With a New Album on the way Seattle Band The Mothership Becomes Ten Miles Wide

Ten Miles Wide photo courtesy of Shane Williams (aka Thee Lord Photog)
Ten Miles Wide photo courtesy of Shane Williams aka Thee Lord Photog

Depending on who you talk to, the 2014 album by  Seattle band, The Mothership called “Bright Side of Dim” left some people saying it was the best rock album to come out of Seattle in the last two decades. While on the surface that may sound like a crazy, bold statement, the fact is that it was(and still is) a masterpiece. The band pulls if off live as well, the songs contain deep infectious grooves with crazy time signature changes.

I first became a fan of this great band back in 2011 when their debut album came out(keep reading for the name of their debut) and I remember listening to it and thinking to myself that it might a little bit too deep for a large part of the audience. The music was killer but there are a lot of moving parts and pieces, maybe not on the level of prog-rock but certainly too much for the average fan to grasp right away. That said, when “Bright Side of Dim” came out I knew instantly it would be a hit, which in fact it was. It stayed in heavy rotation on my playlist for several months and not too many weeks go by, even a year later, when I don’t give it a spin.

“Bright Side of Dim” gave The Mothership the audience they’d been looking for. People that wanted something more than they’d generally been hearing. The 2014 release followed along the lines of the 2011 release and that can only lead me to believe they were perhaps a bit ahead of the curve with the first one But they persevered. Now with an audience, the future looked very bright for these shining Seattle stars but as fate would have it, there was yet one more bump on the rock & roll highway for these guys. At the height of their popularity another great band emerged from Texas with a very similar name. Simply called Mothership and they didn’t really just emerge though, they had a head start on the boys from Seattle. Eventually the painstaking decision to change the band name could no longer be avoided. So now, with a brand new album coming out soon with a big name on the production side of things, The Mothership became Ten Miles Wide.

We recently caught up with Will Andrews who is an absolute monster behind the kit and without a doubt one of the best drummers in the northwest. Here’s what he had to say.

NWMS: So you guys had a lot of success with Bright Side of Dim. What was the best thing that happened through that album cycle?

Will: We were very fortunate to have such a positive response from that release. The writing and recording process was fairly draining, as we went through some personal and professional ups and downs that seemed to plague us for almost two years. We used up most of our energy and sanity trying to get the project completed. All of that being said, our album release show was a sellout at The Crocodile, which was a milestone for us. There’s nothing like the feeling of having a lengthy creative endeavor finally come to fruition. The release show garnered us a few killer opening slots, and it galvanized our band in many ways. This whole local band thing can be equally as gratifying as it is challenging, and moments like that keep the fire burning. Of course we have to thank Jolene at KISW for her efforts in promoting the album and the three killer bands we shared the stage with that night, Devils Hunt Me Down, Piano Piano and Ever So Android. Everybody was on board and it went off like a bang. It was quite the magical night for us.

NWMS: Let’s get this out of the way right now. You changed the name of the band. How agonizing was that decision?

Will:  Ah, yes. Personally speaking, I knew we had to change the name after seeing a Texas band with our name come through Seattle a few years in a row. In my head I was thinking “they beat us to the punch”, and it was a very harsh realization. Here we were, comfy cozy in our home city making records, and these guys are busting their asses touring the US. Honestly, I felt that they earned the name and we didn’t want the confusion to continue. Imagine being in a band that starts to tour and everyone is expecting a different band with different music because both band names are almost identical, minus the word “the”. It would have been a potential PR nightmare coupled with cease and desist letters. We’re not really into lawsuits and what not. I should state that for the record, we were never threatened in any way, by anybody. I went to one of their Seattle shows to chat with them and they ended up being great dudes and a great band, so it’s all good.

NWMS:  Was there a point where you were like fuck it, we’ve worked hard and we are keeping it?

will8429-600Will: Absolutely. You can only be headstrong about that sort of thing for a limited time though before reality bludgeons you. The two options we had in front of us were to re-brand our operation or just remain ignorant to the impending logistical disaster coming to our way. We wanted to nip it in the bud before the real issues started. It’s better to know your role and be respectful in this business, as I’ve come to learn over the years.

NWMS: What was the final determining factor in the decision?

Will: We wanted a fresh start. There were aspects of the name “The Mothership” that were starting to hurt us beyond the issues mentioned above. The biggest problem was the name prevented many people from finding us. “Mothership” still is a highly used word in the music industry.. For example, Parliament-Funkadelic’s The Mothership Connection, Led Zeppelin’s Mothership greatest hits album, the Skrillex Mothership Tour and so on. Those bands we’re the first things to pop up on YouTube, Google etc.

