Photo by Greg Prato
Although the Meat Puppets haven’t issued an album since 2013 (Rat Farm), the band hasn’t been merely sitting on their keisters – they tour regularly, and bassist Cris Kirkwood continues to draw and paint (check out his artwork here) and is involved with several different production projects at the moment (including playing in one, the Exterminators), and was willing to chat about them all with Alternative Nation.
I hear you’re quite busy at the moment.
That Exterminators thing, that is kind of where it all came from with what’s happening now. What it was, this guy, Tom Lopez, who was one of the kids on the scene when he was younger here in Phoenix – a little punker kid. He saw us and was one of those guys that got into punk rock at a really early age. A bit of a wild and wooly childhood – he stopped going to school pretty early, and got into punk rock and degeneracy. And then at a point, he stopped being so self-destructive, and got his shit in a way that allowed him to be in the position and have the desires to start a record label [Slope Records]. So one of the goals of his ideas was document some of the old Phoenix punk rock stuff. And that’s where the Exterminators record came from, because those guys were one of Phoenix’s first punk rock bands – starting in ’77. They only lasted for a little over a year, I think, and never recorded anything. He asked those guys if they wanted to do it, and the original bass player, Rob Graves, passed away a while back. So they asked me if I’d play bass in it, and it’s all pals of mine – Danny Clark, Jimmy “Don Bolles.” And once we started making the thing, I was just helping to the degree that Tom decided he wanted to give me a production credit on it. So after that happened, we started talking about what else to do with the label is putting out some new punk rock – young, new bands from Phoenix, as well. And he asked me if I’d be interested in producing them. Which I definitely was – it sounded like fun.
Who are some of the bands you’re producing?
I just finished tracking and I’m in the middle of mixing the first young band, this band called the Linecutters. Oddly enough, the kids in the band are three-piece – the guitar player and bass player are both 19, and the drummer is 18. Their age is combined to equal my age! I’m 56 now. It’s like, “Yike!” I have like, grey hairs older than them. And then tomorrow I’m going to start the next record – a band called Sad Kid. It’s a local four-piece, and it’s bitching. The studio is actually right around the corner from where I live, which is convenient for me, and I’m working with the engineer Jeremy Parker, who has done all sorts of stuff – Evanescence. And how it all came together, I’m just pretty blown away by it. It’s a cool opportunity for me to get into production. Y’know, how many records have Curt and I made, so it’s something I’m very familiar with. And the connection is there – to hook back up with the young scene is neat.
And what is going on with the Meat Puppets right now?
We did our annual Phoenix – we’ve done it four years in a row – we played at this nice club in town, the Crescent Ballroom. And this year, we did it with [Mike] Watt, which is a gas. And then we went out the next night to this place in Pioneer Town in California, kind of a funky, old westy place they have shows in, and played there as well. Right now, we don’t have anything going on until a few months into next year. I think we’re doing a west coast thing in March. It just worked out perfect in terms of working on this stuff, because I have the time to do it right now. The other thing I have going on is we are going to start a project in January – we’re going to start a new Feederz record. Remember the Feederz? “Jesus Entering from the Rear” and all that? Johnny Precious, the drummer, passed away quite a while ago, so they have enlisted the drummer services of DH Peligro – of the Dead Kennedys.
Lastly, what would you like this year for Christmas?
Oh, my two front teeth! Actually, I’d like all of my fuckin’ teeth – my two front teeth, the ones next to them, the ones next to those, going all the way back to the bottom.