Within the parameters of Los Angeles, rock music often spawns in the most unlikeliest of places. For Motor Sister, it came together at a birthday party with five people performing music from a defunct band which was brought back to life. Their début album Ride is the result of the love of one band’s music that they felt more people needed to hear.
Motor Sister is the somewhat alter ego of the long time Los Angeles based musician Jim Wilson’s band Mother Superior. The band called it quits in 2009, but the interest in their music from fans was still there. Then came Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian’s 50th birthday party at his home. Wilson explained how the whole scenario took place.
“When Scott started hassling me about the original idea, they made a poster that said Mother Superior and that’s what they sent out to their friends. We weren’t making a new band. We were having a party and having a good time. By using Mother Superior lives, it’s kind of saying we’re playing these songs and with a skeleton head on the flier.”
“Word got back via Neil Zlozower (veteran LA photographer). He did all of the old Van Halen and the Motley Crue album covers. He was at the party. He did two of the Mother Superior covers – the one on Triple X (2001’s Mother Superior) album and the Deep (1998 on Top Beat Records) album. When it came time to have the party, he was on the list. Neil had to be there. So he was the one who made the call to Metal Blade on the Monday morning after the party. He made the call on our behalf to Mike [Faley] from Metal Blade and talked about the party and seeing us. He hyped it up. So he dug further and approached us about making a record. There were some hardcore Mother Superior fans there. I’m not lying but there were some people tearing up because they hadn’t heard it for so long and joy was in the air. We finished the first song and the band looked at each other and laughed. Some people hadn’t experienced anything like it. They were emotional. A friend of ours had a list of every Mother Superior show she had been to, and she thinks she’s seen about 95% of every show from the earliest days. That’s how long she’s been following us. That kind of fan was really touched. We didn’t know where to begin. We just figured let’s just get together and do this. But when the Metal Blade thing came around, they asked Scott first. Scott said it’s all up to Jim if he wants to go back there or not.”
“I had such a good time and I had nothing but respect for Mother Superior. It’s been a little difficult with the old members… I’m sure they’re happy the music’s getting out again. We didn’t part as the greatest of friends. It’s hard to go to them and say ‘hey guys everything’s great.’ But it wasn’t me trying to form a new band. This kind of happened organically and the response is what’s keeping it going, and more so than anything it’s been the music. We can’t complain about that.”
Their début album Ride was based on the set list of songs played at that party, and somewhat of a Mother Superior best of record. The band who performed then (Wilson, Ian, co-vocalist Pearl Aday, bassist Joey Vera and drummer John Tempesta) became the band who recorded the album, with producer Jay Ruston (Anthrax, Steel Panther) overseeing the recording sessions.
“I know the twelve songs that are on the album is the actual twelve song list that Scott came up with himself for his birthday party. So those are the ones that he came up with off the top of his head, and after he sent the email to myself, Johnny, Joey and Pearl saying these are the songs for the party, a week later he said ‘oh shit, I forgot ‘Rolling Boy Blues.’ I forgot ‘Five Star.’ We kept it at those original twelve. We did “Rolling Boy Blues” as the encore for the New York show. We are open to other ones. We are starting to write new songs as well. The album’s been done for six months now recording wise. We need to get the cover and the release schedule. It takes a little while for the label to get it all together. In that time, we’ve been talking about making another record with some original tunes too. So maybe the next album might be 75% all brand new and a couple that we left off.”
While the twelve songs chosen for the set list that evening were compiled by Ian, Wilson himself talked about songs left off that evening he may have also added.
“The one I was surprised that we didn’t pick was from our very first album (1993’s Right in a Row) called “The Wiggle.” It seemed like one of those rock songs and every time we play it someone would yell ‘The Wiggle!’. We always ended up playing it. It’s a good jam. We were so young. I was in my early 20s and barely had any beer in that time. It was many beers ago!”
Wilson shared how he first met Ian, which he knew was a Mother Superior fan from the early years.
“It was the Viper Room. It was around the Deep album in 1998,” he said, recalling that moment. “I do remember when we played and where the Club Lingerie was on Sunset Boulevard, and at one point it was taken over by John Bush (Armored Saint/ex-Anthrax vocalist) and some of the Armored Saint guys when John was in Anthrax. They sponsored the club. Scott was probably at that show because I remember meeting John Bush. I remember meeting Scott at the KNAC Anniversary show at the Palladium in 1999. It was Skid Row, Rollins Band and Anthrax played. I met Scott backstage.”
Ironically, Wilson shared a story about him nearly becoming a touring mate of Ian’s.
“I heard a rumor. I’ve never confirmed this with Scott before but Henry told me that when we were about to go on our first Rollins Band tour and according to Henry, Scott said ‘what’s Jim doing this summer? We might need a replacement Anthrax guitarist because our guitarist can’t make the tour.’ Henry said we’re going out and doing our first shows. Henry told me that at the time and I was tripping like ‘what?! I could have had the chance to play with Anthrax! Hey Henry – shouldn’t you have asked me first? – just kidding!”
Wilson also nearly got to share the stage with another idol of his, but due to scheduling conflicts, it ended after a few rehearsals. But the fact he got to audition meant a lot to him.
“Another friend of mine was playing with Dave Davies of the Kinks at the same time. Dave Davies was looking for a bass player and my friend asked if I had a good choice for that. I said of course. I went to audition for Dave Davies and I got the gig, and they were supposed to go out a month before the Rollins shows started. I told Dave that I was playing with Henry, and Dave was a big Henry fan. He was super excited to have me in his band. When I got the call from Dave Davies, saying he had to push the tour back to this time. So I told him I was going out with Rollins, so I didn’t get to tour with Dave Davies but was in the band for a minute. I got to rehearse with him a couple of times and play 35 different Kinks songs.”
By Rei Nishimoto