Regarding the harmonious disposition of Louisville’s one and only Mote: “We’re basically the Beach Boys,” bassist Chris Ortega tells me with satisfied conviction. Initially assembled in October 2011 by Jake Philley and Sam Benanti, the duo formed a patchwork with both members randomly alternating between drums and guitar. After they elected two members to fill in the gaps (Corey Arnold and John James), Mote recorded a cassette demo last December, featuring a cover of The Smiths’ “There is a Light That Never Goes Out,” which would perhaps flatter Morrissey himself.
A colossal art facility and used-to-be-home for crusties of Louisville, The Mammoth is an idyllic practice space for these self-proclaimed ’90s college rockers. “We put up the walls ourselves,” lead guitarist Philley boasts while reaching in his bag of spicy chili-flavored chips. Behind him is an array of hodgepodge cab towers that look like something Dr. Seuss would erect.
The band (with newfound members Ortega and drummer Jamie Conkin) shot a music video under the directorial eye of Danielle Bartley in the aforementioned space, featuring two songs from their latest and frankly titled CD Kind of Live at The Mammoth. The EP was released last month and, as the title suggests, is half live (vocals were recorded separately).
After the group obtained rental space in July, they built up verve and played venues consistently throughout the rest of the year. “We mainly want to play lots and lots of shows. Maybe even a few weekend tours, you know? Up to Bloomington, Nashville, Chicago. Stuff like that. We want to take this as far as we can take it,” Philley says. “We are really just a rock band. We’re influenced by bands like Built to Spill and Dinosaur Jr. It’s stuff we’ve all been wanting to play for a long time and haven’t been able to until Mote formed.”
Their candid motto, guitarist Benanti points out, is: “We’re here to spend money to make money to spend money to make music.”