NWMS: So you have a new name. What’s the feedback been like so far?

Will: We decided to go with the name Ten Miles Wide, which is the name of The Mothership’s debut album from 2011. Our fans and friends have thankfully given us very positive feedback thus far. At one point in time, we were 99% sure we were going to call ourselves Hobnobber, but as it turns out 99% of the people we told hated that name with a passion. We also grew detached to that name over a period of a few months. I think our fans were stoked that we chose a name that was tied to our old band, and they were relieved that we weren’t going to use Hobnobber. There’s a secret tactic that we ended up discovering throughout this process: First, set the bar extremely low. Then, tell everybody about your shitty decision, and boom, you’re now free to blow minds simply by raising the bar back to normal height at the end of the day. Have you ever tried to come up with a band name that’s good, not taken and something everybody can agree upon? It’s nearly impossible in this day in age.

NWMS: Some people might not know the origin of the name. Tell us about the origin.

Will: I’ll try to not make this confusing… A long long time ago, our singer/guitarist John Beckman wrote a little ditty on his computer called “Mothership”. The first two lines of lyrics in that song are:

“Here comes the mothership
Ten miles wide”

“You can now see how lazy we were in choosing our new name. We just chose the next line of lyrics from that song while simultaneously using the name of our old band’s debut album. Thankfully, our creativity reserves are dedicated to writing songs and pushing in new directions.

NWMS: Let’s talk about the new album. Jack [Endino] shouted it out on the radio during Jolene’s last show on KISW May 29. He sounded excited about it. How excited about it are you guys?

Will: It was an absolute honor because for one, Jack Endino mentioning you on the radio is something that doesn’t happen every day, and secondly, it was Jolene’s last show on KISW. It was a feeling of “we’re not worthy”. I mean, why waste even a second of air time mentioning us when such an important figure in our music scene is having her send-off party?

NWMS: Talk about recording with Jack.

Will: The guy is a Seattle legend for good reason, and he’s such a great human being. He’s there to lend his many years of musical experience to making your band better. How could you go wrong with any of that? He likes bands to bang out the songs sans click tracks and tempo maps, just as nature intended. I’ve grown fond of that method of recording, as it puts more pressure on the band and forces you to be on top of your game. It’s also a complete 180 from today’s mentality of trying to make everything sound 100% perfect, which I find refreshing. Humans seem to have been conditioned to listen to auto-tune and quantization, which takes out most of the human elements of the music. I’m pretty positive the songs we recently tracked will have a rawness and a “true to the rehearsal room” type of vibe. Couple that with Jack twisting the knobs, and I think we’ll have quite a beast on our hands at the end of the day. John also got to use the Fender Twin Reverb amp used on Nirvana’s Bleach. How cool is that? In Jack, we trust.

NWMS: You also dropped one band member. Did having one less person in the band help the song-writing and recording process? In what way?

Will: For the record, Paul exited the band. We didn’t give him the boot. He’s a great friend and we still hang out and laugh from time to time. He wrote and sang almost half of the material on both Mothership records and was an integral part of the sound of that band. He decided to pursue other musical avenues and dedicate more time to being a father, which is a wonderful thing. It’s also yet another reason we had to consider the name change, as our sound has evolved since Paul’s departure. The split was mutually beneficial for both parties, as we jam a heck of a lot more as a trio. There’s more space in the music now, and I get to do a bit more as a drummer, which is fun for me. Interestingly enough, both John Beckman, Ryan Thornes as well as myself were in trios for years prior to The Mothership. So far, the Ten Miles Wide trio thing has fit us like a glove.

NWMS: When can we expect it to be released?

Will: We’ll have some songs online by late July.

NWMS: Any plans yet to play live under the new name?

Will: Thankfully, yes. For our very first show, we will be the direct support band for our good friends Ever So Android at the Crocodile on August 7th. It’s their CD release event and we couldn’t be happier with the bill. The Mama Rags and The Hollers are opening. They have been making some serious waves in the scene as of late. We also have a pretty cool outdoor show opportunity in September we’re working on, and we’re planning on something cool in October too. Both of those shows are still in their planning stages, so I’m not quite ready to blab about them. We will most likely be touring towards the end of the year too. Lots of stuff!

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