From The Desk Of The Meat Puppets: The Good, The Bad And The Rack

meat4logo100cTo have Cris Kirkwood back as the bassist of the Meat Puppets is nothing short of a miracle. The band he founded with his guitarist/vocalist brother Curt in 1980 broke up in 1996 due to Cris’ addiction to heroin and crack cocaine. In the ensuing years, Cris’ life spiraled far out of his control as he lost his wife to a drug overdose and spent 18 months in prison for attacking a post-office security guard. Now, almost four years clean and sober, Cris is gearing up to hit the road in support of the band’s 12th studio album, Sewn Together. Before he does, Cris will spend the week guest editing magnetmagazine.com. Read our new Q&A with Cris and our 2007 career overview of the Meat Puppets.

torture-rack350Cris Kirkwood: Thanks to recent developments in the field of agriculture, human kind has been able to spend a lot less time wandering around trying to scare up something to eat, and a lot more time laying around staring at their belly buttons, which, depending on how you look at it, is either a good or a bad thing. In support of the bad-thing side, may I recommend The Inquisition, a book we found on tour in Amsterdam, a collection of photographs of torture devices from through the ages dreamt up by folks who suddenly found themselves with a lot more time on their hands and decided to spend this novel new leisure time dreaming up fancy gadgets with which to inflict pain on others, including the rack (pictured), the skull crusher and, one of my faves, the anal and vaginal “pear.” Yikes. In support of the good-thing side, please allow me to trumpet the talents of the illustrious Robert Crumb and Zap Comix. Or in support of both, and speaking of Amsterdam, how about that rascally old enigma, Vincent Van Gogh? A tip of the hat to Eli Whitney, John Deere and all the other fine folks through the ages whose hard work and dedication, if nothing else, keep a lot of tummies full.

MP3 At 3PM: Faux Hoax

fauxhoax340Faux Hoax (pronounced “Folks” because otherwise we’d have to associate it with the unfortunate faux-hawk hairstyle) is Gang Of Four’s Dave Allen and Menomena’s Danny Seim, along with fellow Portlanders from Tracker and 31Knots. “Foxworthy,” from the group’s debut seven-inch Your Friends Will Carry You Home (out on Tuesday via Polyvinyl), is as free-form as you might expect from these guys. It is not about Jeff “You Might Be A Redneck If … ” Foxworthy.

“Foxworthy” (download):

Normal History Vol. 8: The Art Of David Lester

davidleaster8Every Saturday, we’ll be posting a new illustration by David Lester. The Mecca Normal guitarist is visually documenting people, places and events from his band’s 25-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

August, 1992: During mainstream-media interest in the social movement known as riot grrrl, a producer from NBC’s Boston-based The Jane Whitney Show phoned me, inviting me to be on an episode called “Women In Rock.” It involved a plane ticket, a hotel room, a limo ride and the general weirdness of tabloid TV. Of course, I agreed. During the blank spots where they would later insert commercials, they powdered our faces and encouraged us to interrupt each other. I think the producers wanted to create a cat fight between the feminist musicians and a rock-video “MTV girl.” (The woman, I forget her name, phoned me at the hotel the night before the show and begged me not to rip her to shreds, which I had no intention of doing.) She was pretty wound up about it, but it was her own granny who stood up and said, “My granddaughter does everything for herself,” or some other crazy indictment. The real action came from audience members who had been given a lot of sugary items before the show and told that the Women In Rock used foul language incessantly in their lyrics. Finger-wagging lectures from Boston moms ensued. For years after, Calvin Johnson used to mimic the woman who interrupted me when I was talking about K Records to blurt out the name of her label: “I’m on Def Jam.” It was all pretty bizarre.

