Better Know an Artist (Vol 26): Mean Motor Scooter

In 2015, power trio Mean Motor Scooter dropped a 5 track self-titled EP, filled with frenetic garage rock. They thrive on their authentic vintage indie rock sound, with influences from stoner rock to surf rock to punk rock. Basically, they just rock, and then keep rocking. Sammy Kidd, Joe Tacke and Jeff Friedman will probably be rocking the fine citizens of Fort Worth’s music scene’s socks off for years to come. They’ve got a new single coming out soon, and maybe we’ll keep on the lookout for a full length after that. There’s definitely more to see here. Today, though, the guys sat down to answer the all important questions

Me: For starters, tell us a little about yourself. How did you first get into music? And when did you know this is what you want to do for a living (money be damned)?

SK: I knew from age 6 that I wanted to be an artist. My drawings were often very crude or considered violent and raised concerns with my teachers. I was always very destructive as a child. I got a lot of pleasure out of breaking things, watching things burn or blow up. In my later years, around 12-15, a group of friends and I would vandalize things and skateboard. That was basically what we did with 90% of our free time when we weren’t in school. When we actually were in school, we spent all of that time drawing comic book characters or horrific portrayals of gruesome blood, guts, vomit and sometimes even pornographic scenes. The day I discovered Nirvana’s concert footage of Kurt Cobain smashing his equipment and screaming into th emic a catchy song about being the angry youth of America, I immediately though to myself “This is what I want to do with my life.” I was about 13 or 14 years old. I showed Chase (Jeff Friedman), who had been my best friend since the 5th grade. I watched him stare in awe at the “You Know You’re Right” fan video of a compilation of Nirvana gigs. His eyes lit up and I knew we both understood the same thing: this was for us… and we needed to start a band immediately.

JF: I really didn’t have as much appreciation for music until after I met Sammy in 5th grade. Our friendship began with a common interest in art. Then he showed me that video. That’s where it started, I guess. I’ve enjoyed playing drums for various other groups, some more than others. Through those experiences, I learned many things about the nature of music. I try to think of the music people create as art and not so much as a business, because that’s essentially what it is.

JT: I guess I always knew that this is what I wanted to do. I don’t necessarily come from a very musically inclined family, but I come from a very musically interested family, if that makes sense. Growing up, there was always music on in the house. We listened to everything from classic rock to top 40 to classic country, and everything in between. I picked up my first bass at 14 or 15 and never looked back. After playing in a few different bands in college and opening up for a few small touring bands, I realized this is what I wanted to do, and it was actually possible to do it. But, I’m also a realist and practical, probably to a fault, so I also started learning the art/wizardry of audio engineering about 7 or 8 years ago, just to ensure I always have a way to stay connected to making music.

Me: How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t heard it before?

SK: To those who haven’t heard us yet, I would say that the best way to describe the sound by genre is Surf Punk/Garage Rock. We’ve been compared to bands like FIDLAR, Ty Segall, Eagles of Death Metal, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, etc, but it’s basically fast catchy tunes with lots of nasty vocals and screaming. It goes back and forth from Stoner Pop to gritty vintage rock.

JF: Very energetic.

JT: I think Sammy hit the nail on the head, except that I would say he’s probably selling himself a little short. He’s got a pretty amazing voice that really shines through on a lot of tunes. There’s plenty of grittiness to be sure, but he can belt them out with the best of them.

Me: Who are some of your biggest musical influences, and why?

SK: I’d say Nirvana, William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Joy Division, the Germs, Jesus Lizard, Metz, AFI and Freddie Murcury. I could go on.

JF: Dale Crover from the Melvins

JT: My influences are constantly changing depending on what I’m doing at the time, but I guess that’s the nature of being an audio engineer. If I had to pick some in general though, I’d say Jack White, Chris Walla, and Josh Homme. I’m a tone junkie and they definitely speak to me on that level.

Me: Which of your songs means the most ot you, and if you don’t mind me asking, why?

SK: It’s hard for me to say which of my songs mean more to me than others. I’ve written so many songs over the years and only 10% of those have made it on a recording in general and another fraction of those songs made it onto our albums. But I will say that “Son, I’m an Alien” does have a lot of sentimental value and deep meaning for me. I wrote it about my father, shortly after he passed away, through the eyes of my younger brother. It’s a very personal song.

Me: If you could open for any act, dead or alive, who would it be, and why?

SK: Nirvana, because they motivated me to make a career out of smashing things and making noise and Ty Segall because I believe he is the best living songwriter today.

JT: It’s probably way too obvious of a choice, but I would have loved to have opened up for Led Zeppelin in like ’72 when they were touring IV. I imagine that was a pretty wild time.

Me: Any favorite new musical acts, local or otherwise?

