1995 Prodigy Tour Diary

by Derrick Bostrom in


This was up on the old Meat Puppets blog for a decade. No point in trying to disavow any of it now.

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 2ND PHX

Come home from running around trying to get ready to leave and find a message on my machine. it's Suzanne in New York, wanting to know if I'm bringing my laptop on tour with me. Wants to know if I'll do a tour diary for Prodigy! God, there is no rest from these bloodsuckers. It's bad enough that I have leave my home and friends and family for a month to slog around in the cold weather and subject myself to judgment of total strangers for a month, now I'm expected to share my innermost thoughts as well. Without pay, or course, as if I somehow went to all the effort and expense to buy this Power Book and lug it around all over the country just so's to facilitate her career. Fat chance, baby, and besides, the world doesn't want to know what I'm thinking anyway.

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 3RD L.A.

Flight to California with Curt's kids in tow for a show with REM in San Bernardino at the Blockbuster Pavilion. The Gin Blossoms were also on the bill, which gave me a chance to catch up with them. Used to see them all the time three years ago, but now both bands are thankfully quite busy. I also got to check out Luscious Jackson (verdict: two thumbs up). Also got to spend time with my nephew and his mother who live in Hollywood.

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 4TH PHX

My last day home for a month. Visit with friends, pack, program the VCR.

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 5TH NYC

Fly to JFK. This year I got smart and bought a pair of pants two sizes too big just for these cross-country flights. Called a friend once we got to Manhattan and got together for a nice dinner.

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 6TH NYC

A day of phoners at the Polygram office. Stuck inside a windowless conference room for six hours playing phone tag with the college press. Got a hold of five out of seven of them. After a wonderful dinner in Little Italy, a live chat for a competing online service.

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 7TH NYC

A day of radio promotions. First at the SW Network, for their "Static" program. We began to get smart-mouthed right out of the chute, answering questions no doubt offered sincerely for for us, tedious with "humorous" responses. The host swung with it for the most part, but I could see a little discomfort on his part. The next place was the ABC network building, where space was rented for us to do three satellite remotes. Obliviously feeling our wise-ass oats, we continued in the vein begun at the previous taping. The Houston guy was fairly accommodating and the Minneapolis team was a little confused, but the Buffalo team was not into it and cut the interview short. They still ran it the next morning, but apparently got some negative feedback from the listeners. Now we've got to do some damage control when we get up there.

That's been a pitfall in the new post-"Backwater" reality. We get into much more mainstream stations, and while many of these stations have Stern-influenced "morning-show" funny guy jocks who like to have a good time, they are much more easily derailed by our attempts to give "zany" answers. They interpret this as an attempt on our part to wrest control from them, and they resent it. Either way, we knew we'd blown it, so for the remainder of the taping that day we minded our "p"s and "q"s.

Afterward, we got a hold of some tickets to see the Knicks battle the Suns at Madison Square Garden. We had four seats, but only two us, me and my tour manager, were free. We considered scalping the tickets, but decided against it after I remember a friend of mine's similar situation. After negotiating the sale of some unneeded tickets, he found that he'd gotten nothing but fake twenties wrapped around a ten-dollar bill. Thinking he could just pass them on, he tried to pay his cab fare after the game with one. All the driver had to do was touch the bill. He dropped back on the floor of the backseat and locked all the doors until real currency was produced.

By the way, the Suns beat the Knicks in a fourth quarter upset.

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 8TH NYC

Gig in NYC with Big Star celebrating the publication of the new revised edition of the Rolling Stone History of Rock and Roll. I get on stage and say, "History is written by the victors." A couple people get it (or do they?). Afterward, I look around for Suzanne to see what kind of concessions I can eke out of her in return for this tour diary. If her terms are acceptable, I might do it. She of course caves for all of my demands, and even offers to loan me a nice digital camera to take pix. Her boss also gives me a free Prodigy pen and some affectionate invasions of my personal space, but they weren't necessary. I've already agreed. Hopefully, they know how to retrieve jpegs from non-Prodigy-users, or else they're gonna have to throw in some free Prodigy service as well.

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 9TH NYC

The band hauls itself over to National Studios to tape a visit to MTV's 120 Minutes program. Unlike the last visit, where we were propped up on the set and made to read a teleprompter cold (a squinty, mumbling mess which in no way translated into units sold), we got to talk to an actual host. While waiting backstage, we watched Daisy interview Chris Issacs for some thing or another. Aside from their label rep, who was effervescent, Chris and the boys looked and acted like how I'm sure I'll be looking and acting after I've been on tour for a few months. When Chris came back to the dressing room to collect his entourage, we introduced ourselves. He not-so-deftly ignored us and focused his attention on the host's nine-year-old daughter.

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 10TH DAVENPORT, IA

The first day of the Primus tour. A typically obnoxious torture-run from NYC to Cedar Rapids, Iowa (via Chicago) crushed into the window by some guy sitting next to me who was far too big for coach. They should make planes like amusement parks. If you're too large, you either pay extra for first class or you don't ride. The bus driver, Tim, meets us at the airport, and we're off down the road to Davenport. I take the opportunity to finish up "Skinwalkers" by Tony Hillerman, and promptly fall asleep.

The gig is on a campus. It's raining pretty good by the time we get there, with snow expected within the hour. I poke around a bit, hook up with the roadies, who are driving separately from us in a Ryder truck full of gear. This time around, all my drums are in one big rolling case instead of a half dozen flight cases. I ask my one roadie, Danny, how he likes it and he says, "It's a challenge." (He's not quite tall enough to reach all the way down into the bottom of the thing.) The Primus drummer's kit is like three times the size of mine. He's obviously more "musically inclined" than myself. Not that the audience will notice anything except a larger target.

A largely uneventful beginning. I meet the production staff and extract permission to use their copying machine to create set lists. I check out everyone's computer, mostly PCs, but a few Macs as well. The Power Book of choice is the 160, a very durable machine, and without that nasty track pad. I myself am toting a 165c with a fast modem and extra memory and storage. I've got along a book about C++ and the Symantec compiler, and am going to make a stab at learning something about programming.

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 11 INDIANAPOLIS, IN

Really cold here. Wind, snow, the whole nine-yards. Also a kinda rough crowd. Clouds of cigarette smoke and stuff being thrown. Curt got beaned in the face twice with coins. One kid yelled out, "Kurt Cobain's dead!" I assumed he meant we were coattail-riding has-beens. Whatever: things are tough all over. The show was good none the less. There was some thing going on in town and no hotels could be got for love or money, so the whole kit and kaboodle of us packed up and drove to Detroit. I was crossing my fingers that we could get a fairly early start and things looked smooth, when suddenly... an obstacle. Some girl on our bus brandishing a homemade Christmas gift. A woodcut reindeer with a painted smiling face and a "Happy Holidays." Jeez, she was cute enough; if she was friendly too it would hours before we got on the road. I started the ball rolling in my inimitable fashion.

"Are you a woodworker, my dear?" I asked.

"Unfortunately, I am," came the inevitable reply. it seems no fan I've ever talked to likes their job. Well, they're not alone. Compulsory anything just rubs me the wrong way.

"Well if that's the way you feel about it," I chirped, "you can keep your damned present!"

Luckily the bus driver roared with laughter to key the kid in that I was kidding. Afterward, I got lucky. All it took was a photo of her with the band and she was on her way. As we drove off, I noticed that the woodcut was blank on the back, so i took a Sharpie and drew in a Satan reindeer holding a sign that said, "Merry Fucking Christmas."

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 12 DETROIT, MI

Rolled into town around 3:30 in the a.m. No snow up here. Puttered around up in the room for two hours before finally getting to sleep. Slept until just before two in the afternoon. Snack on fruit, etc. pilfered from the dressing room the night before. more puttering (writing the first two pages of this thing, for instance). Then a walk to the gig. Start seeing things right off the bat that I wish I had the digital camera for. Detroit is a classic. Opulent once, now a downtown full of wig stores, boarded up buildings, and statues honoring nothing really except the glorious corruption of previous municipal regimes. And right in the middle of it, this awesome old monument: the gig, a completely restored Fox Theater. Full of ersatz Siamese/Cambodian fixtures, the theater's huge front piece towers above the stage, dwarfing it's performers with full-sized human figures and a giant elephant head crown, all painted in gold. The ceiling was equally ornate. If I were a better student of architecture, I could better describe it. let's just say that for the Fox Theater and Prodigy, the digital camera came too late.

The audience meanwhile, relegated to reserved seating in this ornate palace, participated in another great Meat Puppets performance by sitting on their hands.

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 13 KALAMAZOO, MI

Day off. Nothing to do but walk around the hotel, watch" Melrose Place," and prepare for this week's update of the Meat Puppets world wide web site. A quick search for "Meat Puppets" reveals an ad for old issues of "Take It!" magazine, including the issue featuring a flexidisk we did in 1982. The song remains unreleased, a pastiche called "Teenager(s)," which starts off as a fast Cris punk rocker with a cut-up poem by me for lyrics, than segues into a long, slow, spacey jam written by Curt. The recording marks our official turn from screamy punk. A must-have item for the dream MP boxed set.

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 14TH KALAMAZOO, MI

A little more of the richly deserved and wildly enjoyed down time in the morning. Wouldn't this be a great diary if all I described were the teevee shows I watched? I don't have cable at home, so I end up watching more teevee than usual. Late night, a fascinating Charlie Rose about the recent "60 Minute" backpedaling on the cigarette companies story. Plus, a wonderful documentary on that most entertaining event in human history, the riots at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago.

But anyway, back to our story. Nabbed a quick but nasty lunch in the hotel before journeying forth with local Rep Kevin for a little radio schmooz. One, a straight station where the jock got my name wrong on the air twice (in two different ways), but where we could share our mutual enthusiasm over the upcoming Beatles onslaught, and the other a fledgling alternative station which didn't even have copy of the new C.D. I left both establishments awash with the glow of my ebullient, effusive charm. Anyway...

This was a our second time at Wings Stadium. The first time was with Nirvana two years ago. Basically a hockey arena. Once again, we rocked them. My apologies to my readers for the dearth of description when it comes to the gigs. We are old hands at this sort of thing, edging up to our sixteenth anniversary in a couple of months, and if there's any one problem with our shows, it's that they are predictably professional and boringly efficient. A nightly 120-percent give-fest. Unless someone is injured or somebody shows tit, there's really not that much to describe. Unless the following sets your blood afire:

It was 8:05 pm. We had been onstage now for 35 minutes, with ten minutes to go. My glance moved from my watch to the set list at my feet. I noted that we had done ten songs and had three to go. In my estimation we would arrive at the end of song thirteen at approximately 8:14 and 28 seconds. Another perfectly-timed set. I winked to our road manager who nodded, turned to the stage manager and flashed him a triumphant "thumbs up."

After the gig, I return to my room and complete my www site update.

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 15TH DAYTON, OH

Another venue from the two-years-previous Nirvana tour. As we were pulling in, I see a pretty brunette slide out of a cab and run indoors. She looked familiar. Sure enough, it was our second guitarist Kyle's girlfriend, come to join us for a day or two. I go inside myself and find the dressing stocked with all sorts of candy and other fattening stuff. Woe is me.

That morning at 7:30am, some clown set off the fire alarm, so I was rudely awakened to the sound of a recorded voice enjoining me to take the stair down the lobby in my underwear. I think not, I said to myself. After about ten minutes, this recording was replaced by a new one telling me to return to my normal activities. Too late for that. Though I slept for another three hours, I awoke feeling groggy and unrested. This feeling lasted all day. Plus it was gig four for this particular set of drum heads. So I didn't really get 100% of my thing tonight, but tell that to the kids who left the gig with no shoes and two black eyes. These kids today! They love their rock and roll!

Afterward, I get back to my room and, noticing this is the first hotel so far to offer Comedy Central, settle back for an evening of "Mystery Science Theater 3000," even though I've already seen this one ("The Day The Earth Froze," with "Here Comes The Circus!"). But about ten minutes into it, every cable channel starts showing a snowy Bob Newhart rerun. So I'm stuck watching Leeza Gibbons talk about the "soul-killers on daytime," to an eye-rolling Tom Snyder.

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 16TH CORAOPOLIS, PA

Back home, Thursday is comics day, but back home I have access to a comics store. Not so this Thursday where I find myself good and ensconced in Interstate Hell. An all-day drive with a mighty slow and inconsiderate driver (our original driver was forced out by a nasty turn of insider politics which shall remain undescribed in this journal) to this pathetic strip of no-man's land where the food is a particularly anemic plate of "pasta" and a desperation-run to a convenience store. I tune in "Raging Bull" on the box just long enough to realize it's been edited for television, rendering it unwatchable.

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 17TH MONACA, PA

A full plate of phoners in the afternoon while I continue to play catch-up with the tour diary. Get an e-mail from Suzanne telling me to expect the digital camera tomorrow in Albany. When we get the the gig, I see that our soundman is already tense with the anticipation of tonight's overnight drive. Albany is nine hours away through mountains, and of course, Dave is assuming the worst, weather-wise. The gig is in a place called the Beaver Dome, and it is indeed shaped like a dome.

After the gig, we wait around for almost two hours for our bus driver to show up. He was at the hotel supposedly getting some sleep in preparation for the drive. When he shows up, we found out he hasn't bothered to sleep at all, but he's gotten here late enough for us to sit in place for forty-five minutes until the post-show traffic jam subsides. Cris and I sit in the back of the bus fuming. As we finally get underway, Cris tells me to check out the guy's driving. Sure enough, he's lurching back and forth and jamming the breaks and gears, sending a huge jolt through the whole vehicle every few minutes. Soon, the driver decides he wants to take a break, so Cris and I sit in the bus continuing to fume while we wait for him. Curt is passed out in a bunk, having wisely drank heavily before the trip had begun.

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 18TH ALBANY, NY

We finally pulled into Albany around noon the next day, a full three hours later than we should of. I didn't sleep a wink. I felt more like the driver's wife and kid whom he could treat any way he chose, rather than a highly-paying employer. I march up to my tour manager's room, where I am assured that another bus and driver are on their way. Also, I claim the digital camera, which I take back to my room only to discover that the software included is for an IBM-compatible. After futzing around with it for a while, I decide there is no workaround and I can't get the pictures from the camera to my hard drive to edit them. I place calls to my contacts at Prodigy but get a round chorus of answering machines, on which I leave messages that are not returned. I am left with the choice of either not using the camera, or using it and overnighting it back to Prodigy and letting them retrieve the photos and use them without my ever seeing them, or finding a computer graphics shop in a town somewhere on our trip and seeing if they an help me. The latter seems like the best option, and I'll just bill Prodigy for the extra cost.

We take a cab to the gig, since the bus driver, having budgeted his time so poorly the night before, is still asleep. I snap a round of cute pix throughout the evening, drag my ass through a performance I am under-rested for, and return. Before retiring, I return my bus key to my tour manager.

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 19TH HAMBURG, NY

A day off, but with an afternoon on the road to Hamburg, NY outside of Buffalo. The new bus a sleek, black '95 with only thirty-thousand miles on it. It was mostly recently used by Nine Inch Nails. We settle in a begin to tool off down the road. Ahh, this driver's got an ample clue and it's smoothest ride ever. Plus it's got tons of videotapes. I pop in "The Breakfast Club" just to make sure that my tour diary has as much to offer as Courtney's Lollapaloosa diary in "SPIN." Sorry, fans; it really sucked.

Get to the hotel in the evening, get some grub, watch Lois and Superman, experience the much-touted Beatles Anthology special, and check out the new Beatle song, "Wings Of A Bird," or whatever it's called. The verdict?: Not necessarily a bad thing.

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 20TH HAMBURG, NY

Have decided to give up on the photos thing for now. Putting too much effort into the whole project will defeat the terms of my agreement with myself that I made when I took on this project. Besides, I won't be able to see the final layout in Prodigy, since they keep their "www" pages behind a firewall and their proprietary "web browser" doesn't support the Mac O.S. I cannot stress enough how perfect these online services are for people interested in talking about sports or exchanging recipes at five bucks an hour.

Anyway, the gig was spooky tonight, mostly due to the aforementioned accidental animosity Cris invoked during the satellite hookup with the Buffalo station. Even though Cris went back on the air this afternoon to mend fences, we all couldn't help but feel there was somebody out there with a bag of rotten tomatoes. Curt messed up the intro to "Sam" twice, he was so nervous. Me, I validated my whole Hamburg experience by finding a comics store in town and checking in with my old pal Superman. Had to walk a good hour to find him, but I managed to avoid getting any soakers in the process. Also a brief visit after the gig with my friends back in California (you know, the ones that live on Melrose Place). A dull episode. Too much Kimberly and Jane. There was an exciting knife-fight with Jake and his current plot-device, even if it was poorly-written (please note that I'm not trying to sound surprised).

Another overnight drive afterward. A relatively painless one which got me into my room by a little after four. Too early to even try to fall asleep. So here I sit, actually caught up to the present finally. Preparing to send this first week of diary in to the forces that be. With any luck they'll get it, although they never replied to my query last week as to whether or not I had the right address. We'll just wait and see.

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 21ST DANBURY, CN

Not sleeping well these days for some reason. This morning I was forced to go down to the bus and make myself a peanut butter sandwich at four in the morning. Got up, still hungry, and went down to the bus to find Lupe the driver doing a little cleaning. I remark how disconcerting it is to wake up and find yourself out in the middle of nowhere stranded on the side of some damned interstate. Turns out he wants to make a mall run himself. We collect Curt and Cory (Cris and Kyle can't sleep at night either, but they also can't wake up in the morning), and off we go. I'm looking for the Beatles CD of course, and I find it. Curt wants some boots, since he came on tour with just a thin pair of tennis shoes. Lupe needs some sunglasses. Once I get back to the bus with my purchase, I am too excited to listen to it, so we put on Curt's new selection, a package of greatest hits from Merle Haggard's Capital days. Soon, we're grooving to "Silver Wings," "The Fightin' Side Of Me," "Mama Tried," and "Working Man Blues."

Tonight was the actual Turkey-Day as far as catering was concerned. The whole nine yards was presented. About what you'd expect if you had Thanksgiving dinner at Price Club. I stuck with the alternate meatless fare, a very nice potpourri of squash rolled up in fillo dough.

Found out over dinner a good friend of mine had been in a car accident back in Phoenix that day. Gave her a jingle after I got back to my room, and sure enough. She was depressed and angry. Her little boy was not riding with her at the time thank goodness, but none the less, she said to me, "What's he gonna say when I pick him up this evening? He loves that truck!" She got good and broadsided and spun around a couple of times. Lawsuit.

Later I log in to CompuServe to get an update on missed episodes of "Guiding Light" and find that Jim and Kevin from "Mystery Science Theater 3000" are holding a chat. They roundly criticize the film "Billy Madison," and hype their upcoming film. I then switch to a chat with crime writer Andrew Vasch, who is an activist for children's rights. he is hyping a ban on all things Thai, due to that country's atrocious record of children being sold into sex slavery.

That night was no better than the night before, sleep-wise. I noticed my skin was breaking out in a bona fide rash from shitty hotel soap, cheaply-laundered hotel sheets, and too much exposure to hotel heating units. Soon, I would be forced to use that most despised substance, skin lotion.

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 22ND BETHLEHEM, PA

Get a chance to rock out with the Beatles CD during the drive today. Much of it was new, but there were a couple of my favorite outtakes heard previously on bootlegs. There's are great demos of "Can't Buy Me Love," "One After 909," "And I Love Her," "No Reply," and others. George obviously composed his leads before he recorded them; his extemporaneous scratch leads are uproariously inept. Also apparent was that George Martin managed to squeeze most of the Beatles' sheer love of rocking out from the final product.

The early part of our day contained a bit of a detour to a car rental place where Curt picked up a vehicle to help facilitate his drive up to his girlfriend's parent's house for the holidays. As we pulled up to the airport, Curt expressed bitter confusion over why his gal was flying into Philadelphia when there was a perfectly good airport right here in Bethlehem. We decided it was a problem with our travel agent's mind. Curt's girlfriend was scheduled to show up just after we finished playing. Curt and she would spend the night in town, then jam up to the Hyde Park area, rejoining us in Uniondale on Friday. Unfortunately, the young woman's plane was a couple hours late in taking off. Par for the T-Day course if you ask me.

Also visiting us was Kyle's mom, Bonnie, and a couple of her friends. She was a charming woman who insisted that I was "underrated." As a drummer, she meant. One of her friends managed Kyle's last band Pariah's fan club, so I asked her to put together something for me to look at in the way of setting up a fan club for us. Some damned person who shall remain nameless put a false claim that we have a fan club on the new CD, so now I've got to make good on it.

After the show, we ran in to another guest, an old pal from Philly, who had driven all the way up to Bethlehem in time to miss the show. Another few minutes and he would have missed us, as we were preparing to bust a move to NYC when he walked up. We kicked back with him for a while and then beat it. Manhattan was only an hour and a half away, so we were at the hotel in midtown before midnight. But not in time to see either this week's "90210" or the second installment of the Beatles special. But I did get to my room in time to get a message that my friend Rob, who lives in town, was having dinner right across the street.

I sauntered over, dirty Super-tee still clinging to my body, joined Rob, and introduced myself to his out-of-town guests. Much to my delight, they told me that they had seen Jason Priestly and his sweetheart in the lobby of the hotel they were staying at. I, of course, have met the Priest-meister on two different occasions. The first time was at the filming of the "90210" pilot, which we appeared in, and the second time was in Santa Barbara. That was the weekend after the riots following the King beating verdicts, and Jason, like so many, had escaped L.A. for a while. We were partying backstage before our show, when he comes up, says "hey," and tipsily announces that he's playing the drums for the Puppets that night. Unfortunately, it did not happen.

Anyway, back to the present. Rob cannot understand why I am so loathe to meet his friends even when I comport myself so well and hold my end up conversationally with such panache. He cannot know how depressing it is to run among the normal non-showbiz "civilians," who only want to talk about great it must be for me to do what I do. No one it seems is proud of their own occupations. The whole country is star struck. Is it the money or the attention or the chance to "express yourself"? (The notion of self-expression is a hopelessly civilian one anyway. Any true artist will tell you that human beings have no "self" to express.) Nope, it seems what thrills people about stardom is the notion that we get to treat people like dirt and get away with it.

Anyway, we're sitting around in the lobby of this hotel (I remember now: it was the Royalton) and suddenly my Rob's guest's wife leans over and says, Do you see who's checking in? It's George Clooney!" Sure enough. There must be some sort of "E.R." convention, since Jason Priestly's sweetie is on that show as well. These stars deserve the Royalton. The bill for four coffees and a treat was thirty bucks. I get back to my hotel, check my e-mail and find out that my friend Bruce's wife's kitty has died.

