Interview With Mothership Bassist Kyle Juett

By Andrew Bansal

Based out of Dallas, Texas, Mothership is a classic hard rock trio that draw influences from the likes of UFO and Thin Lizzy and give that style of music their a zestful interpretation of their own, with a tinge of Southern rock blended in as well. The band was started by brothers Kyle and Kelley Juett on bass and guitar/vocals respectively, and their father John Juett on drums. Later on they recruited Judge Smith on drums, and released their self-titled debut album last year. This year, the album has been reissued by Ripple Music, and now the band is on a small run of headline shows which ends on March 7th. After that, they’ll be going out with fellow classic hard rockers Gypsyhawk for what promises to be a fun-filled US tour for bands and fans alike. A couple of days ago, I spoke to Kyle Juett about all things Mothership. Check out the band’s story in the conversation below as well as their music via the two YouTube clips, and visit them online using the links at the bottom.

First of all, what’s the band up to these days?

Right now we just started our tour. We’re touring for our debut album that just came out back in February, and right now we’re by ourselves and we’re playing Lubbock TX tonight. But we’re on our way to meet up with Gypsyhawk and we’re going to be doing a couple of weeks with those guys as well. We’re doing mostly mid-West and West Coast dates. So we’re just touring for now. We have been writing a little bit of new material, but mostly we’ve just been getting ready to hit the road. So we’re staying busy, traveling around and going from town to town having a good time!

That’s killer! So, there’s an interesting back story to your band. It seems like your dad, brother and you started the band and it all came about because of the music your dad had collected over the years. What records actually inspired you to create your band?

Well, I think that the type of music we play has pretty much been embedded in our body since we were born. Around the house my dad always listened to heavy music, Southern music, blues-type music, and although we have played in previous bands that didn’t really encompass those styles of music, I think this one right here actually does capture everything we always wanted to play. And yeah, you are right. My brother and I started the band, and instead of spending months and months looking for a drummer we just decided to have our dad play drums, just so we could start playing shows and weren’t sitting around for a long time. We started out doing some cover shows, covering some old blues stuff, some ZZ Top and Deep Purple, mixing in some Jimi Hendrix and stuff like that. We were also working on some original stuff. We recorded a demo with our dad on drums, and it was a great time. It is very unique that we could get our dad on drums and have a dad who actually supports us, cranking it up and getting loud with it, but like I said our dad has pretty much been that way in our lives ever since we were young kids. He’d always have the records cranked up, and I think we finally created a musical project that is actually bringing out all of our influences that we’ve grown up listening to.

As you mentioned, your debut album came out in February. You’ve been playing shows since 2010 or something like that, so you must have been really comfortable with the songs already by the time you entered the studio, right? I guess it was like a ‘new’ album for you and you already knew the songs inside out.

Oh yeah, a couple of the songs that were on the actual demo that we recorded with our dad ended up going on the album. In 2011, we got Judge Smith on drums and we ended up writing a couple of new songs and after Judge had been in the band only for a few months, we went into the studio and recorded. So yeah, it’s safe to say we were definitely tight with those songs. We had been playing them a lot, but at the same time we like playing those songs. They are a lot of fun to play live and we were just really happy with the way they all came out together in the composition of what the album is as a whole.

Do you think you’ve managed to capture the energy of your live shows in the album?

Yeah, but I definitely think that our live shows have a lot more energy. We recorded the album live, but there’s a certain energy that people give off at a live show that you just can’t recreate inside four walls. There’s people screaming, moving and yelling around and that gets you fired up in ways that you can’t be fired up just standing in a room together. But we did record it live when we were all jamming together, so there is an aspect of a live feel to the album, but like I said, if you come out to a show you’re definitely going to get all of the energy seeing us moving around on stage and making these songs really come to life.

I believe the album was self-released by you last year and it’s been released again this year through Ripple Music. Is there any difference in the sound or the packaging this time?

