Motor Sister – Time to Get OffThursday, 12th May 2022
Ardent heavy music followers are very familiar with the players involved in this act Motor Sister. Rhythm guitarist Scott Ian, bassist Joey Vera, and drummer John Tempesta carved out their niche in acts like Anthrax, Armored Saint, White Zombie, and The Cult. Add in guitarist/vocalist Jim Wilson of Mother Superior and Scott’s wife Pearl Aday as another singer and you have the makings of a strong musical foundation. Get Off is the second album from Motor Sister – taking the music they grew up and appreciated from a variety of 70’s hard rock/punk influences and pushing out material that is authentic, focused, and hard hitting.
We reached out to Scott and Pearl to discuss more about these friends working together in Motor Sister. You’ll learn more about the organic process of developing this material, views on the burgeoning live festival and touring scene stateside, advice on live performances from Pearl’s dad Meatloaf that she applies to her craft today, favorite 70’s albums/bands, as well as updates on what to expect from Anthrax and Motor Sister on the touring front.
Dead Rhetoric: Get Off as the second Motor Sister album feels like a fresh start for the group – especially in terms of the songwriting. How did you see this set of material developing, and what are your thoughts on this new chapter of the band compared to the debut Ride record from 2015?
Pearl Aday: Well, this record is all original music, aside from the last track “Rolling Boy Blues” which is another Mother Superior song. The differences… I mean how do you answer that? (laughs).
Scott Ian: My honest answer is, I don’t think about anything like the question that you just asked me (laughs). I don’t think about it, it’s not something that… Motor Sister is just this thing that we have with three of our friends, we do it when we get to do it because it’s hard to get the five of us together in a room at the same time. It’s easier to get to go out to dinner with a couple of us – but with the five of us to work on music together in a room is tough because of our individual schedules. It’s this rare thing that happens once in a while.
Aday: And when we do get to get together, it’s not this horribly deep, concerted, detailed effort to get things across.
Ian: There’s no deep thoughts. We just hang out.
Aday: Yeah. And what comes out, it just happens. The word I keep saying is, it’s just organic. We don’t sit down and talk in depth about what the next line is going to sound like, we get together in a room and start playing, working on the ideas and what Jim has already presented to us, and then just work it out. It’s really just easy and it just happens, you know? There isn’t really a discussion, it’s just where we decide to go. There is no trying, just do. We are very Yoda about it.
Dead Rhetoric: So, when you get together, it’s very intuitive with Jim’s ideas and you guys’ jam on and spring off of? Or does he come in with fully prepared material?
Aday: He had the bulk of the ideas and sends them to us, we hear them, go into a rehearsal room together and play them. If things need to be tweaked or changed, or if somebody has some added flavor, that’s what happens. Whatever serves the music best, we do. There is no in-depth discussion with decisions to be made, it’s just like I am going to play it that way – no, what about this? Because that is awesome. There aren’t any meetings about this.
Dead Rhetoric: Considering the decades-long friendships that have developed with the band, does it make the process easier to have these specific elements and influences come together to make a sound with Motor Sister that may be throwback in nature, but still sound contemporary?
Ian: Well, 90% of the music is Jim. The four of us all listen to the same music as Jim, and we are all pretty much around the same age and all grew up listening to the same influences.
Aday: It’s one of the reasons why we are all friends. We all gravitated towards the same kinds of music.
Ian: The fact that me, Joey, and John have known each other since probably around 1984-85 helps. We literally come from the same place – even though Joey is from LA. I would say so, sure. We are all really good friends, so that certainly helps.
Dead Rhetoric: What’s it like to capture these songs in a live, off the floor manner in the studio – as this must differ from your other work when you break things down to build it back up? Do you enjoy the organic, spontaneous things that may develop in this process?