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 23RD NYC

My hotel in NYC, formerly the Macklowe, now the Millennium, is right around the corner from Broadway at 44th, directly above the parade, which was clearly audible this morning even from 42 stories up. I was awakened at 9:00 am to the sound of a marching band playing "There's No Business Like Show Business." Being in show business myself, I found this ironic: like I need to be awakened at 9:00 in the morning to be told this? (Spartans take note: Still being on Phoenix time, nine is seven to me. I still can't sleep at night. At home, I like to get up a decent hour.)

I got back to sleep and was then awakened around 11:30 by Rob who tells me that "Mitchell" is on "Mystery Science Theater 3000," and who asks when I'm coming over. I fear at first that the parade is gonna screw up my subway trip to Tribeca, since I can't cross Broadway to get on the 1 at 50th and Broadway, so I tell him to give me a little time. But once I get out on the street, I find the parade has already dissipated. I get downtown sooner than expected and find Rob enthralled by the MST3K Turkey Day Marathon. "Mitchell" is over and in it's place is an ad for tonight's season premiere, a showing of "Night Of The Blood Beast." It is the first episode since the departure of T.V.'s Frank, who has been replaced by Dr. Forrester's mother. Rob and I are a little apprehensive.

We are going to a friend of Rob's for dinner, a catered vegetarian affair. I am glad for the vegetarianism, but am unhappy about the catering. I've been eating nothing but catering and restaurant food for the past two weeks. While I wait for Rob to get out of the shower, I call friends and family back home to wish them a happy holidays. Mostly, I leave messages, but I do get a hold of my sister, who informs me that she has nothing new to report. God, I miss Phoenix.

The dinner itself is unremarkable but Rob's friends are very nice. Our host works as computer networking consultant. Later in the evening, we surf the web a bit and discover much to our horror that Disney is planning a sequel to the dreaded "Fantasia" for some time in '97. Afterward, we head back to Rob's place for the "Blood Beast" film. Dr. Forrester's mom is no major scream. At one point, the 'bots flip over the clearly visible dressing side of a zombie. "Stop looking at my area!" yells one.

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 24TH UNIONDALE, NY

I'm expecting a visitor today, so I get up a little early this morning to bust out a quick run to a nearby comic store. No new Super-title. When I get back to the Millennium, Glenn from Prodigy is waiting for me. He's set up in Cory's room, waiting for me to break out the digital camera. We hook it up, and after Glenn gets his ports all properly configured (gotta love these non-Macs), we dig my photos out of the thing. There they are. Mighty good looking, too. Unfortunately, there is no Mac software available, so I swap Glenn for one of those Polaroids with the little window in the back that takes those itty-bitty pictures. I will then have to overnight them to Glenn, who will have to scan them by hand. We turn my digi-pix into jpegs and make copies of them for me to look over and write captions for. Enjoyers of last week's diary installment have already seen the cream of these pix.

Finally the bus comes, and we head over to Uniondale, about an hour and half away. Kyle's mom and friends come along. Suddenly, Kyle whips out the new Elvis boxed set, which he's bought for his mom. It's a compilation of The King's best material from the seventies, which was always my favorite Elvis period. I turn to Cris and say, "We never used to listen to this stuff much, did we?" Ten years ago, it was about all we listened to. In fact, during the height of our success with "Up On The Sun," we would play a couple of songs from that album, then fill up the bulk of our live shows with Elvis covers. So I deejay about an hour and a half's worth of cream from the box ("The Wonder Of You," "Stranger In The Crowd," "I've Lost You," "Cindy Cindy," "Washed My Hands In Muddy Water"). We get to the gig in no time.

Cris is all excited because our name is on the marquee out in front of the arena. It's the same place the Islanders play in, with the hotel right next door. I try to snap a picture of it, but find that this new camera is already giving me a hard time. When I pop it up into it's picture-taking mode, it refuses to power up. I fume about this all through dinner and sound check, then I take it back to my room and fiddle with it. According to the instructions, it's behaving as it would if there were no film in it. So I replace the film cartridge with a new one and now it seems to work fine. Whatever. Either way, when I look at the clock, I realize I'm late, and I rush out of there, forgetting the camera in my haste. I manage to make it to the stage with literally seconds to spare. It's a great show; the kids go apeshit. Afterward I appropriate one of the hats thrown onstage: an elaborately-embroidered Notre Dame cap.

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 25TH BALTIMORE, MD

I'm a little late to the bus the next morning because there's a treat in my e-mail. An old pal from Phoenix, currently working abroad, has resurfaced after nearly three months. She claims she's been transposing two of the characters in my e-mail address, and it's taken her this long to get it straight. I instantly sit down to the computer and pound out an unconditional forgiveness. I finally head down to the bus (where, as usual, I am far from the last to arrive) and snap off a quick couple of pix, one of some fans surrounding what I presume to be an Islander, and one of Kyle and his mom, who's headed for the airport this morning. Cris grumbles that he ought to go with her and try to catch a flight out of JFK to Baltimore. And he ought to, too, since there's bound to be dozens of them. But he's been up all night with local friends and barely has the energy to just lie there and complain.

Our plan is follow Curt and his sweetie back to Bethlehem, drop off his rental, and head down into Baltimore. Before we're even out of Long Island, we developed vehicular trouble. All of a sudden, the bus fills up with nasty steam that smells like overheated engine. We pull over in time to see the last of our antifreeze accumulate in a puddle and begin to drift down the street. Curt pulls up behind us, his windshield coated with vile green liquid. Lupe digs around in the engine for a while, and determines that some gauge or another has gone bad on us. He turns off a valve or two, we replace the antifreeze, and we're on our way only an hour poorer. When Cory checks in with Primus, it turns out they too are running late, so we won't get a sound check anyway. The only really annoying thing is that when I whip out the Polaroid to snap a picture of our dilemma, the damned thing has stopped working again!

We pull into town at around six-thirty. We've actually played this venue before, with Blind Melon, which makes it the third venue previously-visited with a member of the now-deceased. We pull off a great gig and repair to our dressing room for a quick meet-and-greet. One girl asks me if I would do her the honor of riding on her back as she get down on all fours. I accommodate her. Another guy tell me he's going to try and start a Meat Puppets newsgroup on Usenet. I tell him to let me know. Soon the fans all shuffle out, so we beat it back to the hotel. I actually fall asleep before two.

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 26TH HAMPTON, VA

We have to leave kind of early this morning, since we have to do a radio show at two in the afternoon. So we leave around nine. We mostly just sleep during the drive. During a gas stop, I realize I've fallen asleep with an open bottle of Perrier at my feet. This is ironic to me because I've manged to keep my feet dry for two weeks as we travel through snow country. Now, as we finally move south towards the Mason-Dixon line, I manage to get a soaker in my own bunk!

The radio show is actually in a studio across the brunnel (that's bridge-tunnel) in Virginia Beach. It's more of a small concert than a radio show. We are playing acoustically, I on a rented drum kit, for about two-dozen kids. We do about thirty minutes -- eight songs and some change, sign a few autographs, and take off. Curt gets in a rental car for a trip to another radio station, and since Cris has to sit there and jaw with fans for an hour, I jam to the gig with Dave. Meanwhile, I develop a workaround for the camera. It seems it will power up once I put film in it, and will stay on as long as I don't close it up into it's portable position. So I just leave it open until all ten pix are taken. Not convenient, but workable.

I borrow Dave's bike and go tooling around the area, mostly to look for comic stores. I'm still without my weekly Super-title. When I return, I learn that something is wrong with Curt's Midi controller, which stores all the presets he uses for his effects. We get nothing out of it at all. some of the Primus crew guys, who are familiar with the Bradshaw unit tell us it is a regular occurrence for the things to lose all their memory. Dave puts a call in to the builder, but it is of course Sunday night. Curt has to use his old set-up. I kill time waiting for Curt and Dave to sort things out by playing Tetris with the stage manager. He's got two Game Boys linked together for a two-player challenge. This is new to me, and I get my ass whupped.

We have no problem overcoming this technical adversity, and put on an energetic show. Afterward, I stomp a round the dressing room in a towel, bellowing while Cris makes a mess with the some apples and breaks a bottle or two. We leave around ten for the long overnight drive to Athens, Georgia.

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 27TH ATHENS, GA.

I awaken in Athens, on the bus, at around eleven. I slept on and off all night, but mostly on, so I'm up to stay. I wrestled with some throat soreness last night, so I'm fearing the worst. I check in to my room, do a little laundry in the sink, take a shower, and head off to explore the town. This is an honest-to-goodness day off with nothing to do, in an honest-to-goodness town, not a strip off the interstate. We haven't been to Athens in three years. The last time we were here, Kim Bassinger was in attendance. The P.A. fucked up during the show, so Cris shoved his bass into the ceiling, shattering the fluorescent bulbs overhead, showering the stage with minute chunks of glass.

Things have changed little since then. The Forty-Watt Club is either gone or moved. The comics store is above the Wuxtry is still there, however, and I find the two Super-titles I need to complete my collection. No new one though. It seems they didn't ship last week due to some distribution rescheduling. I did find on sale the brand new Superman action figures, and a new volume of the R. Crumb sketchbooks. I also buy a second-hand copy of "The Blessing Way" by Tony Hillerman, and two by Andrew Vasch. Now, shopped out, I stop in an organic restaurant for a bowl of rice and beans. Afterwards, I return to my room and check in on "Guiding Light," which I haven't seen for a week. Then I take a nap, answer my e-mail, determine that it's too much trouble to catch a showing of "Casino," and watch "Melrose Place."

Later, I walk around looking for food. most of the town is closed up, even though it's only 9:30. As I head back towards the hotel, resigned to room service, I run into Dave. It turns out he's fleeing a plate of inedible room service himself. We take a drive to a nearby Taco Bell and compare our woes over the next couple of days. Even though we drove all night to get down to Athens, our next show is clear up in Winston-Salem, six hours north, and about three hours from Hampton, VA, where we just came from. Then we have to drive clear down to Orlando, Florida. You run into this kind of screwy scheduling all the time. Athens is half way between Winston-Salem and Orlando. Davo is obviously exhausted from driving the equipment truck all night, then spending all day trying to get the Midi-controller fixed.

Taco Bell doesn't float my boat, so I get him to drive me around the school area until I find something open. I end up in a little Italian place with plate of pasta. Good enough. I'm still feeling the beginnings of a cold, so I go back to my room and plan to make an early night of it. Before I get to sleep, Suzanne calls. She just wants to tell me how much she enjoyed installment one of the tour diary. We chat for a little while, then I settle in for what I hope is a good night's sleep.

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 28TH ATHENS, GA

The grim specter of illness is nagging me today. Your standard symptoms: Sore sinuses, scratchy throat, headache, grim substances accumulating for expectoration, and overall weakness as your body does the right thing (that is, fights). Luckily we're in a fairly trippy locale where organo-chow is not hard to come by. I slam the wheatgrass juice for lunch, along with a smoothie. I key Davo in on my find and he joins me for lunch before driving off to the gig. He too is in need of health, since his ability to sleep has been so compromised. He tells me that a front of nasty weather is on the way, but it is so damned nice out at the moment, I refuse to listen. We run into Kyle at the restaurant as well, and he tells a few good-natured if lacking-in-professional-strength jokes, but I am so caught up in fighting my sickness that I impolitely forget to laugh.

"Get out of here Kyle," He says self-deprecatingly.

Cris and I stop in later on our way to the gig for more wheat grass. The counter help says he is unlicensed to squeeze the stuff, so we wait for a woman who can. I ask her what it takes to become an authorized wheat grass juice squeezer. She hems and haws, and finally says, noncommittally, "I guess you just have to enjoy doing it." I found this amusing enough, so I replied, "I guess that makes me an authorized wheat grass juice creation witness." I was ignored.

The gig is in a brand new structure, obviously built for product conventions, not rocking out. It is essentially a big box, a noise trap. Great if you like your live shows distorted by boomy echo, not so good otherwise. None the less, the audience is receptive, as they have been since we dropped below New York. The Southeast has always been good for us. After the show, Davo brings back a gal we met years ago in Los Angeles. She moved to Athens three years ago to get out of the rat race. She used to work for a health food store and gave me a bunch of herbal detoxing compounds when I gave up drugs five years ago. I chat with her for a while, then take her to say hi to Curt, who is in the dressing room visiting with Vic Chestnut.

On the way back to the hotel, I stopped back once again at the organo restaurant (I guess too much backstage catering and interstate food will do this to you) for a salad and a carrot juice. Turns out the guy who earlier claimed to be unauthorized to make wheat grass juice used to work in Wooster, Mass as a field rep for our record company. Now he works down here in a recording studio (moonlighting I guess as counter help). Turns out he also worked at Mark Of The Unicorn, which makes music composition software for Macintosh.

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 29TH WINSTON-SALEM, NC

Another quick visit to the juice bar in the morning for once last glass of health and we're off. I think I have gotten over the hump, illness-wise. Painfully expensive phone charges from being in a backwater town with no local online access number. It's still pretty nice out, despite the ominous weather predictions of the day before. Lupe says the really nasty stuff will outrun us.

Spend most of the drive screwing around with Cory's Power Book (150). He's got hard drive organization like a lot of people who are in the dark. Fonts all over his system folder, programs that had just vanished one day turning up in the sub-directory of another unrelated program (it's called "Find;" learn to use it), preferences set to not take advantage of important time-saving features. Your average mess. Three different versions of AOL uninstalled, aliases for deleted programs, 23Megs of the next version of System 7 uninstalled. Strange stuff. I do a little housecleaning, create an organization of the Apple Menu which will make his life easier, and show him a scheme so that this mess will not happen again. Of course, about an hour later he says to me, "When you get the chance, you'll have to show me all that again. I can't remember any of what you just showed me." Now he will have to be punished.

Turnouts are getting slim as we near the final leg of this tour. Tonight, the stage is pushed so far up that we are only playing to about a fifth of the hockey arena. The Orlando gig has been moved from a large arena to a small club. Looks like it's time for Primus to get off the road and begin work on the next batch of hit songs.

We played in Winston-Salem with Blind Melon last year I think, but I could be wrong. I know we were here in August of '85. I have lots of memories of that. Baseball went on strike just as the Mets took first place away from the Cardinals (only to lose it again once the strike was resolved), Rock Hudson died of AIDS, "The Treasure Of Sierra Madre" was on the bar teevee, and there was a nasty fight in the parking lot after the gig. I'd almost swear we're right around that gig tonight, but I don't think this huge-o-drome was there then. There's a barbecue place across the street cutely named "Pig Pickin's," as well as a bar where our old crony Ed Fromohio is playing. Cris draws him a little hello picture and sends it along with a guy we know who's going to that gig after ours is finished. We, on the other hand, have to get on down the road. We want to spend our day off in Daytona Beach.

It's hard enough to get to sleep on tour and near impossible on the bus. Cris and I stay up all night watching movies. We make it about forty-five minutes through "Major Payne" before we decide we are wasting our time. (We saw "Billy Madison" the other night, and I am now one of its staunch supporters. Of course, I also genuflect at the alter of Jerry Lewis. ) Next we put in "Above The Law" with Steven Sagal. An almost completely unintelligible plot concerning rogue CIA and the Sanctuary movement. I waited patiently for over an hour for the neat, one sentence explanation of what it was we were seeing. When it came, Cris and I had to admit that the conspiracy sounded plausible enough (the CIA works for the banking community starting wars around the world which the bankers can then profit upon). Of course, having a reactionary action thriller wrap itself up in Liberation Theology politics doesn't wring very true. Afterward, we popped in "The Shankshaw Redemption" for a little feel good entertainment the whole family could enjoy.

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 30TH DAYTONA BEACH, FL

Shame on Cory for trying to wake me up when we get to town. I've told him this is not to be done. I hate it when one of my employees tries to think for himself. And what was so important that he had to disturb my already fitful slumber? Gosh, we're parked a whole half a block away from the hotel. I don't think I'm gonna be able to find it! The sleep thing just barely happened last night, but who cares. I might backslide a bit on the illness thing, but it's so damned nice outside. We are staying directly across the street from where we gigged with STP last year, a large convention center. It was the last place I cut all my hair off. A week later, I taped a Jon Stewart Show and vowed never to cut it that short again after I saw the broadcast.

I check in to my room, get my bearings and head out for a long walk. I head up the coast for about four miles, just as far as I can stand it, until I'm whining and dragging my feet. I get myself a cup of coffee and sit at a bus stop, praying that the city's planners have a clue and aren't just using the bus service as a punishment for the poor. Luckily enough, the bus comes promptly and takes me right back to where I want to go. The motivation for my walk, outside of getting some leg-stretching, sun-soaking exercise, was to find comics. I failed miserably (actually I came within a quarter-mile, but my legs gave out). There was nothing but the typical Florida-coast hotels and tee-shirt shacks. Dozens and dozens of them. In the window of one, I saw a most offensive shirt. It had a pictures of the Confederate flag on it and bore the logo, "You wear your 'X," I'll wear mine."

I go back to the room to grab an access number and check my e-mail. This hotel is the biggest rip-off yet: they even charge for 1-800 numbers. Well, we are in tourist hell after all. I get like fifteen messages (a new one-day record), mostly hailing me for my fine tour diary work. Also a message from a gal in Orlando who wants to get in on the guest-list. No, I'm not handing out free passes to cyberstrangers; we met her last year on the STP tour. Afterward, Cris and I take a stroll along the old boardwalk taking pix with the Polaroid. There is a really cool old miniature golf course with crumbling Humpty Dumpties and the like, but it is fenced up and I can't get any good shots. I manage to get get a good shot of Cris amidst the funky pinball arcade.

Nothing much to shout about on NBC-Thursday. Reruns (a funny "Seinfeld" I'd seen before featuring my favorite running bit, about Jerry's intolerance of the habits of his girlfriends. It doesn't matter how drop-dead she is, he's always got an excuse to break up with her. Oh, how familiar it sounds. Tonight, it's because she eats her peas one at a time. He asks he why, and when she replies, "What's the hurry," he gives her the most excellent withering look of disgust. The punch-line payoff comes later when he reveals that even though she eats her peas one at a time, she shovels her corn. "That's what was so odd," claims Jerry.)

I experience the Jack Benny tribute (not a bad thing), and tune in Jay to see Howard Stern. Howard was a major pig and I was not impressed. I find Siskel and Ebert to be much funnier. Howard did get one good line in, as he cut down the other books sharing the best-sellers list with him . When he gets to Bill Gates' "The Road Ahead," Howard remarks, "Why should we listen to the lies of this computer geek?" Howard is on a book tour right now, and being a veteran tourer myself, I could see the pitfalls of touring written all over him. What can I say? Howard has been nothing but nice to us, and in person he is truly decent, but his shtick is too infantile for me to like.

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 1ST ORLANDO, FL

Got up this morning, sorted through my Polaroids, wrote captions for a half dozen, and dropped them off at the post office across the street. Then I got on a bus and rode to the next beach over to the comics store I almost made it to yesterday. Snapped up the new Superman (a lovely green cover of the man of steel bound to a rocket illuminated by a green cloud) and beat it back to the hotel. The comic takes less time to read than it took to get it; so what else is new.

We leave around three for the hour and half drive to Orlando. Kyle's girlfriend Lisa has materialized during the day off, so she joins us along with Curt's girlfriend Jo, who is leaving shortly after we get into town. We pull into a typical rock club in a half-abandoned strip mall. Oh joy. Here's an environment I don't miss. It seems I'll never be rid of the smell of piss, vomit, and industrial-strength club-antiseptic. Of course the sound is more natural, bouncing as it does against real walls instead of sounding like we're playing in an airplane hanger.

The local gal never materializes. We're beating it out of there as soon as we finish anyway. Tonight, we watch a tape of an old "Lost In Space" episode, the two-parter called "The Keeper." I made myself good and sick of that show twenty years ago, but it was fun to watch after that long. We finally pull off at a truck stop around one in the morning, and immediately the counter girl is demanding to know who's on the bus. I tell her it's Garth Brooks and if she gives me the tape I'm buying for free, she can come on tour with us. She doesn't buy it, however. She claims she met Boys 2 Men last year, who wanted her to party with them. I don't extend a similar offer, since she reminds me of an old girlfriend (not a good thing in this case). We leave, and I check out my new tape, a Rhino compilation of country songs expressing the "America: Love It Or Leave It" attitude. A definite hoot.

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 2ND PENSACOLA, FL

Actually fell asleep on the bus last night around one-ish. It was a deep enough sleep that when I awoke around eleven in Pensacola I was stiff as a board. I couldn't even straighten up, my lower back was so spasmed out. I hobbled up to my day room, checked my messages, had lunch at the gig across the street, did an interview, and called a friend back home who's birthday it is today. Got the scoop on local dirt back home: who's sick, who's pregnant, who's broken up with her boyfriend, etc. Often, when we leave home for a month, nothing happens. But it's the holiday, and things always go down then. The weather is still fantastic back home, and I'm getting e-mail from my bikin' buddy who's anxious for the reunion of the dynamic duo. Unfortunately, warm weather in the winter can mean only one thing in Phoenix: inversion. The smog layer is thick, and people are already advised not to exercise out of doors. I usually go out of town for a little hikin' in the wintertime, either to the east to the Superstitions (where you can still see the ugly brown cloud hanging over the city) or north on the I-17, up to around Sunset Point.

Nothing can shake the spacey feeling I've got. It's so damned nice outside that I just feel like lying around in the sun, not doing or thinking about anything. I read the paper while drifting in an out of slumber. The best thing in it is a short article about a gesture made by our Secretary of The Interior and Arizona's former Governor, Bruce Babbitt. Forced once again to hand over the mining rights to the mining companies for next to nothing (under two thousand dollars), Babbitt wrapped up the contract in a big box wrapped in Christmas paper with a card that read "From the American Taxpayers. A 17-million dollar gift," or something like that. Then he went off about how it's nothing but another subsidy of the wealthy. Go get 'em Bruce!

Another wonderful gig as we reach the home stretch. I try to limber my back up by listening to Kyle's mom's Elvis CD a little. Our old pal Richard Butgeriet is in attendance backstage and he gets the mandatory teasing. We've got another fucking overnight drive waiting for us when we get offstage, but tomorrow's a day off.

