STONED IN SPACE: Cosmically minded stoner metalheads Mothership have a new LP and a persistent hope for humanity. Photo by Robbie Quinn.
In 1969, Dr. J. Allen Hynek delivered an address titled Twenty-one Years of UFO Reports to the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In it, he developed the language that is still in use today to describe sightings of the unexplained. “I divide the close encounter cases,” Hynek wrote, “into three subdivisions: the close encounter, with little detail; the close encounter with physical effects; and the close encounter in which ‘humanoids’ or occupants are reported.” The latter case is what we now know of as a close encounter of “the third kind.”
These days Twenty-one Years of UFO Reports is a fairly obscure document, remembered only by ride-or-die believers like Fox Mulder, overshadowed by films like Fire in the Sky and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. But for Texas metal band Mothership, it’s a document which retains an almost spiritual power.
“If there is an intelligence out there that is beyond ours, then I hope they come soon,” says bassist-singer Kyle Juett. “We are in some dark days.”
High Strangeness, the band’s upcoming third album (one of the most relevant titles for an album released in 2017 possible) draws its name from a system of rating UFO encounters that Dr. Hynek created.
“They couldn’t explain why these people were feeling a certain way,” Juett says. “They couldn’t explain why these people believed they were abducted by aliens. And that’s kind of the basis of the album. High Strangeness is unexplained. It kind of comes out of nowhere.”
The album’s first single, “Crown of Lies,” premiered on Loudwire in late January and is heavy on the chug-chugs. For the first 2½ minutes the song recalls the snarling melodicism of ’90s grunge, like Alice in Chains, before shifting suddenly. Mothership sound at times like Iron Maiden in an escape pod, bursting out of confinement into an empty and forbidding place. The band (fittingly) describe themselves as “supersonic intergalactic heavy rock.”
Mothership comes to The Ritz on March 12, a few days before their new LP’s release. Also on the bill: Slow Season, stoner metal locals Kook, and Fresno-based Beastmaker, whose love for obscure horror is truly something to behold. Oh, and speaking of high strangeness, the show is sponsored by local pot pharmacy Tru Pharms. When asked about the relation of metal and weed cultures, Juett is nonchalant.
“Some people use a little bit of marijuana to get in the zone, to get a little more creative, maybe to ease some pain they have, or just to get a little far out at a rock & roll show,” he says. “I definitely think getting behind the wheel after two bottles of booze is a lot more harmful than sitting at home or at a show and puffing a bit.”
Throughout the course of our conversation, Juett is adamant about the power of rock music to bring people together.
“The main message [of Mothership] is coming together and bringing back good rock & roll, what that movement was in the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s,” he says. “It wasn’t rocket science. It was a gathering of people. It was therapeutic. That’s what we’re trying to get back to.
“It goes a lot deeper than just a bunch of burnouts trying to hook up and hang out,” he continues. “In all honesty, right now I hope that there is something out there that can come and save us. I feel like we are a lot of lost and wandering souls, dividing from one another. There really is a loss of unity.”
As he goes on, I began to get a sense of how important the band’s name is to their whole identity, and to this heavy, transcendental trip the tour brings.
“We use our band as a platform to bring people together,” Juett says, a few minutes before the transmission ends. “We aim to be very primitive in the fact that you can be safe and feel at home when you’re on board with us. We like for people to come out and take a trip on the ship and just enjoy themselves.”
Mar 12, 6pm, $10
The Ritz, San Jose