Meat Puppets w/
The Only Children
Monday, Aug. 27
1386 Lexington Road
$15; 8 p.m.
A quarter-century of the Meat Puppets? Doesn’t seem possible. But then again, their mixture of growl, twang and a little psychedelia coalesced into a bedrock upon which has been built all sorts of not-particularly-pop music, some of it becoming quite popular.
After several years below the radar, Meat Puppets — once again featuring the brothers Curt and Chris Kirkwood — have new music out and are hitting the road. Rise to Your Knees is chock full of electric guitar lines that meditate while in constant movement, set to well-considered intuitive spins and tribal beats. The trio brings the sound live to Headliners on Monday.
We got a chance to talk with Curt Kirkwood, a guitarist and singer who’s shaped a lot of what we all listen to today. He was glad to have his brother back on bass (Chris went through some substance and personal challenges, and has made a long climb back). Curt has mixed feelings in his memories of Eyes Adrift, the supergroup from a few years back that didn’t get far despite a lineup containing ex-members of Nirvana and Sublime.
LEO: Has your songwriting process changed over the years?
CK: I still watch TV, watch the QVC things, any garbage. All adolescent stuff. I watch all of the stupid-ass TV while I’m writing. And SpongeBob … why should I turn it off? That’d be like putting down a diamond to clean a pigpen. Was it Bruce Springsteen or Oscar Wilde that said, “Trust the art, not the artist”?
LEO: Having your brother along on tour, how is he as company on the road?
CK: He’s fairly low-maintenance compared to some people. I mean, I’ve been with millionaires who take care of themselves. Oh, they’ll take you in their limo as they’re on the way to their hotel to drop you off at Motel 6. What are you supposed to do about it? But my brother, he’s still pretty happy. I have to remind him, “Hey, dude. Don’t go too fast.”
LEO: Is it just the three of you onstage this tour?
CK: Just three of us. We drive. We set our shit up, no roadies. We take the check. We eat at McDonald’s, sometimes three times a day. And that’s fine with me. I think you’re a pig if you turn down a piece of food.
LEO: Pulling elements of country music into your sound influenced a lot of musicians. Do you listen to country as much as you used to?
CK: I listen to Bill Monroe, the Louvin Brothers, George Jones. I like a lot of what they played in Phoenix (when I was growing up). Buck (Owens) was number one there. A lot of the best chord changes in rock come straight from country. You listen to Chuck Berry’s high and lonesome chord changes, and you know that he was seriously into country.
A lot of it (now) is crap, the new country. It turned around on (acts such as) Alan Jackson. Now we’re all parrotheads, and we’ve got to party on the islands ’n’ shit. You can trace a lot of it to Jimmy Buffett.
But something in song that’s very cryptic, elemental, deliberate … a lot of times only country is the best way to express it. Lonesome, yeah, with a sweetness to it. Hey, I didn’t know that “Act Naturally” wasn’t a Beatles original for a long time.
LEO: Your influence has gone through Nirvana and into a lot of acts since. Do you hear what Meat Puppets started in bands on record or live right now? Are you hearing anything now that you think will be called “influential” down the line?
CK: Live is “the” thing for me. A lot’s good, but I don’t hear stuff that’s really groundbreaking. Nothing like Gang of Four, B-52s, Devo. The White Stripes kind of push it, but it’s nothing too new. But when it comes to listening to bands to bring on the road, (Krist) Novoselic was good that way. He’d say, “We’re taking My Morning Jacket along.” Nice dudes, sounded like Buffalo Springfield, and I think that’s classic. Hey, I thought they were a better band than Eyes Adrift!
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