Phone Interview with Cris Kirkwood of Meat Puppets November 21, 2010
Interview Transcribed by William Jergins
Matt– Alright. We are recording starting now. My initial question is simply what happened between Meat Puppets I and Meat Puppets II? There is obviously a drastic change in song writing and structure and everything.
Cris- That was a purposeful move. Uh, first of all let me start off by commending you on a) having a job, being a professor; b) the name of your college, Dixie State, that is delightful; c) sociology, that’s a strange sort of a study; and d) and mostly four or eight, here it is, writing anything about Curt’s lyrics is definitely an interesting sort of an enterprise. I mean, the writing part of it is just completely like, “Oh really? Wow, far out. Let’s you and me write a book about something that Hollywood wants to jump behind in a really big way so we can cash in like big dogs.” You have the ability to write, I have the ability to fucking come up with horrifying scenarios, and lash out, and make money off of it. Let’s get off all this hosh-posh on Curt’s lyrics and let’s move on to something more substantial man.
M- Okay, and what is that?
C- To us there wasn’t that big of a shift between Meat Puppets I and Meat Puppets II. One of the reasons that the band got into the arts in the first place, in making music, is because it’s a bitchin’ place. It’s where you’re the fucking creator of your own world, entirely. Which is absolutely true of anybody’s vocation, but we found that music was our chosen outlet, and on one hand it was just that this is the next color in our pallet. It’s as simple as that. There were foreshadowings of some of it on Meat Puppets I with “Walkin’ Boss” and “Tumblin’ Tumbleweeds.” And if you get beyond the youthful exuberance that’s so prevalent on Meat Puppets I, you see that the song structure was already starting to develop in an interesting and essentially Meat Puppetian -- Meat Puppecian –- sort of way. So then, real purposefully I think on Curt’s part, it was a “fuck you” to all the punk rockers. “Dude those people are fucking retarded just like everyone else is so just do what we tell you.” He tried to do what he could to try and alienate those people as best as he could. Or not. Fuck, I have no idea. I do clearly remember waking up one morning and coming out and Curt had obviously been sitting up all night--we all lived together, we were very deeply into our trip and it was a fertile scene. I came out one morning and he’s like, “I got a new song.” And it was “Lake of Fire” off of Meat Puppets II, and he sat there and played it and I just realized, “Oh my lord!” It’s all grand and noble to go, “Oh, it is a purposeful move on our part to expand the colors in our pallet, and whatever, and make these artistic illusions.” But in reality it’s just that Curt’s a deeply, bad ass, fucking, one of the guys man. He’s one who has completely proven himself to be an American classic, and I’m not that surprised that someone is actually examining it from an intellectual and educational . . . no that’s not the right word.
C- Academic. That’s the word exactly . . . standpoint.
M- But you guys must have made a conscious decision to make Curt the leader of the band, because on the first record he wasn’t really.
C- Well, not really. That was Curt just being Curt. Right around in there he suddenly became a father as well. He’s just always been a real bad ass. And there’s Derrick’s and my compositions on the early thing, and then Curt really fucking steps up, and then I kind o’ come back in on Up on the Sun. A lot of the things on Up on the Sun that are attributed to me are stuff that Curt’s already written and allowed me to collaborate on.
M- On Up on the Sun it still says, “All music and lyrics Curt Kirkwood.” Does it not?
C- No, no. None of them are signed like that. Writing credits are all over that. I mean some of that stuff is definitely mine on Up on the Sun. It’s not necessarily a conscious decision to let Curt be the group leader. It’s more just realizing who you really are and what kind of strength that you actually have. And like, Up on the Sun, I was in a really groovy place musically, and the band is a fucking entity unto itself with three different components that are equally important, and that makes the band. But as far as the actual song writing, Curt’s done the writing on all this stuff and I was like , “Can I add a part here? How about a part here?” and things like that. And then there’s some later stuff. There’s compositions where I wrote the whole thing.
