The Mothership Has Landed - An Interview With Kyle Juett

Coming straight from the musical heartland of Texas, Mothership stands poised to enter the fray as part of the new wave of blues-based, old-school heavy metal. A band born by the bonds of family and propelled by a pair of brothers, Mothership comes armed with riffs to spare and solos for everyone. Just before leaving for a tour with the mighty Gypsyhawk, Kyle Juett sat down with me to talk about his band, how they got here, where they want to go, and every stop in between.
M. DREW: Let’s start at the beginning because it’s an interesting story. You started a band with your brother and most notably, your dad. I don’t think that happens a lot, how did that come to be?
KYLE JUETT: As crazy as it sounds, it wasn’t really that crazy to us at all, we’d always jammed together anyways. It was kinda like we’d been jamming doing covers and stuff, so we decided to just start Mothership. My brother and I always been writing riffs, and the band we played in before, those type of riffs just weren’t doing it for that band. Without even knowing it, we were writing stuff that became Mothership. We basically didn’t want to sit around for a long time, and we just asked dad, “do you want to hop on here with the writing?” because we needed some drums to go along with the ideas we had and he just said “let’s do it.” I mean hey, we weren’t trying to find the best drummer in the world, we just wanted to get playing and get out there. And dad killed it on drums, and we still jam covers and have a good time hanging out. That’s how it came together, we never had any issues, we always just had a good time.
M.D: I gather that your dad was not the type of guy who told you to turn your music down a lot when you were growing up?
KJ: No, no sir. [laughs] My dad definitely had it cranked up, I remember very vividly one year, he made me sit down and record the top one hundred rock songs of ’94 or ’95 or something. They did it on New Year’s Eve. I just sat in front of my dad’s stereo switching out tapes to record this whole radio thing. It was awesome, it was cool. It was later as were growing up we started understanding what good albums he actually had. Then we just put two and two together, like man, we been hearing this stuff since we were little babies crawling around the house. He definitely had it cranked, still does to this day. It’s awesome.
M.D: I get the feeling that you and I grew up similarly. I grew up in a rock and roll house, my parents were big into Boston, the Doobie Brothers, Deep Purple, The Who…do those names ring a bell for you?
KJ: Oh, yeah man. My dad’s a big Pat Travers fan, too. I don’t know if you listen to a lot of Pat Travers, but he’s awesome. Dad listens to a lot of Texas rock and roll bands, there’s a band called Black Horse, Point Blank, a band called Lightning from Texas, they’re all pretty good. He was really heavy into what I guess you would call the local scene back in the ‘70s and whatnot, so that’s pretty cool.
M.D: Bringing all that together, everything about Mothership screams old-school, Texas-blended rock and heavy metal. Is that a sound you’re trying to represent?
KJ: No. To be honest with you, we’re not trying to sound any certain way. It’s kind of crazy, a lot of people hear different influences in our stuff, which I think is great because that’s exactly how this band works. We all have different influences, some days we like to listen to Motörhead, some days we like to put on Graveyard or Wishbone Ash, something that’s really mellow but really well written. We have so many different sources that we pull from, it just depends on the day. How we write our music is all jams. Some days we’ll walk in and crack a beer and write a fast, heavy riff and some days we’ll just chill back and write a weird one, you know?
M.D: I’m so glad to hear you mention Graveyard. I think that band is one of the best bands going.
KJ: Oh, man, they’re a great band. We definitely look up to bands like that, of modern times that are doing well like those guys. That’s what we try to do, just try to travel around and go to other countries and play our music. That’s why we do this. That’s the most important thing, being in a great band and having a great time and meeting new people.
M.D: You’re headed on the road with Gypsyhawk right away, you have a bunch of dates in Texas and you have some headline dates across Texas as well. You’re a native Texan, what makes that state such a hotbed for music activity?
KJ: I don’t know, that’s a great question. I was talking to two of the guys from Ripple Music when they were in town, we were having that same conversation. I don’t know, there’s a large amount of very talented musicians in this state right now, that all understand and can play in bands. You can be the greatest guitar player in the world, but playing in a band is a whole different ball game. I think that there’s this combination of really great players who can play great with others. That can jam and right albums. That’s the one thing about bands in Texas right now, is that they’re putting out albums. Venomous Maximus, you look at Scorpion Child, you’re talking about all these bands that are putting out records, and they’re touring and they’re traveling. It’s awesome to see. The cool thing is, it’s not just in one city. You’d think it would be Austin, but it’s Austin, Houston, Dallas, there’s a lot of cities coming up.

