Photo: Vishal Malhotra Design: Louis Dixon

On the east side of town, the members of Mean Motor Scooter file out of their jam room into the cool dusk air to take a smoke break. They’ve just finished running through their set, though they likely don’t really need the practice. The last year and a half has been plenty busy for the foursome. Between two long tours and playing shows at home practically every weekend in between, they’re about as well-rehearsed as a band can be. 

“That new one is sounding great,” bassist Joe Tacke said to the rest of the group as he packed his cigarettes against his palm. “We’ve only played it, like, three or four times, but I think it’s pretty much show-ready.”

In addition to the new song singer/guitarist Sammy Kidd brought with him to rehearsal that night, Mean Motor Scooter has newly recorded material they’re excited to introduce to their ever-growing fan base. That latest batch of recorded songs debuts this week. 

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We made our way back inside the dark halls of the practice facility to their room and tried to find makeshift seats among stacks of amplifiers and half-strung guitars to discuss the new album and the band’s torrid pace of late.

“It’s been crazy – a lot of turmoil, a lot of changes,” Kidd said of the last year or so. “It’s weird. Sometimes it’s like we play so much [at home] that people only come to see us if we play, like, once a month, and then maybe everybody will come. But then if we go out on the road – places we’ve never played before – people are just going nuts!”

The band got a big boost with some help from London’s Dirty Water Records, which put out the quartet’s debut full-length, Hindu Flying Machine, in 2017. They’re trying to stay on the wave of momentum that created for them. After a jam-packed two weeks of performances at South by Southwest and the new record on the horizon, they’re showing no signs of slowing down.

The anticipated new record will be the first of a pair of EPs, both to be released by their hometown label, Dreamy Life Records, this year. TV Baby is composed of five tracks of MMS’ signature danceable spiked Kool-Aid garage-psych, albeit with a sharper edge to Kidd’s often distorted vocals. Song titles like “Mechanical Man” and “Robotic Centipede” still call to the four-piece’s familiar sci-fi B-movie aesthetic, but as has always been the case, Kidd has something to say beneath the schlocky top layer.

Kidd (middle left): “It’s definitely all a metaphor.” Photo by Vishal Malhotra.

“It’s definitely all metaphor,” Kidd said of his allusions to aliens and automatons. “You can’t really say with words what you’re feeling because there’s so many things wound into that. It’s so much easier to use images, metaphors, and stories to explain what you’re experiencing.”

What Kidd has been experiencing a lot of lately is estrangement. 

“It’s pretty much just feeling alienated,” Kidd said. “Not really wanting to have much of a social life – feeling like it’s something that you have to do but you don’t really have the patience for anymore.”

Disguising musings of misanthropy and alienation in stories about monsters and killer robots makes for an interesting study in contrast, but it’s a balance with which Kidd has found that he’s comfortable. 

“I’ve [written] stuff in the past that was more direct,” he said. “It just kind of freaked people out,” he added with a laugh. 

As with their previous works, Kidd, Tacke, keyboardist Rebekah Elizabeth, and drummer Chase Friedman, went into Cloudland Recording Studio last spring to track. Tacke, who also works out of Cloudland as an engineer, produced the sessions with some tape-op help from studio co-owner Robby Rux (The Fibs, Year of the Bear). Jordan Richardson (Son of Stan, Ben Harper & The Relentless 7) mastered the project.

A video for the EP’s first single “Gutterboy Blues,” premiered last month. Shot by Coffee Pot Films’ Ian McKenyon (Garage Barrage), the clever stop-motion animation and intentionally obvious fishing line puppetry give an amusing counterpoint to Kidd’s screaming refrain of “I just want to be alone.”

With the string of successes they’ve been joining together of late, for the band, being left alone is unlikely. 

Mean Motor Scooter EP release show

8pm Sat w/Vorvon, Chillamundo, Henry the Archer, and Brian Brekenridge at MASS, 1002 S Main St, FW. $10. 682-707-7774.