Jim Wilson talks about new group called Motor Sister

Jim Wilson has a career in the music business spanning almost 20 years. Jim has played guitar for such groups as The Rollins Band, Daniel Lanois and was a founding member of the blues rock band Mother Superior. Wilson’s latest project is a re-visioning of his group Mother Superior named “Motor Sister”. The group which also includes Scott Ian, Pearl Aday, John Tempesta and Joey Vera came together after a one off performance at the Anthrax guitarist’s birthday party. Together Motor Sister have reworked twelve songs from Mother Superiors original catalog and Media Mikes recently spoke with Jim about how everything came together and what it was like revisiting some of the material on “Ride”.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us a little more info on how this group came together?
Jim Wilson: My band Mother Superior was one that Scott and Pearl would always come out to watch when we were playing in the Los Angeles area. I even remember seeing them at a show in Denver. We became friends as time went on and I eventually ended up working with both Scott and Pearl on Pearl’s album. We have a pretty solid history of playing together. I had also worked with Joey Vera in the past on Mother Superior songs as well so we all certainly were connected to one another. Pearl was throwing a party for Scott and she wanted to have me by and do some Mother Superior songs with Scott. Joey also ended up playing that night as did John Tempesta who I knew of but that was about it. Scott picked out the songs for the night and I looked them over and things surprisingly came back pretty easily. This was supposed to be a onetime thing. We never thought that the band would sound so great and be so tight. It was a really great combination that at the end of the night we all wanted to do it again some time. A few days later I found out that Neil Zlozower was at the party and mentioned the show to a friend of his at Metal Blade Records. Next thing we know they were asking us to make a record. Things have just worked so well. I am really lucky and fortunate to be able to play with these guys.

AL: What was it like going back and reworking these songs?
JW: There were a lot of memories that came back from the early years of Mother Superior. We were always on a tight budget when we made those records so to have them still sound good really means something. I do wish some of that earlier production was a bit better but at that time being independent was pretty cool. There was a scene for bands that had a sound that was a bit out of the normal commercial rock sound. The 12 songs on the record are what we played at Scott’s party and were picked by him. That was certainly ok by me as I don’t think I could have chosen only 12. Each of the songs has its own vibe which I really like. We changed some of the original arrangements around but nothing major. John is a double bass master so it was fun to add in some of that. Everyone did what they do and it was a lot of fun. This would have been something entirely different if I had decided to put a new version of Mother Superior together with different people. Everyone in Motor Sister is fans of the original music/band and we are all friends which makes it a lot of fun. This group has an energy that is very infectious.

AL: How did having Jay Ruston produce the album come about?
JW: If you go back through the Mother Superior catalog Jay Ruston actually mixed and mastered some things for us. He actually did the original version of ‘This Song Reminds Me of You” and a couple others that appear on “Ride”. We all have known Jay for awhile. I am pretty sure I was the one who introduced Jay to Joey Vera and one of the NAMM conventions which brought Jay into knowing the Anthrax guys. Pearl and I also worked with Jay on her album. It’s just this weird circle of friends.

AL: What type of long term plans does the band have?
JW: We recently played a show in NY and we have one coming up in San Francisco. After that we all sort of go back to our other projects. It won’t be till about June that we all have time to do more with Motor Sister. There are talks of doing a major US tour though with this band. We want to hit all of the major cities. Scott also has this vision of doing 4 or 5 shows in Michigan being that area has such a history with rock music. I don’t know if fans would get the full vibe of our show in a large festival setting as I see us more in a hot sweaty club packed with 300 plus people would be just great! There have also been talks of signing on with one of the summer package shows but we are still in the planning stages for that.

AL: Aside from Motor Sister what other plans/projects do you have in the works?
JW: I will be going out with producer Daniel Lanois as part of his band. I have been working with him for over 10 years now. We get to play some really great places. Daniel had a new album come out in October for which we toured the states in November. In May we will be heading to Europe for a 6 week tour which will be a lot of fun. I am also working on my second solo record. My solo stuff is a little bit darker and a touch more funky.

