Monsters Studio Sessions

by Derrick Bostrom in

The Meat Puppets spent the late eighties living out of a second-hand RV. We travelled the country like a rock and roll gypsy carnival -- roadies, girlfriends, Curt's pit bull and a trailer full of gear in tow. After driving all day, we'd hit town in the afternoon, winding right past the nicer neighborhoods until we reached that night's shit-hole. As soon as we finished loading in and doing our sound-check, I'd make for the pavement, looking for anything else to do: a thrift store, a comic store, healthy food, even a laundromat. In the meantime, the Kirkwoods would pitch their nightly floating dope caravan in the parking lot. But the grind was wearing us all down. With no new product to promote that year, attendance at our shows was dropping. As gates decreased, we got shorter and shorter shrift from the promoters. Meanwhile, we developed superstitious rituals: "warming up" before every show with muscle-wrenching "stretches" and loading up on herbal stimulants. We'd get on stage and pound on our instruments until we wore ourselves out -- or until the audience left. We fought with everyone: our label, our booking agent, club employees, each other, sometimes even with the fans. We were exhausted. We'd been living hand-to-mouth for too long, playing too many piddly-shit gigs for too little money. We were squandering our reputation and burning ourselves out. Curt finally told us he couldn't take any more.

During a break from touring, we cut a new demo and, for the first time in years, beat the bushes for major label interest. A couple of label reps came out to some shows, but none took the bait. In the end, Curt had no choice but to deal once again with SST. During a visit to California, he cut a rough version of "The Void" using Greg's new drum machine. He liked the results. I'd been pushing him to use a drum machine on our next record, wanting a more level playing field against the rest of the mid-eighties rock world already on the sequencer bandwagon. I was tired of comping along in the background, and wanted the chance to actually compose my parts.

First, I laid down a basic kick and snare pattern on drum pads, playing along with Curt to a click track. Then the brothers came in one at a time and overdubbed their own bass, guitar and vocals. After they finished their parts, I composed my fills using the drum machine keyboard. Finally, I added live cymbals, replacing the click track with real high hat. This strategy suited us well, for at the time we were barely speaking to each other. I don't think all three of us were ever all in the studio at the same time.

The finished product had a calculated hair metal sound to it. Just to make sure nobody missed the point, we added entirely too much reverb. The songs were pretty basic, and the poetry was stingy by Meat Puppets standards. Mostly, Curt just wanted to rock out; he didn't want to be bothered by the rest of it. The album is hampered by our crappy "self production" and the leaden mechanical drum tracks, but the best songs eventually found life on stage. "Light," "Attacked by Monsters" and "Touchdown King" became concert staples.

Once we delivered "Monsters," we began our preparations for yet another season in the R.V. But a funny thing happened. Atlantic Records offered us and SST a nice sum for the rights to release the album. But Greg wouldn't even consider giving it up. They had planned their whole season around the release, and everything was already printed and pressed. Both sides dug in. Suddenly, it became a lot harder to get somebody from either label on the phone. "Monsters" was a flop -- poorly promoted and poorly received. We went out for another round of shitty gigs. This time around, all the opening acts had major label albums. While their promo teams beat a path to their dressing rooms, we were selling handmade tee shirts for gas money. We couldn't even find our record in stores. We felt screwed.

It was around this time when rumors began to circulate that we were finished. And the rumors weren't far from true. I hardly even felt like I was in a band any more. Nothing but inertia kept me going -- that and the desire to see how the story was going to end. I didn't want to give Cris and Curt the satisfaction of giving up before they did. I stopped smoking grass that summer, and spent most my time trying to make sense of our disastrous finances. When a major label contract finally arrived in the summer of 1990, it was a predictably shitty deal. But it was a lifeline, and we grabbed it. What choice did we have?

You'd think, given my critical eye for my own work, that I'd rate "Monsters" dead last. And it's true: artistically, the album is my least favorite. But as a tactic to attract a major label deal, it was a complete success. And even if our new partners at London/Polygram didn't particularly "get" the Meat Puppets, for a while at least it seemed the change would breathe new life into the band. And for a while at least, it did.

"Three Little Pigs" ("Monsters" Demos): MirrorCreator | Mediafire

"Three Little Pigs" Sessions MirrorCreator | Mediafire

"Monsters" Mixes: MirrorCreator | Mediafire

"Monsters" Studio Sessions: MirrorCreator | Mediafire

Chaton Sessions, Part Two: “Mirage”

by Derrick Bostrom in

The American independent music scene had become a horse race by 1986. The revolution was over; it was time to get serious. Husker Du and the Replacements were odds-on favorites to win; the Meat Puppets were expected to place or show. "Rolling Stone" deemed us only a couple tweaks away from greatness. We had begun to second-guess ourselves. Each Puppet accused the other of holding the band back. But everyone could agree that my sins were the greatest. I just didn't seem to care anymore. I balked at the band’s direction. I rarely showed up for rehearsals. To be honest, the magic was draining out of it for me.

Things got a lot less fun as the year progressed. A week into the first leg of the tour, our sound man slammed Curt's finger in a van door, breaking it in two places. Curt regained his dexterity in a few weeks, but the experience left us all shaken. The hastily-rebooked make-up dates were a punishing slog. Everywhere we went, disgruntled promoters complained about poor attendance. Finally, during the last show of the tour, we accidentally left all the cash earnings from the trip in our unlocked vehicle. We returned home flat broke.

I spent the next month hidden away, licking my wounds. My brother Damon offered some encouragement. You just have to keep practicing, he told me. Keep working on your instrument, keep getting better. Let the work lead the way. The rest will follow if you let it. I took his advice to heart. I moved out of the condemned duplex I was renting and in with friends. I bleached my hair, started working out, and tried to regain my confidence.