M.D: You just released your album, did you ever envision that you’d be able to release an album on this scale? What’s the proudest moment of having it out there?
KJ: I think the proudest moment was actually getting to hold our own vinyl in our hands. Actually get to look at it, play it, hear it for the first time on that medium was incredible. As far as where it’s at now, we’re definitely very excited. Very appreciative that everybody’s giving it a listen. The most important thing is that they’re showing their friends, and I think that’s the coolest thing that can happen to you as a musician, is somebody listens to your stuff and says ‘hey man, you need to check this out.” For all three of us though, it was a very important day to get that vinyl back. We just went to record an album, man, and that was Mothership at that moment, and we’re stoked that we’re getting to travel around and play this album to people and people want to hear it.
M.D: What lessons did this album have for you? Did it teach you anything as you went through the process, are there things you wouldn’t do again?
KJ: Good question, I definitely think so. Not necessarily that I wouldn’t do again, because I think going forward would be a better way to look at it. There’s a couple things that don’t necessarily sound bad, but listening to my record compared to some other records that we’ve been listening to, there’s things I think we could tweak a little bit. But who knows? I think the stuff we’ve been writing is damn good rock and roll, in your face, and we have some cool blues jamming numbers, too. We’ve got a good diversity of faster and slower stuff. I learned a lot, I think we’ll tweak a few things but not too much. We recorded it live, and that’s how we do it.
M.D: Your album art is great, by the way, and especially refreshing to see in this digital age where it seems like art goes by the wayside and people don’t care about it as much anymore.
KJ: Oh, yeah. You download it on iTunes, ‘what’s an album cover? What’s a CD booklet?’ That’s why it’s really cool to work with these Ripple Music guys right now, because they love listening to music on the vinyl medium, but they’re also all about DVD’s and everything. Anything that can be put out, that’s what they’re into.
M.D: Signing up with them and pressing a vinyl out and putting time into the cover art, were those all things you consciously wanted to do? You recorded your album live and avoided a lot of digital overproduction and things like that we see now, was that something you had to have to be happy with the record?
KJ: Oh, yeah, definitely. Where we’re at right now, everything that has happened up to this moment, everything that’s happened to this band, we cannot be more happy with it the way it is. We’re just real dudes, we just like playing music, you know? We’re not trying to sugarcoat it any kind of way, or overproduce it in any way, this is just who we are and here it is.
M.D: Mothership is part of this wave of analog-based, blues-centric rock and roll and metal acts. Do you personally think there’s a reason that style of music coming back into form?
KJ: You look at blues, to me blues is rock and roll. If you play blues, that’s some cool shit. You can rock it up, you can make it heavy, you can slow it down, you can let your guitar player go off for twenty minutes. I think bands that are incorporating blues into their stuff, there is a reason those bands get recognition. The music is capable of taking on so many shapes and forms when you’re playing in certain scales or a certain kind of jamming. That makes me happy! We’re all, all of our family and I know Judge [Smith, drums] is too, we’re all into the blues. We love it. You talk about some players, man. I think it’s great that bands are incorporating that. It’s not just a bunch of bands getting up there and trying to be Stevie Ray Vaughn, but these bands are bringing in bits and pieces of bluesy stuff, and I like it. I think it’s great. You can definitely tell the different between a band that’s jamming, and a band who’s trying to force the pieces together. Trying to force it to make it fit, when they could just jam it out and let it work its course. That’s how we look at it.

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