From The Desk Of The Meat Puppets: “Undaunted Courage” And “The Gulag Archipelago”

meat4logo100cTo have Cris Kirkwood back as the bassist of the Meat Puppets is nothing short of a miracle. The band he founded with his guitarist/vocalist brother Curt in 1980 broke up in 1996 due to Cris’ addiction to heroin and crack cocaine. In the ensuing years, Cris’ life spiraled far out of his control as he lost his wife to a drug overdose and spent 18 months in prison for attacking a post-office security guard. Now, almost four years clean and sober, Cris is gearing up to hit the road in support of the band’s 12th studio album, Sewn Together. Before he does, Cris will spend the week guest editing magnetmagazine.com. Read our new Q&A with Cris and our 2007 career overview of the Meat Puppets.

undauntedcourage160gulag-archipelago-160Cris Kirkwood: Humans are such complex little creatures. I recently read 1996’s Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, And The Opening Of The American West by the late Stephen Ambrose, concerning the relationship between Jefferson and Lewis, and the so-called journey of discovery proposed by the former and taken by the latter with his partner William Clark. It’s a wonderful read about the infancy of our republic, fairly bursting with optimism, hope and—slave-owning and Native American-decimating ironies aside—a vibrant eagerness to address what it is to be, and how to go about it. Now on the other hand, in support of my complex-critters theory, the tome I’m currently reading, 1973’s The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (concerning Russia’s prison system in the last century), just oozes with despair, doom and death, life as one man’s boot at the throat of another. Maybe these two different takes on humanity don’t necessarily prove complexity, though; maybe they just show that some folks just like to take extended hikes through uncharted wilderness, while some other folks like to imprison, torture and kill. It takes all kinds, I guess.

Film At 11: “Jeffrey Lewis And The News” Episode 6

Since getting his start in the late ’90s in New York’s antifolk movement alongside the Moldy Peaches and others, Jeffrey Lewis has easily transcended any single musical scene. His inventive, irreverent songwriting has grown in tandem with creative forays into comic books and, now, ringleader of a variety show/news program called Jeffrey Lewis And The News. We really can’t explain it, but we’ll be debuting new episodes each night this week at 11 p.m. EST.

http://www.vimeo.com/4150670

TiVo Party Tonight: Mastodon, Kings Of Leon

tivokolcEver wonder what will happen during the last five minutes of late-night TV talk shows? Here are tonight’s notable performers:

Late Show With David Letterman (CBS): Mastodon
Mainly just wanted to mention the cover art for Mastodon’s latest, Crack The Skye. It’s a giant bear atop a planet, flanked by two wizards holding green orbs. All this takes place in front of a multicolored vortex.

The Tonight Show With Jay Leno (NBC): Kings Of Leon
Not to belittle the band’s success at home, but Kings Of Leon are just about the only American export doing well these days. Huge in the U.K. and Australia. They’re here to continue promoting last year’s Only The Night before heading back to Europe for dates through the end of August.

From The Desk Of The Meat Puppets: “The Wallace And Ladmo Show”

meat4logo100cTo have Cris Kirkwood back as the bassist of the Meat Puppets is nothing short of a miracle. The band he founded with his guitarist/vocalist brother Curt in 1980 broke up in 1996 due to Cris’ addiction to heroin and crack cocaine. In the ensuing years, Cris’ life spiraled far out of his control as he lost his wife to a drug overdose and spent 18 months in prison for attacking a post-office security guard. Now, almost four years clean and sober, Cris is gearing up to hit the road in support of the band’s 12th studio album, Sewn Together. Before he does, Cris will spend the week guest editing magnetmagazine.com. Read our new Q&A with Cris and our 2007 career overview of the Meat Puppets.

ladob540

Cris Kirkwood: One of the most delightful things about growing up in Phoenix many a year ago was The Wallace And Ladmo Show, which had a run on local TV here for 35 years. Ostensibly a typical children’s variety show, it managed to be so much more to generations of little desert rats by not playing down to its audience. In the process, it influenced the likes of Steven Spielberg, Alice Cooper and the little ol’ Meat Puppets. The show starred Bill Thompson as the derby-wearing Wallace, the late Ladimir Kwiatkowski as the top hat-wearing Ladmo and Pat McMahon, who played a bunch of different characters, including Captain Super (a not-so-super hero), Marshall Good (a down-on-his-luck silent-movie never-was) and Gerald (a knickers-wearing brat). When “Ho-Ho, Ha-Ha, Hee-Hee, Ha-Ha,” the show’s theme song (by the late Mike Condello), announced the beginning of another episode, life was good in the desert. A real gem. YouTube video after the jump.

