The album is alive and breathes from start to finish, a true journey of where we were that moment in time when you listen to it. We recorded all the music for each of the songs on one take except for “City Nights,” all the solos were recorded live as well.
For a debut record, we think people really get the idea of what we are trying to do and the direction we are headed in. That’s the point of a debut album: “Hey you don’t know who we are, but here is our first album and this is what we’re about. Turn that shit up and climb aboard.”
4. How was the Metroplex Heavy Fest for you guys? It looked like a great weekend. How was your set and what were some of the other highlights for you?
What an awesome weekend indeed, why can’t all weekends be like that? Where to begin… Two nights with 14 bands from the Dallas/Ft. Worth area playing heavy rock ‘n’ roll and loving what they do. So much fun to watch each band perform and show the crowd their brand of heavy rock. We got to see a few bands we had been hearing about but never seen play live, so that was really cool. We met a lot of awesome people that weekend including Pope John The Enforcer and Todd “Racer” from Ripple Music. They are two down-to-earth, dedicated men with out of this world visions that truly love what they do. Really looking forward to running into them again in the future. Jay Brockington put the whole damn thing together, many cheers to him for all the hard work and dedication that went into this thing going off without a hitch.
The crowd during our set was explosive, we were really channeling some awesome vibes coming in our direction. Those types of shows are always the most fun to play, you give us the energy we will bottle that shit up and blast it right back at you. Five or 5,000 people, we play the same show every night, but having a roaring crowd surrounding the stage is hands down one of the best feelings in the world. We brought Dave Sherman up to sing “Ace of Spades” with us on the last song of our set. We really didn’t know how it was gonna go over, we never practiced with Dave let alone met the dude and damn he nailed it! What an awesome way to end the set on a very special night.
The entire set was recorded, the entire fest was recorded so we look forward to taking a listen when it becomes available. Feels really great to have had the honor to share the stage with such kickass musicians in this area and to be a part of such a righteous festival event. Here’s to hoping there will be a round two next year!
5. What exactly does a music video party entail? You’re filming a video August 17, but you’re not the only band on the bill. Is the plan just to rage for a few hours, film it, and let the editor sort it out afterwards? What song will the video be for?
The plan for the music video came out of nowhere, really. One day we just decided, hey, let’s do a video. The album has been out a few months and so we figured why they hell not. This video is going to showcase who we really are and what we are all about in our hometown. We are doing a very basic video with only a few cameras showcasing our live show and our loyal fans right here in the heart of Dallas, TX, at one of the most legendary venues in this area, The Curtain Club. The perfect storm of a night to bust out the cameras and hit record.
We are gonna shoot as much video footage as possible and then have fun editing the footage and placing the audio track over it. The video will be for “City Nights,” the third track on our album, a party song geared towards bands living life on the road and a little of the lifestyle we all three lead in our daily lives here. Hopefully people will really get an honest taste of not only where we come from with this video, but hopefully get a sense of the resurgence of rock ‘n’ roll in this area that has been dormant for far too long.
6. What’s next for the band after the new video? Have you started writing yet for the follow-up to the self-titled, and do you have any idea yet what the next batch of material might sound like?
We are currently working on a good amount of new material for what may or may not be on the next album. We have really raised our level of playing in the past couple of months and have found a great sense of who we are and the sound that has become Mothership. We have an awesome unspoken fourth member of the band, Chris “Ohm” Galt, who is our sound man/engineer. He is currently coming out to all of our practices and recording all of our jams and ideas for new material. He’s our brother and we are very thankful to have him on board with us along this journey.
We take the CDs he makes after every practice home with us and really listen to what we like and don’t like and go from there. Being able to jam at practice and not force riffs down people’s throats in the band really eases the mood at practice and makes writing new material a lot of fun. We all have been in those bands where you have members say “play this, don’t play that,” learn how to jam and others will follow your lead when you have a good riff in mind. I’d say we have a very good mix currently of some heavy groove songs and some psychedelic/blues take you on a journey-type songs which is right in line with what we all love most. That happy balance of heaviness and soul mixed with a little dash of some Texas rock n roll.
John “Big J” Juett on playing drums with Mothership: This has been a very fulfilling experience for me. What started out as a way to spend time with my sons doing what we all enjoy—making or listening to music—turned out to be something much better that I had imagined. It is rare for parents to be able to actually participate in activities that your adult children participate in. I think it speaks to our family relationship, the mutual respect we have for the roles in each other’s life, the similar influences we have share, and the passion for music. For me, it is a late-life endeavor, a second chance to really prepare for something physically demanding, and be able execute live. I constantly play to their tracks, as well as thousands of others on my iPod, just to keep my chops up on a chance that we can find the time to jam, or even play live again in a different light. They are just so good, it’s a challenge to keep bringing it at their level. Once Judge came on board, we all agreed we would still try to find the time to family-jam and experiment with old classics live, just as we have done for last two years. But, the demand for their shows and the phenomenal writing they are doing just takes up all of their time. I’m in a more traditional parental role now of supporter, drum/road tech…and interim financier… ha ha.
John “Big J” Juett on his influences: I remember vividly the beginning of my love of music. I had many 45 singles from the psychedelic ‘60s as a kid. But in the late ‘60s, Iron Butterfly’s In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida came out, and closely thereafter, I bought Creedence’s Born on the Bayou, and Grand Funk Railroad’s Live album. I was lost in music from that point on. That was a whole different level, dude. Throughout the decades I have continued to follow major trends in music. As the original Mothership jam sessions began, my grooves from those early periods came through in my play, and I believe helped influence the sounds you hear today in the first Mothership tunes like “City Nights,” “Eagle Soars,” and “Win or Lose.” For a while in 2010 before band really formed, Kelley was living at home for a brief period, and every day after work, he and I honed our chops together, working up our takes on great classic tunes from Johnny Winter, Alvin Lee & Ten Years After, Steppenwolf, Freddie King, Skynard, Jimi Hendrix, Pat Travers, Judas Priest, Deep Purple, Sabbath, Ted Nugent, etc. Those bands that were my early influences. Mothership now have about 25 tunes roughed out that my sons and I have performed regularly on extended sets, beyond the original material. Judge knows several more too. The music I love is the music they love… I really dig heavier music, Pantera, Hellyeah, Metallica too, but I’m gonna have to let Judge bring the Vinnie f’n Paul fury on those, haha… I’m just proud we have something in common to share with my sons and Judge, and to look forward to enjoying as we all grow older. Music is our common denominator! These are three very talented, dedicated guys, and great, great, respectful and considerate gentlemen, a character trait which my wife and I are also extremely proud of!