On August 27th, the California-based alt-country/folk artist Clint Westwood released his brand new three-track EP, The Return to the Mothership, through Mannequin Vanity Records to unleash his self-described cult country music to the world. In regards to the album's release, Clint and I took a minute to discuss The Return to the Mothership EP, his forthcoming short film that ties the EP's three songs together, and more!
Who is Clint Westwood, for anyone who doesn't know? Clint: I am a lifelong music-addicted madman. I have been writing, recording, and performing since middle school, way back in 1995. Clint Westwood is the most version of my many hats, which so happened to be a ten-gallon hat full of crappy liquor and terminal pessimism.
How would you describe your sound for anyone who hasn't heard your music before? C: I kind of coined my own genre I call "cult country." A nod to cult classic film and literature. It sounds and feels like traditional folk and country music, though the lyrical content is firmly dedicated to my roots in punk music and counter-culture. Which ironically has upheld my "cult" obscurity, probably to my own demise.
Your brand new three-track EP, The Return to the Mothership, was released on August 27th. How has the reception been so far? C: I honestly have no idea. I have since detached myself from social media, and between becoming a father and the coronavirus shutdown of all live music venues, I have ceased to exist as a functioning entertainer. Hopefully, interviews like this one might shed some new light on my little EP.
What is the meaning of the title The Return to the Mothership?
C: It's named after the title track single, which is a re-recorded more knee-slapping version of the original song, simply titled "Mothership." Which in itself is a cheery jingle about the existential dread of possibly being an orphaned extra terrestrial abandoned on a hostile planet in hopes of one day returning to the mothership. I swear there is no intentional correlation to organized religion. [Laughs].
Listening to the album promo, the EP is three tracks that were recorded and re-imagined. How did that come about? C: Well, like most of us in 2020, I was also confined to my domicile for a few months out of work and was fortunate to have enough stability to screw around in my garage home studio and play with my musical toys before the baby woke up.
How did the selection of tracks come about to get reimagined versions? You had plenty to pick from. Why these specific three?
C: The original version of "Mothership" had already taken a new faster form during our live performances. I and video artist David Dau had been talking about a video shoot with our friend Coyote at this roadside UFO repair and retrieval site just east of San Diego. "Mothership" was the obvious choice for the music video, and I felt it needed to be the more energetic take for such an eccentric music video concept. As for the other tracks, "Still Not The One" features a long-time bass player of mine, Tyler French flexing some mariachi style trumpets... why not? And lastly, "La Noche de Los Demonios" is a pepped-up surf-cumbia version of the sleepy folk-funk version that appeared on the original album release in 2016. Both that track and "Return to the Mothership" feature Chris Cancelliere on drums, who was fresh off a European tour with the band and has amazing chops.
So you have a short film coming out for the three tracks? Is that correct? C: Yes, the storyboard for the video landed us with awesome content than we could cram into a few-minute music video.
What should people expect from the short film? C: It is still in the editing room, but from what I have seen of the footage, it will be a fun little space spaghetti western. It also might answer some of the questions about what the heck is going on in the music video, which is almost a trailer/teaser for the short movie. Director David Dau has a great sense of humour and hilarious content and animation styles, so I can't wait to see it. I was also able to put together a musical score which I'm also very excited about.
Were there any challenges of recording The Return to the Mothership in the middle of a pandemic? C: I've always been a DIY home-recording artist, so it wasn't a whole lot different than most of the stuff I've released. I enjoy falling onto my pile of instruments and seeing what happens. Being a solo recording artist can be lonely, obsessive and lacking that in-studio "magic" at times, but it is relaxing and affordable.
You must be eager to hit the stage again -if you haven’t already- being off it for nearly nineteen months? Do you have any upcoming shows? C: It just so happens I had already taken a break from full-time gigging and touring since the birth of my son in 2018. It wasn't such a shock to the system as a lot of my friends, who were all in and going hard earning a living on the stage. My heart goes out to them. The world definitely sucks a lot more without live music. In the meantime, I am focusing on supporting my family through these bizarre unstable times. I have a bunch of new material in the works that I've been compiling here and there. An older, grumpier, slightly wiser, less pickled Clint Westwood, still pissed that the fabric of society is fraying into cataclysm at the expense of greed and incompetence... and more dad jokes.
Thanks for the time, Clint! Is there anything else you may want to add before you go? C: That's all for now! Thank you for your time! Stay safe out there. In Cult Country, there's a lot of wild wackadoodles out there running amok!