While I sulked, the Kirkwoods kept busy. They acquired a mixer, some microphones and an 8-track reel-to-reel tape recorder. Cris bought a drum machine and a headless bass with a graphite neck. Curt picked up a clumsy guitar synthesizer. As they got proficient with their new toys, the brothers began to woodshed material for the next album. Once I resurfaced, we decided it would be most productive if Cris and I got together by ourselves to work out the arrangements.

But just as he had with the songs on "Out My Way," Curt kept a lot of the words and melodies to himself until we got into the studio. Once again, I had to comp along in the dark. Cris coached me through a lot of it, writing rhythm patterns and adding little bits of business that made the changes distinctive. But the material remained largely impenetrable to me.

I was also hamstrung by my equipment. Swept up in the general enthusiasm for new gadgets, I purchased an unwieldy midi drum set with triangular controllers and a library of awful samples. They were unforgiving and difficult to control, demanding intense concentration. My performances on that kit were tentative and lacking in spontaneity. I was never able to relax, let go and swing -- something hard enough to do in the studio under the best of circumstances.

Once we got into the studio, we chafed under Chaton's strict no-drug policy. We had to sneak behind the building to partake of our primary creative tool. But even under these oppressive conditions, we rose to the occasion. Outtakes from these sessions offer the best available insight into how the Meat Puppets constructed their music in the studio. Both brothers are excellent here: at once inventive and precise. For my part, I focused on keeping things simple. Listening to these recordings now, I'm struck by how good our studio chops actually were. We really stuck with it until we got it right.

But despite all the hard work and loving attention, "Mirage" is a flawed work. Though a growing core of self-described "Meat Heads" identified with our unabashed stoniness and manic fretboard antics, most listeners were unable to connect with the album's lysergic themes and florid yet sterile production. Some of the better tunes didn't even make it onto the album, deferred instead until "Huevos," where they would receive their just due in a more energetic environment. But we scored with tracks like "Beauty," "The Mighty Zero," "A Hundred Miles," and "Love Our Children Forever." Other tracks, such as "Quit It," "I Am A Machine" and the title track itself, have perhaps not aged so well.

Regardless, we grew by leaps and bounds during the creation of "Mirage." We'd never worked so hard on an album, and after it was finished, we worked even harder. We converted Cris' garage into a practice space; there, we really began to put on muscle. We reconnected as a working unit, throwing ourselves into rehearsals until we finally built the band up into the live act we wanted to be. Once we got "Mirage" out on the road in front of an audience, we quickly discarded the tunes that refused to catch fire. We substituted a batch of new Curt songs designed to be more fun for us and less challenging to the listener. I ditched the electronic drums and invested in a beautiful Gretsch kit, which I was able to play the shit out of.

Less than six months after the release of "Mirage," we squeezed a studio session in between two legs of the tour, banged out ten new songs in three days, and released them almost as quickly. "Huevos" was funky, raw and loose -- everything "Mirage" was not -- and we were immensely pleased with it. Critical reception was tepid; speculation about our major label chances ceased. But we'd proven something to ourselves. The media didn't understand where we were going, but we finally did. Over the years, as "punk" turned to "indie," and then to "alternative," the ground continued to shift and shrink beneath us. The "mainstream" became the only direction left. We continued to knuckle under, pushing ourselves along, browbeating each other into line and upping the ante. But no matter what we did, or how determined we were to polish it out, the magic remained. In the end, it was all we had.

Home Board Rehearsals: MirrorCreator | Mediafire

Home Multi-track Runthroughs: MirrorCreator | Mediafire

Studio Outtakes Part One: MirrorCreator | Mediafire

Studio Outtakes Part Two: MirrorCreator | Mediafire

Chaton Sessions, Part One: "Out My Way"

by Derrick Bostrom in

In early 1986, the Meat Puppets convened in a Phoenix suburb to record the follow-up to 1985's "Up On The Sun." We had informed our label, S.S.T. Records, that we would no longer record in California. Henceforth, we would hire the studio of our choice, produce our own sessions, and deliver master tapes when they were completed.

Chaton Studio was a converted guest house behind the home of a wealthy Paradise Valley couple who'd started the studio to record the Phoenix Symphony. The studio impressed us as much for its relaxed isolated desert setting as for the pedigree of its house engineer. Steve Escallier's diverse client list included Fleetwood Mac, The Babys, Glen Campbell and Lawrence Welk.

The band was already behind schedule. Caught somewhat by surprise with a hit album on our hands, we'd spent most of the previous year either promoting "Up On The Sun" or recuperating from our heavy touring schedule. Curt's two-year-old twins occupied the lion's share of his attention. By the time we entered the studio, we'd only managed to bring a half dozen new songs to a point of completion. But touring was our only source of income and we needed new product to promote. Our plan was to release a quick EP, tour in the spring and get to work on a proper album in the summer.

I had problems with the project from the beginning. I hadn't warmed to songs like "She's Hot," "Mountain Line" or "Other Kinds Of Love" in rehearsal or on stage, but I hoped they'd reveal themselves to me in the studio. They never did. With their long instrumental passages and opaque incomplete lyrics, the tunes Curt brought to the table struck me as more appropriate for the Dixie Dregs than the Meat Puppets. Furthermore, they required a musical fluency beyond my reach. Curt seemed to be staking a claim as the indie Mahavishnu John McLaughlin of his day, but I was no Billy Cobham.

All the same, the few outtakes that survive reveal an undeniable craft. Laid bare here in various stages of completion, these tracks offer a rare inside view of our surprisingly disciplined work ethic. Song structures were fully realized by the time we got into the studio. Little is left to chance. Even the solos seem to have been composed beforehand. Cris appears to be having the most fun, whereas Curt and I are all business.

We had to work quickly. Since I never learned their lyrics or melodies, I didn't discover what the songs were actually "about" until after they were finished. We relied on working titles throughout the sessions. "Other Kinds Of Love" apparently enjoyed some input from Sandig at one point. "Not Swimming Ground" was so obscure that we were never able to come up with a proper title for it. Our decision to include "Good Golly Miss Molly" as the final track was a tacit admission to the paucity of our offerings.