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 3RD NASHVILLE, TN

We pull into town around six. I'm pissed off because I found out about an hour out of Pensacola that we can't check into the hotel when we get to Nashville. The place is full up, so we're supposed to wait on the bus as people trickle down to the lobby to check out. This could take anywhere from two to six hours. Our tour manager has decided to take this lying down, literally. He's in his bunk, reading some fucking drumming magazine, just accepting it. Not getting on the phone to find us alternate lodgings. Nor did he bother to appraise us of the situation days ago and give us the option to stay in Pensacola overnight.

I know Cris will be stewing as well. Sure enough, he's in the front of the bus. We commiserate, and he agrees to be the one to get Cory off his ass, since I am in greater pain, being less of a "morning person." I listen as it takes Cris a good five minutes to convince Cory that he's not being asked, but being told to get a move on. Cory hems and haws, saying things like, "it won't be very long," and "I'll let you have the first room available." He obviously doesn't know Cris very well, or else he wouldn't have said anything. We're not paying him to participate in an experiment in democracy. Of course, there are other hotels with vacancies, and soon, I am in real bed trying to get some real rest. It's a good thing too, because when I wake up around noon, it's pissing down with rain.

Get up around noon, drink some coffee and log in to CompuServe to get some soap opera updates. As usual, things really jump when I'm on tour and unable to watch. Also, I see a piece of news that the actor who plays Henry Chamberlain on "Guiding Light" was killed in a car accident on Thursday. While checking around in some other areas, I get called on to chat from some 24-year-old girl in NYC. She claims to have met me, but she is just kidding around. She doesn't seem to know "who" I "am," and I manage to resist the temptation to tell her. It always ruins the flirting when they find out I'm someone they've heard of.

The rain has pretty much stopped by evening, so I go out for a while to stretch my legs. I find a good comics store to check out in the morning, and a Tower Records to kill some time in. I actually find a CD I'd been looking for: a bunch of classic Salsoul disco tunes remixed for the modern techno audience. I promised myself I'd buy it the next time I saw it (the last time was over a year ago in Philadelphia), so I do. It's raining again by the time I get back outside, so I go back to hotel, order some bullshit hotel pasta (my seven hundredth helping of it this tour, it seems), and settle in.

Not much of a day, really.

MONDAY, DECEMBER 4TH NASHVILLE, TN

It's nice and sunny today, but that only helps contribute to the poor mood I wake up in this morning. It's not really all that bad, I just don't feel like doing anything today. I fear I may have hit the wall, tour-wise, and am ready to take a break. I go downstairs and walk to the comics store I saw yesterday. I'm almost positive it's the same place I visited when I first came to Nashville thirteen years ago. The neighborhood looks familiar, but I can't place the club. Finally, I find this comic I'm looking for. The damned thing is only a month old, but somehow I missed it. Actually, I know why: the poor state of the comics industry right now caused many comic store owners to cool on this particular title (one of the yearly crossover miniseries designed to bilk completists) and order only as much as they thought they'd actually sell. This place (The Great Escape) also has a couple of boxes of crime comics from the late forties and early fifties, all ranging in price from four dollars to twenty. Beautiful things with lurid, crudely drawn covers. Late numbers of "Crime Does Not Pay," "Crime And Punishment," and even an issue or two of Jack Kirby's "Police Trap," and "Justice Traps The Guilty." If I'd had an extra five hundred dollars in my bank account that I'd just as soon throw away as keep, I'd own those comics now.

Seeing beautiful things always lifts my spirits (if they're comics, anyway) so I feel a bit better by the time I get to my room. I read my purchase, take a shower, and do an interview with a young lad in Madison, Wisconsin. When I finish, I turn on "Guiding Light" in time to see the recently-returned Hart walk out on his father, and the newly-returned Reva witness her hospitalized father's heart stop. Actually, it's not the "real" Hart. He was injured in a hang-gliding accident two years ago and spent over a year in a coma. He was replaced and quickly written out of the show. The actor will apparently never recover (the last I heard he was just learning how to remember his family), so they've gone ahead and replaced him. Reva, on the other hand, was a very popular character who apparently left years ago to move to California with her family. She recently returned after the earthquakes and wanted her job back. A neat trick, since her character was killed off. I won't bore rock fans with the silly plot that was contrived to bring her back. Let it suffice to say the silliness continues.

After the show ends, I call my mechanic back in Phoenix to see if the insurance company of the guy who rear-ended my car has coughed up the bread to pay for it yet. My car was finished the day after I left on this tour, of course. My mechanic says they should have sent a huge check to my home. I so call my friend who's collecting my mail, and ask her to gather it all up, dig through it, and get back to me. Then I call Cory to see if he's found me a flight back to Phoenix from Denver on Sunday night after the gig rather than the following day. He has, but it'll be a tight one.

I decide to walk to the gig, which is about a mile and a half away, through downtown Nashville. It's just what I need, since I've been cooped up for a couple of days. By the time I get there, my headache's gone. I find the dressing room and realize that I know someone in town. There she is, a girl I know from the SST days, who used to work in the office there. She introduces me to her friend, we visit for a while, she dances around to the sound check, we eat some catering.

I take her and her friend back to the bus to check out my new CD and to watch "Melrose Place." Allison is shocked and sickened to find that her recently-deceased husband had divorced her two weeks ago. Apparently, he'd had her sign the papers amidst a stack of some other thing and she was none-the-wiser. It's obvious to me that he did it because he was heavily insolvent and didn't want his creditors coming for her after he committed suicide (which he undoubtedly did). I am satisfied by this, the only way a bit-player can be noble on this show. Generally, he'll either get caught with another woman or beat his lover after a spurned advance. If he's not found out to be a cad, well then he'll just have to die.

I miss the tail end in order to get ready to do the gig, so I miss whatever cliff-hanger the show ended with. I make sure the ladies are all set to get the V.I.P. treatment they so richly deserve and get out there. Tonight, there's a bit of excitement as Cris' luck runs out. He gets a shoe right in the face during the first song. He puts his guitar down and leaves the stage as Curt, Kyle, and I spin the song into an angry noise jam. Before we can finish and join him, Cris returns. He grabs the mike and calls the motherfucker out, getting the security guys to shine a light on him. After saying his piece, he gets back to work and we have a great set. Afterward he tries to find the guy to have him arrested, but is unsuccessful. I got swatted in the nose with a shoe last year in Cleveland. It was not fun, nor did it feel good. It came right before we finished our last number, so I didn't bother to make a stink. I just went back to the hotel and went to bed. My head ached and I felt like a had a whiplash. Anyway, we split for the hotel as Cris' eyes began to blacken. I told The SST gal that I'd be up for a while if she wanted to come by after the gig, but of course she didn't.

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 5 LOUISVILLE, KY

Got to bed early enough last night to get up and do my 10AM German interview. It's with a metal magazine called "The Horror Inferno," and no real new ground is broken. It's gotten to the point where I can tell what question is being asked by the first word or two. Mostly, they are hoping to have me complain that there are other bands more popular than mine. My current answer reminds them that unless it turns out that I'm the last human on earth, I will inevitably be surpassed.

I spend the morning writing most of last week's diary and sending it off. The next thing I know, I'm down in the lobby waiting for the bus, which has been in the shop getting the damage incurred in Long Island repaired. It's about an hour late. Soon, it becomes apparent that we are doomed to miss sound check. Cris has had a rough night after his beaning, so he sleeps most of the way. When we get to town, he rouses himself and say, "Are we there?"

It turns out he thinks we're in Springfield. He has spaced a whole town. Poor fool, he should learn to read his tour itinerary. I walk over to the gig to see if I have time to do a line check at least. I do a bit of one, but the crew is mostly trying to overcome the radio signals coming out of the amps. I move towards catering for a plateful of Indian-like food. It's my second bogus Indian in two days. Afterward, I go downstairs to the dressing room to put my last roll of film in the Polaroid and fire off some shots. I get a cute one of Curt creeping about while Danny grins appreciatively, then the camera starts beeping. I lost the manual for the thing along the way, but I'm guessing the battery has died. It's just as well; I've got enough photo coverage and I'm sick of lugging this thing around with me.

The onstage injuries continue tonight, only this time they're self-inflicted. Being late to sound check, I don't get a chance to make sure my drums are far enough in front of the drum riser, and soon I've slashed my knuckle on the rim of my floor tom. It's just a little cut, but since I've got to come down on it over and over again, my kit is covered with blood by the end of the set. I also manage to swat myself in the head with a drumstick.

Tonight's hotel is a German one, and the swastikas aren't even very well hidden. They're right there in the detail work on the columns in the lobby. The room is full of old world styling. I catch a documentary about The Who. It's funny how much I've absorbed from Keith Moon, and I've never even cared much for him. But during his early days, he scowls just as much as I do when I play. There's one great clip where, during a show, Keith keels over backward from too much horse tranquilizers and liquor, and looks for all purposes to be dead. After they cart him off, Pete gets on the mike and says, "Can anybody out their play the drums? Somebody good." Everyone raises their hands, of course.

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 6 SPRINGFIELD, IL

Got up this morning, grabbed some free coffee from the hotel lobby, and went back to my room to call my 11AM interview. She wasn't there. Whoever set it up didn't take the time difference into account. I leave a message and tell the interviewer to call me in an hour. She actually does, so I get that one out of the way. Turns out she used to be married to one of the Violent Femmes.

We have the day off, and have about seven hours of driving ahead of us to get to Springfield. We couldn't check in until this afternoon, so we have to spend the day on the road. Cris decided to go with Dave last night and check into some other place, so Larry and Danny are traveling with us today. As I check out, Curt comes walking up, somewhat agitated. He tells us how after making him and Larry wait for almost an hour for their lunch, the waitress got the orders wrong. Curt sent his back, but Larry was so irate that he smashed his sandwich, chips and all, into a big ball and demanded that the waitress be fired. We stopped along the way and had a nice lunch at a Cracker Barrel instead.

Springfield is just the kind of place that makes me homesick. Some damned small Midwestern town where everything is made of rotting wood and the people act like the outside world is some kind of myth. The hotel there, the Springfield Hilton, was a serious dump. Travelers beware. The paint was peeling off the doors, and one side of my bed had collapsed box springs. The food was unorderable, let alone edible. I walked to an Italian restaurant across the street, but by the time I saw the menu, I panicked and fled. Luckily Larry and Kyle were just sauntering out. Kyle offered me his leftovers, which weren't bad. I supplemented them with bus food. Mostly cold cereal.

We got into town in time to watch "90210," but it had been preempted by the Billboard Music Awards. I ended up just flipping around, watching accounts of the day's snow, the first of the year, monitoring an approaching storm on the weather channel, and enjoying news of Michael Jackson's collapse and Newt Gingrich's alleged ethics violations. Finally, I realize that I've missed Larry Sanders, since it comes on two hours earlier here than at home. I console myself with a rousing episode of "Dragnet" and call it a night.

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 7 SPRINGFIELD, IL

It's another Thursday, and that means comics. A town this size is bound to have comics within walking distance. I scope out a map of the area, check the phone book, make my choices, and I'm off. One place is about 27 blocks away and another is fifteen blocks away. It's early and I have nothing to do all day, so the distance represents a nice walk, but the snow on the ground brings with it the danger of getting a soaker. Not good, since I only have one pair of shoes with me.

The fifteen-block place pans out, and a grab a copy of the new "Adventures Of Superman" and a copy of the new "Power Of Shazam." Both take me about a half and hour to read. So much for this week. Looming in the distance are thunderclouds over the Clark / Lois relationship. Word has it that Lois is going to break it off for a while so Superman can pursue his old girlfriend the mermaid Lori Lumaris. Clark met her in college and thought she was dead, but she's returning, and this time with legs! what will these comic guys think of next. Unfortunatley the Super-series is being held hostage by the popular teevee show featuring the same characters, so the comic moves in somewhat of a holding pattern. I don't like the idea of Superman in love, let alone Superman married. I can deal with the fact that Lois knows Superman's secret identity, but think they would either break up, or even better, get married and have the marriage turn to shit soon afterward. Ex-girlfriends make even better confidantes than current ones.

Having batted a thousand with the comics, I work towards my next goal: getting rid of the Polaroid. Although there are UPS and FedEx packaging materials in the lobby, I have to go through Airborne Express to use Prodigy's account number. I call them up and ask them to bring me and airbill and a bubble-pac. Then I go across the street to see if lunch at the gig is worth a shit. It's not; nothing new. Find out from Larry that Dave is not going to risk freighting out stuff from Minneapolis to Denver when we fly down there (our bus is leaving us in the Twin Cities), and is going to drive a thousand miles overnight instead. Furthermore, he's going to be snippy and uncooperative about it. I'm sure that if Larry hadn't accidentally told me, Dave would have gone ahead with his plan without telling anyone, even though there would have been a plane ticket for him and none for Danny. (The original plan was to send Dan and Larry from Madison to Denver, put Dave and the gear we couldn't rent on the bus with us, and then fly everything down after the Minneapolis gig. Now everything was driving to Minneapolis, we would rent nothing, and Danny would fly with us). It was typical Dave psycho behavior. In his mind, he is the only one whose opinion matters. The rest of us are just along for the ride.

This begins the deterioration of my mood, which continues when I go back to the gig around sound check time to find that the air freighting materials have not shown up. I call Airborne Express back and arrange to have them come back in about an hour and a half. I finish my sound check, get the camera out of my room and get it ready, only to find out the pick-up I'd scheduled for six-thirty came an hour too early. Now I am completely pissed off. I try not to let it affect my performance, but by the time a shoe just barely misses my head (which it would have hit, had I not had time to duck), I am livid.

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 8 MADISON, WI

It's snowing when I get up. We probably should have left last night, since the storm will be passing over us all day. I go downstairs to pay my incidentals and leave the damned camera at the desk. To hell with it. It turns out the hotel plans to rip me off for ten local calls. Claiming they were "outside the local dialing area" (although I was able to direct dial each one), they charge me 65 bucks. I told them they were wrong, but they just told me it didn't matter what I said, they had my credit card number. It still makes me mad to write about it.

The drive is annoying, with ice constantly crusting up the windshield wipers. I sit up in front with Lupe and we bitch and listen to country music most of the way. His taste isn't too bad, except he changes the station any time a woman singer comes on (except Pam Tillis, or course). We have a terrible buffet at the Iron Skillet. Curt gets up, says he's got to stop drinking. He's so bored after the shows that he's been staying up all night. This morning, he just cleared out of his room and went down to the bus rather than try to sleep at eight. This was do-able, since it was too cold to turn off the generator.

We get the the gig in time for a late sound check, then the boys go back to sleep (it seems all four of my bus mates stayed up late last night). I have a terrible dinner of mock-Chinese food, during which I finish the book I've been reading (the memoirs of Tom Watson, Jr, head of IBM during their entry into the computer business). Afterward, I do a phoner with a guy who does a techno show on the weekends. I tell him to try and wheedle a copy of the "Scum" remixes by Vapour Space out of our record company. The gig is in an exhibition hall on the edge of Madison, Wisconsin. No live performing should be done here, only the exhibiting of new products, just like in Athens. I blame Primus, since they have not sold enough tickets to hold the gig in the huge-odrome next door. Our performance is subdued anyway, since the boys sleep right up till showtime. We play really good though, culminating with a great jam during "Up On The Sun."

It was still snowing when we finished, but Lupe was anxious to get started on the drive. Suddenly a friend of ours who lives in Minneapolis walks up. it's taken him eight hours in blizzard conditions to get here, he says, and warns us not to make the drive. Fuck that, get off the bus so I can go, says Lupe. Once he drops us off at the hotel in Minneapolis, he's free to drive home. We encounter nothing but strong wind on the drive, which is beautiful. When we pull into town five hours later, however, it is fifty below.

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 9 MINNEAPOLIS, MN

I am awakened at eleven by Danny telling me he's got my tee-shirt and shorts from last night's gig, which I hung up to dry in the closet. I go downstairs to look for him and find Lupe and Cory in the restaurant. I also notice the singer for Oasis sitting by himself in the corner. Service is horrible, so I help myself to a cup of coffee, which the waiter doesn't notice. His treat. Danny is nowhere to be found, but he's left a second message saying he's bringing my stuff to the gig. I have myself a salad and prepare for the day's promo: a phoner at two then a trip to a comics store to appear on a cable access show which is tied into the radio station putting on tonight's gig. It's not part of the Primus tour; they have the day off.

The car to take us is too small, so only Cris, Cory and I go. The guy from the radio station, already chastened by Cory for bringing the wrong car, is nervous and won't stop talking. Tells me what a great "market" Phoenix is, etc. He badgers me with questions for the entire drive. "Don't you want to save some of this good good stuff for the interview?" I ask, but he doesn't catch the hint. Just tells me he's not doing the interview. The scene at the store is mellow, hardly anybody there. Cris and I run through a little shtick, mostly talking about comics. The owner gives Cris a couple of X-Men dolls and me a couple of issues of "Metropolis S.C.U." which his wife wrote. The story deals with a special squad of police that deal with super-powered villains. An interesting side-note is that the leader of the squad is a lesbian.

The gig itself is a madhouse, of course. Seven bands with their equipment strewn all over, lots of clueless people in charge, all sorts of conflicting agendas, the worst food imaginable, and of course a venue where no live performing should ever be done. I give a call to a friend of mine, who used to live next door to me in Tempe. He'd hoped to come down during sound check, but there are no sound checks and doors are at four-thirty. He's already left, so I gotta hope that he's resourceful enough to find me. My cousins have already done the drill, so they get back with ease. I see Kathy, Jim, Mike, and their respective friends and significants. Kathy's son wants to know what time Green Day goes on. No such luck, kid. Lisa Loeb also makes her way to our dressing room to introduce herself.

By the time we go on, the audience has already sat through five sets of pop-rock and are ready to go off. Dozens of rolls of toilet paper sail through the air, which is not surprising since one of the sponsors of the event is Concerts For The Environment. It's a relief to play for the first pop-fan crowd since the Big Star show a month ago. The Primus crowd is just a tad too heavy metal for us. All around, despite the hassle of getting there, it's the best show of the tour. It's all pretty much lost on Dave, though, who rudely pushes his way around the backstage in his haste to get out of town and into Denver.

I stick around a little while to check out Oasis, who I actually like, although one of our friends comes backstage saying, "And they think they're The Who??" Most of the songs are unfamiliar to me, since I don't know the new album yet (and I'm not used to the sound of live rock and roll from in the audience), but I do hear "Cigarettes And Alcohol" before I have my fill of loud noise. I hang around a little in the dressing room before we leave, chatting with a gal who knows one of my cousins and her inevitable spouse who's a comic artist, and a couple of guys who ask me to mention them in my tour diary. I have of course forgotten their names; sorry guys.

back at the hotel, I make a stab at finding food around the hotel, but my lungs start to freeze before I get a half a block. I settle for a bag of chips from the hotel snack machine. There is a phone message from my friend, who apparently gave up trying to get in before we even went on. Though he's not specific, I infer from his message that he never went to will-call to get tickets, that he just fought with security to get in the back door. His tone has a nasty "have a nice life" tone to it, but it's too late to call and commiserate tonight. Tomorrow's going to come early enough as it is.

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 10 DENVER, CO

The alarm wakes me up at 7:15. Sleep didn't come easily last night. The air was so dry that I finally had to get up and turn off the heat. Now the room is an icebox, my lips are still chapped, and my sinuses hurt. I make some coffee, shower, pack up and beat it. The real pain doesn't really start until a couple of hours later while I'm boarding. I manage to smack some poor old lady's head while stashing my bag in an overhead compartment. Although I apologized, it must have sounded as un-sincere as I felt, for I could hear her muttering, "nice guy" as I found my seat. In between dosing off, I started another Tony Hillerman mystery. Cris passed flat out next to me.

We got into Denver around eleven, checked into day rooms, and sat around for eight hours before the gig. We saved half the money by getting up so fucking early. Unfortunately, I was too wired to sleep, so I went downstairs for a terrible plate of pasta in the restaurant. I haven't had non-overcooked pasta in too long. Back upstairs, I drink coffee and work on the diary for a while until my mind gives up. Then I stare into space and play Tetris until it's time to walk to the gig.

In his hissy state, Dave told us not to bother to come to sound check since he wouldn't get in until it was too late, but I knew better. He got in around two-thirty. So I headed down to the club around four. Unfortunately, I was so spaced, I walked about ten blocks in the wrong direction. I got my drum check in though, then sat around waiting for dinner. I must say, the caterers tried, and it wasn't a bad meal, but after five weeks, you get totally sick of cafeteria food. I made a pact with myself that when I got home, I would eat nothing but fruit juice smoothies and wheat toast.

I say my goodbyes before the show starts, hand shakes and back slaps all around, at least for the people I see. Immediately after the performance, Cris and I are to pile into a car and hot-foot it to the airport to grab a flight to Phoenix which leaves at 9:30. The show itself is particularly creepy, coming as it did after the one last night. Metalloids and Primus fans grappling with one another. Faces that you'd never guess are having a good time enjoying music since they look so angry. While playing, I have one of my rare moments of what I call my "John Lennon feeling."

After the show, I say my goodbyes to Kyle and Cory. Kyle takes it on the lips like a man; Cory turns his head. We make it to the airport on time, though halfway there, Cris realizes he's left his reading material in the hotel. Not surprising, since he's almost left his hat behind twice today. The poor lad is more spaced than I am since he takes much worse care of himself than I do. During the flight, his nose begins to run and he starts cursing and whining that he's getting sick. I give him the rest of my bottle of echinacea, which shuts him up for the time being.

He disappears down the aisle when the plane pulls into the gate and I am officially on my own again. I grab a cab and get my ass home. The first thing I notice when I open my door is that my place is smaller than some of the hotel rooms I've stayed in. Definitely time to relocate.

MONDAY, DECEMBER 11 PHOENIX, AZ

A day to pick up the tattered shards of my life and move on. Get up early, something much easier to do when I have more to look forward to than a bus or a hotel room. Unpack while I review videotapes of programs made with the timer. Most of them I've already seen along the way. I chance run-in with my bathroom scale imparts the unwelcome news that I've gained ten pounds while I was away. I simply have no discipline for all the junk food lying around at the gigs. Now I must pay the price.

I call my friend who's got all my mail and arrange to pick it up. I call the body shop and arrange to get my car. Since my friend with the mail had a birthday while i was gone, I score a gift for her, along with food for me and fan mail from the P.O. Box. Some fifty pieces, a mountain I will deal with on another day. There are no time bombs waiting in the mail and my car looks good as new. I spend the rest of the afternoon playing with my friend's three-year-old son. He's got a great new game: he throws everything within reach onto the floor, then he has me lift him up and "fly" him over the mess. He's reenacting the scene in Peter Pan where they all fly over London.

