Unless you’ve never listened to modern rock music in your life, you really don’t need an introduction to the Meat Puppets. Led by Curt and Cris Kirkwood and now drummer Derrick Bostrom again, the group has left an unmistakable mark on modern rock music. Although the alternative rock group never made it “huge”, per se, at least commercially-speaking, they stand out as one of the most influential bands of the last thirty years.
Essentially what you remember as grunge rock may have sounded extremely different if it wasn’t for the Meat Puppets, as a result of the guys’ massive influence on the household names of the early 1990s rock revolution. Still together after all these years, the gents just released their new record Dusty Notes, which is unbelievably their fifteenth studio album. To learn more about Dusty Notes, we spoke with drummer Derrick Bostrom about the album, his recent return to the band after a 22-year hiatus, and other tidbits related to their legacy.
Your fifteenth studio record, Dusty Notes, was just released. What would you say differentiates this record from your previous few releases? What was the writing and recording like for Dusty Notes? Was this a long process or did these songs take shape quite quickly?
Derrick Bostrom: Dusty Notes debuts the new five-piece Meat Puppets, and three “new” members. This is my first album with the band since 1995’s No Joke. (Guitarist) Elmo Kirkwood has toured with the band on second guitar for years, but this is his debut as a full contributing member. This is our keyboardist Ron Stabinsky’s first album with the band. To mark the occasion, Curt penned a collection of songs that he thought he would enjoy playing live with the band, simple, fun things.
Longtime drummer Shandon Sahm left the band shortly after recording the basic tracks for Dusty Notes, so Curt decided to have me re-record the drums. This gave me the opportunity to compose parts that meshed well with the rhythm guitars, bass, and keyboards, while still leaving plenty of room for expansion and exploration.
Off of Dusty Notes, check out the band’s latest music video for “Warranty.”
Dusty Notes is not only your first album in six years but it marks your return as a founding member of the band after a nearly 23-year hiatus! Tell us more about how you rejoined the fold after such a long period of time away.
Bostrom: I joined the band for a one-off show when we were inducted into the Arizona Music and Entertainment Hall Of Fame back in August 2017. However, that show rekindled something inside me and showed me how much I missed playing with the brothers. When Shandon Sahm moved to Europe, Curt offered me the drums slot. I didn’t wait for him to ask me twice; I accepted immediately.
Despite you performing with the band once in 2017 and making appearances along the way, you were definitely gone for a while. What was it like those first few times jamming with the band again after you rejoined last year?
Bostrom: Our bond is non-musical in a lot of ways. It’s like a wavelength that only the three of us can perceive. Perhaps it’s just a shared jaundiced view of the world, but it makes for very interesting music. For my part, I’m surprised at how good a two-decade break has been for my craft. I’m hungrier now than I ever was during my “salad days,” I have a keener ear and I am more fearless.
So, it’s been fairly well documented since the early ‘90s how influential the band was on so many musicians; Nirvana, Soundgarden, Dinosaur Jr., Pavement…. We could go on and on. How does that feel to you to be recognized so heavily by so many other bands?
Bostrom: It’s a mystery to me. However, I would be delighted if the class of 2030 cited us as influence for what we’re doing these days.
Dusty Notes, the band’s fifteenth album and first in six years, was released on March 8th via Megaforce Records.
I would imagine you get asked about this a lot, but we couldn’t help ourselves. Of course, Kurt Cobain and Nirvana performed “Lake of Fire” at their legendary MTV Unplugged performance in 1993 and you served as guest musicians that night. What’s something interesting you can tell us about that performance that perhaps isn’t well-known to the general audience?
Bostrom: In the midst of major label and management interference in our affairs during the lead up to the release of Too High To Die, we made this happen all by ourselves. Our manager was indifferent and the label didn’t know about it. We talked our way onto the show all by ourselves.
I realize it may be a little early to talk about this, but, despite a couple of hiatuses along the way, The Meat Puppets are remarkably celebrating their fortieth anniversary in 2020. Can you give us any hints about anything special that may be in store for fans next year?
Bostrom: We have not discussed our anniversary internally, but I’m sure someone will pressure us into doing something. Perhaps we can throw out the first pitch somewhere on Opening Day.
Many people may not know this, but John Frusciante, formerly of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, auditioned for the band in 1992 after leaving the Chili Peppers but, of course, it didn’t come to fruition. Did you just not feel the right chemistry that you were looking for with John?
Bostrom: Curt will play with anyone who makes themselves available. However, this does not a permanent spot on the roster insure.
Finally, what do you have in store in terms of touring and promotion for Dusty Notes for the rest of 2019?
Bostrom: After a brief jaunt on the west coast, we will spend the better part of two weeks on the east coast, then head to Europe in June. That’s the bulk of our travel plans, though we are picking up onesies and twosomes along the way. Check our web site and our Facebook page for late breakers.
From 1991’s Forbidden Places, this is the music video for the song “Sam.”
Upcoming Tour Dates:
04/04 – Sweetwater Music Hall – Mill Valley, CA
04/05 – The Independent – San Francisco, CA
04/06 – The Troubadour – Los Angeles, CA
04/07 – Soda Bar – San Diego, CA
05/08 – Mercury Lounge – New York, NY
05/09 – Brooklyn Bowl – Brooklyn, NY
05/10 – Underground Arts – Philadelphia, PA
05/11 – Asbury Lanes – Asbury Park, NJ
05/13 – Colony – Woodstock, NY
05/14 – Space Ballroom – Hamden, CT
05/15 – Port City Music Hall – Portland, ME
05/16 – Brighton Music Hall – Boston, MA
05/17 – Artspace – Portsmouth, NH
05/18 – Montgomery Hall – Jersey City, NJ
06/01 – Subterranean – Chicago, IL
06/07 – Empire – Belfast, N. Ireland
06/08 – Dolan’s Warehouse – Limerick, Ireland
06/09 – Whelan’s – Dublin, Ireland
06/10 – Brudenell Social Club – Leeds, England
06/11 – Rebellion – Manchester, England
06/13 – N9 – Eeklo, Belgium
06/14 – De Singer – Rijkevorsel, Belgium
06/15 – Luxor Live – Arnhem, Holland
06/16 – LPaard Van Troje – Den Haag, Holland
06/17 – Paradiso Noord – Amsterdam, Holland
06/18 – ZOOM – Frankfurt, Germany
06/19 – Arts Centre – Norwich, England
06/20 – ULU Live – London, England
06/22 – Azkena Rock Festival – Bilbao, Spain