Cris and Curt were proud of the finished product. Their playing was never better. Curt had put punk rock solidly behind him and was really starting to feel his oats as a songwriter. But I was left to scratch my head at the direction he was taking us. Even today, "Out My Way" feels like a wrong turn. I eventually came to appreciate the record, but I always thought of it as a lost opportunity. Lacking the tight immediacy and quirky charm of our best records, "Out My Way" struck me as self-indulgent and sterile, a brooding exercise in fretboard dexterity. It would be the first -- but alas, not the last -- of our misfires.





Sparkle Pony: Live Shows From 1984 & 1985

by Derrick Bostrom in

After the release of "Meat Puppets II" in 1984 and "Up On The Sun" in 1985, the Meat Puppets found themselves transformed. No longer mere "local boys made good," we became players on the national stage. As more people began to take us seriously, we began to take stock of what what the band meant to us and what we wanted to do with it. We experienced lots of growing pains as we struggled to assess our goals and ambitions. But back in those days, nobody had a road map. What exactly did success look like for a punk rock band in 1980's America?

We were already painfully aware of our limitations, that the same "straight" critics who praised our album were coming away disappointed from our performances. We all pointed fingers at each other, but at the end of the day, the truth was obvious. For the moment at least, our reach had exceeded our grasp. Our only option was to close our eyes, hold our noses and roll up our sleeves. It would take a couple years and a lot of work before we really began to put it all together and become the band we wanted to be.

But not everyone back then shared this low assessment of our live shows. Plenty of folks dug the way we interspersed breakneck punk rock with long clumsy psychedelic jams and tentative workouts of future Puppets classics. For them, the sloppy sense of discovery found in these shows was the real deal. I happen to hold that opinion myself, which is why I regret not keeping more recordings from back then. I would tape every show I could, but I only kept the highlights for my own personal collection. I left the rest of them with our sound man. Unfortunately, we had a falling out, and I didn't have the presence of mind to get our live tapes out of his house before we fired him. To make matters worse, I lost an entire box of masters when our van was broken into during a trip to Los Angeles.

Happily, every so often an old fan crawls out of the woodwork with a handful of heretofore unheard audience recordings. A new one just came to my attention just this week: witness Peteykins of the Princess Sparkle Pony blog, who shares three shows from 1984-5, and describes his preference for those years. Peteykins is like a lot of Puppethead tapers. For one thing, he's somebody I probably once knew but have now completely forgotten (sorry man; it was a long time ago). Second, he was kind of afraid to post shares for fear of pissing off the band. So, my purpose here is twofold: first, to popularize his recordings (and maybe take down his blog in the process due to heavy traffic -- again: sorry man), and second, to encourage the rest of you. Tapers: if you got shows, by all means rip em and put em up somewhere before the tapes rot!

As far as I can tell, the Sparkle Pony recordings of these shows are the only ones in existence. I'm pretty sure I don't have copies of any of 'em. So, I'm as anxious to hear this stuff as the rest of you are. I'm sure it's terrible!

GET EM HERE, and remember: if you have issues, you'll have to contact Peteykins yourself. I'm not your dad.

Ventura 1993: "Film The Trolls, Dave"

by Derrick Bostrom in

This just in from Dave Markey:


"Shot prior to the release of their breakthrough "Too High To Die" LP at the Ventura Theater, in beautiful Ventura California in 1993. Contains the super-rare Cris Kirkwood original "David Beware (Film The Trolls)" overture. They also jam out "Attacked By Monsters" & "Sam". Edited in camera, Mannequins and Trolls courtesy of the stores on California Ave."

For a look at some of Dave's more current work, check out his video for "Rotten Shame."

"Soup" - The Bethel Compilation

by Derrick Bostrom in

I got another great bite the other day while trolling the web with my ego feeds. Amidst the endless social networking pages ("Now Playing: Backwater"), reviewer hype ("original drummer Derrick Bostrom declined to participate") and right wing rants against so-called lapdogs of the "liberal media," I found another effort by a generous fan. Once again, I am saved by my energetic constituency from having to expend any effort. The European cassette-only "Bethel" compilation dates back from 1983, and traces its origin to an offer to contribute to a collection of "industrial" artists. Since the Meat Puppets were busy mining country and classic rock at the time, we were somewhat unsure of our place alongside of  such artists as Boyd Rice, Foetus and Nurse With Wound. But I dutifully snipped a few minutes from a warm-up noise jam from one of our home rehearsals and sent it in. At one point, Curt says, "I blow my nose in your soup." After the recording cuts off, entirely by accident, the next thing on the tape is my voice saying, "I think I'll have a bowl of soup." Impressed by the odd serendipity, I left it on the submission. Unfortunately, the compilers didn't catch on, and faded the track out before my spoken line. Disappointed, I listened to "Bethel" once then threw it into the archives. There were to be better Pups noise jams over the years, and this one had little to recommend it.

But fans have clamored for this track ever since I included it in my band discography. Thanks to Cranio and his "The Thing On The Doorstep" blog, I can cross that one off my list. And now that you've heard it, so can you. One interesting item of note: my copy came in a thin cardboard box with skeletons riding bikes printed on it. Cranio's copy appears to have come in standard cassette packaging with a teal cover.

The Thing On The Doorstep: Various - Bethel

"Rare Meat!" - A Fan's Compilation

by Derrick Bostrom in

I still like to keep abreast of what's being said about my old group. And if it floats my boat sufficiently, I'll poach it for inclusion here. Case in point: I've long toyed with the idea of putting together a "lost album" of sorts, all the various promotional tracks and b-sides released during our Polygram days, but never collected anywhere, and for the most part no longer in print.

If there were anyone left at that label with a clue, I wouldn't need to take such a project on myself, it'd get an official release. Now, thanks to Meat Puppets Yahoo Message Board member "nathang78," I don't have to do a damned thing; he's done it for me. His "Rare Meat compilation includes all the tracks from the Polygram days and as many others as he can find, including stuff from the "Classic Meat" album, the "Keats Rides A Harley" comp, and the much-desired "You Love Me" EP, offered as a giveaway back during Curt's first attempt to reform the band eight years ago.

