Hot New Band: Motor Sister

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“We are Motor Sister, and much like Motörhead, we play rock’n’roll,” says Scott Ian, introducing his new band from the stage of Brooklyn’s Saint Vitus bar at what is the LA’s quintet’s first public gig. The name might be a new one for the 300 people in attendance but the group’s personnel are assuredly not.

Alongside Anthrax guitarist Scott, rhythm section Joey Vera and John Tempesta have a collective CV boasting stints in Testament, White Zombie, Armored Saint and Fates Warning, while backing vocalist Pearl Aday, Ian’s wife, is a gifted solo artist in her own right. Front and centre on Saint Vitus’s tiny stage is Jim Wilson, now lead guitarist with Sparks and Daniel Lanois, and formerly the frontman with defunct LA hard rockers Mother Superior, in whose honour this supergroup was first convened, at Scott Ian’s bidding, some 15 months ago./o:p

The roots of Motor Sister actually stretch back 15 years, when Anthrax’s guitarist picked up the Rollins Band’s 2000 album Get Some Go Again and realised that the group’s newfound hard rock sound was a consequence of Henry Rollins having recruited Mother Superior as his backing band. Further investigation revealed that the Cream/Jimi Hendrix-influenced LA trio already had four albums of their own, and when Anthrax and the Rollins Band shared the stage at a one-day festival at the Palladium in LA on March 4, 2000, Scott sought out guitarist Jim and pronounced himself a huge fan./o:p

Fast forward to December of 2013, and Pearl is racking her brains to think of a suitable gift for her husband’s 50th birthday. “What if we could do a concert at the house, and resurrect Mother Superior for one night?” asks Scott.

“I figured it’d be like joining Kiss for one night, and getting to play all my favourite Kiss songs with Gene and Paul,” the guitarist says. “Pearl and Joey and John are all big Mother Superior fans too, and so when Jim said he was up for it, they all leapt at the chance to play. I picked my 12 favourite songs by the band, we invited about 25 people over to the house, and we had a fucking blast.”/o:p

That January 4, 2014 show would have been Motor Sister’s first and last show had Metal Blade records not stepped in to enquire whether the group might consider committing their 12 Mother Superior covers to tape: the resulting album, Ride, recorded in just two days with producer Jay Ruston, is a classy yet raw and dirty rock’n’roll record that will appeal to fans of Zeppelin, Thin Lizzy or rock’n’roll revivalists Rival Sons and Black Stone Cherry. Performed in its entirety in front of friends, fans and family at Saint Vitus, it sounds incredible.

“We were coming to New York anyway to do promo and there’s nothing more boring to me than sitting around talking about my record. I’d rather just play a fucking show and let people see it,” says Scott over a delicious Italian dinner in Greenwich Village restaurant Babbo the following evening. “It’s like Christmas for us to play a gig, and everyone could see just how much this means to us. I was just beating the fuck out of my guitar and we had the best night. For a first gig, I thought we did pretty good.”/o:p

With Scott in the midst of making Anthrax’s 11th studio album, and his bandmates also committed to their various musical endeavours, Motor Sister’s time together is limited, and precious, the guitarist admits. But by the time you read this, the quintet will have played shows in LA and San Francisco, and Scott insists there is much more to come from the band.

“We all want to take this as far as we can,” he states. “And hopefully that’ll include some European festival shows… if promoters will have us. Someone will pay us to play these songs that we always play for fun? That’s just fucking awesome!”

“After trying so hard to make it with Mother Superior, it’s amazing that these songs are getting another lease of life,” smiles Jim Wilson. “We all believe in these songs, and this band, and we’re so excited about the world finally catching up.”

RIDE IS OUT NOW VIA METAL BLADE/o:p