It’s basically the same exact album which we recorded at Crystal Clear Studios in Dallas. Kent Stump the guitarist for Wo Fat actually recorded us. We recorded it with the actual means to put in on vinyl. We recorded in analog and we had a vinyl master and everything ready to go, but we just didn’t have the funds to do all that by ourselves so we went ahead and kind of released it more or less locally in the Dallas-Fort Worth area just on CD format. And then once we ended up signing onto Ripple, they pretty much took everything we had and really jumped on the wagon and busted out some really nice vinyl records. We did a 100 limited edition purple colored vinyl that sold out fairly quickly, and we’re completely sold out of the first edition of the regular black 180-gram vinyl. So the response to the vinyl has been great and we’re very excited about that. We got a repress on the way too. The only difference from us releasing it and Ripple is just a nicer medium to listen to it on. The CD also went from being in a basic single-sleeve CD holder to a nice jewel case with a little booklet insert with lyrics on it. We’re certainly thankful that those guys saw something in us and were willing to go out there and invest that much in vinyl and CDs and what not.

Listening to the music on the album, I hear a UFO influence. I think they’re a very underrated classic band and people don’t mention them as much in their list of influences.

Oh yeah! I very rarely come across bands that are influenced by UFO. I mean, what’s not to like about a band like UFO? They’re an amazing rock ‘n roll band, and while we don’t worship them by listening to every one of their albums on a daily basis, I think they created something to us that we are aspiring to do with our band. We want to create our own rock ‘n roll band that does across as well-polished and as heavy and in-your-face as UFO is. That’s one thing we keep in mind when we write our music. We have a lot of guitar solos and we’re very rhythm heavy because of bands like UFO that have that ‘Rock Bottom’ type songs that just take off for four or five minutes with instrumental guitars all over the place. So definitely a lot of people bring up the comparison with older bands that we sound like, but basically it’s all true. That’s the music we love, and we play the music that’s all about rock ‘n roll like it was 30-40 years ago. Great guitarmanship, great melodies, a lot of fun on stage, a lot of energy and that’s pretty much we’re all about, man. It’s a very simple idea that we had when we started this band and now it’s really coming to life. We’re doing exactly what we always wanted to do.

But overall, what do you think is the difference between the sound of those classic bands and your sound? Are you trying to recreate the same thing, or is it also modern in some ways?

Yeah, we’re definitely not trying to recreate it. We’re trying to fill our own void in the whole music world. It’s foolish to try doing something that’s already been done before. We pull influences from blues to Southern rock to heavy metal. We go from Lynyrd Skynyrd to Motherhead to Johnny Winter. We’re all over the place with influences. So I think on any given day when we go to practice and write a song, anything could come out of the amps and our style of writing music is very jam-oriented. We record all of our practices. So you never know what’s going to come out, and instead of spending our time trying to sound exactly like a certain band, we’re more or less like, we go with whatever comes out. I think everybody can hear different types of musical styles in our stuff and that’s great. It’s very obvious what era of music we really dig into, but I don’t think we’re really trying to be any one of those bands that have happened in the past.

You mentioned at the start that you’ll be touring with Gypsyhawk for a few shows this month. They’re also a great new band and they’ve put out a killer new album last year called ‘Revelry & Resilience’. How familiar are you with those guys?

Yeah, those are good brothers of ours! When my dad was playing drums we did a little one-week run with those guys in Texas when they were down here a little over a year ago. So yeah, basically we’re really good friends with those guys and they also came through town a couple of times with The Sword back in October. We had some really good talks sitting in our van, drinking whiskey and just kind of talking about, ‘Hey, we’re ready to hit the road and we’d like to go out with you guys.’ We just kind of kept going back and forth and figuring it out, and it ended up being the right time for both of our bands and we made it happen. We booked everything by ourselves and this is all about us two bands coming together and going to have some fun for a month and a half.

Finally I wanted to ask you, how to create the classic bass sound in your music? Does it come from the gear or is it just what you play?

Yeah I’m not really a big tech-junkie when it comes to music equipment. If it sounds good, it sounds good. I play a pretty basic setup. I play 4X10s and a 1X15. I switched back a couple of years ago from an 8X10 cabinet because I wanted a little extra low-end on the 15″, but I don’t have a lot of stuff. I play a Sansamp and I just basically run what sounds good to me, laying out a solid rhythmic bass for the guitars and vocals to cut through really well. I don’t do a lot of crazy stuff on bass. I just like to get up there and jam and have a real good time, and just try to bring all the aspects of the music together with a really driving-type bass rhythm.