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)
A couple of sites containing cool Puppets content came to my attention this week:
The first is Adam Hartmann's new podcast, The Bottom 40 Rock Show. Half of the the current episode is devoted to You Know Who. Adam is just starting out, and he's still getting his chops down (the volume balance between his voice and the music is WAY off, and he needs to watch is "P" popping), so check him out and give him lots of encouragement!
Geoff Cordner on the other hand is a professional photographer with a slew of great pix up on his Austin Punk Vignettes pages. There are three live photos of us from the legendary Black Flag/Nig Heist 84 tour, which has been so extensively covered on a previous post.
I don't remember much about this gig. I do remember hitting my head hard on a low beam the next night. I remember haggling with Flag about money in Texas, and I remember Flag experiencing vehicular trouble which would vex them for the entire first half of the tour. Mostly what I remember about this leg of the tour was being hassled by the cops in Louisiana, both in New Orleans and Baton Rouge. One was simple posession beef, but the other was a full-blown harrassment, complete with physical abuse.
As I recall, Cris had been trying with no luck to find parking around the New Orleans club. Everything was "reserved" for the restaurant across the street. In fact, the local police were keeping punks out. Finally, Cris rolled down the window in exasperation and said to a policeman, "where the fuck do you expect me to park??" The next thing he knew, the cop was running towards him, weapon drawn.
Cris did what any fool would do: he tried to floor it out of there. But this gave the cop all the excuse he needed. Accusing Cris of trying to "assault" him with the car, he forced Cris at gunpoint into an adjascent alley and began kicking the shit out of him. Curt and our soundman ran up at that moment and made like to help him, but Cris screamed, "stay back!" Sure enough, the cop warned them off with his gun.
Needless to say, we did not play that night. Whatever arguing we'd done with Flag over money the few nights previously became somewhat moot, since it took a couple grand to get Cris out of jail. I don't remember how it all got resolved, but I think it took another couple grand in lawyer's fees to make it all go away. Once Cris was safe and sound the next day, we fled to Baton Rouge. There, we replayed the scene, this time with our soundman, who was hauled off to jail for posession of a small pot pipe and a pocket knife.
By this time, Rollins and the boys were good and fed up with the Meat Puppets. And we were barely a week into the tour.
As I get older, the fog of the passing years decends more and more rapidly, further enshrouding from view everything it touches. So it is always a delight when someone or something comes along to fan the fog away, if only for a moment. Such is the case with one Brendan DeVallance, a fellow traveller from the early Phoenix punk rock scene.
Recently, Mr. DeVallance notified me of his intention of opening a wing on his site devoted to the old days. He asked for a glowing remembrance of his group the Junior Chemists, and I was happy to comply. You'll find it here, along with plenty of photos and audio clips. If -- like me -- you're one of the six or seven folks still alive from back then, Brendan's pages are sure to take you back.
Along with his other group the Advo-Cats, Brendan started the Junior Chemists in the summer of 1980, around the same time as the Kirkwoods and I debuted the Meat Puppets. (I still have a tape of their very first gig.) And though I can find evidence that our two groups only ever played together once, that show remains clear in my memory.
Happily, Brendan had the presence of mind to bring his camera on that occasion, and took one of the few photos in existance of the Meat Puppets performing during their first year. It's a cute one too. Since it was a Christmas show, you can see streamers and decorations against the walls. All three of us are babies -- there's just no other way to describe us. We're just barely out of short pants.
Staged in Phoenix's premiere dive of the day, the gig brought together not only the cream of punk revellers, but also some guys from our neighborhood. Though some of them were no strangers to the scene, one of two had yet to get their feet wet. Just the same, they were game to come along for the novelty. It made for an interesting contrast to have Curt's geeky high school chums calling out for Yes and King Crimson covers admid the baleful stares of such local stalwarts as Marcy Murder and Charlie Monoxide.
The photo also captures us using our original gear -- with one exception. Absent from the scene is Curt's beautiful black Les Paul. Not long before this gig, he left it in the back of his truck one night while visiting friends. It didn't stay back there for long. Its replacement, the Gibson you see in the picture, was flat piece of plank with little sustain and a brittle, unpleasant sound. It afforded Curt none of the majesty and mystery of the Les Paul, and proved to be a thorn in our side for as long as it remained in service.
Henceforth, we learned how important our instruments were to our sound, and to take good care of them. Well, some of us did.