SK: I really enjoy the Heavy Baby Sea Slugs, but also Black James Franco, Fungi Girls, Chingalotus, Roar Shack, and the Longshots, as far as local bands go. That list could go on for far too long. For new bands, or new to me anyway, I’d say METZ are amazing. The Growlers, Shannon & the Clams are both great bands. We recently got to play a show with Leopold and his Fiction which was tits, and a dream come true in a small way because I was listening to them a good deal when writing the songs for Mean Motor Scooter in the beginning.

JF: Modern Convenience from Memphis, TN

JT: As far as local bands go, I also love Chingalotus. They’re my favorite band banging around Fort Worth right now. I’m also a big fan of the Phantom Sensation and I Happy Am. They’re not exactly new, but I’m also really digging Archie Powell and the Exports out of Chicago right now.

Me: What’s your “stranded on an island” record?

SK: No possible way I could answer that without wanting to change my answer many, many times….But, I can’t seem to stop listening to Melted by Ty Segall. I guess you could say it’s my go-to record.

JF: the Cramps Bad Music for Bad People

JT: I’m with Sammy on this one. There is now way I could pick just one. I guess, gun-to-my-head, I would pick Blind Melon’s self-titled album, but My Morning Jacket’s Evil Urges and FIDLAR’s self-titled album would both be strong contenders.

Me: Moving onto the home front, what are your favorite (and least favorite) things about the DFW music scene?

SK: My favorite thing about the DFW music scene is also my least favorite thing about the scene: it has a ton of diversity in music and genre. That’s great, but because of that, it’s lacking any one strong underground scene that is a movement of its own. It’s being pulled in too many different directions for it to develop a one of a kind scene. Instead, you get like-minded musicians separating each other because of all the sub-genre BS. It’s all noise…. Why can’t we all just get more organized and work together?

JF: (Favorite) A lot of DFW bands work hard to promote their work and it shows. Their overall presence both online and onstage is always changing, always evolving. We are constantly learning from them whether they know it or not.
(Least Favorite) There’s a lot of “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine” attitude that is constantly floating around between a few bands which is a real shame. I guess it’s some sort of sense of entitlement or an ego-thing, which we avoid all together because it can be a real downer, ya know?

JT: I actually really relish the diversity of the scene. I love that I can go watch someone like Vincent Neil Emerson at the Chat Room and then walk down the street to the Boiled Owl and see a band like Animal Spirit or ours. Plus, you can reserve the venues and that scenario still makes sense. But like Sammy said, to some extent, that is a hurdle. It’s really hard to stand out in a scene so big and spread out. I mean, it’s not like it’s LA or anything, but it does feel hard to get noticed sometimes. I think we could do a better job locally of incubating and cultivating talent.

Me: Favorite DFW venue to play (or see a show). Why?

SK: Grotto or Lola’s It’s hard to choose. They both have their pros and cons. But they are definitely my two favorite clubs in Fort Worth.

JT: I loved getting to play at Trees a few years ago with a different band. It’s the biggest stage I’ve ever played on and the sound was great. As far as day in and day out as a working musician though, it’s the Grotto. That place has treated us so well over the past year of Mean Motor Scooter. It’s more or less our home base of operations now. The staff is awesome, the sound is great and the crowd is always fun.

Me: Any favorite local acts people should be looking out for?

SK: I’ve already mentioned a few great local bands, but here’s a shout out to some hard working local talent: Animal Spirit, Dead Words, Buzzkills, Moon Grave, Jack Thunder and the Road Soda, Chingalotus, Royal Savages, Mountain Kid, Satellite Dream, Barron Brothers, Not Half Bad and many, many others.

JF: Satellite Dream. Those guys play great music.

JT: Sammy’s list covers it pretty well, but I’d also add: Bad Blonde, Slumberbuzz, Picnic, Lightning, Henry the Archer, VNE and the Old Souls, Fibs, Red Admirals, and pretty much anything Ben Napier is associated with.

Me: And for shits and giggle, what’s a fun fact that most people don’t know about you?

SK: I’ve only had one real job. It was at a car wash and only lasted nine months.

JF: My grandfather, Bayard H Friedman, was the mayor of Fort Worth from 1963-1965. He greeted Kennedy when he came to town and helped send him off to Dallas. My grandmother’s words after they left were: “I hope they behave themselves in Dallas”.

JT: I’m originally from Montana and speak fluent Russian.

Much thanks to the boys from Mean Motor Scooter. Keep an eye out for them. You can catch their single release party for “Naked Brunch”/”Such a Seducer”, April 30, at the Grotto, with Picnic, Lightning; Henry the Archer; and Phantom Sensation. If you miss that, they’re probably playing a few shows next week too. These guys are everywhere. Check out 2015’s Mean Motor Scooter EP below.



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