You can download the 180 meg rar file HERE (password=meatpuppets)

From nathang78's included readme.txt:

Except what is missing as listed below, This is meant to be a comprehensive

collection of tracks from various compilation, soundtrack, single, and

promotional CDs.

Missing from this collection:

-"We Don't Exist (Remix)" because it does not sound noticably different from the

album version.

-"Bali Ha'i" and "Goodnight Irene" because they are not available on CD.

These tracks are presented in (more or less) chronological order and original

CD's track order where applicable.

These MP3s are encoded at 192Kbps with LAME 3.97, Except track 18, which is

256Kbps with LAME 3.93. Source CD and other information is located in the

"Comment" tags of the MP3 files.


01 - No Values

02 - The Losing End

03 - Light (Demo)

04 - Meltdown (Live)

05 - Strings On Your Heart (Demo)

06 - Funnel Of Love (Live)

07 - Rock And Roll (Live)

08 - Fuck You

09 - Animal

10 - Up On The Sun

11 - White Sport Coat

12 - El Paso City

13 - Lake Of Fire (Acoustic)

14 - Lake Of Fire (Live)

15 - The House Of Blue Lights

16 - Price Of Paradise

17 - Not All Right

18 - Scum (Vapourspace Remix)

19 - Taste Of The Sun (Radio Version)

20 - The Adventures Of Pee Pee The Sailor

21 - Vampires (Live)

22 - Chemical Garden (Live)

23 - Tenessee Stud

24 - Tast Of The Sun (Mark Trombino Mix)

25 - Taste Of The Sun (Live)

26 - Unexplained

27 - New Leaf (Demo)

28 - Vegetable's Opinion

29 - Monkey Dance

30 - Been Caught Itchin'

31 - God's Holy Angels

32 - Diaper

33 - Oh Me

Thanks to StArSeEd for providing tracks 13, 14, 18, and 33.

First Album Session Outtakes

by Derrick Bostrom in

This post is for all of you who kept your copy of the first album. I know there are a few of you out there for whom the apparent disparities between Meat Puppets records is no mystery, who were able parse the whole tapestry without feeling betrayal every time we released a new album. There may even be a few of you who wish they could hear more from the first album sessions. Well, your patience has finally paid off: here's almost an hour of outtakes.

Like a lot of young bands, we assumed we could get by in the recording studio with nothing but enthusiasm. We discovered that the studio required a very different set of skills than did live performing. For instance, it's hard to flop around and rock out when you have to keep your headphones from falling off. Veering off mike is also not an option. For a band that relied so heavily on its feral group mind, taming the beast long enough to make a recording both authentic and audible was a challenge.

To get a whole album's worth of acceptable performances took three separate sessions (though perhaps only the three of us could have told them apart). The vocals on the first session are actually overdubbed. But after leaning against the wall for an hour, convulsing into a mike while wearing "cans" over his ears, Curt proclaimed the effort to be worthless. The second session went so badly no tape survives from it. We returned the following week determined to emerge with keeper takes. We blew off trying for fidelity: we just shoved all the instruments together and stuck a bunch of mikes around -- separation be damned. We imbibed whatever we could get our hands on until we were good and twisted and just let howl for as long as the instruments would stay in tune. Anxious to get it over with, we proclaimed ourselves to be satisfied and beat it.

Now, you the fans can decide if we were right. Almost every song from the first album is represented here in an alternate version, some of them multiple times. You can also check out our tune-ups, as well as a healthy selection of warm-up covers. Some of them made it onto the Rykodisc reissue of the first album, but royalty restrictions forced us to leave some of them off. Now you can have them for free!

Thanks once again to Jon Boshard for keeping his copies of these tapes long after I lost track of my own, and for sharing.

(Note: In making these recordings available to the public, I've decided to use file sharing services, rather than make my web host take the full brunt of the bandwidth hit. These services can be unpredictable, so I've uploaded to three different ones. Please be advised that these are large files, and some ‘net connections will be unable to handle them. The files have been tested on both Macintosh and Windows platforms and they work fine. Files on this site are presented “as is.” I can’t offer tech support, nor can I mail them to folks unable to download them. (Let the browser beware.) Good luck, and happy listening!

DOWNLOAD PART ONE: MirrorCreator | Mediafire

DOWNLOAD PART TWO: MirrorCreator | Mediafire

Tune in to this Saturday for Bostrom's new show

by Derrick Bostrom in

This Saturday, March 31st at 3PM, Pacific Time, internet radio station, will debut my new hour-long show, "C'mon! Live A Little." You can find the station at its web site, You can also find it in the iTunes Radio pane under both "Eclectic" and "50s/60s Pop." (1.FM - LuxuriaMusic).

Since I am in Phoenix and the station is in Hollywood, the show is prerecorded. In keeping with Luxuria programming, the show focuses on bubblegum, lounge music, obscure rock, jazz, novelties, pure pop and cheesy listening music.

About Derrick Bostrom

Derrick Bostrom gained notoriety as the drummer and founding member of the legendary U.S. band the Meat Puppets. One of the longest-lasting bands from the indie scene of the 1980's, the Meat Puppets released ten albums, including 1994's certified gold "Too High To Die." That album spawned the hit, "Backwater," which can still be heard on classic rock stations to this day. The band was also featured on Nirvana's best-selling "Unplugged" album, which included three Meat Puppets songs.

Though the original trio disbanded after fifteen years in 1996, Bostrom continues to maintain the group's web site. In the late 90s, his solo group, Today's Sounds, released " Songs Of Spiritual Uplift" featuring versions of such songs as "Pac Man Fever" and "Let's Turkey Trot." He also produced the Meat Puppets reissue series for Rykodisc records.