Continue reading “From The Desk Of The Meat Puppets: “The Wallace And Ladmo Show””

MP3 At 3PM: Shout Out Out Out Out

s04-550It’s the sound of young Alberta—or, at least, it’s got more former members of Whitey Houston than Nickelback. Edmonton six-piece Shout Out Out Out Out is a vocoderized Ratatat, churning out cough-syrup disco on recently released second album Reintegration Time (Normals Welcome). Album track “Bad Choices” sounds like the last 45 minutes of 2001: A Space Odyssey or Super Furry Animals if they’d written a song for the ’72 Munich Olympics; pick your reference point before it picks you.

“Bad Choices” (download):

Big Star’s “#1 Record” And “Radio City” To Be Reissued In June

big-star_record1250Ardent/Stax is reissuing Big Star‘s power-pop classics #1 Record (1972) and Radio City (1974), together on a single CD, on June 16. The new edition is remastered and features a previously unreleased single mix of “In The Street” and a single edit of “O My Soul.” The two albums are also being reissued separately on vinyl with original artwork. Which brings us to this point: Unless you’re really old or some kind of vinyl collector scum, you probably only know the 1992 twofer CD version of #1 Record/Radio City (issued on Fantasy). It makes sense; both fit on a single CD, and the two albums coexist back-to-back without any serious continuity issues. But the cover art is terrible: a mish-mash of #1 Record‘s neon-sign image, a black-and-white publicity photo of the band, a schizophrenic color scheme and the words “2 Complete Albums On 1 CD” across the top. Surely two-thirds of Big Star’s iconic catalog deserves better. It’s a shame this new CD reissue didn’t rethink the artwork somehow. Where’s Alex Chilton? The Big Star frontman has a couple gigs lined up this summer with his other outfit, the Box Tops.

Wilco’s cover of #1 Record‘s “Thirteen” (download):
http://magnetmagazine.com/audio/Thirteen.mp3

From The Desk Of The Meat Puppets: American Punk Rock

meat4logo100cTo have Cris Kirkwood back as the bassist of the Meat Puppets is nothing short of a miracle. The band he founded with his guitarist/vocalist brother Curt in 1980 broke up in 1996 due to Cris’ addiction to heroin and crack cocaine. In the ensuing years, Cris’ life spiraled far out of his control as he lost his wife to a drug overdose and spent 18 months in prison for attacking a post-office security guard. Now, almost four years clean and sober, Cris is gearing up to hit the road in support of the band’s 12th studio album, Sewn Together. Before he does, Cris will spend the week guest editing magnetmagazine.com. Read our new Q&A with Cris and our 2007 career overview of the Meat Puppets.

butthole400Cris Kirkwood: The American punk rock of my youth was a goofy-assed thing. Come to think of it, when you take a good close look, what isn’t pretty goddamn goofy-assed? Of course, it’s all really a question of perception. Or it’s not. It’s all really a question of good toilet training. Of the best and the brightest. Or the lowest of the low. And … and … aww crap, it was right there on the tip of my tongue—or it wasn’t. Hooray for the punk-rock soldiers of our great campaign who battle on, bloodied but unbowed. Yeah, right. Fuck them, fuck you and fuck me, too. I have a great affinity for the Minutemen of the world, for your Sonic Youth and those rascally Butthole Surfers (pictured), and I would really like to say something profound and endearing about them and everyone and everything else, for that matter. But screw it, I gotta take a dump. Tada!

The Minutemen’s “Mr. Robot’s Holy Orders” (download):
http://magnetmagazine.com/audio/MrRobotsHolyOrders.mp3

Sonic Youth’s “Silver Rocket” (download):
http://magnetmagazine.com/audio/SilverRocket.mp3

Butthole Surfers’ “Gary Floyd” (live) (download):
http://magnetmagazine.com/audio/GaryFloydLive.mp3