CD Review: Motor Sister “Ride”

Motor Sister
“Ride”
Metal Blade
Produced by: Jay Ruston
Tracks: 12

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

“Ride” is the debut offering from the newly formed rock group Motor Sister. The band which consists of Pearl Aday, Scott Ian, Jim Wilson, John Tempesta and Joey Vera came together after a one off performance by 90’s rock band Mother Superior for guitarist Scott Ian’s birthday party. All parties involved were huge fans of the original band and are now together breathing new life into some of the member’s favorite Mother Superior tracks. Veteran producer Jay Ruston grabbed the reigns acting as the icing on the cake doing what he does best. Coincidently Ruston’s r relationship with Mother Superior goes back to some of the bands earliest recordings which only adds to the story of this unique group.

Though there is no new material contained on “Ride”, the new versions of songs like “Beg Barrow Steal” and “Fork in the Road” blast our your speakers. While more subtle rock tracks like “Head Hang Low” and “Devil” provide an even mix to the albums straight forward rock and roll approach. “Ride” does a great job of showcasing the diversity of Mother Superiors catalog with new enthusiasm that transfers seamlessly to the listener. “Ride” is not just for rock fans as there is certainly something for everyone on this album

Track Listing:
A-Hole
This Song Reminds Me of You
Beg Barrow Steal
Fool Around
Get That Girl
Head Hanging Low
Fork in the Road
Little Motor Sister
Pretty in the Morning
Whore
Doghouse
Devil Wind

Edward James Olmos talks about new film “Go For Sisters”

Edward James Olmos needs no introduction but I’ll give you one anyway. Born in Los Angeles as a young man he dreamed of being a professional baseball player. However, as he got older he discovered rock and roll and the Dodgers lost an outfielder! As his musical career progressed he was encouraged to give acting a try. He found work with small roles in both film and television. In 1979 he earned a Tony Award nomination for his performance as El Pachuco in Luis Valdez’ play “Zoot Suit,” and reprised the role in the 1981 film version. Roles in films like “Bladerunner” and television programs like “Hill Street Blues” introduced him to new fans and in 1984 he began a seven year fun as Lt. Martin Castillo in the trendsetting show “Miami Vice.” Twice nominated for an Emmy Award for his work, Olmos was the coolest guy on television with the mustache to back it up!

In 1988 he became only the 2nd Hispanic actor to be nominated for the Best Actor Academy Award when he was nominated for his role as real life educator Jaime Escalante in the film “Stand and Deliver.” He went on to star in such films as “Selena,” “Talent for the Game” (one of my favorites) and “American Me,” which he also directed. A second generation of fans embraced him as Commander Adama in the rebooted “Battlestar Galactica” mini-series, television series and films. Earlier this year he starred opposite Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg in the hit film “2 Guns.” He will next be featured as ex-cop Freddy Suarez in the new John Sayles drama “Go For Sisters.”

I had actually been scheduled to speak with Mr. Olmos last year during an appearance in Kansas City. When we met I referred to him as “El Pachuco,” which drew a hearty laugh. Unfortunately a change in his travel schedule put our talk on hold so I was thrilled to speak with him this week about “Go For Sisters,” telling a good story and playing baseball on screen.

Edward James Olmos: Hello Michael.
Mike Smith: Hello, El Pachuco! How are you, sir?
EJO: (laughs loudly) I’m doing pretty good. How are you?
MS: Just fine. I’ve been waiting over a year to talk to you.
EJO: Here we are finally on the telephone. I’m ready!

MS: Give us an introduction to Freddy Suarez and your new film “Go For Sisters.”
EJO: “Go For Sisters” is a film written and directed by John Sayles, and it’s probably one of his best films…it’s up there with “Lone Star” and “Passion Fish.” He has created a wonderful, complex character study about two women in need of help. That help comes in the form of a disgraced L.A. police detective who got caught up in the corruption around him and had to pay the price. He’s forced to retire without a pension. He’s also suffering from a tremendous case of macular degeneration, which is an eye disease. So he not only has to deal with his feelings of self-esteem and self-respect but he has to now deal with his physical inabilities. He’s now a shell of himself. A blind shell. But he takes on a last job in the hopes of gaining back some self-esteem. He’s also hoping to make enough money to pay his taxes so he doesn’t lose his house.

