“At points, you really hit a sweet spot, and you stay there. At points, with the band, I’ll get to that point, you know? I’ll be right there. And often times I’ll be so focused on that sweet spot, that I won’t even notice that suddenly my brother is about three inches away from my ear.”
- Cris Kirkwood, "Airborne Event" (WFMU)
Cris Kirkwood has always been a self-proclaimed "music head." His brother Curt would probably be just as happy racing motorcycles as playing guitar, and I'll gravitate to just about anything non-compulsory. But music always scratched the itch for Cris. He'll never tire of telling anyone who'll listen of how the film "Deliverance" inspired him to take up an instrument. The consequent later arguments with his brother could get really ugly when Cris pushed to add banjo to the band's sound.
Recently, Cris spoke at length with WFMU deejay Dan Bodah about his side projects, specifically his interest in experimental music. From the very beginning, the Meat Puppets incorporated experimental effects in our home studio recordings, encouraging our first sound man Darrell DeMarco to use the mixing board as a fourth instrument. Once Dave Claassen joined us, he brought these techniques to our live show. But Cris really came into his own once the band set up a rehearsal studio behind his house. After Curt and I finished providing him with a grudging couple hours of practice in the afternoon, Cris would lock himself away with his bong and his 8-track recorder for the rest of the night, feeding the musical monkey until the wee hours.
Cris no longer knows the whereabouts of his original multi-track tapes. “Because of my special behavior," he says, "I managed to not keep track of some things." Even if he did, finding a working 8-track machine would be no easy task. Luckily, I have most of this stuff mixed down to cassette. I've always wanted to post some of it here, but the realization that Cris doesn't even have copies of his own recordings makes this mission all the more urgent. I have a one tape in particular, labeled “Crisis Compilation,” which has no titles and no credits -- just 90 minutes of solo Cris, circa 1986-1993, back when half-inch tape was cheap and he had all the time in the world to just let it roll.