Ian: You have thought about this way more than we do! (laughs). I don’t even understand your question. For real. We just get in and write rock songs. It’s no different for me than how we work within Anthrax. Charlie comes up with the bulk of the material, and me, him, and Frankie get in there and play it until it’s done. It’s like putting a cake in the oven, and then a few hours later it’s ready. I don’t even know how to answer that. We just get in the room, there are ideas, and you play – and when you are happy with it, the song is done. That’s the most I think about songwriting, since the first day I ever tried to write a song. Do I like the song, is it fun to play? Yes.
Aday: We play the (songs) together until they feel right.
Ian: I don’t know what it means to break it down and build it back up. Maybe we have been doing things wrong all these years (laughs).
Dead Rhetoric: The vocal dynamic between Jim and Pearl is another additional highlight to the work of Motor Sister. How are things worked out regarding the parts, is it positioning people in the best possible spots based on their range and abilities, or is a trial-and-error process worked through to get to the final results?
Aday: Again, it’s what just really works best. Jim and I love singing together. We don’t really compete for parts, or nobody is really puffing their chests up. What works best for the song, we will sing things together or sometimes Jim will say, I should sing that line, and I’ll say I want to hear him sing it. It’s really- there’s not a lot of planning out. There is no blueprint that we sit out and draw out beforehand. It is what it is, the songs tell you what (they) need. I will tell you that we are huge fans of vocal harmonies – so whenever we can sing a vocal harmony, we are going to sing it. In terms of egos or deciding who gets what line, it really isn’t like that at all. It’s just what makes sense for the song – we are all in service to the song, not to serve ourselves. What makes things rock best.
Dead Rhetoric: What fuels your passion for playing and performing this deep into your career? And has your definition of success changed from your early days as a musician to current times?
Ian: Certainly not for me, no. I think a really long time ago, we never sat down and had a discussion of are we really doing this for fun or for money? You just start a band, in my case, we played the music that we loved, that put a smile on our faces and that we wanted to bang our heads to. That’s never changed, whether it’s Anthrax, Motor Sister, or any of the other things I’ve been involved with over the years. It puts a smile on my face, I’m able to play my guitar with a group of people that I really enjoy being around. That’s the only reason I’ve ever played music – because it makes me happy. That’s never changed. I suppose if I really thought about it, I would have gone into a different genre.
I had no choice though. No other kind of music really moved me. I play hard rock and heavy metal, and that’s what was in my heart. So, I’ve only ever really done this for one reason, to play my guitar with a bunch of other people that I really like.
Dead Rhetoric: Where do you see the state of rock and metal as an industry currently? Do you believe there is proper support and development to keep things alive and thriving not just for veteran musicians, but newer, up and coming acts?
Ian: That’s a hard question to answer because I really have no idea how things work these days. Record labels were so different when we came up in the 80’s going into the 90’s. The labels would sign bands to five album record deals because it would take that much time to develop. I can only go by with Motor Sister; we are lucky that we have fans at Metal Blade who are as nerdy about Jim as we are and just want the world to hear this music. We’ve got a label that can get vinyl made and do all the things that a label is supposed to do.
I see my son’s band; they have a record that’s coming out and they are pretty much doing it all themselves. It will be up on all the streaming platforms, and they are talking about getting physical product made. They are doing it without a bank – which to me if we could have done that in the 80’s I would have preferred to have done it that way, because that’s all a label really is, you are just borrowing money from a bank to get your product in the stores. And you don’t necessarily need to do that anymore, and you aren’t beholden to owe people money at the end of the day.
I know on the touring end of things there are a lot of opportunities for rock and metal. That seems better than it has ever been. There’s a whole string of US festivals now which we didn’t have in the 80’s and 90’s, there were only European festivals. It seems like on the live front, there are more opportunities than ever – at least from my narrow radar of what’s going on in the music business.
Dead Rhetoric: Are there plans to do special shows or festival appearances whenever possible – given the musicians at play and your schedules with other bands?
Aday: Yeah. Whenever we can, we will. It’s hard to get everyone together, because everyone has their other things going on. Which does make it special when we are able to play together. I guess you could call it rare.
Ian: We have three shows coming up in the next two weeks. Two here in LA, and a festival Welcome to Rockville in Florida on the 22nd.