Soon, mother and son have to go to a preschool Christmas dinner-party and I go home. "Melrose" is being preempted by something called "America's Funniest Christmas Moments," so I continue reviewing video tapes. Soon, I have a splitting headache and nausea. Exhaustion has finally caught up with me. I go into my bedroom to lie down and sleep for twelve hours. The headache is still with me the next morning, but that's another day and this tour diary ends tonight.


Cris Interview From 1993

by Derrick Bostrom in


Two years ago, we ran an interview I gave to Matthew Lahrman back in 1993. When he sent it to me, Matt said he also had a long interview with Cris that he'd let me have once he got Cris' permission to publish it. Apparently, they two of them finally met up, because I heard from Matt last week. The two interviews make for an interesting study in contrasts.

The following is a phone interview with Cris Kirkwood, bassist for Meat Puppets, conducted by Matthew Smith-Lahrman who, at the time, was a PhD student in Sociology at Northwestern University. Matt is now a Professor of Sociology at Dixie State College of Utah (lahrman@dixie.edu). Cris was at his home on February 3, 1993.

Matt: So how's it goin'?

Cris: Fine.

M: Good. I was wondering how. . .

C: How did you get Derrick's number?

M: I wrote you guys a letter.

C: And he sent it back?

M: He sent it back with his number and your number.

C: God. He sent you his number?

M: He sure did? He actually sent me your number as well.

C: Well, I'm in the phone book.

M: He did quite a good interview.

C: He's an intelligent guy. He likes college students. I think he regrets his not having become a college student.

M: What has what you do in the band changed from before you ever recorded anything up until now?

C: Well we started recording stuff fairly quickly, with the band. It wasn't that big of a time from when I wasn't recording to when I was. The only thing that's really changed is that now that we're on a major label, they care more about how many units are sold. For me nothing has changed.

M: But before you were on a major label, as far as the business end of things, did you personally have to take care of more of that kind of stuff?

C: No, not really. I still deal with pretty much as much of it. I used to talk to the agent a little bit more. Our cross-over to the major label hasn't been the big 'now I'm a rock star' thing. Maybe once I achieve rock stardom or something on a major label, if I do, my life will change. Or if I get dropped my life will change drastically. It's changed. The only real change is the real or perceived pressure, whichever, of needing to sell more or else getting dropped. Having to view my things in terms of success or failure on a financial level, which we never really had to do before. We don't have to now. Like I said, perceived pressure. If I want to I can, but I still don't have to, unless I want to give a shit. And I do to a certain degree, I don't want to have to stop recording. I really enjoy making records. But I record at home all the time. That's really where my true interests lie.

M: On your own?

C: Yea. I have my own home studio. I'm not adverse to selling a bunch more records. But it doesn't drive me crazy or anything. It never has. The goal never was to only sell records. It was to have a band and to be able to make music for a long time. It was never something I wanted to get into and cash in on. It's just one of the only things I found that interested me, making music. And that doesn't mean being a rock star. It's playing the music and trying to make the two align. It's an interesting sort of conundrum, trying to make a living out of being a fuckin' total wasterum.

M: Is there a difference between making music on your own at home, without any thought of selling records, than writing songs. . .

C: Yea, definitely. I'll do strictly, satisfy the creative part of myself at home with my studio. In the studio you try to do that while making it pop. I'll do things that aren't considered pop. You're dealing slightly with a . . .We don't take it heavily into consideration. Curt just happens to write pop songs, and I occasionally write a few, whatever. So the band just kind of naturally has a pop angle. But we've tailored that to the audience. We also don't just go in and make records full of our own little sound experiments like I do at home.

M: Because the audience is going to be different?

C: The band doesn't do the kind of shit that I do. The band noise is more playing Curt's songs, and wanting to go in and sculpt, give a little version of each of these new batch of tunes so our friends know what they are when we come to town next time and use them as spring boards to go off on the noise making crap that is more, is a little more similar to the kind of shit that gets done in my home studio. We do that kind of stuff live more than in the records.

M: The experimenting stuff.

C: Umm hmm.

M: You do different kinds of shows. I saw you'I'm in Chicago'at the Metro and then at Lounge Ax. At the Metro you did this ten or fifteen minute kind of spacey thing, with keyboards and stuff and you didn't do it at Lounge Ax.

C: We always do. I mean that's the thing. We always do the different things and what-not. The reason the records usually come out as they do is because, you know, we write a lot of songs. Curt especially writes tons of pop songs. And it just gets down to what do you want to put on a record that's only 'X' amount of time long? And what kind of a slant do you want to put on it. I mean it's one particular art piece. And it just happens to be one that goes out to public consumption as well. So slightly there's a consideration in there as to getting people to buy it. It's like how much pressure do we want to put on people. We're already a hard enough band to get in that sense. And it's never been like we're worried about being gotten, but there's always been a certain awareness of the fact that we didn't want to just. . .that we're making art projects. That we were doing a particular piece and how we wanted the piece to come out. What we were aiming for for the piece. We're not that interested in being that self-indulgent, we're pretty interested in being pretty goddamn self-indulgent. But within the context of pop songs we're trying to say something with the band. It's a fairly clear statement if you read it. It basically says 'fuck off and die.' The whole Meat Puppets' stance is right around in there. The only reason we don't put out records with noise crap is 'cause my big brother is in the band. I always just go, 'Ok. No noise jams? No bass solo?' We're sell-out little weasels. We've been trying to be REM for years. To cash in and get the big clams. Everything I say is a lie.

M: So I imagine there's. . .

C: We played at Northwestern before.

M: Somebody was telling me that.

C: I met a guy from that band Urge Overkill. He told me that the show we did at Northwestern was the show that inspired him to start Urge Overkill. I think it was the guitar player that told me that. They're nice guys. We played at a dorm, at a frat house.

M: Yea. They have things at Northwestern where they don't advertise it in the city. They just advertise it on campus.

C: We might of played there another time.

M: Somebody told me you played at Norris Center, which is a student center.

C: Yea, that's it. We played there too. Oh, God. I could tell you some stories about that, but I won't while you're still going there. I could tell you some funny stories about it.

M: How does a record label, especially now that you're on a major label, do they come forward overtly telling you to make more poppier songs, more accessible type songs?

C: Yea. They want to try to tell us that. They want to deal with us in the way they deal with their other artists, who all are just on their knees trying to become stars. So they try to deal with us that way. They tell you, and if you don't do it to their satisfaction, even if you try to and you still don't manage to get it, what they think are hits. They control you more by denial rather than trying to make you do shit.

M: So you write a song that they don't like. . .

C: . . .and they just don't let you record it. Basically all they are is loaning you money. You don't want to loan money to somebody that's invented the toilet again that's not as good as the original toilet. That's how they see it. Their lookin' at it as. . .especially if the new thing is shitting in your pants, and invented a toilet that actually whisks the doo-doo away or something. 'Pants pooping is in this year, so bring us a fuckin'. . .a whatchamacallit.'

M: A diaper.

C: It's a silly game.

M: So what kinds of specific things do they ever. . .

C: They go 'write hit songs.' They ask you, 'Why do you do art? What is it? Are you just trying to satisfy your ego? Are you trying to make money? Are you trying to say something?' It puts the question to you, 'What the fuck are you about as an artist?' Because they're not into the art business. They're into the music business. Selling music. They support the arts to the degree that they can as long as it's gonna sell a bunch of copies. They don't mind. You can be as fuckin' arty as you want. And recently, like Nirvana, or. . .Those guys are definitely art students from the look on them. And by their song content and shit. It's huge, they don't mind. They can get as arty as they want as long as they sell all those records. But they're gonna poo poo something like if our next video is our guitar player's butthole mouthing the words. They're gonna try to talk him out of that. And if they can't talk him out of that, then another link in the chain will halt the process. It won't get played or whatever. It all depends on how many units you've sold. It's not like you can go in and go 'we're brilliant art. We have a really cool idea that is a classical idea that men have been about all through the ages and yada yada yada.' They're just like 'Isn't that nice. You've never sold over 100,000 records with any single release. So what you are in our books is what we call a failure.'

'Cris gets a call on another line'

C: So specifically you're asking what do they ask?

M: Do they say something like 'we're looking for this kind of tune?'

C: It depends on which particular record company you signed with, what the record company's intents are, and that kind of shit. And it depends on what you're A&R guy, your boss at the record company, sees for you. What do you see for yourselves? Basically what you're trying to do is reach an agreement with the businessmen who are gonna sell your crap. And if you can all agree 'we're self-indulgent little pigs, and all we want to do is record our fart sounds on record,' and if they agree with it, do that and live with the sales that are gonna be generated by something like that. Or if they believe that fart sounds are gonna sell a gajillion records. It all depends on basically everybody agreeing on the goals of the project.

M: And sometimes they don't know what's gonna sell, right?

C: They like to think that they do, and a lot of times they know that certain things are definitely a trend. So what they do is basically like any investment. You try a bunch of things, and whichever one goes is the one you run with.

M: So, say, with Nirvana, they can pay for a lot of other experimental kind of stuff from the profits from Nirvana.

C: Right. And then Nirvana started out as a fairly experimental thing. It gets all into levels of, they were fairly experimental but they still had quite a bit of money put into them 'cause there was already the Seattle scene. It had a big buzz. Things like plastic beads and shit just sets off bells. They know what teenagers are into. Teenagers are into this rebellion sort of a trip. And especially rebellion that everybody else is doing. 'Be an individual along with all the rest of 'em.' So they see something like that, and Nirvana. . they pushed the shit out of that on a certain level. But they didn't push the livin' shit out of it. They didn't give it the fuckin' Shaneese treatment. But it still got the livin' crap pushed out of it. And once it starts to run, then they unload the coffers onto it. And they'd do that on anything. And the degree to which they push it initially gets back to that agreement that you have with the company. 'Ok. I believe that this is gonna be huge, so I'm gonna push it. I believe that this might be huge, so I'm gonna push it to this degree.' Initially when you're dealing with them, where we're at with them now, is trying to figure out, 'What do you want to do with the thing?' Our record company thinks we could be big stars, and wants us to be. They didn't sign us to be, to continue to be the heroes of musicians. And musicians love us.

M: And the critics love you, too.

C: The critics have loved us. But we've abandoned. . .We've never stayed good little critical guys like REM or something who, not to slag them, I think they're great, but who still, they just kind of mine that one thing. We could've stayed critical faves, and we still are with some records. But we've made records that weren't. Which I like. I like not just being a critical little weasel. I like getting out on the limb where nobody likes it.

M: Which albums didn't they like?

C: They've said bad things about all of them. All of them have had good things said about them. Some have had ridiculous amounts of good things said about them where we're suddenly like a big band to the critics. And then some of them have been slagged like shit. Some records have gotten both extremes. Most of them have. The record company isn't interested in keeping it at that level. They want us to push it over. They saw all that alternative shit getting popular and they were like 'Alternative!' A name had arisen for it. Once it got to that we got signed. We're pretty, fairly pro-rock in a way. We've been around for a long time. We can play fairly well, and if we want to we can do noise jams and be good little rock spuds. And they see that in there. And that's what they want out of us. 'Be good little boys.' To not make it harder on them. But they're idea is that they want us to be huge.

M: And what do you think about that?

C: That just makes them say, 'Write hit songs. Make it easy on us.' And we just go, 'That's fine.' I'd love to be huge. The gear that would come with it. All the little toys that you could get. My real love, deep down, is making the noise. Being huge to me means unlimited supply of tape. I could really fuckin' lose myself to what I really love. It's my discipline. It's my soul, man! And what I think about them asking us to write hit songs is that I know my brother, who's our main song writer, is a really unique and strong artist. But I don't know how good he's gonna be at taking his talent and imitating Bon Jovi with it. And the critics have been on us to do it for years. That's kind of why some of the critics stopped liking us, is 'cause we didn't do what REM did, which is solidify our vision to the degree that we can be consumed on a popular level. We can either experiment and break new ground within our own little thing, and that's not what they want you to do. They want you to condense, and get to the core of it. And that's where they're at. 'Well what are you doing this for? What are you about here?' That's where they'll try to lead you in that direction. And, you know, the idea of a producer is take the artists vision and clarify it and blah blah blah. And years ago we went into Geffen and talked to the guy, Gary Gersh, who sat there and told us how he signed Gene Loves Gezabel without even hearing them play. He just met the brothers. Just by the way they looked. And this is in like '86. And we're goin', 'That's really nice Gary.' He's sittin' in his socks and his gajillion dollar office on Sunset and the Geffen Company which is just so exciting. He tells us he doesn't sign us then 'cause he says we're unfocused. To us. He calls us unfocused. Well, we don't have a costume. No, we don't. We have a costume but it's a real broad based costume called music. Called fuckin' whatever we want to do. 'We were inventing something new here Gary. We're rediscovering something that's always been around. And that when it comes to the fore, it's considered. . .It's part of a renaissance period and everyone looks back on it lovingly, and there are high points in musical history and artistic history and the history of the, you know, the human chimp.' He didn't give a shit. He was lookin' to be there when the timing comes up. He wants to be a part of it. He's the guy who signed Nirvana, who are basically the realization of what we were talking about. But they do a real good careful pop. . . a good job of being real. . . condensing it down and making it that pop thing. That's what pop is, is an art idea that can be sold to tons of people. It doesn't have to. . .they don't have to get it. They don't have to be smarter than a shoe to get it.

M: So has your next release been slowed up by this?

C: Yea. That's what has happened. We almost got dropped and shit. We just got sick of them. We almost dropped ourselves. Just like, 'You guys don't get it. You don't want to try to get it. Go die. We don't care. We'll find somebody that does.' Cause we stomp! We fuckin' play circles around other people. If anybody gave a crap about fuckin' bass solos than we'd be huge. So they've kind of slowed it up a little bit. But all that slowing up stuff also gets down to how much the artist wants to get into being a businessman. How much we want to get up and say, 'No, you can't slow us down because I'm a visionary, man, and I've got this fuckin' thing I gotta put across.' We've never had that. We've never been, you know, 'Baby we were born to run!' We never had this, you know, from the streets to the. . .you gotta make it. That's where the fuckin' passion comes from. 'And I said, 'Daddy, I want it all!'' That's not where our whole egis has been. Whatever 'egis' might mean. I doubt if it means what I'm using it as. That has never been a big part of our thing, chest pounding. We've always been willing to make music without anybody getting it. We didn't really give a fuck. We've been absorbed into all these different little scenes, and they've come and gone around us.

M: How old are you?

C: 32

M: And Curt's older than you?

C: Yea. Two years.

M: So you started out when you were, what, around. . .

C: 19. I was 19.

M: So with that in mind, you guys aren't teenagers anymore. Rock is sold to teenagers, basically. They're the ones who buy most of the records. Who do you see as your audience?

C: Whoever listens to it. I don't think about that that much. I know I could, but I never gave a fuck about rock and roll. I've just never been into it to be a rock star. I always thought it was fuckin' stupid. I never gave a shit about it. It's only been in the last few years, in the last decade that I've realized what rock and roll meant. I always dug music, but I never gave a crap about rock, 'cause I always thought it was pandering twaddle aimed at being baby food for teenagers. I just never gave a shit. It was all about this fuckin' moronic teen stance that is the same thing as fuckin' racism to me. It's, what, play down? You play down and empires collapse. I think we're undergoing systematized institutionalism of which I'll play no part. Because of that I've been forced to watch all my friends who greedily slurped up teenage butthole oil become millionaires.

M: Such as?

C: You know, all the obvious ones. I'm not gonna name any names about my pals who it'll get back to, and who are now rich and can fuck with my career.

M: Bands from that L.A. punk scene?

C: Like the Chili Peppers. Not to take anything away from them at all, but they've always been way more about. . .they got a lead singer who's willing to do this whole lead singer shtick. And that's just a difference. It's not a bad thing. But they took, and had punk ideas, and the same with Nirvana, any of these people, they had a punker idea. . . not like I'm punk or whatever. . . but they took elements of that, and elements of funk and this and that and that, along with elements of straight rock and roll such as packaging, and your look. . . and those guys are always careful to wear goofy shit, and keep in really good shape. And to play with their shirts off, and have that macho swagger. All those things that are aimed at pleasing teenagers. I've never even given it consideration beyond, you know, 'who wants to get hit in the face with the blunt end of my guitar?' I just never cared. I never could relate to my teen chimps. It's not against my fellow man or anything, it's just that rock itself. . .I only started to give a crap about it once I realized that. . .the idea of rock as a soul music. That I started to get. I only heard cheeseball rock, mostly. And never really gave a crap about the '60s bands and all that. And then I started to see that some of them, some of those older bands have got some cool shit goin' on. I started to understand rock as. . .I just came down off of my alienated high horse. I was driven into snooty music more as I had (A) something that had a little more substance and (B) I hated everything. I hated Boston and I hated all my fellow high school assholes. I thought they were a bunch of fuckin' small minded versions of their parents. They looked like the next step down in the rotting of American, to the sound track of 'More than a Feeling.' It made me want to barf, I couldn't relate. Then I started to see that punk. . . Derrick was into punk, and I checked that shit out. He's the guy who turned me onto rock. I started to see that there's a certain thing about rock that's this Jim Morrisony kind of fuckin' burn-out fast explode type of thing. Or just an attitude thing that you can express your feelings. There is an art angle to it that can be stroked. And not even an art. It can be an expression of your being. I'd never seen rock as anything but a product. Then I got turned onto a few things.

M: So you're at least willing to do the product thing?

C: Oh yea. We always have. We've always made records. I was never against that. I was always just not interested in concerning myself about it. I think that the fact that we sell the records is the product. They're not for free. But I've never been interested in having that play any part in what the product was. I strictly wanted to make it an art piece. And then if it sold, fine. But if it didn't, fine also. I never expected it to sell, 'cause of what people have been into. Once I became aware of rock as art, I saw why it stopped being art. That's where I developed. . .I realized all along that my thoughts on the way that people as. . .are analogous to countries, to the world in general, and the way entropy works and why fuckin' good ideas get used by assholes to turn the fuckin' environment to shit. So no wonder rock turned to crap. Cause like any other groovy new thing, becomes. . .goes from Christ to Tammy Faye Baker. From the land of the free and the home of the brave to fuckin' Pat Buchanon. Why do these things happen? What causes people to have to strive for freedom, and then let that freedom become just another cage? These kinds of things.

M: But, again, being on a major label. . .

C: That's where we're at still. How do you sell a lot of records? I don't know if it was a good idea for us to sign. But we're finding, we've been around long enough so that now we can still make music that we like and want to make, and people will like it. We've got our quirks. We're not trying as hard to do them, 'cause we can play better. So it's not as much trying as doing now. We've always tried shit. That's something that you don't do if you're a successful pop artist. You do what you know you can do. There's REM. Those guys don't get up on stage and try to fuckin' thrill everybody by making noise jams, much. They'll have their projects for that. For REM they're very careful to recreate the record. With Stipe up front jumping, you know, goading the crowd on really carefully. It's a good idea. It's just only showing your strengths. But we've always fucked that off. Not being big rock. Like Pet Buck, a rock aficionado. Part of his art trip was to get popular. Which was never was one of ours. Curt and I were never rock gearheads. He'd probably say that he was, but you won't be able to talk to him.

'SIDE ONE OF TAPE ENDS'

M: It's interesting that both you and Derrick used REM as an example.

C: They're a good one. They're our old, you know, they go back a long ways and shit. They're our parallels, you know, in a way. They embody a lot of the same ideals and stuff, but they were just more careful about it. They got a lead singer. They got a little creep up there that, what's he gonna do when the bass player goes over and starts noodling on his fucking Casio? He's got to take out his butthole, you know. What else is he gonna do? They just are a different kind of band. We purposely never got a lead singer. 'Cause we weren't about that. We weren't about relating to the audience. That's what the singer does, you know, up there fuckin', you know, cheerleading essentially. And, you know, that wasn't part of the trip. It was for those guys, definitely. They've always been, you know, years ago they wore those little vests and their long sleeved shirts and all that. Everybody's been a lot more careful about being good little pop stars than we have, that's for god damn sure.

M: So have you been careful not to be the good little pop artists?

C: No. We haven't tried. It just comes naturally to us. That's what I'm saying. We're not like anti-pop, you know. I'm not fuckin' Trent Rezner or whatever. I'm not trying to appease to a radically different crowd either. We're radical as fuck but not in a traditionally radical. . I'm not gonna get into, you know, techno-whatever and cut my hair sideways or whatever. I don't need to. I'm fuckin' radical in my ideas. And also not sucking up to the notion of radicalism because I don't believe in normalism. I just do exclusively what I want to do. And that's as radical as you can get these days. It's not like weird for weird's sake. It's fuckin' freedom because that's what my mind needs.

Music to me is really broad based. I like all sorts of different kinds of music a lot. Some kinds that aren't considered cool at all. I like classical. I listen to it all the time. It just fuckin' fucks my brain up. All different types. Some really old shit, you know, newer composers. Plus a ton of other stuff. I like, you know, fuckin', the 'Ritual de Bobo' by the Pigmies of Ghana or whatever. I'm into all sorts of crap. And I like to play all sorts of crap. It's a question of me and my big. . .rather than me and my tenure as a rock star. The Meat Puppets have always been a live project and that's what all great art is. Somebody can't help it. We are what we are, period. We're not what we're trying to be.

M: So is it possible to sell a lot of records, to have a platinum album, with that attitude?

C: At points it's been possible. And like I said before, when those points have arisen, you know, those are considered golden ages. And very rarely has it been that the artists with the most radical and outward considerations and, you know, the most advanced and considered playing and whatnot have been on the top of the charts. In the '60s they were. In the bebop era they kinda were; the big band/bebop era. Those guys were definitely the furthest out and coolest shit around and it was what everybody was into. They're considered golden ages.

M: What about this whole Seattle thing?

C: I don't think they're that.. .the guys are just a bunch of heavy metal posers. Suckin' up big time to.. .I just saw the Seattle scene developing and it was just, you know, little junior hippy rock, with their little beads, and their little abdomen muscles. And the little combination with each of the bands that are kind of getting popular now, and they all sound like Ozzy Osbourne to me, they all sound like Black Sabbath. You know, it's trendy fuckin' suck up shit and it's gotten a lot more popular. I mean, I like it better than I like most rock, there's some of it I do. I think Nirvana are pretty cool. Some of the other shit I think is just flat out fuckin', you know, the same thing to me as Poison, basically, no difference at all. 'Oh is this bitchin' with the teenagers? Get me my funny little hat and my love of sports.' To me that stuff is fine. But I don't think they did that. I don't think they took extreme radicalism in any way and made it popular. I don't think Nirvana did either, just 'cause they smash their crap. The fuckin' Who did that years ago. I've been smashing my shit for years. It hasn't got me anywhere. I saw that band about a year ago. They played real safe. They play all their songs like they are on their record. And then at the end they smash all their crap. It's real predictable. I wasn't that impressed. I think it's just like what's kind of existed for awhile. These bands. . .Seattle. . you, know, real solemn, seriously heavy batch of fuckin' artists purveying this wondrous new vision.

