Arts and Entertainment

Return of the Mos

Port Orchard band comes home from Europe to wicked show at Winterland and an opening spot for Rush.

On stages in places like Germany and Holland during their first-ever European tour, Mos Generator tried to keep up the same in-between-song banter with the audience that they would here in America.

They’d jibe them, taunt them, summon them with their slang, profanity and quips but the audience just stared back in an awkward silence of sorts, obviously not quite comprehending what these three American brutes were saying.

There was one thing, however, aside from the music, that would work the crowd into a frenzy every time.

“All you’d have to do was this,” Mos guitarist Tony Reed said, raising his glass. “And they’d go crazy ... it’s like a universal sign.”

Akin to that global symbol of “cheers,” there’s something likewise universal about the music of Mos Generator.

The Kitsap three-piece epitomizes the term power trio.

Reed, Scooter Haslip and Shawn Johnson, three hardened veterans of rock, combine ear-drum-drenching guitar riffs, striking drums and a heavy-hitting low-end with a sonic ton of bricks. They generate a head-banging amalgam of old-school hard rock.

So it should come as no surprise that, soon after returning from that recent European tour, they were offered an opening spot for a band that’s arguably one of the best power trios of all time.

But there’s still something somewhat staggering about the fact that this Saturday at the Gorge ampi-theater, this Port Orchard-based band will be warming up the crowd for Rush.

They scored the show through a long-time friend of the band who works for the concert’s promoter Live Nation. And in context, it all makes perfect sense.

The forces of Mos Generator have been rocking out, earning their stripes for the better part of two decades.

After releasing its third full length “Songs for Future Gods” on Small Stone records last spring, Mos was asked by the Texas band Blood of the Sun to join them for a 13 day tour of Europe, Êplaying venues ranging from immense street festivals to intimate clubs in places like a former German Secret Service barracks.

Upon returning to the Northwest, they played a birthday party for KISW’s Big Rock Show purveyor Jolene at Slim’s Last Chance in Seattle and a “homecoming” show with Sower of Dischord at Winterland last night, followed by the gig of all gigs with Rush at the Gorge, Saturday. Later this summer, they’ll be playing Slim’s again on July 4 as well as at Hempfest in August.

And in addition to all that live madness, Mos is also anticipating a slew of vinyl releases in the coming year, on labels both in the United States and overseas. And then, a new record.

Indeed, these days are heady for the Mos Generator.

But they’re trying to keep it all on an even keel.

“My motto has almost become , ‘we’ll see,’” Reed said. “I try not to get too over-excited, I did enough of that in my younger years.”

In their younger years, Reed, Johnson and Haslip first came together in the band 12:30 Dreamtime, in the late-eighties, early-nineties Bremerton.

Later in the decade, Reed would go on to play drums, then bass in the Seattle punk-grunge band Treepeople, while Johnson joined the Epic Records band Mindfunk and Haslip sat in with Voodoo Gearshift. But they kept in contact and collaboration and even sporadically ran into one another now and then on the road. Shortly after the year 2000, the three reformed into a new incarnation that they called Mos Generator.

Ever since, they have been accruing a growing catalogue of records and an impressive collective of live shows across the Northwest and beyond.

While the recent spring tour with Texas band Blood of the Sun was the Generator’s first trip to Europe, it wasn’t the first that European crowds had heard of Mos.

“People were showing up with records for us to sign,” Reed said with a tinge of surprise in his voice. “I mean I know where they probably got it, but it’s still weird that you’re in another country and these people have got your record.”

Among the cadre of record labels Mos works with are a few European companies and distributors like Nasoni Records, a psychedelic label out of Berlin. In addition to the sheer awesomeness of touring Europe, the trip also provided a chance for the band to meet some of those people who they’d been dealing with online.

In the end, Mos came away with a truckload of memories and expanded perspective requests for a few more records to be released on Nasoni.

When asked if he came away with any great wisdom from the European tour, Reed had a blunt yet profound response.

“There are people out there that still enjoy music in it’s purest form,” he said. “A lot of people told us ‘we like your band because you’re true.’ Which I took as they knew we were doing it for real... that’s the biggest compliment you can get as a band.”

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