The only consistency in the Meat Puppets’ catalog during the band’s nearly 30-year history is the consistent shift in their sonic identity. The band has explored Hardcore, Cow Punk, Folk, Psych Pop and several permutations within, between and beyond those genre tags, but, from frontman Curt Kirkwood’s perspective, completely without calculation.
“We don’t really ever think about it,” Kirkwood says. “Sometimes we have ideas, like ‘Let’s use electronic drums,’ like we did on Mirage. It starts to sound like we’re thinking about it, but we just have so many ideas they have to come out. And I try to move on from album to album, not repeat myself
For the Meat Puppets’ 12th studio album, Sewn Together, Kirkwood (with bassist brother Cris and drummer Ted Marcus) doesn’t stray too far from the dusty Psych Folk/Cow Punk that marked 2006’s Rise to Your Knees, but he notes the clear differences.
“Rise to Your Knees was really homemade; I played a lot of the drums on it,” Kirkwood says. “This one was more about the songs fitting together in this weird, loose way. I wanted a batch of songs that sounded like sitting-around-the-campfire Folk songs, but then blow them up bigger.”
There have been several incarnations of the Meat Puppets behind Kirkwood (drummer Derrick Bostrom has discounted any true reunion talk and Cris Kirkwood has been in and out with substance and legal issues), but his creative stamp marks the band’s identity, whatever that happens to be.
“I’m always going to look at symphonies and also seminal stuff like Quadrophenia and Lamb Lies Down on Broadway,” Kirkwood says. “I like albums. One song says what it says, but then there’s this progression and I’m not sure what it is. I haven’t done an opera, but it still makes sense to me. That’s artistic license. If I put them together, and say so, that’s an album, and it’s fun to see where that goes. The king’s new clothes, you know?”
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