The following story is an excerpt from my piece in "Tales from the Rock N Roll Highway" by Marley Brant.
For even the most seasoned touring band, the long cross-country drives can get pretty monotonous. All you see is mile after mile of the same countryside, the same restaurant chains and the same crappy coffee to keep you awake. Not to mention the same smelly, crabby, hung-over companions. But things pick up a bit when you have to cross an international border. Life takes on a heretofore unfelt urgency. Lethargy gives way to desperate scurrying, futile cleaning and furtive inserting. Even waiting in long lines takes on a feverish intensity.
I recall one such crossing into Canada. It was my turn to hold that night’s worth of marijuana (which we refused to forgo for even a single show). Things went smoothly at first. We pulled up to the border, waited our turn, presented our identification, endured the standard snide comments about our band name, and submitted to the customary search of our vehicle. But something suspicious turned up in a suitcase, a sticky leaf, a green crumb, something. We were informed that we were to be strip-searched. The border guards said it would go much easier for us if we just gave up whatever we had, but I was damned if I was going to help them incriminate me. Besides, how much help did they really need? The weed was right there in my jacket pocket. They had no trouble finding it all by themselves.
For the first time in my life, I found myself in a room locked from the outside. As I sat there, deprived of my physical freedom, I suddenly found myself in the grip of primal urges. The door to my room had a window that looked out on to the hallway, and I began leering with uncharacteristic brazenness at any female officer or government employee that happened past. Finally, some guy came in and told me to sit down and get away from the window. Meanwhile, the authorities conducted a thorough search of our vehicle and belongings. They hadn’t yet found enough contraband to make a proper arrest. But they had more than enough to allow them to terrorize me. I’d never again be allowed into their country; I’d have my passport revoked altogether. I would henceforth be unable to make a living. This was okay with me, for I was sick of touring anyway.
But after their search turned up nothing else illegal, the guards were obliged to let us go. But there were consequences nonetheless. We arrived at the club far too late for a sound check; we had barely enough time to set up our equipment before we were scheduled to go on. There, in front of a packed house at one of Toronto’s most fashionable showcase lounges, we learned that the frustrated border guards had stolen the tubes out of our amplifiers. After a long delay and much yelling and stumbling around, we used the opening band’s equipment and played a decidedly inferior set.
We never got another shot at a club in Toronto of that size. Most of the people who’d shown up that night elected never to do so again, and henceforth we were relegated to smaller bars on the other side of town. Of course, it’s always possible that audience might not have liked us even at our best, but I guess we’ll never know.
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?
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
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
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...
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....
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?
Ch: I've got to go to the store.
NFU: Do you like living in Phoenix?
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.
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.
In response to last month's post about Tom Troccoli, Tom himself has added a Meat Puppets page to his site. There, he describes his first encounter with this odd group of desert punks. He also alludes to the strong feelings those memories still hold for him. Tom's sharp memory, good eye for detail and quirky use of the occasional all-caps makes for entertaining reading.
Even better, he passed along his collection of Meat Puppets photos and his permission for me to share them. These smudged, aging poloroids document the ten weeks we spent on tour with Black Flag and the Nig Heist back in 1984. I hadn't seen these pix in two decades, and they really take me back. I don't recall ever being that young.
These days, I work with a lot of young people. I always encourage them to think hard about their future and not to take it for granted. But there's not a one of them who wouldn't quit their jobs in a heartbeat if they had the chance to go on the road for two and a half months. These pix bear out that dream pretty well.
We had only two days off, we slept on the floors of strangers and we were making twenty-five bucks a night. We endured arrests, snowstorms and those annoying huge pots of spagetti the promoters would make to feed us all. (You haven't lived until you try to serve yourself a plate of overcooked pasta while Rollins glowers over you, making sure you don't take more than he feels you deserve.) But what 23-year-old could pass up the opportunity to drive across the country, put on eye-liner and pose in front of a Detroit tenement?
Tom offered a selection of descriptive comments to go with some of his favorites from this collection:
Photo #2: "Check the expressions on the folks BEHIND you! This is at a McDonald's at Niagra Falls New York a few hours before crossing the border and we have ingested anything possibly contraband. Clearly, the effects are taking hold."
Photo #3: "You MADE me shoot this one AS Bostrom being Elvis circa 1972 Madison Square Garden post-gig. This is maybe my all-time favorite picture of you. It PERFECTLY captures the humor and spirit I best remember in you."
