It was 1989 when Spokane punk trio Motherload played their first show, developing a fervent fanbase in a music scene dominated by scrappy hard-rock groups and DIY gigs. The band was together for a few years, toured the U.S. and released a couple albums. Then the members scattered across the country, getting back together, usually around Christmastime, to play a few one-off shows here and there.
It's been 13 years since Motherload's last reunion, but this weekend they're together again, three decades since they first took the stage.
A recent Skype call with the three of them — guitarist Scott Kellogg, bassist Geof Templeton and drummer Brian Parnell — produces a lively conversation full of inside jokes and anecdotes of punk antics in the early '90s. Like the time "when we couldn't find $13 to bail Geof out of jail. We missed playing with Quiet Riot because of that."
The conversation just moves on from there.
The members of Motherload were in their early 20s when the band formed: Kellogg was playing music with Templeton at the time, and he brought Parnell, a friend of his from Mead High School, into the mix.
"We knew that we wanted to do something different than just straight-ahead punk-rock," Kellogg says. "And so we thought Brian would be a good drummer to get, because he was just f---ing wacky."
"I was living out of my car, dropping acid in Riverside State Park," Parnell laughs, "and sort of working as a graveyard dishwasher. Scotty called me out of the blue to see if I wanted to be in a band."
They describe a tiny but tight-knit local music scene made up of outcasts and misfits, where iconic acts such as D.O.A. and Black Flag would stop through town at venues like the defunct 123 Arts, where Templeton worked sound, and the Big Dipper.
"The scene was really strong, except for the fact that there was still this adverse population here in town that f---ing hated us, you know?" Kellogg says. "They'd try to start fights with us. Somebody'd be driving down the street in their pickup listening to George Thorogood and they'd throw a f---ing beer can at your head."
"When we started playing the bars, about 50 people would come see us play," Templeton says. "I remember we were playing some show — it was probably at the Dipper — and this huge fight broke out. Shit flying, glasses flying, all of us throwing bottles. And then the next show we play, there was, like, 300 people there.
"There's an element of people who are showing up just to see what kind of f---ed up mayhem was going to happen."
Parnell and Templeton now live in Portland, where Parnell runs a metal fabrication shop and Templeton works as a touring guitar tech for acts like Foo Fighters, Bruno Mars and Tenacious D. Kellogg, who also played with the recently reformed Big Yuck Mouth, is back in Spokane, and he's a proprietor of the Browne's Addition record store Total Trash.
It might be more difficult for Motherload to get back together on a regular basis, so will they reunite yet again? Well, never say never.
"Three-hundred-twenty miles doesn't seem as far away as it used to, especially when you can afford a plane ticket every once in awhile," Kellogg says. "We finished each other's sentences all the time when we were hanging out. I don't imagine it's going to be that hard when we get together to play this next week. It's going to be like we just got back on the horse." ♦
Motherload Reunion Show with Six State Bender and Lindy • Sat, April 20 at 8:30 pm • $12 • All ages • The Pin • 412 W. Sprague • thepinspokane.com • 385-1449