Though retired from live performing, Bostrom retains a voracious musical appetite. He spends much of his spare time in the dusty corners of second-hand shops, thrift stores and dollar bins, gleefully scooping up the ephemeral leftovers not appropriated by other collectors. Bostrom shares the fruits of his labors on his program for, "C'mon! Live A Little!"

In addition to the Meat Puppets web site, where he shares his archives and anecdotes relating to the band's past, Bostrom also maintains Bostworld, a blog devoted to "trash, treasure, oddities, obsessions and obligations."

About LuxuriaMusic

LuxuriaMusic programming is an original mix of music content not found anywhere else. LuxuriaMusic features an intoxicating and often hallucinatory blend of musical genres, featuring Exotica, Lounge, Space Age Bachelor Pad, Bossa, Bollywood, Bubblegum, Soft-Psych, Go-Go, Latin Jazz, Sophisticated Rock and Surf music.

Current programming is a mix of live, taped-for-broadcast and automated shows. Most live programming airs between the hours of 1PM - midnight, Pacific Time (-0800 GMT).

The LuxuriaMusic radio format was developed by Chuck Kelley (music consultant on "Pulp Fiction" and "From Dusk till Dawn") and The Millionaire (from Combustible Edison) in the late 1990's and launched an Internet radio broadcast on February 14, 2000. LuxuriaMusic ranked #73 in the November 2000 Arbitron ratings, and in the Top 30 among "internet only" stations. In December 2000, Clear Channel Communications bought LuxuriaMusic's parent company Enigma Digital. ceased operations in May 2001.

The LuxuriaMusic radio stream was relaunched in March 2003 after a 22-month hiatus. The relaunched LuxuriaMusic is owned and operated by LuxuriaMusic, LLC with corporate headquarters in San Francisco, California and broadcast studios in Los Angeles, California. Chuck Kelley and Eric Bonerz (Program Director of the original LuxuriaMusic) are co-program directors. LuxuriaMusic is made possible by a staff of dedicated volunteers from around the world.

Meat Puppets on YouTube : The Dullsville Collection

by Derrick Bostrom in

I know we're all getting pretty tired of the endless debate -- you know the one: "since I have a discriminating ear, I prefer the Nirvana version" versus "you fucking fools can't see the Meat Puppets for the gods they are."  Lately, however, one YouTube denizen who calls himself "Dullsville" has been putting his money where his mouth is, posting whole swatches of classic live performances for the whole world to see.

One show is from Phoenix in February 1985, and features pre-release versions of tracks from "Up On The Sun." The band appears in characteristic dress: Curt in a blue tee-shirt and prescription sunglasses, looking every inch the popular high school preppie gone wrong that he was. Cris is in a suit jacket no doubt foisted upon him by his girlfriend. I'm wearing  my beloved "GOAT" tee shirt, which I got from a fan but lost somewhere along the way. A simple statement of Satanism made properly palatable for the REM generation. Dullsville gets my highest commendation for bravely ignoring the crumbling quality of his video. The tracking errors are so 20th century.

Another from his collection, a show from the early 90s,  is a typical example of the sublime offhand pyrotechnics we could produce when inclined. I'm pretty sure the performance is from McCabe's in October of 1994, though the lack of gratuitously enthusiastic recognition from the audience when we play "Backwater" would seem to peg it from before that single was released. Also included among the standard fodder is our version of Neil Diamond's "Longfellow's Serenade." Always the crowd pleasers, these guys. The footage also offers a very brief glimpse at the red boxer shorts with yellow polka dots I had on that night.

Along with the band footage is Dullsville's own video artistry in the added title sequences, though on occasion he dares to add effects to the live footage itself. But the effects only add to the overall atmosphere of stoney fandom exuded by the collection. Get yourself a grabber and download these files to your video iPod quick, before your next road trip. You won't want to leave home without them.

The Dullsville Collection (This account was deleted.)

The Dullsvillain Collection (Long live The Villain!)





Instrumental rough mixes from the "Meat Puppets II" sessions

by Derrick Bostrom in

"Meat Puppets II" was completed in three separate stages. The recording was spread over two sessions at Total Access studio in Redondo Beach, California in the Spring of 1983. First, we recorded the instrumental tracks; a few weeks later we laid down the vocals. Six months after that, we finally executed the final mixes at Chaton studio in Paradise Valley, Arizona.

Recently, Jon Boshard sent me a copy of the rough mixes from that first session. I have a lot of tapes of the band from the early 80's, but somehow  this one never made it into my collection. In fact, I'd forgotten it even existed until Jon brought it to my attention. Jon probably got the tape from his business partner Joe Carducci, the man responsible for bringing us to SST Records in 1981.

The backing tracks are essentially complete, save for a few effects added during the mixing session. We were very happy with the session, which came off without a hitch --that is, until we started on the vocals. Curt's ambition had grown considerably since our previous record, but at this stage his vision still outstripped his ability. He encounted major problems controlling his voice, especially when he needed to shift back and forth between higher and lower registers. In order to cover all the notes, he was forced to develop a rudimentary if unsatifying strategy, which can be best observed on vocal for "Plateau." On that track, he starts out real low, then suddenly switches to high yelp.  (Years later, we were amused at Kurt Cobain's studious duplication of Curt's limitations on his "Unplugged" version of the song.)

Curt agonized over whether to go back into the studio and attempt to redo the vocals, leave them as they were, or just scrap the whole project. Fortunately, he got comfortable with the takes over time, and we moved on to bigger concerns (like convincing SST to let us actually finish the album). Stripped of their out-of-control vocals, the tracks themselves reveal a great deal of craft. The arrangements are detailed, the tempos are controlled and we're actually listening to each other. The highlights, for me, are "Oh Me" and "The Whistling Song." On these two cuts especially, you can hear just how hard we're trying to move in the opposite direction from our previous album. You can tell that we're really holding things down, keeping the tempo just as slow as possible before the whole song falls apart. This kind of playfullness is evident throughout the recordings.