MS: What attracted you to the project?
EJO: (laughs) The story I just told you! It was so well written…I couldn’t believe it. John had actually called me and asked me to produce the film. I’ve known John for over thirty years but I’d never worked with him. I told him it would be my honor and asked him to send me the script. I read the script and I was like, “wow.” It was so original. He asked me if I liked Freddy Suarez and I told him I loved him. “Would you play him?” “Of course I would.” So that’s how the whole thing started.

MS: As a director yourself, when you’re on set with someone like John Sayles or Ridley Scott or Michael Mann, do you spend your time when you’re not performing studying their techniques…seeing how they run a set?
EJO: When I’m on a set, moment to moment, my first priority is to build my character to help tell the story…be it theater, a motion picture or television. It’s important to pay attention to the story. But we’re all story tellers. All of us. From the grips to the lighting people to the director…the producers…the actors…we’re all story tellers. We’re all there to tell a story. When I’m acting I’m there for one reason and one reason only. To tell a story. And the story of “Go For Sisters” is one of the most original pieces of work I’ve done in a long time.

MS: You were in the big budget film “2 Guns” earlier this year and now you’re in “Go For Sisters,” which is a much smaller independent project. Do you have a preference when you choose a film project?
EJO: Not really. Again, it begins with the story. If the story is worth telling then I’m interested.

MS: Since we both love baseball, here is one of the questions I’d hoped to ask you last year: In the film “Talent for the Game” you portray a former ball player who gets the chance to catch one more time in the big leagues. As someone that once dreamed of being a professional ball player was it a special moment being able to portray one on film?
EJO: (almost like a purr) Oh yeah. It was probably one of the most memorable experiences I’ve had in filmmaking. I love that movie. It’s just the most unusual little film that more people are seeing now then when it came out.

MS: What do you have coming up next?
EJO: I’m working on a film now called “El Americano,” which is an animated film that should be out in March. It’s a co-production between the United States and Mexico and it stars the voices of Lisa Kudrow, Paul Rodriguez, Cheech Marin, Rico Rodriguez (Manny on “Modern Family)….myself. It’s a handful of great artists lending their voices. It’s an animated film for children but adults will enjoy it. It’s not like PIXAR, where the films are made for adults but children go to see them also. I’m really looking forward to it.

 

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Book Review “Frozen: A Sister More Like Me “

Author: Barbara Jean Hicks
Illustrator: Disney Storybook Art Team
Age Range: 6 – 8 years
Grade Level: 1 – 3
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Disney Press
Release Date: October 1, 2013

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

Late last year, I heard that the team that brought us “Tangled” and “Wreck-it Ralph”, two of my favorite films ever, where bringing out a musical animated film based on “The Snow Queen”.  Here we are a mere few weeks from the film released date, titled “Frozen”. The film is already a merchandise giant and it is isn’t even out yet. I always own two other “Frozen” books besides this one now and there are at least another 10 different ones.  I love that Disney is really backing this title and I know that they are also not stupid cause this film is a cash cow. It introduces us to a new Disney princess and we all know how big Rapunzel from “Tangled” has become. If you have young kid, like myself, especially a girl then this is a great book to own to get you excited for the film.

The illustrations in this are so amazing. I love the look of the two sister’s Anna and Elsa. The colors are gorgeous and presented so beautifully. I expected the illustrations to be amazing since it was done by by one of the artists who worked on the film itself.  The story tells a new original story about Anna and Elsa and the challenges of finding a sister more like me.  The words flow so well page to page using rhymes and is so sweet. My 16 month old daughter brought this book over to me once we got it and said “Ok”, which means “Read me now!…please”. I read the entire 32 page book and she didn’t move once. I can’t wait to see this film and I am sure it is going to be yet another instant Disney classic. I also can’t wait to see what else Disney Press has planned for “Frozen”, keep ’em coming.