There's very few artists in rock that I think are worth half a shit at all.

M: Which ones are worth half a shit?

C: To me, people that have done interesting things in rock and roll are, you know, a lot of the sixties people made fairly far-out shit. It was one of those periods where the best and the brightest were actually looking to go the furthest.

M: Can you name specific bands?

C: Like the Dead, who are still around. I think something like that is bitchin' But bands that were around and were fuckin' making interesting shit, like Pink Floyd, any of that old crap. The Beatles. The Beatles are the ultimate example of someone that were really pushin' it, and their audience was keepin' up with them. That's all it is. It can exist at any time, but it's circumstantial to the way that systems unravel themselves. You can study it a lot if you want to, and become the next Tony Robbins. You can go out there and bilk cajillions of dollars just by manipulating the group psyche which is on display. It's obvious it's fucked to me. I'm the next Maurice Starr. It's so obvious, you know. Sit there and crank out this pure pabulum. Just occasionally the circumstances will come together. It always takes something really radical, like a war or something, to motivate people into a higher conscious. They have to get used to that degree. Extreme oppression seems to finally do it. The level of oppression that we're at now is just not oppressive. This is how empires fall. They get soft around the middle. They get used to their cereal in the morning. And they get used to their fuckin' Kenny G.

M: Or their Nirvana.

C: Yea. Or their Nirvana. Then it's down to.. .it's down to Lettermen rock. 'Ooh. Can you say 'poop' on t.v.?' Which is, 'Ooh. How scary! Ooh, God, he really smashed that drum up! Yike!' That coupled with Geffen having put a million dollars into it at the beginning really made them sell a lot of records. And punk rock, you know, finally coming to the surface. It'll be gone in a couple years. And what will be next? Booger rock. It's social dynamics once again. Some bands I just like. I like the Dead. I think there's a band that just fucked everybody off and didn't give a crap and plays fuckin' goofy ass shit and stays together all these years. I like them. I like the Chicago Art Ensemble, speaking of Chicago. Modern Jazz Quartet. They're classical musicians. People that fuckin' devote themselves to something within themselves. That's why I like found musics. I really dig local musics, you know, or indigenous musics. Stuff like that. I don't give a crap about hearing these little fuckin' guys trying to get their rocks off.

M: Do you listen to much rock?

C: No. Not a whole lot. I have artists that I respect. Zappa I think is a fuckin' hilarious guy, flat out. Really wide ranging and funny.

M: What bands from the scene you guys started with?

C: I have my pals who I dig. My best pals. They're old friends. Like the fIREHOSE guys. Mike and George are really sweet guys, and Ed is a nice guy, too. But the Minutemen were great! That's a band I thought was great. I think the Butthole Surfers are great.

M: And they're about to come out with a major label record.

C: Oh. What it gets down to is all these bands, you know, giving their ass for art, and who now get to go and be fuckin' failures. So what do they do? They have to sell-out. God, please let the Buttholes imitate Nirvana enough on this new record to sell a cajillion copies. 'Cause they're sweet people and I'd love to see them make a lot of money, 'cause all of them have more talent, and more fuckin' open-mindedness which, to me, equals talent to a degree, and more fuckin' humor and a broader consideration of everything than 99% of the shit that's on MTV. And all these undeserving butt sucking little fuckin'. . .play into the hands of the people who have fuckin' put a nice big hole in the ozone and are making Somalians starve and letting the war in Bosnia happen and turning the east coast into a garbage pit, and America into one big giant Las Vegas. And being their little good boys. It's disgusting. I'd just like to see my friends get in with these scum and make a bunch of money and move the fuck away to some nice little part of the world that doesn't exist anymore call 'Suicideville.' There's a lot of shit that gets me off. I'm way more interested in my life than I am in fuckin' rock and roll. It's stupid. That's why the Meat Puppets have never done very good. But why we're worshipped by musicians on a certain level. And by critics and stuff. 'Cause we're into these kinds of ideas. But these aren't applicable ideas. These are the kinds of ideas that inspire men to fuckin' rise up from their chains when they're in bondage. These are the kind of things that get people nailed to a cross and worshipped for it. But the poor fucker who thought it up had to cut off his ear and eventually shoot himself. 'Cause nobody would buy his crap. Or he had to get tacked to a cross or whatever. But years later, 'don't worry buddy, be bummed now, but in 100 years your butt farts, your last bag of semen is gonna be worth 100 million bucks!' Yea, and me and a lot of my pals from the days, that are still around, it's all they. . .it's obviously the people that had the better idea than just 'I'm punk rock!' And they're still failing because of it. In the same way that the country is going to shit. But suddenly Nirvana is huge and there's a new president. But Nirvana is huge with their really careful record. It's all these cool little pop songs that are all just the right song and they're catchy and really carefully constructed and sell cajillions. And the new president is a professional politician scum sucker who immediately hires all these other old guard. And it's just yet another fuckin' snooze bag piece of shit politician. And basically America has gone to hell. Human kind has gone to hell. We're all fuckin' doomed! So what!

M: Which is strange. Another band like Bad Religion who sold out the Metro, with 13 year olds. These kids were maybe 2 years old when Bad Religion first began. But that's who their music appeals to.

C: Because, you know, that's what REM did too. But with something that's a bit less moronic than Bad Religion. And carefully kept making the same record over and over. That's fine. Eventually your market will grow up, or it will catch up. If any of that punk rock shit came out now it would be huge. Wait until Black Flag gets back together. It'll be like mania for a couple years. They'll be able to pack anywhere too.

M: Or Social Distortion.

C: Or Social D is a perfect example. And Nirvana is just the realization of it. They're students of punk rock. You just distill out all the best elements of it, and it's already getting more and more popular anyways, and you put on some cute little beads and some torn jeans and a jacket and you make it obvious how to get to it. And I'm not against any of that. I always sound bitter, but I'm not. I don't give a fuck. People can do whatever, they're all doomed. I consider humans the walking dead. I don't even think of them as walking dead people. I think of them as walking dead plant life. Dirt, animated mud. Electromud. That's a good song title. It's too late, we already used it on our first album. That's what Meat Puppets means. 'Yea, go ahead and yammer, you little fuckin' monkey. You little constructed bag of space born vacuum resistant nothingness.' We're not like punk standard bearers. We're not gonna pack the Metro with 13 year olds, because we weren't punk. Nor are we gonna fill it up with dudes wearing cowboy hats, 'cause we're not cowpunk. Nor are we gonna fill it up with Prince clones, 'cause we're not, you know, Prince or any of that shit. But we do fill the Metro up fairly good with people that can dig our trip. We're not that far out or anything. But we're definitely not one of those bands that have been around forever and are still bloody but unbowed. We just never have been. Those are some funny days, when punk rock was really punk. We had all these nasty little fuckers'all of 'em are for sure in jail by now'comin' to the gigs. It was like 'Punk or Die!' It was just so stupid. 'Yea right, man! Punk out!' And some of those bands are still together. I don't give a crap. I've just gotten so used to it, gotten so used to shit selling. What I consider to be pure unadulterated fuckin' garbage. And that's helped me to be the really self-satisfied person that I am. I've always thought this. I've never felt anything different. If I had felt different I would've bought into America. I'd be a good little fuckin' controller pig, 'cause I'm more than smart enough to be able to. Nobody comes anywhere near me in manipulability. In being me. I'm the only person I know who's me. And I could do whatever I wanted. I'm white. I'm a white young male. I have the chance to take over the reins of Coke-Negro-Slovakia, whatever this country is called. No. I chose not to. 'Cause I'm not into that. I'm on a different trip. I don't give a fuck about Bad Religion or REM or rock 'n' roll or making money or any of that shit. But I do. I mean I have to 'cause I have to feed my little self. So I'm an idealistic non-purist.

M: That's what the Meat Puppets are all about.

C: Only! That's what anybody is about. But pretty much they don't want to admit it. Most people express it through their love of football. You can see what the Meat Puppets are about. If you talked to Derrick and you talked to me, and you see what kind of people we're about. You can kind of get an idea.

M: When can I expect an album?

C: Soon. The record company has gotten on it. We're getting on it more and more. We've got all the songs together. And there are all these bitchin' new songs. But is it the next 'I'm Going Hungry' or whatever? Is it the next 'Jeremy'? Fuck no! 'Have you written the next teen angst song about a teenager who's just misunderstood'? Fuckin' no, we haven't. Maybe we have, but I don't think so. We don't deal with those issues. We never have. We kind of did on our last album. That song 'Sam.' In there somewhere it talks about how someone who wasn't related to anyone, picked up a dollop of the doobiest doo doo, sparkled like something folks scramble to swallow. That's funny.

M: But you did it in a way that nobody could understand what you were singing anyway.

C: 'Cause we're not fuckin' retarded enough to, you know, 'War is bad!' 'Really? We hadn't noticed that.' We're not interested in manipulating the indigenous market groups as they're able to be manipulated. Sell fuckin' titties and beer to the twenty-somethings. Rebellion against your parents for teenagers. Titties and beer to the twenty- and thirty-somethings. Oppulance and cars to the forty-somethings. Power and fuckin' misogyny to the fifty-somethings. And fuckin' adult diapers beyond that. I don't know if we're gonna be huge or not. I doubt it. I highly doubt it.

M: Do you hope to be popular? Do you care?

C: For my brother's kids, I would like us to be more popular. For all the other people around me who aren't as strong as me, and who can't take what we can take. We don't have any money at all, ever.

M: But you've got a studio.

C: Yea, I have a few things. And at points we've done fairly good. We get little tiny piles of money. But then I gotta go right back out on tour again to support everything and we haven't been out for a while. And now we're in this other land. That's something independents offered us, is the ability to connect with the people that are out there. 'Cause people are into anything, anything you can think of as a human, you can find other people who are into it. There's billions of us, and even if you're into killing people and cutting them open and taking out their doo doo and making a lovely little brisket out of it, you can find at least another ten thousand people that are into it. So the Meat Puppets have found hundreds of thousands of people that dig our shit. And that's been enough for years to roll with it. But then this major label thing came along, and we're not anti-it, it's just too fun to resist. So we're in with them and they're a challenge, you know. Can we make this thing, this really fairly interesting thing, that's been noticed as interesting, and billed as such by the rock intelligence, can we make that something that is widely received? And that's what the critics all came at us with years ago. 'Can you do what Hendrix did? Can you do what the Beatles did?' That's what all the old sixties critics said to us. 'Can you make it a movement and change to face of the world?' And we're like, 'No. As a matter of fact we can't. 'Cause we're not gonna dress up like fuckin' Hendrix did, or like the Beatles did. Nor is there a war for us to exploit. 'Stop the war, man!' Oh, groovy!'

M: Well, I think I've got an interview.

C: Groovy. You have the startings of a book there.

M: I sure do.

C: This is a stock standard 'Interview to College Guy: Brand Q.' A PhD, though, in something as frivolous as that. Silly little waster of your own life and your parents money.

M: And everything you say is a lie, correct?

C: Yea. I like to preface my statements with a little bit of fuckin' boiled yak lard.


A Sidebar Full Of Props

by Derrick Bostrom in


When the Arizona Republic ran their feature on the Kirkwood reunion last summer, they asked a handful of Phoenix luminaries for a list of their favorite local "influences," to be printed alongside the feature. I was included in the cattle-call, which included business entrepreneurs and broadcast celebrities as well as my fellow musicians. Naturally, I submitted a little more than just a list -- it was a perfect opportunity to add a little historic context, giving a little extra credit where it's due at the same time. Though the article itself made it online, as did the rest of the sidebar, I never saw anything by me, except in the the print edition. Whatever; I still have my copy:

Too often, a list of "influences" is just a bunch of artists somebody likes. This time, I've chosen to avoid the usual suspects (Hazelwood, Cooper, Tubes, et. al.) and attempt to rescue from the dustbin a handful of obscure Phoenicians who had an actual influence on me. If you've never heard of 'em, that just underscores how badly they need some ink.

1. Mike Condello Mike "Commodore" Condello was my first personal hero. His two "Mini Albums" released under the aegis of the Wallace And Ladmo show were my prized possessions as a kid. It took me months to save up enough allowance and visit the old Ladmo Drive-In for my copies (which I still have). Suffice to say, I knew Condello's take-offs on Sergeant Pepper and Jimi Hendrix long before I discovered the originals.

2. Dolan Ellis Back when we were teens, "Arizona's Official Balladeer" was a rich source of derision for my friends and I. To my by-then thoroughly Beatle/Hendrix saturated ears, Ellis' super-straight country crooning was profoundly kitschy. But Dolan's outlasted 'em all. He's still hanging in there.

3. Jack Knetzger Back before there was a Meat Puppets, my first musical mentor and I had a band called the Atomic Bomb Club. Perhaps if Jack hadn't been so determined to complete his college education and find a "real" job, Nirvana might have covered three of his songs instead. But he's also still going strong -- his web site at http://www.knetzcomics.com/ features several albums worth of free downloadable tracks, as well as a generous selection of old Bomb Club recordings (many of which feature guest performances by both Kirkwood brothers).

4. John Vivier The original renaissance man of the Phoenix punk scene. I first heard about him when his group the Heavy Metal Frogs played a stealth lunchtime gig at my high school. This was before the days of punk, but the group's psychotic performance earned them an escort off campus just the same. By the time I got to know him a couple years later, John was a member of most every cool band in town (Feederz, Liars, Cicadas, Killer Pussy, International Language). Hard living caught up with him in 1983. To this day, I'd like to smack him.

5. Don Bolles When one of your local heroes joins your favorite band (the Germs), there's only one word for it. Out here in Goldwater Country, we call it "pride."

6. David Wiley Even after he moved to Los Angeles, first with the Consumerz and later singing for the Human Hands, David and I maintained a correspondence. Once the Meat Puppets got on its feet, David got us our first gigs on the west coast, and made for us the crucial introductions. If anyone is said to have "discovered" the Meat Puppets, David is the man.

7 & 8. George Dillon & Bill Bored No mere bedroom noodlers, these boys helped break the Phoenix club scene open to local punk bands. Not only did they get their hands dirty, dealing with the local club owners, but they carried water for the rest of us. You can bet if Bill's popular new wave outfit The Nervous or George's uptown art/noise crew International Lanugage managed to con a bar into giving them a night, one of their scruffier fellow bands would also be on the bill.

9. Gary Russell When the Puppets first burst out of their little suburban practice space onto the greater Phoenix scene, the Killer Pussy's guitarist was the first to take us under his wing. His wacky sense of humor and free-form approach to performance made him an instant kindred spirit. Our early jam sessions with Gary helped us develop the improvisational spirit that left a lasting mark on our live shows.

10. Damon Bostrom With all the artistic foment occupying the local scene in the early 80s, it was only a matter of time before my brother jumped in. A classically trained composition major, his groups the Noknownames, Happy Sirens and Funston Arts Ensemble eschewed rock music for a more whimsical, cerebral approach. Combining serious musical aspirations with a loose undisciplined performing style, my brother's shows were fascinating not-to-be-missed events.


Assorted Magazine Covers

by Derrick Bostrom in


The Meat Puppets did a lot of upgrading in 1987. We bought new equipment, new vehicles, even a new practice space. We also started buying new costumes. Of course, Cris' girlfriend had been dressing up her Puppet as early as 1984. But I resisted for the most part (though even I succumbed to the pressure of a goth girlfriend for a couple of months). But while in London in 1987, I willingly visited the famed tourist traps at Carnaby Street and threw down per diem money on some unfortunate fashion choices.

The evidence is obvious on the East Coast Rocker cover. The ridiculous unflattering red pants  display both my package (what there is of it) and that part of me uncrammable into the waistline. (The clashing flowery shirt was a gift from Mrs. Kirkwood, who was so proud that her boys were finally traveling across the ocean). The gold shirt on the Option cover was another London purchase. (Perhaps it will come as no surprise to learn that the timing of our 1987 trip to Europe coincided with the rise to fame of a certain Axel Rose and his ilk).

Soon the word got out among the photographing community that the Meat Puppets were willing to play dress-up. Suddenly, budgets for photo sessions began to balloon ominously as "stylists" appeared, along with racks and racks full of their thrift store trash. Even worse, they began demanding that we pose in the buff. It took years to undo the damage of  the late eighties and early nineties and finally get back into my own threads. Though nothing I ever wore became quite as cool as a "Hi How Are You" tee shirt, I quite fancied my "I Love It When They Boo" sweatshirt, or my "Lutherans 86: In Love With Life" and my "An Appropriate Education For Everyone" tees. Eventually, after a brief flirtation with "Don't Mess With Texas," I settled in for the remainder of my career with a few carefully chosen Superman insignias.

        

        


Rejected article from "Car & Travel" Magazine

by Derrick Bostrom in


A couple years back, I struck up an email correspondence with a guy named Chris King, who worked for the AAA Auto Club magazine "Car & Travel." He prodded me to submit a puff piece for publication.  Since I've logged lots of time in a touring vehicle, it wasn't too much of a stretch to think his audience might find a few hastily cobbled-together band anecdotes  mildly diverting. Chris' boss didn't agree, however, and even though the article actually got as far as being formatted for print, the fabled Page 40 wound up with the axe. Chris was decent enough to send me a copy though, along with a modest kill fee. He no longer works for "Car & Travel," so the whole episode is pretty much a dead issue. I leave it to the readers of this website to contemplate the greater wisdom of the powers that be, who noticed that -- in their words -- the article is "not funny enough."

Band on the Run by Derrick Bostrom

One of the best things about being in a rock and roll band is the opportunity for travel. All it takes is a little notoriety, a flexible work schedule and a handful of good phone numbers to set up a national tour. When you're a young musician, the money takes care of itself, as does the lodging. But no matter how undeniably the lure of glamorous adventure presents itself, one fact remains unavoidable: you've gotta spend a lot of time in the car.

You can chart a band's career by its travel arrangements. My old group, the Meat Puppets, started out on a shoestring, and clocked an awful lot of miles before a brief run at the top of the heap. In 1994, we had a hit song, "Backwater," on rock radio, and we appeared on MTV almost daily as guests of Nirvana on their celebrated Unplugged special. Shortly after that, we literally dropped off the map. (That is, we stopped touring.) Along the way, we managed to amass a small junkyard of car parts that tell our story as well as any biography.

Of course, you can't hit the road without a vehicle.  Any old van will do. 

It helps if your bass player's girlfriend can get her father to help you build one of those cool shelf things that every band van needs. You know, a big piece of wood installed about two feet from the ceiling, low enough to fit sleeping bodies up on top, and high enough to stash all the equipment down below. It should also create a dark isolation chamber big enough to hold either the low man on the totem pole, or the one nursing the worst grudge or hangover.

Ideally, someone should know a little something about auto mechanics. Your van will almost certainly break down, and there isn't much of a garage budget when you're traveling 800 hundred miles to play for 25 bucks. At one point during our first tour, we spent all our money on a new U joint, which we installed on a freeway median on the outskirts of Houston. Afterwards, we had only enough money left over for one burger and fries, which went to our t-shirt salesman, since he installed the part.

As our fortunes grew, we developed more complicated strategies. At one point we traveled in an RV, towing a trailer full of gear, carrying three band members, two roadies, two girlfriends and a pit bull. While cumbersome, the extra weight did help keep us stuck to the road.

I remember awaking abruptly one morning near the end of an all-night drive to discover we had left the pavement and were heading for the woods. I shook the driver awake and lurched into the seat beside him as he desperately (and successfully) tried to return us to the highway. After this, we started using rest stops for midnight sleep breaks.

Generally, we had good luck with weather. Only rarely did we find ourselves driving through a blizzard, weeping with terror, driving in pitch blackness with our lights turned off to decrease snow-blindness. The worst storm we ever endured was a hurricane in England. Our rented van had broken down in the middle of a forest, which quickly became a maze of broken trees and downed power lines. Luckily, we managed to find a cemetery, which gave us an open space safe from falling timber.

Weather wasn't the only threat we faced on the road. We also managed to drive rack smack into the Los Angeles riots of 1991 1992. As fires burned all around us and the population seethed, our roadie spent a sleepless night parked out on the street, protecting our van full of equipment from looters.

Spending the night in the van can also be one of the pleasures of life on the road. For a group traveling inside each other's pockets, the solitude of an empty van is a welcome respite from the close quarters afforded by the financial necessity of six people sharing one hotel room.

In time, we became too popular to travel in vans. Our managers rented huge tour busses for us, gilded cages on wheels, manned by professional drivers. Instead of whiling away the hours behind the wheel listening to our own mix tapes, we sat in the back lounge watching videos. Instead of our ticket to open-road freedom, our vehicle became a symbol of the prison our success had become.

Now that it's all over, I don't travel much. When I do, it's in a compact sedan, not a land boat, and I usually know where I'll be sleeping that night. But sometimes I miss the pure twisted strangeness of the 30-hour haul, wired on candy bars and bad coffee at 4 in the morning, and another 300 miles before the next show.           


Bostrom Dissertation Interview from 1993

by Derrick Bostrom in


In January of 1993, I conducted a unique phone interview. Instead of garnering me column inches or sound bytes, this one provided background for a PHD dissertation by one Matthew Lahrman who was then going to school in Illinois. He was exploring the experiences of young rock bands and the transformation of their idealism as it broke or did not break upon the rocks of music business reality. As a band who had recently signed to a major after ten years of of "independence," we were a natural fit. Plus, we were one of Matt's favorite bands. It took Matt about three years to finish his book-length dissertation, which he titled "Selling Out: Constructing Authenticity And Success In Chicago's Indie Rock Scene." Though little, if any, of the interview made it into the final version, Matt was gracious to send me a copy anyway. Recently, he was also kind enough to send me his transcript of the interview itself. The going is kind of slow, since this is a faithful transcription of the interview. But once you wade through all the ellipses, you're left with a typically cavalier yet fatalistic Yours Truly, well on my way to disillusionment, but still defending the band's direction.

Interview with Derrick Bostrom, drummer for the Meat Puppets.

The interview takes place over the phone. Derrick is at his home in Arizona on January 23, 1993

Derrick: So this is a dissertation about...

Matt: About rock. It’s mainly about local rock bands, in Chicago... authenticity and success.