Unfortunately, there were those who viewed our efforts as a betrayal of "the form." Coincidentally or not, "Meat Puppets II" languished unfinished for six months. SPOT became "unavailable," and no one seemed to be able to locate him or the tapes. We seethed resentment over the delays, and began to imagine conspiracies and ulterior motives at the label, especially after we discovered that Husker Du, the Minutmen and even Black Flag had "post-hardcore" albums in the works. "Meat Puppets II" wasn't released until the spring of 1984. Even after the album got a glowing four-star review in Rolling Stone magazine, our disatisfaction with SST hardened, and the relationship settled into a stifling atmosphere of mutual suspicion.

In making these important outtakes available to the public, I've decided to use file sharing services, rather than make my web host take the full brunt of the bandwidth hit. These services can be unpredictable, so I've uploaded to three different ones. Good luck, and happy listening!

DOWNLOAD: MirrorCreator | Mediafire

Live at City Gardens - Trenton, New Jersey - May 9, 1987

by Derrick Bostrom in

This is a tape of a show from about midway through our first tour for the Mirage album.

We rehearsed costantly in preparation for this tour. We bought lots of new gear, followed a regimen of diet and exercise, and even took herbal "performance enhancers" like ma huong and ginseng before the shows. (These probably bolstered our confidence more than our stamina.)

We were determined to put on a "professional show." You can hear it in the rather subdued, almost polite stage patter in between songs. You can tell we're concentrating, trying hard to "recreate" the "Mirage" material. Even such elusive live rarities as "Beauty'" "The Mighty Zero" and "A Hundred Miles" are still in the set list. They would be dropped by the end of the year.

As you can tell from the recording, we're comporting ourselves reasonably well, valiantly attempting all the difficult parts and tricky time changes from both "Mirage" and "Out My Way." Attention is paid to pacing, and though it never actually happens, an effort is made to offer up  solid vocal performances. We're still pretty sloppy, but consistantly so. You can even hear us attempt three part harmony on "Mirage," The Wind And The Rain" and "I Am A Machine." Yours Truly even has a solo lead vocal on "Bad Boy."

It was also our first tour with Dave Claassen behind the sound desk. From this point on, we managed to record just about every show, either getting board tapes, air tapes or both. Unfortunately, on this tour, we had not yet seen the wisdom of procuring decent media, so the recordings are a little murky.

By the end of the tour, however, we pretty much decided that doing this sort of material night after night was a drag. We jettisoned the stuff we didn't enjoy playing, and began woodshedding a set of comparative "barn burners," which became the "Huevos" album. We focused on creating more energy on stage, got looser still, and started breaking our songs open into extended jams and medleys. The party was just beginning.



Not Swimming Ground

Lake Of Fire

Quit It


Get On Down



Love Our Children Forever

Out My Way


Swimming Ground

A Hundred Miles

The Mighty Zero

The Wind & The Rain

I Am A Machine

She’s Hot


Bad Boy

Lost/See See Rider

Burn The Honky Tonk Down

Baby What Do You Want Me to Do

Up On The Sun

I’m Bad I’m Nationwide

White Lightning

Maidens Milk

A Few Syndicated Radio Show Appearances

by Derrick Bostrom in

My collection of band memorabilia contains a staggering amount of press. The Meat Puppets released quite a few albums, but all the interviews that appeared over the years could fill twice as many thick tomes.

We did a lot of radio interviews over the years as well, including a sweet handful of live-in-the-studio performaces. But once we got involved with Polygram, these became fairly regular occurances. After we mastered the "unplugged" approach, we were able to do even more of them. "Radio Meat," which can be found at the Wohlers archive is the best example of these. Originally broadcast on WBAI-FM in New York City, Polygram released the entire show on a promotional cassette.

I recently found a small cache of nationally syndicated shows on CD, some of which revealed some real treasures. They vary in length in quality; some of them are funny, some of them are grumpy, but some of them are as good as anything we released. One thing that strikes me about these shows is how odd "alternative" content sounds in such a mainstream format. While I hesitate to question the sincerity of anyone invovled (Yours Truly excepted, of course), to my ears the entire effort comes off as craven, clueless and condescending.

Whatever; it's still cool stuff. Special thanks to Tom Quitasol for sending me the disk with "It's A Small World," which I don't remember at all.

(Note: Please be advised that this is a large file, and some ‘net connections will be unable to handle it. The file has been tested on both Macintosh and Windows platforms and it work fine. Files on this site are presented “as is.” I can’t offer tech support, nor can I mail them to folks unable to download them. Let the browser beware.)

DOWNLOAD (68 mg)

Best Of College Radio - 1991: "It's A Small World"

TDK New Music Report - 1991: "Charles In Charge," guest deejays, interview, "That's How It Goes"

Brave New Radio - July 1994: Why," "Oh Me," "Confusion Fog," interview

Spin Radio - 1994: Interview w/ Cris & Curt

Concrete - Oct 1995: Tour anecdote by Curt

Static - Fall 1995: "Predator," interview

"No Joke" Demos

by Derrick Bostrom in

I've been meaning to share these demos for a while, but they moved to the top of the list last week, when country legend (and local Mesa boy made good) Buck Owens died at the age of 76. Since these sessions include our previously unreleased version of  Buck's instrumental hit "Buckaroo," it seemed a fitting tribute.

The demos for "No Joke!" were made at Phase Four Studio, the same studio used to record the album itself. In addition to "Buckaroo," the sessions included two other unreleased songs. "Not Now" was completed for inclusion in the final album, but was shelved at the last minute to make room for an extra Cris tune. "Vaseline," on the other hand, never appeared again in our repertoire after it was demoed; likewise with "Buckaroo," which was recorded as a lark, just to help us warm up. I don't even think we ever played it live.

There's really not much else that I remember about the band from this period. There's not much to remember. We spent as much time enjoying the fruits of our hard-won long-overdue success (and recuperating from the hectic schedule we'd kept up throughout 1994) as we did plotting our next move. Rehearsals for "No Joke!" were much more informal and less intensive than in the past.  We mostly learned the songs on our own, using Curt's rough solo demos as a guide,  getting together once or twice to run through them as a band. We let momentum to do the majority of the heavy lifting.

