Though Meat Puppets pioneered the cowpunk sound in the early '80s, it would be unfair to pigeonhole them with that term or that decade. Instead, their music - an ever-changing blend of punk, country and acid rock - was a hallmark of the '90s: Nirvana, Pavement and Dinosaur Jr. all cited it as an influence back then, and brothers Curt and Cris Kirkwood (two-thirds of Meat Puppets' original lineup) were guest musicians for Nirvana's legendary 1993 MTV Unplugged performance.
Likewise, the title of the band's newest release, Sewn Together, isn't simply a statement about the genres that compose their sound. It could just as well describe their efforts to regroup and recoup after Cris' long battle with drug addiction or their attitude toward studio recording tricks. Isthmus spoke with guitarist/vocalist Curt Kirkwood about these topics and more last week.
Did Meat Puppets truly break up in 2002?
It was actually '01: We were just finishing a tour when Cris quit, and we weren't into finding another bass player at the time. I didn't know how to audition someone, never really have. Then I did a few solo tours without a record just to try something new, and people like Bud Gaugh, Sublime's drummer, started calling me up out of the clear blue. Soon I had this whole other band [Eyes Adrift] sitting in my lap. But in my mind I never said, "No more Meat Puppets."
How did the current lineup come about?
In 2005, Cris got out of prison, where he'd rehabbed himself from his drug habit, and wanted to do a Meat Puppets record. We'd gotten Tim Alexander from Primus to play drums, but he left to go on tour with them. Then we realized that Ted Marcus, who was working as a sound tech for this documentary film about the band, was a good drummer - and more importantly, we liked him.
You've mentioned that Sewn Together was made very quickly. Why'd you do it this way?
Our budget was meager, I wanted [the album] to be analog, and I wanted an engineer who was really into recording on tape, so it was like going back to the '80s, except that we know a lot more now. We wanted to make something we could play live, not dick around recording things over and over, then cobbling it together. That makes you sound like a robot or Celine Dion. I'm not sure which is worse.