Sister Sin’s Liv Jagrell talks about new album “Now and Forever”

The Swedish heavy Metal band Sister Sin has just released a new album titled “Now and Forever” via Victory Records. Recently Media Mikes had the pleasure to talk with the bands lead vocalist Liv Jagrell about the album and the bands upcoming U.S. tour.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background on the band?
Liv Jagrell: We are Swedish band that started around 8 years ago. I would describe our sound as old school heavy metal. That’s definitely where are roots are and Sister Sin has that similar type of sound. That sound is something that is in our hearts and is also something we want to share with everyone out there.

AL: How did you come to join the band?
LJ: The band had been looking for a singer with a voice similar to Motley Crue. One of the guys had an idea where they thought it would be cool to have a female singer but the others weren’t so in to the idea. Around that time I had put an ad in the paper and was contacted by the guitarist. He told me they were mostly looking for a guy but to come down and try out anyways. I went down to audition and we did a couple original songs as well as the Motley’s song “Live Wire”. After that they told me I was the best one to come through and asked me to join the band. I guess they had auditioned several other guys but none of them had anywhere near the balls I had. (Laughs) That gave me a bit of confidence.

AL: Can you give us some background on the band’s new album?
LJ: This will be Sister Sin’s third album now. We felt that we needed to do something different from the previous two releases. The album is old school heavy metal with a touch of the first two records added in. Our last albums were pretty straight forward so this time we wanted to try something different. We worked heavily on the vocal and melody of this album. We based the music around that which is something we had never done before. We also added some keyboard parts for the first time as well. We tried to step a little outside of our box. The album turned out better than we expected and we are very happy.

AL: What made you choose “End of the Line” as the album’s first single?
LJ: That was collaboration between us and Victory Records. We had a couple of choices but in the end this was the song that we felt worked best as a single. The song has a sound that represents the entire album very well. The song was also a great fit to make a video for.

AL: Can you tell us anything about the video?
LJ: The video was released on Oct. 15th and is based around Armageddon prophecies. We used that idea but added in the fact that people still need to be living day by day and not worrying about when the world may end. If you take those thoughts and put them in the mid of a maniac you well get this video. The video plays very much like a movie and is similar in theme to “Terminator”. We are very happy with the video.

AL: When you are writing material do you often find yourself pulling from real world situations or topics?
LJ: We write about things we care about. We are known for being rebellious but we care about what’s going on in the world. None of us were born in to rich families and were brought up in a way that we have to work to survive. This is our reaction to Sweden and the rest of the world.

AL: Can you tell us about the bands upcoming tour?
LJ: We will be heading out on the road in February with Doro. We want to get back to the U.S. as soon as possible and hopefully we can get something set up before then. We really just want to get back out there. We would be on tour right now if we could but things just haven’t worked out that way. We do have some shows scheduled around Scandinavia but we are also looking to head to Europe as well.

Lynn Shelton talks about directing “Your Sister’s Sister”

With only three feature films to her credit, Lynn Shelton has built a reputation as a writer with a keen ear and a director with a similar eye. Her last film, “Humpday,” earned her multiple awards, including the prestigious John Cassavetes Award at the Independent Spirit Awards.

Her latest film, “Your Sister’s Sister,” continues her rise as one of the most talented and respected independent filmmakers of her generation. While promoting the film’s release, Ms. Shelton took time out to speak with Media Mikes about her love for the Pacific Northwest and her even greater love: being behind the camera.

Mike Smith: What was your inspiration in writing this film?
Lynn Shelton: The initial kernel of the film came from Mark Duplass. It was a little different. It was a guy and a girl who were best friends and the guy loses his brother. She sends him up to the cabin to be alone and he meets her mother. Her hot, youngish mother. It was going to be a kind of mother/daughter bed switching comedy. It was something he had envisioned making with his brother, Jay. But because it dealt with a dead brother Mark felt that it might be a little too close to home for them to handle as filmmakers. But he liked the idea still so he brought it to me with Jay’s blessing. And I made a few changes. I set it in the Pacific Northwest, where I set all of my movies. I just finished my 5th filmthere. I live in Seattle and I love to work in Washington state. And I also changed the mom to a sister. I always liked the idea of exploring a sister relationship…I’ve had an incredibly fascinating and rich love/hate relationship with my sisters my whole life and I thought it would be rich territory for a film.