D: Moving towards acceptance and stuff like that.

M: Right. And there’s this term “selling out” and what young bands think about it, ones that aren’t signed yet. And as far. . .

D: We’re one that has been signed.

M: You’ve been signed but you’re not at the point where you could really be considered selling out.

D: It remains to be seen whether any of our young bands reach the mega level yet. Some people have said that either you start out mega, or you don’t ever really get well incorporated. Bands like us who get into it mostly for music have a harder time breaking through than people who are more oriented toward the business. . . who set out to play by the certain rules. Like “Don’t ever write a song in a certain key because it might not be a hit.” “Oh, we can’t do that song ‘cause it won’t get us where we want to be.”

M: When you write songs do you think about economic success?

D: No so much in the writing. There’s a lot of songs that are written. . . and then once the songs are written. . . in our particular instance the label generally won’t accept the first ten. We like to go in and record. . . we used to, on SST, we’d get ten songs that we liked and then we’d go into the studio and record them and that would be that. London wants to. . . wants us to write three times that many songs so that there can be lots to choose from. And I don’t really know exactly what they do on their end but I’m sure they take. . .now we make demos and send them into the label and then they probably get played around to various people who have a hand in it.

M: So London is a subsidiary of somebody, right?

D: Polygram.

M: It’s considered a major label?

D: Oh yea, definitely. There’s only about five labels out there. And they’re all, everybody is a subsidiary of one or the other. The major labels are attached to corporations. You can assume that the real money is in armaments. So you got to assume that somewhere along the line Polygram probably is involved in communication radar. I haven’t gone so far as to check it out yet, but you can pretty bet that these label people, since they’re involved in communications probably are involved in. . . .rather than making bombs, making communications stuff. In the old days the telephone was, of course, used for communication but it was also used to attach electrodes, to use as a power source for torture out in the field.

M: Excuse me?

D: They used to have a power source to telephones and they used to contact each other when they were out on the front. They would use that electricity to electrocute. . . for electrodes to testicles and things like that. So the history of communications has always been tied into armaments. So I make no bones about being employed by a death merchant, as they call them.

M: Why did you guys make the move from. . . SST is basically an independent.

D: Time will tell whether or not we have. . . we still have outstanding disputes with SST that I’d rather not discuss. But we’ve been doing this band for thirteen years. You get to a certain point where if you don’t move on then you’re stagnating. Standing still is still going backwards. We were getting a reputation of “why haven’t the Meat Puppets signed when everybody else has?” We were going out on . . .out albums. . .we would be touring and our agent would be able to. . .lots and lots of bands that were on major labels were trying to open for us, were contacting our agent. . . and a fairly good bill. But here were all these bands on majors, and major labels thought a good idea would be to get their band to go out and open for the Meat Puppets who are on an independent. Then we’d get into these towns, these major market towns, Boston, New York, etc., and find out that our opening band’s records were completely all over the record stores and the label was stocking the stores and making sure the promotion materials were there. They were dong lots of interviews and lots of people were going to see them. And we had real trouble. Especially with our last release. But always finding records in the store. So we knew that there were advantages to . . .that SST couldn’t have. Then, of course, there were times like when we toured with Black Flag. We opened for them. We both had a new record out at the same time.

M: That was a while ago. . .

D: Yea. I’m talking about ’84. Their records would be in the store and ours wouldn’t be.

M: And you’re on the same label and they own the label.

D: Yea. And this was when we were going out with Meat Puppets II, which was getting great reviews everywhere, in the national press as well as various regionals. And SST was obviously more interested in pushing My War.

M: So your goals when you first started, you said thirteen years ago, were they. . .

D: I think we all had different goals. Mine wee different than Curt’s or Cris’s. But I think we all mostly wanted to blow minds, get weird and prove that we were wild dudes, or whatever.

M: Rather than signing with a label?

D: Yea. We wanted to just. . . we started out within our little Phoenix scene. There was maybe five, six. . . no more than a dozen bands that were there. We wanted to (a) be part of the group and then after that we wanted to stand out from the group. And. . . within a couple years into our existence we suddenly got opportunities to play out of town. We met with people who wanted to do records with us. We did them and began to tour. And we’d come off of a tour and find that most of our old scene bands were broken up, drug abused, married, or dead, or drunk, or whatever. . . just basically moved along in one way or another, and we were surviving. The next step was alienation from the scene that started us.

M: The hardcore scene?

D: Well, yea. Largely due to the. . .It wasn’t really a hardcore scene back then. It was just kind of punk. We never. . . hardcore cam along

after we did.

M: ‘Cause I’m thinking of the early ‘80’s. I grew up in San Diego. Black Flag and Circle Jerks and Bad Religion.

D: The scene we grew up out of, the bands we used to go see were more of what you’d call punk rock than hardcore. Plus your occasional weird Beefheartesque sort of rock and roll that was highly anti-establishment without being macho or jock or anything like that. Which was more hardcore, much more of a muscle bound sort of think than we were.

M: So what would you consider J.F.A?

D: They would be a hardcore band. The whole skating, the whole sports tie in. Whereas our scene was more of an anarchistic. . . more intellectual.

M: What bands do you consider were in your scene?

D: We used to look to the early L.A. bands: The Germs, X before they were old, who else? Devo. Some of the weirder more eclectic sort of bands.

M: The Wierdos?

D: The Wierdos. That kind of thing. Though they kind of were a little more rock and roll than we were into. Then there were some local bands: the Consumers and the Lyres, the Feederz. I think the Feederz made some records that were picked up.

M: So do you think there’s such thing as authentic rock and roll, as far as talking about selling out?

D: No. I think rock and roll started out as a sell out art form. When you consider that music at the time was. . . You can look at it two ways. On one hand you can say well, they cut through a lot of the bullshit and made it more immediate by using bass, guitar and drums and shouting. Rather than a detailed arrangement and a lot of musicians and song writers and stuff like that. Certainly they based a lot of their structure on country music and blues, three chord, 8-bar thing. But also you gotta figure that in terms of the business, rock and roll was largely an offshoot. . . business-wise, one of the reasons it was promoted as it was that it was really easy to market and that the bands that were involved were a lot less experienced in music. And since they weren’t commercial, they didn’t have the clout of established management or legal advice. So they were easy to snap up.

M: Easy to exploit.

D: Easy to exploit. Because there was a . . . there was two publishing companies in the ‘50s: ASCAP and BMI. And BMI started because ASCAP boycotted the radio. Because they felt that the radio was playing records of groups at the time when a lot of groups got their livelihood from playing live on the radio. They felt it was unfair. So ASCAP refused to allow any of their songs to be played on the radio in, like, 1941, 1942. So the radio started their own publishing company, Broadcast Music. And whereas ASCAP was mostly, they started out as a sheet music administrator, working with Broadway people and Tin Pan Alley. They didn’t really want what they considered low quality material like country music or race records. So BMI went and snapped all these people up. Again, these were the people that were easy to exploit. So right off the bat rock and roll kind of fell into a scab situation, as far as a strike was concerned. By the time the ‘50s came around that strike was ended. But still, the lines were drawn between. . .

M: So you think that laid a foundation for. . .

D: Yea. I think rock and roll has always been about money and there’s been. . . since it’s been dealing with that energy thing, it’s always been a commodity from the very beginning. All pop music is. Performing. . .it’s more of an anomaly in rock and roll because you’re dealing with such a volatile thing. It’s so obvious when somebody dresses up in a suit and smiles for the camera and sings with an orchestra, it’s obvious what their intention are. But when you’re. . .when you get people excited and stuff, yet the intent is still to make money, it becomes somewhat more insidious.

M: Do you think that bands that are just starting out at a local level. . .

D: no, I don’t think they have that intention at all. In fact I think that the thin that keeps rock and roll alive is the fact that there is constant groups of bands that aren’t interested in that at all who are trying to subvert that.

But, like I said before, you get some success and you really...that’s the thing about it. You make a living doing this. You can make a living doing what you like.

M: Is this an obvious question? Do you guys make a living by being in the band?

D: Sure. Well, if you want to call it that.

M: You don’t work any other job?

D: No. But at this point there’s all sorts of different levels of money. There’s shows and records and publishing and merchandizing. And then trying to do various others things on the side. There’s plenty of. . . you can, it’s what you make of it. The more deals you can make the more money you can make. We don’t do that well ‘cause our focus has always been getting a rise our of people. Our group feel, so we don’t exploit our band as much as we... That’s one of the things our label wishes that we were a little more business oriented and would exploit our thing more. For instance, our label doesn’t like us to perform “Whistling Song” live ‘cause they feel that it’s an incongruity that our target audience, that they’ve targeted for us, won’t be able to stomach. “Hard rock bands don’t whistle!” And I go “yea, but we’re like a psychedelic neo-jazz southwest country/punk/hard rock band.” but they want us to be a hard rock band.

M: I know that from seeing four or five of your shows that often times the audience wants you to play that song.

D: Yea. But that’s the thing. We can’t be. . . we know it’s not in our interest to just play the same. . . You see Chicago shows?

M: I’ve seen. . .I went to school in Arizona. .. .I’ve seen two in Flagstaff, one in Phoenix.

D: Still we’re talking’ about. . . even the Metro would only hold, say, 500 people maybe. Less than. . .maybe 5 or 600 people. And you can’t be setting your sites that low. You have to be lookin’ to shows for, like, 30,000 or more if you want to be big.

M: Have you found that you’ve changed your goals?

D: No. I don’t like doing “Whistling Song” with or without the incongruency. I don’t care. I’m tired of it. It’s an ancient song. I’d rather not do it anyway.

M: Is there any kind of tension between playing for an authentic rock audience, or. . . for the 500 at Lounge Ax. . .

D: No. We basically feel that what we do, what we’ve always done, people can like. We don’t consider ourselves to be inaccessible. We never thought that our stuff was that far out. Now there are far out aspects to it. The fact that what we sing about is very oblique. And then that’s probably the major problem.

M: The lyrics?

D: Yea. The lyrics are probably the biggest problem as far as trying to sell us; to put us over big. And of course I remember when Stipe and Co. started getting big all you’d ever hear about was how you couldn’t understand the lyrics. Suddenly, “Stipes actually singing so you can understand him!” Like, I couldn’t tell the difference. It didn’t make any difference to me.

M: Do think there was a conscious effort on REM’s part to make it so we could understand the lyrics?

D: Umm. . .sure. It’s such a small concession. It doesn’t. . .makes such a little. . .I mean, what they’re interested in is broad enough within its own limited range so that there’s plenty of things for them to do to keep it interesting.

M: Would you consider REM an authentic rock band?

D: Ummm. . .authentic rock band. But I don’t think they were ever an underground band. I think that they started out. . .they did one single and got signed to IRS. I don’t consider that to be nearly enough time in the underground. Of course they worked. They toured plenty and they made their grass roots connection with people. So they should have their . . .they should get their due. However, I never thought their music was particularly challenging.

M: Would you be comfortable in their position?

D: Umm. . I’d prefer it. I’d prefer to play unchallenging music. I’m lazy. I’d love to just go “boop-bap” the way their drummer does and not have to do shit. Unfortunately I have to. . .our music is largely. . .our music is so uncommercial at its core because all we try to do in to it. We don’t even care about what it sounds like. We just care about how it fits together in the connection to our brain while we’re actually doing it. We don’t rehearse a lot. We prefer to leave it at. . .to leave the live performance to be an avenue of discovery and experiment rather than just something that we could recreate, something that we’ve done in practice. It never. . .no matter how much you practice it when you’re us. It’s been this way since the beginning, it just doesn’t feel the same on stage with all those people there. And the focus on the energy and the performance is just so different.

M: It’s interesting. . .I like you guys quite a bit, you’re one of my favorite bands.

D: Thank you.

M: . . .friends of mine that don’t know abut you, I’ll lend them your discs and they’ll be kind of neutral on it. I get them to go to a show and it’s a much different experience.

D: That’s a problem for us career wise. It’s kind of a shame. It would be nice if we could do a show that was more. . . that had more of that. I mean had a record that had more the energy. . . or if we could have a show that would have a little less of that and be more like the record. The label would like us to do shows that were more like the record, and we’d rather do a record that was more like our shows. I think most of our small core of 60,000 people that bought our last record would agree. But we need to sell between one and three hundred thousand or our records or else we’re gonna have to be considered failure in this particular realm of the industry.

M: You sold 60,000 of Forbidden Places?

D: Probably in the neighborhood. But we sold them all at once. Which is still the best we’d ever done. We’d sold, over the years, with our SST products, not that many. With something like Up on the Sun, our best success at the time, we probably have sold around that in seven years. But we were able to do that much business right away given the distribution network. But that does not satisfy our label. Whereas fIREHOSE sold about that many, maybe a little more, and their label was very happy with it.

M: Of Flyin’ the Flannel?

D: Yea. Their first Sony record. It depends on who you are. On our label we have a specific sort of inter-office politics in which the person that goes to bat for us happens to have to be accountable in a certain way. It has so much to do with it outside of the music or the record. It has a lot to do with maybe the person. . . maybe there’s somebody in you label that’s looking, that want the job of the person who’s your advocate. So they’re looking to make that person look bad. So they try to paint your band in a bad light to make this person look bad. So you get dragged down in the process. There’s all sorts of. . .that’s one of the problems with working with a corporation. there’s so much out of your control.

M: And these are things that unsigned bands have no idea about.

D: It depends on who the unsigned band is, I think. It depends on who it is. Unsigned bands meaning bands that are into it for the music, like us, rather than say a band that is trying to copy Guns ‘n’ Roses.

M: Or just a young band. . .eighteen or nineteen year old kids. ..

D: Yea. Kids are just getting together out of their love. .. .yea. That’s something that they don’t. . .I mean, I essentially rebel against that. I just go “Great. Let them drop us. Who gives a shit. If that’s what it’s all about, fuck ‘em.” I don’t give a damn. I know the other guys. .We all work at it because it’s a challenge, and to a certain extent we believe we’re up to it, and we aren’t that intimidated by it. I don’t lose a lot of sleep over it.

M: You’re not worried about losing your job?

D: I’m not so sure that we’re on the right label. As far as that goes there may be labels that could do a lot better job with us. It all boils down to who you’re working for and where they’re at in their careers and stuff like that. Obviously one of the first things a label is gonna say is, “Alright, these guys have been around for thirteen years. They’re not gonna go. . . they’re one of the seminal bands of this scene. . how come it’s taken these guys so long to get as far as they have?” Who cares! They’re not impressed by what we’ve done so far. and as far as they’re concerned what it boils down to is the right song, the right video, and the right opening slot on the right tour, the right producer and the right video director, and the right live show which means the right lights, the right back drop, the right songs, the right links with the right tempos. ‘Cause we like to play fast and sloppy and shit. A good show for us, one which we come out feeling really satisfied with, might not be what Mr. Big thinks is the one.

M: So you don’t do much rehearsing for your shows?

D: We do. But it’s not useful rehearsing in the sense that once we get on stage it’s a totally different experience. We obviously know what the songs are going to be, but we don’t go, “Alright, we’re gonna do this and this and nothing but this.” Keep it really, really basic.

M: You like to talk, don’t you?

D: No. I gave you my phone number.

M: Yes you did. That was nice of you.

D: Yea. You’d get a lot of crap from either me or Cris.

M: Does Curt not do interviews?

D: He’s more fanciful in his answers. I don’t know if he’d particularly want to address himself to your particular topic. I had something to say about your topic so I thought I’d give you my number.

M: I appreciate it. Pearl Jam hasn’t responded.

D: Well, I can’t speak for others. For me it’s like it’s an important issue at this time and I have a specific sort of attitude toward it. I think it’s not necessarily a wonderful thing.

M: What’s not a wonderful thing?

D: This whole music business bullshit.

M: The music is still a wonderful thing, isn’t it?

D: Yea. The music is still fun and stuff, but. . .I’ll tell ya. I’ve been doing it for thirteen years and . . .

M: How old are you?

D: Thirty-two. Nobody likes living out of a suitcase. We did a three month tour last year. And I still. . .Looking back on it still frightens me to think that I have to do it again. I just don’t have much of a life. The kind of people that you are able to connect with are. . .you always are wondering what other people are doing. I just read a book, which depending on how much research you have to do for your paper, you might want to look for it, because it has a lot of good quotes about how full of whit the music industry is. It’s Artie Shaw. He’s one of the great big band leaders in the thirties and forties in the swing era. His big hits were “Begin the Beguine” in ’38, and “Frenesi” from ’42.

M: What’s the name of the book?

D: "The Trouble with Cinderella: An Outline of Identity." It was written in, like, ’52 and it’s kind of an autobiography. He quit the music business a lot of times. He kept saying, “Man, if I could only get a lot of money I would just quit.” And he finally realized that he was in the weird vicious circle. So he got psychiatric help and realized. . .

M: He realized that it was set up so that he couldn’t get enough money to quit.

D: He realized that he was working at cross purposes with himself. He had to. . . what he wanted to do was write. So he gave up music and began to write.

M: If you made enough money would you quit?

D: Oh sure. I’d rather not have to work at all for a living.

M: So you consider it working?

D: Yea! I wouldn’t mind playing music whenever I feel like it, and only when I feel like it. But living in hotels, living with my partners. Having to go hassle over money and worry about whether or not people are gonna show up and stuff. And that’s just our level. I can only dream, from hearing about it, about the problems you’re gonna have once you’re popular. If we got a popular record we’d have to work constantly. We’d be on the road for two or three years.

M: That doesn’t sound...

D: Well, I’m a contemplative person. Other people, most people in music really enjoy the attention and the distraction. What I prefer a lot of time is to sit and contemplate things. And read books like Mr. Shaw’s. And he too was looking to be a writer. He had other interests. And he wanted time to do some of the other things he wanted to do.

M: You mean you actually have other interests?

D: Yea. I do specifically. Cris definitely is into his music. And Curt is kind of a. . .he’s got his own thing too. He’s into his guitar, but he’s also into. . .he’s kind of more into being a celebrity than he is being a straight musician. He’s into being a personality. Somebody who has a unique outlook on life that people find interesting rather than somebody who they just. . .He’s not like a guitar hero. He’s not just interested in being liked because of his. . .

M: Although many people consider him to be. . .

D: Sure. He has a unique guitar style. But he believes that the electric guitar is one of the most sublime sort of things. It practically plays itself. If you got him talking about it. .. it’s like, you can’t lose with an electric guitar. I mean, even I could go up there and blow people away with an electric guitar. That is if they were listening rather than just watching my fingers. Music is not his whole life. He’s also a contemplative sort. Cris is more of a musical sort. We all get tired on tour and you start to get on sort of a thin rope. And you start to lose your cool. Or sleep through the gigs. Whereas we don’t sleep through the gigs, our gigs are kind of like an extremely strong jolt of coffee. We use our gigs to wake ourselves up. It’s a drag. You drive all day and eat shitty food and take weird hours and have people in your face and you don’t have. . . your home and stuff like that. It’s a different schedule. It gets wearing. Which is another reason why we wanted to sign with a major label so that we could get help doing these things. And not have to do it on such a shoe string. And also because, like any band. . .any business that starts out from nothing knowing nothing. We’ve needed to get a lot of our business practices straightened out. So we hired professional management and accounting and stuff like that to make sure that we weren’t wasting our time trying to plug whatever holes or waste of money or waste of time so that we could be a more efficient organization. That gets important when you get old. Curt has a couple of kids that are almost ten. And you have to start thinking about that. When you’re a kid it’s like “Pile in the van, let’s go to the next gig. How much you wanna pay me? $10? Great!” But you start to get older and you get more responsibilities and you have to think about it. Anybody who has been in this business. . ..I mean, the mere fact that we’ve stayed together for thirteen years gives us a awful lot of credibility in the band world. ‘Cause we have stuck it out. We have something to say to people that only the survivors can tell you. Sometimes the survivors tell you things that you might not want to hear when you’re nineteen. You’ll learn them sooner or later.

M: If you’re around for thirteen years.

D: That’s right. We plan to be around for another thirteen.

M: You do?

D: Sure. We're not...

(tape ends)


Interview from Flipside, 1982

by Derrick Bostrom in


flipside

I Met The Meat Puppets And Lived To Tell About It by Helen

Early December, the Meat Puppets drove in from Phoenix in order to record some tracks at SST Records and perform around town. Chris, Scott, Kelly and I spoke to the M.P.s after a rousing set at Al's bar. Our talk was very disjointed and extremely entertaining, but don't count on the interview to help figure out their perplexing and rather demanding form of music/noise.

F.S. : What's your biggest influence in music.

Curt : Mommy. My mommy made me what i am.

Derrick : My mommy's heart beat.

F.S .: What gives you more satisfaction, live performance or studio recording?

Curt : I like live performance, except I want to be able to hit people with my guitar. I like it ALL a lot. Most of the time in interviews people deal with "like" and "dislike" and recently I've been thinking of things more in terms of "up" or "down." Today when I was driving here I couldn't figure out if I was right side up or up side down and i couldn't figure out how to pull the car over. i lost all my will. My will to drive. My will to steer. Only my motor reflexes were working.

F.S. : How do you feel about your recent recording session on SST?

Derrick : It was wonderful. SPOT's a real nice guy.

Curt : I like this picture i saw today in this book. It was picture of Charles Manson. It was the only picture I ever saw of him when he wasn't staring real mean at the camera. They got a picture of him with this guy he went out in the desert to collect lizards and stuff with. You can tell he respected the guy because he was older and he's got a western belt.

F.S. : How do you like Gary Gilmore?

Curt : He's dead.

F.S. : Do you think SST is aligned with Manson?

Curt : No way. The recording session was super.

F.S. : And so was the Manson picture. Did you see the interview with Tom Snyder?

Curt : Yeah. i thought it was an accident. It was the only accident that ever happened.

F.S. : I there some deep basis for your music or is it just for fun?

Curt : It's deeper than we can figure. We hear it the same as you do.

F.S. : What are your vocal influences?

Curt : Almost 23 years.

Derrick : Our main influence is the desert.

Curt : The main influence on my vocals is smoke. I have a natural ability to sing. I was born with that talent.

F.S. : Do you believe there is a God?

Curt : I believe there are many gods.

F.S. : Do cowboys hassle you in Arizona?

Curt : There's no cowboys there. I am a cowboy.

F.S. : What do you do when you're not doing music in Phoenix?

Curt : Well - we smoke pot, trade pornographic magazines.

Derrick : Draw pictures, read comics.

Curt : My uncle Jack says that any kind of reaching out is good because there's no handbook on communication.

F.S. : Thus far, you have played at the smaller clubs like Cathey de Grande, Al's Bar, and the L.A. Press Club. Is this a choice?