If you ask me, we could have been entirely rested, focused and hungry, and we wouldn't have withstood industry fluctuations any better than we did. We played the the major label game as well as we could, but once you get in bed with big corporations like that, it's only a matter of time before you get burned by events entirely outside your control. Before the disks were off the stampers, the majors were ditching their "rawer" acts in favor of safer ones. And in the wings, they were preparing for the next act: mergers and acquisitions.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy these tracks, and when you listen to them, give a toast to Buck, another great performer who knew the sting of a capricious marketplace. (Was there ever one that didn't?)


"No Joke!" Demos - Recorded Dec. 94 & Feb 95

1. Poisoned Arrows

2. Predator

3. Vaseline

4. Sweet Ammonia

5. Buckaroo

6. Not Now

7. For Free

8. Beware Of The Rustic (Vampires)

9. Taste Of The Sun

10. Chemical Garden

11. Think Positive (Suck My Eyeball)

In Praise Of Dave Markey

by Derrick Bostrom in


The Meat Puppets first discovered filmaker Dave Markey through his 1984 film "Desperate Teenage Lovedolls." We got to know Dave after his band Painted Willie joined the SST roster. We officially became collaborators of a sort when he included our version of Black Flag's "No Values" in the soundtrack to his 1986 film "Lovedolls Superstar."

It wasn't until 1995 that we actually got to work with him. That's when we pursuaded Polygram to hire Dave on to make the video for our "Scum" single. That was an ambitious little project: a decently-budgeted affair conceived by Curt and Dave during an inspired "breakout session." It's the only video in which we got to "act" as well as lip synch. It was also our last one, and probably the final project Cris, Curt and I all worked on together.

You can find the "Scum" video, as well as the one he did with Curt for Eyes Adrift's "Alaska," on Dave's We Got Power site. You'll also find the entire original soundtrack for "Lovedolls Superstar" up there, as well as a whole slew of content not even remotely connected to the Meat Puppets (what's up with that??).

Here's "Scum"

Here's  the "Lovedolls Superstar" soundtrack

Coincidentally, just as I was preparing this post I got email from Dave. It turns out his new edition of "Lovedoll Superstars" is being released March 2006. He's given the film a proper digital transfer, as well as a cleaned-up soundtrack and some fresh edits. Like a lot of music-heavy film projects from the past, not all the licensees signed on. Our "No Values" track, baggaged with moribund ties to the SST empire, was one of those that did not make the cut. But Dave was gracious enough to substitute another nugget of ours, "Teenager(s)," which can also be found on the reissue of  "Meat Puppets II." But since you've probably already got that one -- and since Dave's giving away all the rest of his Puppets-related content for free -- you're left with no other recourse than to order the Lovedolls Superstar DVD from Amazon.

Live: Tempe, AZ - November 7, 1980

by Derrick Bostrom in

By the Fall of 1980, the Meat Puppets had a whole set's worth of original compositons under their belt, fully rehearsed and ready to perform. We'd made our initial visits to the West Coast, garnered the beginnings of a fan base there, and done our first spate of networking. This show, in fact, was an opener for our new friends, Monitor. It's the same show described in this post. The flyers for it can be found here.

This is an air recording, made by our sound man on a small portable tape recorder on a cheap cassette. I ripped it from the master, but the tape is 25 years old. You can hear the flaws for yourself, which I've left intact, just as they came through when I digitized it.

Flaws aside, it's an important recording. It's the first show we did where we started to show greater confidence in our showmanship. Our performances are solid for the most part, and while the vocals aren't exactly intelligible, they are starting to show some style. We whip up a good stink on the ravers, and manage to achieve some depth on the number requiring a little more concentration. The crowd gets into it, in an early-punk-scene kind of way. That is to say, the twelve people in the audience pogoed, and afterwards there were offers to smoke us out.

A good gauge of our confidence at the time is the cover of Carl Perkins' "Dixie Fried," which occurs about halfway through the show. It was the first time we attempted what was to become a tradition, doing songs we only partially knew. After laying down the basic riff, we pretty much discard the song and take it wherever it happens to go. In this instance, Curt substitutes his own words for the ones he's forgotten before meandering into a loopy instrumental finish.

I didn't bother to break this show into individual songs, since they are so short, but I enclosed it into a zip file anyway (which means you've got to download it to listen to it), about 60 megs.

(Note: Please be advised that this is a large file, and some ‘net connections will be unable to handle it. The file has been tested on both Macintosh and Windows platforms and it work fine. Files on this site are presented “as is.” I can’t offer tech support, nor can I mail them to folks unable to download them. Let the browser beware.)








01. Melons Rising

02. Blue-Green God

03. Saturday Morning

04. Fetus In Pus Sauce

05. Love Offering

06. The Gold Mine

07. Dolphin Field

08. Big House

09. Electromud

10. Reward

11. Wild Weekend

12. In a Car

13. Unpleasant

14. Dixie Fried

15. Meat Puppets

16. Hearts

17. Playing Dead

18. Foreign Lawns

19. I Had a Dream

20. H-Elenore

Live: Meat Puppets on SNAP! 1986 - UPDATED

by Derrick Bostrom in

UPDATED - After posting my incomplete  version of the January 16, 1986 "SNAP!" show, I got a couple of emails from fans offering to send me  a complete copy. Props go out to Algophana and Craig Bayer for their assistance. A quick review of Craig's CD revealed it to be about as good as mine, fidelity-wise, so I ripped it and cleaned it up as best I could. I've replaced the old zip file with a fresh one. I'll save the filler live tracks for another time.