Photo #6 : "We made a gag out of claiming you were Raymond's model for the My War cover, and here Davo is NOT trying to knife you (yet), but emulating the sleeve. This was the same Denny's the three of you tipped the waitress by dumping your half filled plates on the rug under the table."
#7: "I'm overhead. Cris has tossed himself backwards into the crowd and is being supported by the fans. Somewhere I have a photocopy of a contact sheet from ANOTHER photog. He snapped one at the EXACT moment I snapped mine, and you can see me hovering over the crowd with Polaroid. This one's D.C."
Photo #14: "This is the exact moment I came running out to the van in Atlanta with the latest ish of Rolling Stone awarding you (and The Minutemen) 4 Stars for MP II. YOU may have snapped this one."
Photo #15: "Right outside Birmingham Alabama. I had just that moment heard the news that Marvin Gaye Sr. had murdered Marvin Gaye Jr., rolled down the window, shouted the news, and clicked the shot."
Photo #16: "We each took one of each other being blasted in the head full on by the Surfer. I can't find the one you took of me. That one's Atlanta."
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.)
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
Our previous post about the rigors of major label life garnered a lively and lengthy discussion. One of the highlights was this anecdote by Kevin, which he has been good enough to augment with some Flickr photos (taken by either Ken Kelly or Patti Torno; he wasn't sure which).
The stories of end of gig mayhem reminded me of one of my favorite Puppet shows. It was the “Forbidden Places” tour in Athens Ga at the new big 40 Watt Club. This may have even been the first big show there. They came out blazing, absolutely tearing it up. Everyone in the place seemed to be knocked back by the force of the music, literally. I’d already seen them many times before and this was shaping up to be the best show I’d ever seen.
Unfortunately the new PA could not handle it and it cut out completely. As the soundmen worked frantically to fix the problem the Puppets tried to soldier on, playing instrumentals with their amps turned up. Maybe “Six Gallon Pie” or “Flight of the Fire Weasel,” those kinds of guitar solo pieces. After a few minutes they realized it wasn’t working (no drums!) and completely devolved into noise. Curt threw his Les Paul into the crowd, turned up his amp and went to work on his Morely echo pedal. You know the sound. Cris, of course, went crazy throwing his bass around and eventually smashing it on the ceiling, shattering the flourescent lights above the stage. At that point he gave up on the bass and shakily climbed his amps, ending up swinging from the stage lighting truss directly above our hero Derrick. Derrick had been pounding out a nice beat behind the noise, but at this point he saw Cris dangling above him and ran out front. Smart considering what happened to Curtis Mayfield. If I remember correctly Derrick then grabbed the guitar or operated the pedals, he continued to make a contribution at any rate. At some point a couple of streakers ran out, hugged the band and then dashed off. The crowd was screaming the whole time, completely caught up in the chaos.
Finally the club workers ushered the band off stage to deal with the problem. Cris came back out with a cooler from backstage and started to hand out the contents. Eventually the PA was restored to a semi functional state and the band came back out, playing a more standard set ending with an “I Wanna Be Your Dog” jam with the openers Scrawl onstage.
Not a bad way to usher in the start of the major label Puppets, at least for fans like us.
Attending that particular Athens show was famous actress, local celebrity and girlfriend of Batman, Kim Bassinger. She was also friends with one of the owners of the club, REM’s Pete Buck. I introduced myself to her before the gig and thanked her for coming. However, she was forced to flee the premisis in the ensuing mele. As Kevin remembers it, "She took off in a hurry. I was at the side of the stage (stage left) and saw her being ushered out like it was a terrorist attack."
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.
MEAT PUPPETS MEAT PUPPETS
by Robert Lloyd
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)
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.
Breakfast: This is stinky, our tape recorder... What should be inside a grab bag?
Curt: Mmmmm, good question. Ice.
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?
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?
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?
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?
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)
By 1982, the Meat Puppets were all living together: dogs, girlfriends, hangers-on (i.e. drummers), all of squeezed into one little house in Phoenix's historic Fairview district. None of us worked (well, the girlfriends did, but that stopped shortly after they moved in). I slept in the practice room behind the drums and subsisted on coins cadged from under the sofa cushions.
