Mother Superior woulda been the absolute coolest band in my high school: three dudes, all knife-sharp on their chosen instruments, laying down a brutal version of a post-Cream/GFR bloozoid guitar boogie. They woulda been hosting bong-a-thons in the basement of my friends homes when their folks were away; heroes to one and all, theyd have been the subject of every reverential cafeteria aside, they woulda ruled that waterbed on the floor, tapestries hangin from the wall. They got that Seconal stomp down pat, they sound like a prelude to a Quaalude.
Hanging out at Mother Superiors rehearsal room brings it all back home. The trio is rehearsing for a show at the Whisky, and their set is basically a showcase rundown of their new disc, Deep, which was produced by heaviness aficionado Henry Rollins. Deep is more of the same strange brew that ripped my ears off last year when I first encountered these guys: churning, roiling, picture-perfect takes on what many consider rocks true golden age, the early 70s. "We get that all the time," says guitarist Jim Wilson. "Hey, you guys are so much like Sabbath or Purple its unreal." "Someone told me we were just like Robin Trower," says drummer and die-hard Kiss lunatic Jason Mackenroth. "Ive got a ton of records in my collection, but no Trower. Maybe I oughta get some." This brings mild chuckles from his bandmates, the kind of insider laughter that comes from years of being tight musically and personally. Mother Superior started life as a poppy, Beatles-inspired outfit back in their native Delaware, but upon arriving in L.A. and pitching up under their current title four years ago, theyve since grown massive musical testicles, and are all the better for it. The band clamped on to a classic hard-rock, Brit approach like a pit bull on a postman an hour with Mother S. is like a textbook romp through the pantheon of Angloid strutters and their Nixon-era American counterparts. Youll hear snatches of Rare Earth and Mark Farner in the Detroit-friendly vocals, musical tidbits from Vanilla Fudge, Aerosmith, "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," Humble Pie and every pre-Pistols London ax trick in the book. Sure, weve seen Lenny Kravitz, the Black Crowes and God knows how many others pillage the temple of 71 hard-and-heavy, dress it up in faux-Gypsy patchouli-drenched finery and make like its hip to be hippie-dippie. But Mother Superior seem like the kind of gents whod no sooner plonk down two yards for a velvet jacket and slacks on Melrose than theyd throw their hands in the air at a drum n bass orgy. These are just three dudes playing their cherished version of the old-school white-boy blues, and doing it very well. The bands approach hasnt won them a lot of support from the besuited weasels who make or break careers in L.A. "Weve been approached here and there by the labels, but we dont take them seriously," says Marcus Blake, the bands bassist and supplier of Jack Brucelike high harmonies. "One week, its Guitars are out, then were on the cutting edge of guitars coming back. I cant even keep track of it anymore." Mother Superior has made a name for itself without much support or visibility. The bands debut disc, Kaleidoscope, sold out its initial pressing in stores all over the country. One thing in the bands favor is that guitarist Wilson does his day-toiling at Arons Records and knows the indie ins and outs like the back of his hand, experience that enabled him to score his band national distribution. While the album did best right here in L.A., "It sells a lot in Reno, Philly, couldnt tell you why," he says with a grin. "Well just keep churning them out on our own. Why wait for other people to help you when all they do is slow you down?" "Well do 20 records and then retire, then reunite," says Blake, obviously a student of rock history. "Then the three solo discs, like Kiss." The mind boggles. But more intriguing is the trios relationship with Henry Rollins, whose production of Deep (along with master engineer Brian Kehew) is modern enough to make the band unretro but sufficiently keen-eared to capture the dynamics of the 70s power trio. So enamored of Mother Superiors superior rock skills was the singer that hes hired them to back him up on an upcoming solo disc. His main request? "He wants us to come up with shit thats totally in the Thin Lizzy groove," says Wilson. "So weve been working with him on that." Jeez, Mother Superior attempting to simulate another legendary guitar act from the early 70s? Easy as (Humble) pie.
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