MS: As a writer do you encourage your casts to improvise?
LS: I do. Well, in this case, for sure. My last film, “Humpday,” was 100% improvised in terms of the actual dialogue. I knew what was going to happen in each scene but we would talk before hand. Then we’d turn the camera on and they would find their way through the scene. In this film I actually had most of the dialogue written out. But I asked them to just hold the words loosely in their heads…don’t memorize the lines. It was really a quest for naturalism. I wanted the audience to believe that these people were having real conversations.

MS: You kind of touched on the fact that Mark Duplass is also a talented writer/director. Is it harder or easier to work with someone with that experience? Not to the point that he would second guess you but would he step back and offer advice?
LY: Not really. It’s a very open environment on set and everybody is contributing a lot. All of the actors. And I find that his experiences as a writer and director are really very invaluable. His input is really, really valuable. He never tried to overstep his bounds. He’s always an actor. I like to engage my actors…I like them to bring everything they’ve got to the table. I find it an incredible value.

MS: And as someone who also acts it might be easier to see where they’re coming from in certain situations?
LS: Yes. And that’s why I still like to keep my toe in that discipline. If somebody asks me to do a role and I’m able to…if it’s small and not too time consuming…I like to say “yes” because it keeps me close to that process. It also reminds me how difficult it is and what ittakes to do it. So you’re right. I am extremely empathetic with my actors. I try to create an emotionally safe work environment. That gives them the best chance of giving their best performance.

MS: Since we’re on the subject, have you decided to remain more behind the camera or is there still an acting role out there you’d like to do?
LS: I’ll never say never but right now I’m just so in love with directing that it’s hard for me to imagine taking on any kind of major acting role. But there may be something that comes down the line when I have an opening in my schedule that feels like the right thing to do. So I don’t want to put a total nix on that. But I’ve really just fallen in love with directing so it’s kind of hard to imagine taking acting seriously at this point in my life.

MS: You mentioned that you just finished your next film. Can you talk about it or what else you have coming up on your schedule?
LS: Sure. We wrapped shooting about five weeks ago. It’s called “Touchy-Feely.” My other films have been three character pieces and I wanted to get away from that. This one has an ensemble cast. It’s not a typical “Lynn Shelton” film. It’s a real departure. It was a great deal of fun to shoot.

Film Review “Your Sister’s Sister”

Starring: Emily Blunt, Rosemarie DeWitt and Mark Duplass
Directed by: Lynn Shelton
Rated: R
Running time: 1 hour 30 mins
IFC Films

Our Score: 4.5 out of 5 stars

As a group of friends gather to remember their friend, Tom, tensions begin to build. Gone a year, it’s obvious that Tom meant a lot to a lot of people, including his ex-girlfriend, Iris (Blunt) and his brother, Jack (Duplass). After the gathering Iris invites Jack to spend time in her father’s cabin, assuring him the privacy and solitude is just what he needs right now. Jack accepts her offer but when he arrives he finds Iris’ sister, Hanna (DeWitt) already there. They spend a night filled with conversation and tequila. Hanna has just broken up her lesbian relationship while Jack laments his lack of a love life. Almost comically they end up in bed. But when Iris makes an unexpected visit to the cabin herself some secrets are kept while others are revealed.

Solidly acted with a smart script by director Shelton, “Your Sister’s Sister” is one of those small films that it’s a pleasure to discover. Blunt gives a very strong performance here, taking an emotional journey that most fans may not have seen her take in the past. DeWitt, probably best known for her work on “The United States of Tara” and “Mad Men,” is also well cast. But the standout here is Duplass. Better known as the writer/director, with his brother Jay, of films like “Cyrus” and “Baghead,” he makes great use of his talents here. His performance here reveals an actor of many layers. In fact, if Duplass hadn’t already been doing double duty on the recent “Jeff, Who Lives at Home,” he would have been a perfect choice for the title role.

Director Shelton makes good on the promise she showed on her last feature, “Humpday.” Her camera moves in and out of the characters conversations, making the audience feel not like they are eavesdropping but that they are a part of them. Credit also to cinematographer Benjamin Kasulke, who paints postcards of the beautiful scenery of the Pacific Northwest.

 

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