Curt : No. We even get invited to play at notoriously small places like Whiskey A Go Go too. They begged us. They sent us different colored yarns to try and entice us over. They were refused a lot of times. Until they send us enough yarn.

F.S. : ?????????????????

F.S. : What constitutes a good performance for you?

Derrick : Our liking it.

Cris (finally): We came here to play the freeways. With regards to audience, we play it with all our hearts.

F.S. : What is your favorite local L.A. band?

Curt : I can take just about anything. It just depends on what I've eaten.

F.S. : Your favorite movie actor?

Curt : Clint Eastwood.

Derrick : Robert Reed.

F.S. : Do you have a fan following?

Curt : Just flies.

F.S. : What's your favorite food?

Curt : Bee pollen.

F.S. : Who don't you like?

Curt : It's too much of a pain in the butt to think about things I don't like.

(from FLIPSIDE No. 29, 1982)


Interview From "Notes From Underground" (1983)

by Derrick Bostrom in


The following is an interview transcribed almost in it's entirety. The group is the Meat Puppets. The time Is March 1983. The place is the Meat Puppets dining room, somewhere In Glendale Ariz. READ AND ENJOY!

NFU - Tony Victor

Derrick Bostrom - Drums

Curt Kirkwood Guitar, vocals

Cris Kirkwood Bass, vocals

NFU: Describe, if any, the effect drugs have on your music

Curt: They don't have any effect on my music. They effect my ability to play it. The music is always at a certain point at a certain time with me, so if I take drugs, it just distorts the way I perceive or translate at that time. But it's always at a certain point, more or less.

Derrick: All lies, all lies! Well, I have all these pet theories, and, of course, theories are are things that haven't been proven yet, so you should take my theories with a grain of salt...The pot helps keep us...It makes the weakest link in any arguement seem, ah...If I'm going to do something...No, if I have the choice of doing eight different things, I can get stoned and some of the things will seem out of the question and others I'll be able to do. Drugs never kept me from making music. They have kept me from doing other things. For instance, if we get ripped off by a promoter, and we're really stoned, we won't even care; at least for the moment. Drugs help me focus or the music -- in theory.

NFU: Do you think music can have an effect on change?

Curt: I think that as I watch, I know that it does because everything that is in society has an effect on social change because everything changes. I think that say like if you were to explode a nuclear device somewhere downtown, it would have a bigger effect on society. I think that, society is vanishing and at this point I'd like to reach out and touch each and every one of the readers.

NFU: Can I use that lighter for a second?

Derrick: Sure.

NFU: What direction do you think the human race Is heading in?

C: I think it's disappearing.

NFU: Can it be stopped?

C: I don't see why anyone would want to stop it. I mean, what good has it ever been?

NFU: So you don't worry about political issues?

C: I don't think I'm accurately informed on any of that stuff. All I get to read is the newspaper. All you ever get is second-hand information.

D: I'm very opinionated about the press but I don't know anything about the facts.

C: I mean,let's all get worked up about a little note that somebody drops by; and that's all it amounts to.

NFU: Do you think there's an absolute good and evil?

D: Yeah, and your looking at him. No, I think there's an "absolute" but not a good and evil.

C: I don't know, that sounds pretty abstract. To me, it sounds abstract because I can only feel so good before I'm reminded of how bad I can feel. I relate good and bad just to my own personal feelings.

D: Do you think good and evil can be defined? That's almost the same question.In thinking that there is a good and evil -- that might be evil.

K: I specifically say no,there is no good or evil. That's a totally absurd, primitive, pagan concept.Every form of life is only Reality Documentation. There reality,and then there's the documentation of it. There's no such thing as true experieince. It's all separated from real life as far as I'm concerned. The mind, being the way it is, won't allow us to have the experience of life. Life is the truth and this is the documentation of it. And we take our document with us into the truth and match wits with the worms. I'm just being funny, that's all.

NFU: What is a Meat Puppet?

D: Generally, most people who ask what it is already know.The song,"Meat Puppets" goes, "Meat Puppets can do this, this, this, this and this; Meat Puppets can do anything; Meat Puppets can also do this, this,this, this and this; and this is what I think about that".

C: Our subtitle is,"Reality Documentationalists". It means, try as you will to do anyhing in a graceful way...the truth is always way different than the way you percieve it, and so your at odds with nature literally. What art would be is basically an outcry and a protest against nature; that gives it no boundary. That would make nature the string puller; and Meat Puppets is just a way of saying "Reality Documentationalizer

Experianceist".

D: To me, the best may to control your life would be to not control your life. By taking control of your life in the common respect would be to merely react to circumstances under which you have no control so you're not really in control of your life. But,if you ignore the things that affect you...In a sense, not to take control is the only way to take control.

NFU: So thoughtlessness is something to be achieved?

C: Oh,we already have utter thoughtlessness.

D: The band,when we first played together,we played so good that we were able to make the music our foundation.We started with good music, so that leaves us an awful lot of time to spend on other efforts; to really experiment with what happens on earth and document it. I don't really understand Documentar Realization.

C: It's everythingl It's like there's a truth,but....

D: But what about people like Nixon who don't think that way. They never find that out and they confound me.

C: Their lives are exactly the same as ours because there's no way you can hit upon a documentation that is original in any way. It's all just cleverness; and walking is a ploy; thinking is a ploy; living is a ploy; it's all a ploy.

(Conversation quickly changes to the relationship between Derrick and audience)

D: I wanted to stay in touch with the humans, but I realize that, just like in real life, I can't like members of the audience if I don't know them. I can't remain accessible to the audience because there is no audience, there's just people I don't know as opposed to people I'm intimate with. It's like I realize that the concept of accessibility is not real and that all it really comes down to is letting people walk all

over you.

NFU: Can art be prostituted?

C: No, it can't; the concept of life itself is a prostitution.

D: No,we don't prostitute our music,we date our music, we go Dutch Treat with our music.

NFU: How often are you happy?

D: That's a very relative question. In some respects I'm happy all the time; in some respects I'm happy none of the time. Uh,most of the time I'm happy.

C: I'm sick of being just happy. I wanna be...

D: King?

C: No, I'm sick of being just happy. I think the government should set up a program that would keep me ecstatic continually.

NFU: What would keep you ecstatic continually?

C: I don't know. I think they should figure it out.

D: I'm not happy that pot is against the law; that I can't get more pot; that smoking pot hurts my health; that smoking pot costs a lot of money; that people...

C: That they hated the man and that he was a robot?

D: I'm not happy that people who don't smoke pot are difficult to comprehend. I know that I have explored my alternatives, so I'm happy enough.

C: Don't you think our lives lend us pitifully little conclusive evidence to deal with?

NFU: Does that mean we are all in a constant state of confusion?

C: Yes. Confusion envelopes that question....

(Subject changes)

C: He's (Tony) not gonna be able to transcribe this interview...

NFU: No, I'll do it alright.

D: If he can make up the questions he can edit it, too.

C: Alright then, I'd like to kill everyone; and walk on the little guy, stomp, mutilate....

NFU: What's your favorite pastime, aside from music and drugs?

D: Well, I personally had always put more of my eggs into the writing and drawing area than in the music area....Living....Reading....

NFU: Do you have any goals and ambitions?

D: Well, Curt talked about how held like to step on the little guy already.

NFU: I'm prettly little!

C: No, come on now, I didn't mean it that way. I meant all little people. That was just figurative, it's a media term.

Chris: Oh,are you doing the interview?

NFU: Yes.

Ch: I've got to go to the store.

NFU: Do you like living in Phoenix?

D: Yes.

C: I like to think in terms of Phoenix living off me.

NFU: Tell me some things about your national tour.

D: Well,there was a lot of these hateful things about the Bad Brains while we were on tour and when we got back and it's nobody's business what I do!

NFU: So you don't want to talk about the tour.

D: No, I do. One of the things I want to talk about is how fucked everybody is (who said) "Well,the Bad Brains don't like homosexuals and the Bad Brains are thieves" and it's just racism. People who don't like the Bad Brains are racists.

NFU: You think that people who don't like them shouldn't say so?

D: They should but if they do then they run the risk of being thought stupid by me. I can see right through their petty, stupid little argumerts and they are wrong.

(conversation returns to pop music)

C: I think the stuff on the radio today is top notch. I don't care what anybody says. I think anyone that comes up with a negative reality documentation must have a brain tumor.

NFU: Oh yeah?

C: Sure,it's obvious.

D: I don't even like records that much.

C: See,Derrirk has got a really big brain tumor; it's the size of a basketball.

D: He doesn't know what he's taking about. I'm just trying to answer the questions. I don't give a shit if people understand me. And I don't have a brain tumor; I'm healthy.

C: Wait! Here's the thing that I just realized that I have to say. Besides the bullshit we've spewed out, ,the Meat Puppets are indeed the greatest band that you'd hope for, the band that will stay out of your way and produce the great music...

D: Yeah, what do I have to say? If anybody wants to read this and pay attention to the words, please feel free to. If anybody wants to ignore what I've said, please feel free to as well because that is equally valid.

C: Oh wow! He's giving the audience the opportunity of freedom.

NFU: What a swell guy.

D: No, I'm trying to make a point. What I'm. trying to say is it's not historical....

C: Well, I don't know about you, Tony, but I don't think I want to give the audience that choice. Do you?

NFU: I don't think thay have any choice whether Derrick gives it to them or not. I think we are all devoid of choice.

C: I tend to agree with that. I'll go along with anything that will keep me from disagreeing.

D: Well, any of the readers that could get pissed at me, had better.T hat's the way I feel.

C: Derrick swallows jism and doesn't spit it out.

D: 1 don't see how you can say that about me. That would be misconstrued immediately. These....These people who don't like me....

C: Hey! If the Bad Brains are listening, I'd like to say that was a joke!

D: Look, these people who don't like me

C: You denied having a tumor, right? Derrick denied the tumor, right?(To Tony)

D: I don't have a tumor! I don't have a brain tumor!

C: A basketball-sized brain tumor.

D: My head's not even the size of a basketball. I don't know what you're talking about. If you're gonna get semantic on me, I'm gonna tell you that all my answers are conceived around the interview. My conceptual brain may or nay not be tumored, but my actual brain

certainly is not.

NFU: (To Curt) So I guess he does deny it.

C: Yep.

D: Of course I deny it!

C: That's the classic sign of someone that has sorething wrong with their head, is that they won't admit it.

D: What if I said that I admitted having something wrong with my head?

C: Why would you want to go around spouting it off like that? Why would you want, to make it a public announcement? I wouldn't, myself.

D: You brang up the concept of a brain tumor because you said that anybody who would come up with anything but positive reality projection must have a brain tumor. Well, obviously I don't have a brain tumor: what have I said that's negative? You're just projecting your own negativity off on me. I'm taking all this in good faith.

C: Wait a second.I'm the one who said you had a brain tumor; I'm the one with the credibility at stake!

D: Yeah,well, I know what you mean, but I can't see why you would want to appear to discredit me regardless of what your true intentions were. The people who read this mag are animals.

C: No! Don't tell them that!

D: I could give a shit!

C: Now what if there is some girl out there reading this that might want to take your stiff,moss covered, elastic penis up her?

D: I can't take time for beauty, Curt, I'm trying to rush through my life as quickly as possible.

C: I know, but what if she has a vagina the size of a life preserver? People are trained not to think about filthy stuff.

D: I do all the time.

C: They're not trained to deal with too open knowledge of everyone knowing that, ah...

D: Well, I'd like everyone to know that my penis is covered with moss.

C: Right! They're not trained to deal with everyone hearing the word penis at one time.

D: Not penis, but other words are ok. We're just working up to penis.We're just slow.

C: Well, penis is just too rubberry a word.

D: I have faith in the human race. I think they'll oneday be able to approach the word penis.

C: I don't know about faith but I think that as the human beings fade off into the distance, I'd like to call out to them: PENIS!

D: I don't see why people like us.

C: Because for a quarter (50 cents),they get to hear another chapter of your faulty, tumor-affected documentation.

D: My words are worth a million dollars and I am seriously giving them to Mr.Victor for free.And, if in the course of our relationship I ever feel the need to remind Mr. Victor that I gave him these words for free,I will.

C: Hi.This is Curt Kirkwood and under orders from Derrick Bostrom I am physically forcing Tony to beg Derrick for his advice. Thank you Tony.

D: It's like all these bands that don't think there is any business involved are just getting ripped off really badly; like me, for instance.

NFU: You don't think there's any business involved?

D: I do,but I'm getting ripped off anyway. No, we're all getting ripped off in one way or another.

K: Right. It's a big fight against nature.

D: I'm preaching the line of non-acceptance to the way things are. That's why I have a brain tumor. Curt doesn't have to worry, though,because I accept him the way he is.

C: Yeah,we have decided that my tumor is to remain a secret.

D: I love it, because the people who don't like me will attack me whether there is a reason or not, so why should I be consistant? The people who like me are gonna be able to see through that anyway. The people who like me for the wrong reasons are gonna get the worst of it in the long run anyway,one way or another.

NFU: Do you dislike anybody?

D: Not for very long.

NFU: Is anything important?

D: Yeah.What I think is important.

C: Our fans are important. Our record-buying audience is important. They are among the most important people in the world. They cherish our munitions and put bread on our table. Relatively important.

NFU: Would you like to say anything in closing?

D: I'm still looking for an angel with a broken wing.

C: I'm still looking for an angel that can give head and cook at the same time.

D: That's not fair, you should have asked us in seperate rooms.


Alive In The Nineties?

by Derrick Bostrom in


I wrote this in 2003 for the "Alive In The 90s" DVD. But I decided it was too much of a downer, and besides, it hardly talked about the DVD at all. So I shelved it and started again from scratch. But I still like this piece. It's got lots of good info and offers a reasonable perceptive persective on our major label days, dark though it may be.

January 1990 found the Meat Puppets in a definite career slump. Though our long deteriorating relationship with SST Records had finally collapsed under the weight of mutual acrimony, we had no clear path to the next level. We’d had no luck in landing a deal with a major record label, despite years of trying. In fact, only one company, Atlantic Records, had shown any real interest in signing us. Those talks had stalled, however, when our contact at the label quit to move back home to Azerbaijan after the collapse of the Soviet Union. We couldn’t help be feel discouraged and a little desperate. We’d just celebrated our tenth anniversary and we had no money, few prospects, and the gnawing fear that we just might have reached the end of the line.

But a couple weeks later, we got a call from another executive at Atlantic who invited Curt to meet with him in New York. There, over a shared piece of chocolate cake, he revealed his plans to head up the newly activated US division of London Records for the Polygram Label Group. While he assured Curt of a contract, he also warned that it would be at least six months before his plans were in place. We spent that spring and summer playing locally, borrowing money from friends, anything to keep from going broke. Finally, we finally got a massive stack of legal documents in the mail. The contract was the kind of standard agreement new bands always get. That is to say, it was grossly inequitable.

Nevertheless, we signed it in good faith, and in equally good faith we began sending the label 8-track demos of our newest material. Soon enough, we learned just how hard our devil-may-care D.I.Y. ethic would break upon the rocks of real-world corporate practice. It quickly became apparent that to get taken seriously, and to garner any kind of meaningful promotional budget, we needed not only a hit single but also a hit producer. Abortive attempts to produce ourselves had been received with something somewhat less than enthusiasm. We finally agreed upon Pete Anderson, a country producer who’d seen success with Michelle Shocked and Dwight Yokum.

The sessions with Pete took place in Los Angeles, and went quite smoothly enough, for me anyway. I recorded my basic tracks, click-track accompanied of course, in two days. Afterwards, fishing for permission to return back home, Pete told me that it was case of mind over matter. He didn’t mind, because I no longer mattered. We all had a good laugh over that one, then it was Curt’s turn to get the “producer” treatment. He was induced to sing his parts over and over and over again. Pete then used a sampler to stitch together complete vocal tracks from the various takes, modulating the pitch of each syllable to attain an in-tune performance. For Curt, the whole experience was humiliating.

The finished project, “Forbidden Places,” was as clean and professional a record as we’d ever made, even sterile to some, reflecting Pete Anderson’s tastes as much as our own. The album displayed a marked “country” flavor, which Polygram calculated was the best way to market us. Ironically, just down the street, Geffen Records and Nirvana were all set to usher in the “grunge” era, thus rendering our “country” approach commercially obsolete. In the process, they created a juggernaut that would eventually pull us, and practically every one of our “indie” counterparts, along in its wake.

But that was still in the future. For the time being, we had more mundane details to contend with. The time had come, we were informed, to discard a decade of self-management and hire outside representation. We quickly met with a half dozen different management firms, spending in the process more on plane fare and power dinners than we’d earned in our entire career up to that point. And when we finally chose one, we received another “standard issue” contract in the mail.

We spent the rest of 1991 and the spring of 1992 doing all the things bands are supposed to do: we made a video, bought touring vehicles, hired a tour manager and toured our butts off. But all this did little to dampen an opinion that we became painfully aware of: our record label thought we were shit as a live act. Not that we helped matters any. While “Forbidden Places” was a not unpleasant showcase of our various styles of writing and playing – a little hardcore, a little classic rock, a little funk, a little country, a little fusion, you know the drill – we made no attempt to duplicate it on stage. We refused to stick to what we’d rehearsed, playing songs we didn’t actually know and driving audiences away with interminable encores of earsplitting noise. We played too many notes, too fast, too loud and too long. In other words, we rocked out as hard as we could.

We had always thought this was the best way to go; apparently, we were mistaken. As far as our label and our manager were concerned, this was not a party; this was business.  And before we knew it, plans for our next album became hopelessly bogged down. We were told we couldn’t sing, we couldn’t play, we weren’t pretty enough, our songs weren’t “radio ready” and we didn’t know what was best for our own careers. In an act of good faith desperation, Curt enrolled in a series of sessions with a vocal coach and I signed up for some drum lessons. (Both actually helped us, but that’s beside the point.)

Eventually, we arrived at a compromise. We would enlist our old friend Paul Leary of the Butthole Surfers to a produce a session in Memphis with an eye towards releasing an “unplugged” EP on one of London’s smaller affiliate labels. We accepted this galling solution, calculating that if the label liked the recordings, they’d agree to scrap the EP idea and green light us for a full-length Leary-produced album. In the end, this is exactly what happened, thanks not only to the delightful sessions we had with Paul, but also to the appearance of a little song called “Backwater.” Curt didn’t consider it one of his better efforts, but the label grudgingly anointed it as an acceptable single.

Thusly, in the summer of 1993,“Too High To Die” was granted life. And all of a sudden, people were talking about us, “Backwater” was on everybody’s buzz list and independent promoters were working on our behalf. It was almost as if somebody somewhere had called in a favor. Then we lucked into a guest appearance on Nirvana’s “Unplugged” special for MTV.  We were on tour with Nirvana the week prior to the taping of the special, and Kurt Cobain had asked the Kirkwoods to teach him a couple of tunes from our 1984 album “Meat Puppets II.” But Cobain was under a great deal of pressure and there had never been enough time to sit down and learn the songs, so Cris and Curt offered to come on the show to provide the accompaniment themselves. Always a great booster of his favorite bands, as well as a great believer in safety in numbers, Cobain agreed (much to the chagrin of MTV, by the way).

Armed with this little coup, we were nearly unstoppable. When “Too High To Die” was released in January of 1994, we were already out of the gate. We traveled non-stop, opening concerts for Blind Melon, Cracker and Soul Asylum and appearing at as many radio promotions and industry shindigs as we could. That summer, we spent ten weeks on tour with Stone Temple Pilots and Redd Kross. Meanwhile, “Backwater” continued its ascent, reaching the number two position on the alternative charts (beat out for number one by Collective Soul’s “Shine”) and even climbing as high as number 43 on the pop charts. Around this time, we also learned that “Too High To Die” was to be awarded a gold record, commemorating sales of more than half a million units.

The spring and summer of 1994 was the high watermark of our career. We played to massive crowds, achieved new heights as a live band, appeared on national television and rubbed shoulders with our fellow celebrities. We were in demand. By my calculation, we averaged at least one airplane ride a week for the entire year. Then Kurt Cobain died, and we had the distinctly dubious honor of appearing almost hourly on MTV, as they played and played and replayed the “Unplugged” special.

And in the end, of course, all the success took its toll on us. As the weeks went by and demand for us increased, we found ourselves continually whisked this way and that, back and forth across the country, constantly busy, constantly tired. And all the while, we piled up recoupable expenses for promotion and tour support at a rate of around fifty grand a month. When the dust settled, we were into Polygram for nearly a half a million dollars. That may not be a lot of money by any real measure of how the game is played, but it was enough to grease within us a growing feeling of uneasy unreality and an almost profound attitude of undeserved entitlement.

When work began on our next album early in 1995, it was plain how much the terrain had changed. We rehearsed perfunctorily, if at all, putting in as little face time with each other as possible. Recordings were conducted lackadaisically, and were received equally so by Polygram. Whereas previously they had micromanaged us incessantly, now their strategy seemed to be one of giving us as much rope as we needed in order to hang ourselves. Paul Leary was back in the producer’s chair for this go round, but for both Paul and us, the stakes had changed. We weren’t hungry this time out; no longer feeling we needed to prove ourselves, we acted instead like we deserved everything we’d gotten. Previous recording sessions always had their share of creative tension, but the “No Joke” sessions were marked by uneasy silences, no shows, sudden eruptions of rage and locked bathroom doors.

In the meantime, the “alternative” trend had pretty much played itself out. Many of the movement’s key players had burned out, died, or broken up their bands. Along the way, rebellious groups were replaced with more career-minded artists who could embrace aspects of the form while still ceding proper respect to their masters. When “No Joke” was finally released in the fall of 1995, it was almost a foregone conclusion that it would not do well.  While there was plenty of great stuff on it, the album struck people as bloated, downbeat and self-conscious.  Our previous records had been so lighthearted; this one seemed to take itself too seriously.  Pronouncing our earlier success a fluke and citing poor sales, Polygram pulled the plug on their promotion plans. Curt in turn cancelled our tour plans and moved out of town. Cris and I found other things to do.

In the ensuing years, we made of show of having “not broken up.” Curt managed to convince Polygram to do another Meat Puppets album, albeit with him as the only remaining original member. But the label reverted to previous form, and in the end they rejected Curt’s album, forcing him to release it on an independent label. He did one tour with the new lineup before calling it quits. I concentrated on the band’s place in history, maintaining a Meat Puppets web site and working with Rykodisc to reissue the seven albums we recorded in the 80s for SST Records, along with a live album culled from my collection of board tapes. Then last year, when Cornerstone offered to a compilation of live video footage, I decided to use the opportunity to tell the next chapter of the story. Whereas the Rykodisc project was devoted to our work in the 80s, the live video would focus on the 90s.