In the fall, we all moved clear out to Peoria. We stayed there until Curt's twins were born, after which I moved back in with my mom and everybody else relocated closer to the center of town. The first two of these pix are from the Peoria compound. Note the three-foot high dead weeds behind us in the first photo.
The next two were taken the same year on a couple different west coast tours. I don't remember the location of the waterfall (probably somewhere around Yosemite), but I know the book I'm holding is about Elvis. The target practice took place on a mountain near Bakersfield. Our van got stuck on the way back down, so I had to walk a couple hours to a filling station for a tow.
The next two pix are from a 1985 visit to Graceland. That's me at the King's graveside, and that's Cris across the street in the gift shop that had Elvis' plane in front of it. I bought a cool shirt with the TCB logo on it. I still have the shirt, but it no longer fits.
Eventually, we all moved down to Tempe and wound up in separate houses. But we were still within walking distance of each other. Basically, we lived in each others laps for about a dozen years. Curt eventually moved to California, settling finally in Texas.
The final pic was taken in New York, at the party where we received our gold records for "Too High To Die." I still have mine; it hangs in the back bedroom, right under my wife's college diploma.
The Meat Puppets were between record labels in the summer or 1990. Our relationship with SST was effectively over, but our Polygram deal was still in the negotiation stages. Hence, we spun our wheels, unable to record, unable to tour, just barely making ends meet by doing local shows a couple times a month. We were as broke as we'd ever been.
We managed to catch a bone from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who took us to Texas for a week. But that tour just barely broke even. I remember sitting with Cris in the van we'd rented for the trip. He was getting ready to drop it off at U-Haul, along with the last of our earnings. And he turned to me and said, "You got any buds? I'm all out."
It felt like a crushing weight bearing down on me. As bright as our future seemed, as on the verge as we were of becoming a major label force, with full access to the kind of resources a Presley or a Springsteen might enjoy, we were also trapped in a vicious web of self-medication. The procuring and ingesting of marijuana seemed to be the main glue of our lives. It defined who we were as artists, as people, and as friends. It imposed strict limits on our time, on our energy, on what we could accomplish and on who we could associate with. Not to mention our health and our pocketbooks.
It started to bother me, but the brothers couldn't understand what I was so worried about. They revelled in their substance abuse. It was part of what made them special. Back then, we liked a saying attributed to Hunter Thompson: "without drugs, I'd have the mind of a fifth-rate accountant." But to me, it felt increasingly like I was mortgaging my future.
So I quit. I gave away my stash and all my pipes, pulled up a chair and prepared for some long nights. I didn't sleep for a week. Outside, temperatures in Phoenix reached 123 degrees. I stayed indoors and tried to keep comfortable. I took a lot of cold baths. When sleep returned, I had dreadful nightmares. Freed from the hallucinatory grip of the drugs, my real emotions roared up at me. I bounced around for a couple of months, working my way through guilt, fear, rage, depression and whatever else I'd been suppressing in the decade and a half since I had first taken up the 24-7 wake-and-bake lifestyle.
As it turns out -- surprise! -- Hunter Thompson was wrong. My mind was never sharper. No longer afraid of arrest every time I left my house, I lost my second-class citizen status. My self-confidence grew by leaps and bounds and I began to get some actual traction in my life. You might say I began to resemble an actual human being!
To this day, I still feel that getting straight is the single most important thing I have ever done. That said, drug abuse is not without its rewards, at least if these droll little comics are any indication. And if a certain condescending sarcasm crept into my post-dependency contributions to the series -- well, it wasn't too high a price to pay.
Anyway, here's the second batch of Pot Comics:
Was it really twenty two years ago this month that the Meat Puppets found themselves on a 6-week cross country tour with Black Flag and the Nig Heist? To Flag it was nothing: just another in a seemingly endless series of punishing promotional marathons. But to us, it was staggering. Nothing in our previous four years had prepared us for a month and a half of car trouble, violent crowds, hostile promotors, arrests, interminable drives, horrendous food, blizzards, and all with only two days off for the whole thing. In other words, it was a typical Black Flag tour. Fortunately, the Nig Heist opened every show, which was both both the high point and the low point of the trip, depending on my mood.