Aday: But there are plans to do things beyond that in the fall/winter, as well as next year.
Dead Rhetoric: And how do you view the energy and sound of Motor Sister live compared to what we experience on these albums?
Ian: Even better, because you get to actually see us performing the material. Instead of just hearing it.
Aday: If you think it’s awesome on the record, it’s awesomer when we are live! Awesomer…(laughs).
Dead Rhetoric: When you think back to your early years discovering hard rock in the 1970’s, what were the pinnacle albums that helped shape your outlook as a musician, guitar player, and songwriter that still resonate well with you today?
Ian: Oh man. The ones that pop out. Kiss – Alive. The Who – Quadrophenia and Tommy. Cat Scratch Fever from Ted Nugent. If You Want Blood, Powerage, and Highway to Hell from AC/DC. Let There Be Rock. Rocket to Russia and the Ramones first album. Heaven Tonight and In Color from Cheap Trick. I could go on all day. The first five Black Sabbath albums. Free, Bad Company. Judas Priest came a little later – I saw them in 1979 for the first time. All that other stuff was more as a kid learning. In 1979-80 when Priest, Maiden and Motörhead came into my life, I jumped up to the next level. I forgot to mention, all Thin Lizzy.
Dead Rhetoric: And Pearl, did you also share a love for 70’s music – especially given your dad being Meatloaf?
Aday: Absolutely. I grew up listening to everything that Scott just said. I loved it too. With the addition of a lot of soul music, Janis Joplin, Meatloaf. It’s a major part of my life. Allman Brothers I’d have to put in there. Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Ian: I was way into the Street Survivors album in 1977-78, then I went back and got the earlier stuff.
Dead Rhetoric: What special memories or advice did Meatloaf impart on you through your musical journey?
Aday: Advice. There are two things that always stand out and I always refer to. Dad always said to me, I sang with him for nine years as a part of his band. Starting when I was eighteen years old, I had to audition. He taught me that it’s a privilege to be on stage, it’s not your right. You owe your audience a 1000% of yourself every single time you step on the stage. It’s a privilege. Without an audience, you don’t have a show. People spend their hard-earned time and money to come out and see you, so you better fucking give them everything you have. It doesn’t matter if it’s five people in the audience or five million. Always, every time you give 1000%. I think that’s really important.
And you don’t show up late. And you don’t show up on stage hammered. And you don’t fuck around with it. What else are we doing here? You know what I mean? Everyone is here for the show – so do your job. Give them a show. Have fun while you are doing it, of course. This is not only about you. You are here for everyone that is coming to see you. That is a major privilege. To have people interested and wanting to see you, giving you admiration, support, and love. That’s the most important thing, so you better be on your game. Do a good job for them.
Dead Rhetoric: What is left on your personal bucket list to accomplish – do you have any specific goals or things you want to achieve, places you’d like to go – either on the musical front or otherwise?
Ian: I would love to get to play a lot of live shows with Motor Sister. It would be a dream to get to take this around the world, at least once for people to enjoy this music the way that we do. That would certainly be a bucket list thing, because we’ve only ever played in LA, one show in San Francisco, and Brooklyn. It would be cool to show this off in other places.
Aday: And that’s what we are working towards.
Dead Rhetoric: What’s on the agenda regarding Motor Sister, Anthrax, or any other projects/bands during the next year or so?
Ian: Working (laughs). Working as much as we can. Hopefully things keep moving forward in a positive direction as far as the pandemic is concerned. We want to go back to work, as close to pre-pandemic normality’s as far as live shows go. I see a lot of my friends bands out there touring right now. We start at the end of July with Anthrax; we have done one-off shows. I see Lamb of God is out there, and they’ve had a revolving door of people filling in for Randy or John Campbell, and now they are whole again. I guess you just adapt and keep moving forward. Hopefully things will change in a year or two, where we won’t have to concern ourselves with this as much anymore.
You do what you can. With Anthrax we will do a North American run, and a European run in the fall. We are hoping to tour some with Motor Sister after that. Fingers crossed that things will happen.