I hit upon the idea of making the project a fan driven one. I enlisted the help of some die-hard Meathead tapers whom had followed us around with their cameras over the years, and they came through with flying colors. One of them sent us terrific footage I had never seen before of a concert broadcast on Italian television. Another had a copy of what turned out to be the very first acoustic show we ever did. Another had all this great backstage footage from the summer ‘94 tour. Since it was impossible for me to be objective about the material, I let the filmmakers at Cornerstone choose what tracks to include. I figured this would fit in well with the concept of it being a fan-based project and it would free me from the kind of second-guessing criticism that I received over the live Rykodisc album!

Watching this old footage, I’m struck by how many conflicting feelings I have about those years. On the one hand, we never actually reached the goals we set for ourselves, both professionally or artistically. We were cavalier in our approach to business as well as music, and let too much slip between the cracks. On the other hand, as cockeyed and off-balance as we were, we still had something special, a unique perspective as impossible to duplicate as it is to describe. Under different circumstances, we might have gotten a better chance to find the balance we were looking for. But in the end, we did what we did, and despite the disappointments, we had a great time doing it.


Interview from "No Mag" (1982)

by Derrick Bostrom in


nomag

MEAT PUPPETS MEAT PUPPETS

by Robert Lloyd

I. PHOENIX

Phoenix, capital city of Arizona, our 48th state (admitted 1912), lies at an altitude of 1,080 feet on the north bank of the Salt River. According to the Mobil Travel Map, it's home to 581,562 people, not counting the 103-or-so thousand more in Tempe or Scottsdale right next door. Once, a long time ago, it was home to the Hohokams, a race of avid canal builders who by the 14th century had cut over 150 miles of irrigation canal into the Salt River Valley. In 1867 soldier-prospector jack Swilling and his Briton partner "Lord Darrell" Duppa rebuilt some of these canals, and Duppa reportedly envisioned a new city rising "phoenixlike" out of the Hohokam ashes. Hence "Phoenix." In five years it became an important trading center for farmers, prospectors, and cattlemen and was even then a mecca for those whose doctors had advised them to seek a warm, dry climate. The rest is business and history.

Major crops are cotton, vegetables, grains, citrus fruits, dates, and grapes.

It looked a lot like the San Fernando Valley to me., though sometimes it put me more in mind of Oxnard, especially around the major crops. Phoenix is a lot farther from here than Van Nuys, however, or even Ventura County. Most of the way is desert. At the border they ask if you've got any fruit and give you a fax sheet on dust storms and what to do when you find yourself in one - keep calm, get your car off the road, and shut off your lights so the guy behind you won't use your car as a beacon and plow up your back. Dust storms can kill, they say, and they're hell on the windshields. Along with Dinney the giant concrete dinosaur, dust storms are certainly a real highlight of a trip to Phoenix.

II. MEAT PUPPETS

There is nothing much to do in Phoenix, say the Meat Puppets, but there they remain. Brothers Curt (guitar) and Cris (bass) and their friend Derrick (drums) more or less live together on a quiet street in a Spanish-style bungalow with an unmown lawn, a big dog in the backyard, and a Romans set list on the front porch. There's no TV, but there are neat stacks of comic books, arranged by subject. Their house smells of incense, cats, unopened windows, and an everpresent cloud of dope. One hears a lot of coughing. The Meat Puppets smoke a whole lot of dope, so much even their connections can't believe how much, and by their own reckoning that's pretty much how they pass most of their (semi-)conscious hours. That and playing music.

Meat Puppets music tends towards two distinct but oddly compatible styles: on the one hand they play what sounds superficially like traditional hardcore, but it's very angular, ridiculously fast, and the utterly unintelligible vocals shoot less for anguish than hysteria. The rest of the time they knock out a sort of art-punk-hoedown mix, almost delicate but no less driven. You can hear both styles on their EP (produced by Laurie O'Connell and Ed Barger), and there's an album on the way, or perhaps out already, on SST, home of Black Flag.

Here are some things the Meat Puppets said in their house in Phoenix.

III. JOURNEY THROUGH THE PAST ON MDA

DERRICK : Curt and I met through mutual friends in the Unitarian Universalist Church of Phoenix. There was some MDA around, and Curt was with a mutual friend from the Unitarian Universalist Church that we knew who had some MDA, and they both came over to the house and gave me some. And we went and saw Journey Through The Past and Jimi Plays Berkeley together on MDA, and afterward we walked around, fucked around. That's where I met Curt. And Cris is his brother, who didn't get to know until he had lost 60 pounds.

CURT : When we first formed the band we didn't think about playing live or anything like that. We'd just play. We used to go out to to Derrick's house and get stoned and play, and we learned a bunch of early punk standards just to fuck around on.

DERRICK : Then a club opened, so we just wrote some material. Got sick of seeing other people playing there.

IV. L.A. IS LIKE PORNOGRAPHY OR SOMETHING

DERRICK : L.A. is like pornography or something, it's kind of fun while you're doing it, but looking back on it I'm not real happy with my experiences there, though I enjoyed them at the time.

CURT : I'd rather get a shit job here than move over to Los Angeles and try to push my music. Over there, if you live in a place where there's that much competition, if you open yourself up sensorially, you'll become involved in it regardless. That's just the way it happens. And it just doesn't feel as good to play there as it does here. It feels good, but it's really a shooting gallery. We really like everything that we do, and we never intended for it to be display oriented.

DERRICK : Display is part of it.

CURT : But display is for us, y'know. We record everything we do, and the majority of the music we listen to is our own.

CRIS : It's other people that brought us out into the public. It just never occurred to us. We're not trying to push it that hard.

CURT : There's no way we can go into a big club and realize there's a real audience there; there's too many people. So we make up our audience, it's like more or less the same audience we have when we practice. It's this fantastic audience that just loves the fuck out of us.

DERRICK : If they love you they'll force their attention on you.

CURT : Only the meanest people would want to disclude themselves from our audience.

DERRICK : It's like our music is, this is what you don't have to force out of us. This is what you can have, free. Everything else is like run through the machine...it's a great name for music, to call it the "music business." It describes it perfectly. It's like, once the Great Planter has planted all his seeds and some the birds have eaten and some have died in the weeds and some of them have been poisoned or whatever, the farmer picks his favorite ones to eat, and the rest of them end up in the marketplace, and they end up on somebody else's table. And that's the story of this band, and all the other bands.

CURT : And Reagan is in. He's in love. With his wife.

V. ANTISOCIAL LIFE

CURT : It seems that we tend to alienate people with the amount of marijuana we smoke.

DERRICK : It's like this. We're really spoiled. I was spoiled before I joined the band, and I'm really spoiled now, because anything goes between the three of us. And then when we get around other people, it's like we're undisciplined. We hang around each other so much that we're sort of alienated from the rest of the world. Well, Cris makes a real effort to get out there, but he has to take a lot of acid to do it.

VI. DANGERS OF UNDERDRESSING

CRIS : We played with Black Flag at the Cuckoo's Nest. It was good. it was fun. Some of the kids got up and sang with us, got on stage and trounced around and jumped off. There's just that thing, that question of "Is it cool or not?" that goes along with the rockin and rolling part of it. It's like, "Is this bitchen? Is this bitchen? Do we look bitchen? Are we dressed up like the guys?" And we go on, and we completely were what we've got on that day, we dress in whatever we have. And we get up and play, we just do it.

We just played San Francisco with the Dead Kennedys. They're real popular up there; that's their town. The crowd was huge, 1200 some people, and there was about 300 kids or so that just HATED us, and it just all completely had to do with the way we looked. They started barraging us with tin cans, and we just kept playing, batting the cans off. And by the end of the set people were getting into it, it was cool. We don't have any pretensions like you gotta have a special short haircut or you gotta wear a special bandana. What is that? "You gotta wear a suit and tie." We just experienced the neo-fascist portion of it.

I don't give a shit about dressing up at all. I think everybody dresses up, totally. Of course. You get out of bed, put clothes on. What? "I'm a real honest dresser, I just dress like this, i don't dress anyhow." No way. Everybody's wearing their little thang, y'know. I dress up enough. I just never got into wearing any - I just never did. I love it when people do; I'm amazed by some of the creative gear I see. But to make it a religion like they have about a certain style...

I don't mind it. It's nothing to me. It's just the way people look. It's just their skin, meat puppets totally. Everybody just does what they do, no getting around it at all.

The reaction we got from the South Bay kids, a lot of them don't know what to do; they just stand there and watch. That's the biggest percentage usually, and a smaller percentage like us and get into it. And there's a percentage that doesn't like us and yell at us. We're so easy not to like. And we just stand up there. "What's going on?" And we always have a good time doing it.

They haven't come after us physically. Also I've got that big fucking guitar. I'd bomp some shit if he tried to get me, some little kid. "Get away!" Smack!

VII. DON'T HAVE FOUR LEGS IN PHOENIX

CRIS : These dog skinnings have been going on lately. Hundreds of them. They find these dogs out in the desert, and they've been skinned and their front legs cut off. They think it's either a cult or some...fun lover.

CURT : If you went and killed a dog...and liked it... it'd be a lot easier to keep killing dogs.

CRIS : They found a dead cat tied to a dead possum. We had some goats one time, and our house burned down. The goats had to stay at the burned out house, and we had to stay at another place and come back and take care of them. We came up one day to take care of them and somebody'd killed them.

CURT : Shot them and slit their stomachs open.

CRIS : And cut their ears off.

DERRICK : In an unrelated incident, I had a dog that died and I had to put it out on the sidewalk so the dog collectors would come and get it. They left it there all day, the summer, Arizona, 110 heat, big German shepherd, and it just cooked out there on the sidewalk, left a big stain. It just burst on the spot...There's a picture of a dead kitty in the Times today.

CRIS : You know what else they found? They found like 37 or 39 horse legs in a peace symbol.

VIII. HOW IT'S DONE

CURT : If we play something through the first time-

CRIS : -it's worked itself out.

DERRICK : We'd rather have it work itself out. We've always like not cooperated, and that's been a real big plus. We just sort of let it all fall together, let our personalities dissolve into one when we play, don't talk about it.

CURT : Cris and I have played guitars long enough to be able to pick out anything.

DERRICK : Yeah, they're brothers so they have biological earthy energy that they share.

IX. PHILOSOPHY I

CURT : We were having a group smoke one day, and we decided that we hated everything and that these people that that we didn't know had the biggest motor ever that was like invented at the beginning of time or in the forties sometime. And we decided what we should do was quit playing music and stat sending out these, y'know, start trying to,y'know, quit trying to steal other people's girlfriends with our music and try to send the message to these people that we didn't know that they should like go ahead and push that button and demonstrate that big motor to us.

X. PHILOSOPHY II

CURT : Face to face in person i can talk people into stepping in front of moving vehicles and stuff like that.

(from NO MAG 1982)


Interview from "Breakfast Without Meat" #12 (1988)

by Derrick Bostrom in


The Breakfast Twins toured with the Meat Puppets during their Jan-Feb, '88 California tour, and while the Pups did not ask them to open the shows with their hilarious routine of taking each others' rib cages out and twisting them into the busts of Canadian vice presidents, the Twins did serve as Meat pups merchandisers, inflammables, and b-b bidy guards. Also, backstage at a show by the Pups and the Reivers in Lxxex, California, the following interview was conducted using Stinky, a tape recorder that constantly shits.

bwm12

Breakfast: This is stinky, our tape recorder... What should be inside a grab bag?

Curt: Mmmmm, good question. Ice.

Cris: Liver.

Curt: Um, yeah. Fetid, wrong kind of mushroom liver. Um, ice, liver, and black cheese.

Cris: Rotted black meat.

Breakfast: What book would you give to a newborn baby?

Cris: "Teeth Extraction The Hard Way."

Curt: That's good question.

Cris: "Robocop." Fucking Robocop's "Mother Rearing."

Curt: Is this a riddle?

Breakfast: No.

Curt: Oh, okay. It's a hard question. I'd probably give 'em, like, "The L.B.J. Story."

Breakfast: What happens to the will to live after the body vehicle is totaled?

Curt: Uh. Um. Boy! I guess it just crawls back into the same wretched cavity it crawled out of in the first place.

Breakfast: Have you ever been tempted to evil beyond your power to resist?

Curt: (burp). (In low, satanic voice): Yes. Yes. All the time. It's my basic nature. here, watch. (Punches holes in seat of vinyl chair with pencil)

Cris: (In mechanical voice, with mouth overflowing with lettuce): Curt, don't. Don't, Curt, don't.

Breakfast: Who should play Jesus Christ in a factual, historical drama of his life?

Curt: Tom Smothers

Breakfast: How did Philip and Gloria F. get the boat of their dreams - free!

Cris: Blind Couple of the Year Award.

Curt: Get the boat of their dreams? The year-end award? That one went right over me!

Breakfast: Are their any products you'd endorse?

Cris: Healing salve.

Curt: Is money a product?

Breakfast: Yes.

Cris: Vomit.

Curt: I'd like to do an ad for money. For the government.

Cris: (Slimy TV commercial voice): "Have more money. A lot more money."

Curt: (Documentary narration voice): "Money. It can make your dreams come true."

Breakfast: Could someone with the name "Terry Catchings" become president?

Curt: (sighs). I'm convinced that anyone can become president, y'know. If they're a big enough asshole.

Breakfast: What's your favorite crime.

Curt: The presidency.

Breakfast: When was the last time you went haywire and why?

Curt: Still digging in chair with pencil.) Haywire. Haywire in life.

Cris: When "B-Wom" asked a wacky question, he plunged a pencil deep into the body of a living chair.

Curt: (Looking a chair): Hey, I didn't do that just now, did I?

Cris: Blame it on the Reivers!

Curt: I haven't gone haywire. The last time i went haywire was 52 days ago.

Breakfast: In what areas of your life do you feel incompetent?

Cris: Self-catheterization. Shaving the backs of my eyeballs.

Breakfast: Who did you meet in prison, and how did it change your life?

Curt: I met, uh, Vinnie from "Wiseguys" and I realized it was just a television set-up. It converted me to Mormonism.

Breakfast: What's your second favorite crime?

Curt: (laughing) My second favorite crime! Flatulent self-indulgence.

Breakfast: What movie would you like to have been killed in?

Curt: I would like to have Audra sit on my face to death in "Big Valley."

(Guy from club comes in and asks if there's enough food left for the Reivers.)

Cris: I've got a lot of it left on my plate.

Breakfast: If you had unlimited funds to spend on market-research or public opinion poll, what would you try to find out?

Curt: How many fingers Shere Hite's pussy was. Well, it's a market research poll, not a sex-research poll. See, I'm totally sexually motivated. Um, let me think here. For a market research poll.

Cris: Got my whole leg up there.

Curt: Ah, let's see. I want a, I would probably spend it on, you know, the analysis of goldfish farts or something, no it's market research, i don't know anything about market research, people's choice in bowling balls, the world's favorite food. You know, all around favorite food, probably Saltines.

Breakfast: How do numbers control your life?

Cris: Well, Doo Doo is Number Two.

Curt: Yeah, Number One and Number Two, you have to remember them so you don't end up, like...

Cris: You don't end up stinky.

Curt: ...crapping while your standing up. You have to remember that Number Two means sit down.

Cris: Otherwise it gets all over your heels.

Breakfast: Would you trade places with Blo Boo-Boo?

Cris: Who?

Breakfast: Blo Boo-Boo.

Curt: Glo Boo-Boo? Ha ha...

Cris: Who's that? You guys should make an article of just questions. Just an article like, "Question s For Other Fanzines For Turgid Interviewers." "B-Wom's" gift to other fanzines to show you're not competitive. Por la causa.

Breakfast: What is a thinkathon?

Cris: It's like those smellable, those gumball smelling tennis shoes for kids except they smell like thought.

Breakfast: Who is the hero? Who is the villain?

Cris: Glo Boo-Boo?

(Curt laughs)

Breakfast: Blo Boo-Boo.

Curt: Glo Boo-Boo. The hero... I don't know, I'll give that one to Cris. It's too broad in scope.

Cris: The hero is Constapato. And the villain is Diuretica. Diureticon.

Breakfast: What's the opera called?

Cris: "The Home For Flying 80-Year-Olds." "Airborne at the Met."

Breakfast: What do you want for your birthday?

Curt: (rubbing leg with pencil) (in English accent) I want a really big bomb, man, to blow up a lot of people with.

Cris: Weally, weally loud...I want to have all my limbs broken. With pliers.

Curt: (in English accent): A little bit at a time?

Breakfast: What did your face look like before you were conceived?

Curt: (still with accent): It was like a glowing white bulb with a tail, eh?

Cris: Just the other day I remembered the two different halves of myself, I remembered my egg form and my sperm form. Most of my snottiness comes from my ma - my egg form. it is from my sperm form that i garnered the ability to fly. And to become invisible.

Breakfast: We have heard occasionally of people who drown in a bathtub, but would we ever seriously consider prohibiting the taking of a bath?

Curt: I would say that it would be better just to go ahead and outlaw water altogether.

Cris: But not to eliminate drowning. it's because it's clear.

Curt: Just start now, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound o' cure.

Breakfast: Why did Yin and Yang get divorced?

Cris: To get to the other side.

Breakfast: Do you wear a uniform?

Cris: No, the killing of unicorns is illegal. Too heavy.

Breakfast: How small can a man get?

Cris: How high the sky?

Breakfast: What are Aerobics? No...It happened on the night of January 12, 1966, within thirty miles of Times Square, yet most Americans never heard of it. Why not?

Cris: Everybody fucks.

Curt: What happened to them? God, I'm bleeding, I poked myself.

Breakfast: What's your favorite concept album?

Curt: Um...Jeez, that's a hard one. It's a really hard one, there are so many greats.

Cris: "J.C. Superstar."

Curt: Is that really a concept album though?

Cris: Fuck yeah. It's a rock opera about smut.

Curt: I don't know, I don't like c -- I guess "Cabaret." That's a movie soundtrack though, I don't know, I never owned any concept albums.

Breakfast: Any ambitions to write a rock opera?

Curt: Um, well...

Cris: (yelling) It's the hardest interview we've ever been given!

Curt: Yes, yes I do.

Cris: The "B-wom" editors are MEAN!

Curt: I do wanna write a rock opera. But I need investors first.

Breakfast: Any advice for young people interested in your line of work?

Cris: Get a manager to screen the questions that the mean "B-wom" editors might possibly ask you if they ever wanna interview ya.

Breakfast: "May she not eat an offering of holy things?"

Curt: Well you know, it depends on what kind of lipstick she wears.

Cris: (in creepy voice): How many fingers is she?

Curt: I say the brighter the lipstick, the brighter red the lipstick, the more unholy the offering she may eat.

Breakfast: Is stoning to death a form of forgiveness?

Curt: I always thought it was a form of entertainment, but...

Cris: The poor little stones don't have a say in it...I have the ability to melt rocks and turn them into soup.

Breakfast: Burro, camel, car, rail, ship, and plane: when each of us is a peace with the self, how shall we ride?

Curt: (laughs) Uh...

Cris: Our own backs.

Curt: I don't know...Like, Superglue a bunch of turtles together at the edge. Like a couple of square feet of box turtles.

Cris: Square miles.

Curt: Yeah, a whole big football field-sized sheet of turtles Superglued together...and take 'em out on the salt flats.

Cris: Yeah, like plate tectonics.

Curt: I'm sure there was enough of this crap for the Reivers, I really hope they don't have to go without eating tonight, it would be awful, wouldn't it.

Breakfast: How do you suspend the operation of conscious decision?

Cris: Call it up and reschedule you appointment.

Curt: (with English accent) With like a 15-foot bamboo pole. Make sure it's put over pudding. Gotta suspend it over pudding, with bamboo. Well, you never know, it could work, it really could.

(Curt relates conversation with the manager they had in England about natural disaster and pagan sacrifice.)

Curt: He's going, "You never know, it could work, i like The Smiths, don't I?"

Cris: "Mind you, it's not as good a saying nothing but you might be like maybe worshiping Christ or playing rock and roll..."

Curt: "Or being an American with a gun, you filthy fucker."

Breakfast: How about the other countries, how did those go?

Curt: We hated them t --, I mean, we were having a great time, until we started to hate them...it was great. I was really surprised though...

Cris: They're all really ugly and short and fucked up. And we're so perfectly beautiful that we were disgusted by their shortcomings...

Breakfast: We should get the Reivers in here, try some of the questions on them.

Cris: They'll come in here going, "Watch it, we're on Capitol, we'll get the fucking Capitol reps up here and kick your little B-wom butts."

Curt: I think you set off Cris' timer. You better -- Lizzy, have you got any extra pads with you?

Cris: Bleeding, ohhhh bleeding.

Breakfast: How much do you like to leave to chance?

Cris: Oh, about that much. (gestures)

Curt: Not much you can do about your digestion, really. I don't know. But I don't bother my neighbor about what he should eat, do I?

Derrick: What the hell are you doing in here?

Curt: Like I wouldn't go next door and advertently throttle one of his children.

Cris: Inadvertently, maybe.

Curt: Inadvertently, but that's chance... Uh, I need to inhale mutant fumes.

Breakfast: What was your favorite toy when you were a kid?

Curt: Me manners, eh. My favorite toy? My housebreaking bone. (Looking at TV) Lookit, Phil's got twins. Uh, it woulda had to been my Phil Donohue puppet. (Using weird European accent) Ah, that feels good. That really feels good, doesn't it? I like to press on you. I really like it when I press on you. I know you are not enjoying this but I am enjoying it and I really like it too. (Manchurian accent) Perhaps you would be more comfortable if I hit you while I pulled on your leg?

(Woman from club comes up and requests something. After she leaves, Cris says "I was ready to go do it until she got snippish about it," and then pours a cup of cola all over the television set.)

Curt: You could get electronically electrocuted that way, dude. You could get totally electrocuted that way, electronically. The easy way.

Breakfast: Cris, how did you get hold of your instrument?

Cris: I reached down between my legs and made a grasping motion with my hand.

Curt: The instrument, really, it's like a tweezer, like a needlenose plier.

Cris: That sounds like Bostrom.

(Breakfast Twins are asked to go pick up Curt's missing instrument at the bus station.)

Curt: Go away from us with your stupid fucking interview.

(We sure hope he didn't mean it!)

-Lizzie Kate Gray / Gregg Turkington

(Breakfast Without Meat #12 1988)