Each night, the Nig Heist would bait the hardcore audiences with a simplistic but effective style of confrontational performance art. Donning long hair wigs and heavy metal regalia, they would taunt the crowd with a crude Van Halen approximation. Every song dealt with what was known in Flag circles as "scamming broads." In between the songs, the singer would invite the women in the audience to meet him backstage to "get happening" with what he called his "two inches of dangling death." Some nights, the audience ignored it, some nights the shtick was boring. But on rare occasions the crowd would freak out, inspiring the band to ever greater heights of provocation. They even managed to get themselves arrested once.
Holding down the bottom end was super sweetie Tom Troccoli, self styled hippie and America's formost nude bass player. I think he was also in charge of the merch, but I can no longer remember for sure. He and I got along from the start. We both liked a lot of the same shit, like comic books and Elvis. The Nig Heist was a lark for him, and shortly afterwards, he got his own band together. He explores his musical history in depth on his Web site, where you'll not only find a generous helping of his own recollections, but if you look close enough, you'll find some rare Meat Puppets content.
One only wishes that he'd give up whatever page authoring tool he's using and move his whole mess over to wordpress.org or Blogger, where the templates are more legible.
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
4. Sweet Ammonia
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)
Here is the second part of the band history I wrote about fifteen years ago. Part one can be found here. Unfortunately, I only made it about a paragraph into part three before I had to return the computer I was using. I've been trying to get back into the flow ever since.
The Meat Puppets celebrated their first anniversary with little to show for it. When the Star System closed, Phoenix punks lost their only regular hangout. We'd played in an old barn under the freeway on New Year's Eve, but that had been torn down. We did an outside gig for a record store grand opening, but the owner had torched the place for insurance soon afterward. We even did a one-off Saturday afternoon performance at a school for retarded children.
We even lost our rehearsal space in January after my mom's divorce had become final and my family moved to a quieter neighborhood. We tried using Cris and Curt's mom's house, but she was clearly not into it. Every time I came over to practice, she managed to find a day's worth of chores for us to do. Finally, we moved into a friend's basement. That solved our problems for a while, until one night someone let the air out of all my tires.
Meanwhile, we continued to make periodic visits to Los Angeles, playing with either Monitor or the Human Hands. We met Boyd Rice, who performed under the name of NON. His act consisted of plugging two noise generators into the P.A. and berating the audience over the din. One night, we met the guys from The Urinals. They invited us to contribute to a compilation they were putting out on their label, Happy Squid. The Los Angeles Free Music Society also wanted something for one they were doing. We recorded "H-Elenore" for Happy Squid, and gave the L.A.F.M.S. a wild version of "Meat Puppets."
While in Los Angeles, we attended a Throbbing Gristle show put on by a friend of David Wiley. Shortly before the show started, David dragged me backstage. He pushed me in front of two bald guys.
"Derrick Bostrom, meet Chuck Dukowski and Geneisis P. Orridge." Genesis took advantage of the break in conversation to walk away. Chuck fixed me with a withering smirk.
"Are you SWA?" He asked. I shrugged. Chuck excused himself.
"What was that all about?" I asked David as we returned to our seats. As the house lights dimmed, Chuck mounted the stage along with about two-dozen punkers. He asked the audience the same question he'd asked me. His cronies stood around with their arms raised in a fascist salute.
"What kind of opening band is this?" I demanded. David shook his head.
We spent most of the summer at Laurie and Steve's house in Van Nuys, where we received a crash course in trash culture. Soon we were digging Charles Manson, Annette Funicello records, and dinner fished from the bins behind the corner grocery store.
One day, Laurie asked us to record a song for their album. Though Monitor were nominally "punk," their material tended towards the atmospheric. They had only one song that "thrashed," and they could barely play it. Anyway, she said, they liked how we did it better. As payment, Monitor offered to finance the recording and release of a Meat Puppets EP on their label.
So we got up early one day, had a nice breakfast at Denny's, and drove to a studio in Silver Lake. Much to our amazement, the engineer was Ed Barger, who'd recorded Devo's first singles. Monitor's gear was already set up, so all we had to do was plug in and get comfortable. We nailed Monitor's song "Hair" in one take, as well as five of our own. We saw when we'd finished that everyone in the control room was in hysterics.
Our record did better than we'd hoped, selling out the initial one thousand copies and two additional pressings of five hundred each. It got great reviews and was even called "commercial" by one publication. Laurie bought a half-page ad in "Flipside" magazine and wrote a glowing piece about us in the concert review section.
