Drawing on the talents of members of Anthrax, Testament, The Cult and Armored Saint, Motor Sister revisit the songs of groove-rock cult heroes, Mother Superior, with their new album, Ride. Bassist Joey Vera tells SHANE PINNEGAR what happened after the friends got together to play one set at a birthday party.
It started out innocently enough: Scott Ian, face-mulletted guitar-slinger for Anthrax these past 34 years, wanted his favourite band, Mother Superior, to play at his 50th birthday party.
Long disbanded, the next best plan was to invite MS singer Jim Wilson to revisit Ian’s favourite tracks from his old outfit, and assemble some friends who could do the tunes justice.
One thing rapidly led to another and Motor Sister was born, featuring Ian, Wilson, Vera, drummer John Tempesta (Testament/The Cult), and Ian’s wife (who is, incidentally, Meatloaf’s daughter) Pearl Aday contributing backing vocals.
“It’s bizarre in a way,” reflects Vera, “We didn’t anticipate doing any of this stuff (recording, much less interviews and promotion). The life it’s taken on is totally unexpected – it’s cool though!
“Scott was having a birthday party, and I was going to the party anyway. He called me up shortly before the party and said, ‘hey, I want to jam Mother Superior songs’. To me it wasn’t that out of the blue or strange – we were all Mother Superior fans to begin with, and Jim Wilson is a friend of ours so we see him all the time. We hang out and we do other things with him, like he’s involved in Pearl’s solo project.
“I said, ‘oh that’s a great idea, I’m in. I’m going there anyway, I’ll just bring my bass’. He gave me a list of the songs, we learned 12 tunes. It was going to be a blast – we all knew it. That’s how it got started.”
From playing a small party to doing trans-continental interviews for your album seems like a huge leap, but Vera says it was a very organic and unforced process.
“We did the party, and it was very small – there was only 20 people there maybe, and the vibe was really cool. Next thing you know, Metal Blade (record label) calls and said, ‘hey, we heard about this cool thing you guys do. It sounds like an amazing thing to document. Would you be interested in recording this?’
“That’s why we decided if we do this,” he continues excitedly, “it has to be done with the same passion that the party was done in. We did the exact same 12 songs. We made sure that we had to play everything live. One take. No fixing, overdubbing, cutting and pasting: none of that crap. We even invited friends to the studio with a cooler of beer.
“People sometimes get a little misconstrued and think that this was kind of put together – an all-star band, you know what I mean? That’s not at all what this was. We’re all just friends, and we all know each other, and we all hang out together. It just so happens that it transitioned into a record. It’s why we wanted to do it live, and keep it raw, keep it rough. It’s not perfect, but it’s honest.”
The end result is one of the best hard rock albums of the year, and it begs the question, will Motor Sister be an ongoing concern?
“I don’t know,” ponders Vera. “There’s been some talk about us maybe doing some writing together. We have such a good time being together and playing together, but we’re not making this a career opportunity for everybody. Scott’s still in Anthrax, I’m still doing Armored Saint and Fates Warning, and other things. Pearl has her solo career. Jim has his solo career and he still plays with Daniel Lanois. Everybody is busy.
“We’re going to see what happens. Who knows, I mean in the future we may make another record and maybe it’ll be all-original material. I don’t know, maybe at that point we might be able to say, ‘okay, that’s a supergroup’, but for now we’re not trying to do that.”