This recording was our first appearance on Deirdre O'Donoghue's "SNAP!" radio program. We were about two months away from recording "Out My Way," so the tracks from that album are still in infancy. You can tell  we're not quite comfortable with those songs:  I haven't settled into a groove on some of them yet, and Curt's still getting his lyrics together. It was a little tricky getting loose for the session. We wore headphones, I was in an isolation booth, and there was small group of people sitting around on the floor, staring up at us. The first couple of tracks are a little stiff, but it's a good performance for the most part despite the odd cringe-worthy moment.

This rip is taken from an old cassette, and the sound quality reflects it.I've tried to clean the sound up as best as I could, but it's not close to pristine. The tracks are all in one big zip file, about 90 megs.

Visit the Wohlers Live Puppets Repository to download this show.

Here's the track list:

Snap! (KCRW) - Santa Monica CA - Jan 16, 1986:

1. Introduction

2. Swimming Ground

3. Maiden's Milk

4. Up On The Sun

5. Rubberneckin'

6. Oh Me

7. Climbing

8. Out My Way

9. Rock and Roll

10. Lost

11. Buckethead

12. Earth Angel

13. She's Hot

14. I Just Wanna Make Love To You

15. Other Kinds Of Love

17. Barbeque/Move It On Down The Line

18. Not Swimming Ground

19. No Quarter

20. Evil

Tab Vault

by Derrick Bostrom in

I don't have much use for tabs and never did. But there was a time when I collected them and encouraged fans to send them in. Then I got the impression that we were gonna talk somebody into putting out a Meat Puppets songbook, so I took 'em down. That never happened, but I'm still not interested in messing with tabs. But someone else might, so here's over a hundred of them zipped up in one easy-to-download archive:

Meat Puppets Tab Archive

The individuals responsible are listed below (and if any are less than grateful for their inclusion here, I hope they'll let me know post haste.) Most are rendered in the popular HTML markup language and should be easily viewable in the browser of your choice. 

Please note: I'm not going to add any more tabs to this site. Instead of sending them to me, the tab fans among you ought to pool your resources and build a fan page of your own, using one of the many free hosting options available.

The archive should include (but is not limited to) the following:

"Poisoned Arrows" by Luke A Simpson.

"Head" by Luke A Simpson.

"Inflatable" by Luke A Simpson.

"Predator" by Luke A Simpson.

"Chemical Garden" by Rob DiCaterino.

"Sweet Ammonia" by Ryan Seilhamer.

"Cobbler" by Linus Schioler.

"Cobbler" by Kenn Knowles.

"Taste Of The Sun" by David B.

"Sweet Ammonia" by David B.

"Eyeball" by Kenn Knowles.

"Eyeball" by Ryan Seilhamer.

"For Free" by Tom Sugden

"Vampires" by Benoit Gunslay

"Vampires" by Christian Nanzell

"Vampires" by Tom Sugden

"Vampires" by Bourgeois Cedric.

"Vampires" by Ryan Seilhamer.

"Scum" by Ryan Seilhamer.

"Nothing" by Ryan Seilhamer.

"Evil Love" by Luke A Simpson.

"Shine" by Luke A Simpson.

"Comin' Down" by Kenny Fletcher

"Flaming Heart" by Kenny Fletcher

"Why?" by Tom P Sugden

"Why?" by Ryan Seilhamer.

"Backwater" by Nobody

"Never To Be Found" by Guillame Pasquier

"Never To Be Found" by Ryan Seilhamer.

"Station" by Peter Lesko.

"Station" by Howard the Duck

"Station" by Kenn Knowles.

"We Don't Exist" by Kenn Knowles.

"We Don't Exist" by Ryan Seilhamer.

"Severed Goddess Hand" by Steve R. Novak.

"Roof With a Hole" by Tom Sugden

"Roof With a Hole" by Nobody

"Violet Eyes" by Peter Lesko.

"Lake of Fire" by Lucas McDermott.

"Another Moon" by Luke A Simpson.

"This Day" by Luke A Simpson.

"Open Wide" by Luke A Simpson.

"This Day" by Ryan Seilhamer.

"Popskull" by Kenn Knowles.

"Nail It Down" by Nobody.

"Nail It Down" by the Meatking.

"That's How It Goes" by Tom Sugden

"This Day" and "That's How it Goes" by Yale J. Kaul

"No Longer Gone" by Kenn Knowles.

"Light" by Kenn Knowles.

"Meltdown" by Kenn Knowles.

"Strings On Your Heart" by Kenn Knowles.

"Bad Love" by Ryan Seilhamer.

"Sexy Music" by Ryan Seilhamer.

"Sexy Music" by David Issac.

"Fruit" by Ryan Seilhamer.

"Automatic Mojo" by Kenn Knowles.

"Look At The Rain" by Kenn Knowles.

"Mirage" by Nobody

"Confusion Fog" by Peter Nixon.

"Animal Kingdom" by Luke A Simpson.

"Away" by Luke A Simpson.

"Up On the Sun" by Helio Gomez

"Up On the Sun" by Yale J. Kaul

"Up On the Sun" by Jimmy Turner

"Swimming Ground" by Peter Nixon.

"Plateau" by Heath Holcomb

"I'm A Mindless Idiot" by Matt Beaton

"I'm A Mindless Idiot" by Kenny Fletcher

"Oh Me" by Christian Nanzell.

"Oh Me" by Ryan Seilhamer.

"Climbing" by John D Long.

"Split Myself In Two" by Kenn Knowles.

"We're Here" by Michael McCullough

"Magic Toy Missing" by Yale J. Kaul

"Lake of Fire" by Peter Nixon.

"Lake of Fire" by Tom Sugden

"Aurora Borealis" by Nick Rutkowski.

"Aurora Borealis" by Ryan Seilhamer.

"Walking Boss" by Michael Patrick McCullough.

"Milo, Sorghum and Maize" by Nick Rutkowski.

"Melons Rising" by Kenn Knowles.

"Big House" by John D. Long.

"In A Car" by Kenn Knowles.

"Animal" by Jimmy Turner

"I Just Want to Make Love to You" by Jimmy Turner

"No Values" by Jimmy Turner