Back in Phoenix, the club situation continued to be unstable. The Solid Gold, a converted movie theater in Scottsdale, lasted less than three months. Next was a gay bar called the Mardi Gras. The clientele got on well with the punks, the employees were friendly, and the owner was cool. But after only three weekends, the place burned to the ground.
One night we all got together at John and Gary from Killer Pussy's house to meet a new guy and discuss his plans to put on shows at an old wrestling arena owned by his family. Tony Victor was about our age, and while his air was friendly enough, the purpose of his visit was clearly business. He outlined the details of his club, Madison Square Garden, and his promotion company, Mersey Productions.
"We won't serve liquor so we'll be able to admit kids without any hassles from the police," Tony explained, "and my uncle has a karate school, so bouncers won't be a problem."
We were all pretty amused by the formality of his presentation, especially after he produced contracts formalizing our agreement to perform at his club a month hence.
"See you in court!" Gary hooted as Tony made his exit.
Mad Garden was a cavernous old building in downtown Phoenix. We played in the wrestling ring in the center of the room. It was surround by a chain link fence that hung from the ceiling, and the stage bounced us around like a trampoline. The gig came off without a hitch and no one got sued.
A couple of months later, I got a call from Joe Carducci, whom we'd met during a trip to San Francisco. He and his partner Jon Boshard had put out a record by Monitor on their label, Thermidor, a surf 45 released under the pseudonym "The Tikis."
Thermidor was interested in doing a Meat Puppets album. However, Joe explained, he was moving to L.A. to work for Black Flag's label, SST. So, while Thermidor would finance the record, SST would get the license to release it. SST would handle the distribution, and Joe would oversee the promotion.
The necessary arrangements were made, and that November we found ourselves in the studio with Black Flag's engineer SPOT. The sessions were tedious from the start. Cris and Curt were uncomfortable wearing headphones, so we set up all the equipment together in the same room. We would sacrifice separation for a live feel. It took us three different sessions to get takes we liked.
Chuck Dukowski and Greg Ginn, Black Flag's bassist and guitarist, helped set the stage several nights before, during a radio interview. Identifying themselves as the leaders of "this whole movement," thye proceeded to catalog our failures. Our name wasn't sexy, our look was wrong, our songs didn't adhere to the formula, and our execution was unintelligible.
"What are these guys trying to prove?" said Chuck. "Do they think people are going to respect this? No way."
"But wait a minute," the host exclaimed. "Aren't they going to be recording for your label?"
"We're obligated by contract," said Greg.
They were joking, but it seemed some of the camp followers, weren't so sure. The various teenage hangers-on that crowded the SST compound didn't know what to make of us. Our long hair did nothing to ease their suspicions. So, after we recorded fourteen songs, we left Laurie to supervise the mix-down and beat a hasty retreat back to Phoenix.
In the ensuing months, we would come to regret that decision.
I don't smoke marijuana personally. I haven't since my twenties. But there was a time when I knew the lay of the land quite well. During the 1980's the Puppets would get togther nearly every day to "practice." That is, we'd sit around, doing bongs and drawing cartoons all day. Sometimes we'd manage to sneak in an hour behind our instruments, but this was by no means a certainty.
"Pot Comics" was an idea I had about a comic only a pot smoker could love: entirely devoid of humorous entry to anyone who wasn't under the influence. It had its inspiration in my high school years, of course (where -- yes -- I actually had a friend nicknamed "Stoney;" didn't we all?), when such sentences as "what a STONED thing to say!" were commonplace. This was the 1970s, after all.
The first such comic had the punch line "whoops! Dropped the matches!" (I can no longer find this strip, but you get the idea.) I did a couple more and moved on, but the concept caught fire under Cris. Even though strip gags were not really his forte, he would just churn them out. I guess the egalitarian subjectivity of the non-humor appealed to him. Then Curt and I started doing them too, and soon we were coming up with more and more bizarre variations on the theme. Somewhere along the way, they even actually started to become funny.
When I finally gave up smoking pot, my life improved vastly as a consequence. But I'll admit I spent a lot less time sitting around drawing. So then, here is a tribute to those days when all I needed was a table, a bong and a notebook. (Nowadays, it takes two power strips worth of gizmos to acheive the same results.) These comics also give an insight into they way the interplay between the three of us would manifest itself in non-musical form. I have boxes and boxes of Puppets doodles, but this was the longest sustained running series we ever did.
Enjoy...and please don't tell the pigs.
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??).
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.