M- Right, right, later on.
C- And I still continue to collaborate with Curt on some things and it’s mostly him allowing me to smoosh some of my shit into his fairly finished composition. Like, “What about a middle part? I got a groovy little instrumental middle part.” So it wasn’t like a conscious decision, it was just Curt rose to the part. He suddenly started writing these songs that were so lovely. And one of the elements that was involved was that he’s the guitar player. So he’s got these bitchin’ little guitar figures going on and it’s suddenly like, well, fuck it, I’m not Paul McCartney. Well what about that? You suddenly just realize: “Oh, my limitations. How great?” And I don’t know if I actually believe that or not. I think I’m a lazy fuck, for sure. And I think my reputation precedes me quite clearly. And Curt’s just suddenly become a father, and it’s also he’s the older brother. That’s definitely involved.
M- Right, because you were all pretty young at that point still.
C- Well, we were definitely very young, but Curt had always been the older brother, the oldest child, and a very handsome, beautiful, fuckin’, enigmatic young child, and a really fucking bright guy. Always. So that plays into it as well. Whereas I’m a stumble bum. I mean whatever. I’d like to shift the direction of the interview away, if we could, from Curt and a little bit more to one of my favorite subjects: me. Ok? No, we don’t got to do it. So what’s your next question?
M- Well then, my next...
C- It wasn’t really conscious no. It wasn’t Conscious. Suddenly Curt blew into something that was fucking bitchin’, and he started spinning out songs like some sort of a fucking machine. He rarely stopped, ever. And it’s just like ooh (grunting noise), and over time he’s become, to me, enigmatic. He’s like, oh man, Curt’s just one of those dudes.
M- So what about Meat Puppets II? What do you want to say about yourself, your role? What about the lyrics? That’s what I’m focusing on mostly, Chris, is the lyrics of Meat Puppets II. I have these idea’s in my head. I know you didn’t write the lyrics and so it’s not necessarily about you, but you could tell me what you...
C- I’m getting that. So ask the next question on the list of questions you have.
M- Well uh, they are not really questions. Here are some themes I see in the lyrics of Meat Puppets II. How about that? How about the idea of a Faustian deal with the devil kind of lyrics? There seem to be a few songs that are kind of about that, starting with “Split Myself in Two.”
C- Well. . .
M- You got the card that said you’ll never fall et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
C- Yeah, that’s definitely a major image. If you’re asking is there any religion involved. Is that what you’re asking? I mean a Faustian deal with the devil. I don’t think Curt thinks like that. Honestly, you want my opinion, I don’t think Curt thinks that. He definitely doesn’t think in terms of there being a devil, except as a literary device.
M- I’m not saying it’s serious religion, but it’s a theme of American literature, western literature, that kind of thing.
C- Who’s Faust? Is Faust a writer, or is he a Christian?
M- A guy goes and makes a deal with the devil et cetera, et cetera. And we see it in the blues. So what I’m saying is it seems like he’s playing on a classic rock and roll, blues, kind of tradition in that song.
C- I honestly doubt that ‘cuz he’s just not that kind of a guy. You got to understand. He isn’t really coming from that place. What I do know about “Split Myself In Two,” the allusion in the title is to Rumpelstiltskin.
M- Rumpelstiltskin, right, I did find that one as well.
C- Definitely your gonna find more of that in Curt’s lyrics than your gonna find like, Faustian. That’s a little too deep, although both of us are Jesuit educated, so I mean we were exposed to the...
M- Right, he wasn’t necessarily reading Faust.
C- I can’t really remember the lyrics to “Split Myself In Two.”
M- The man layed his hat on the table, hung his coat on the wall, he dealt me the card that said I never would fall. And then, and then comes the Rumpelstiltskin where, he spun ‘til a ton was glistening, turned to me and gave me a smile. He said I want...
C- Yeah, well here’s another thing. Give me your ears and I’ll share this with you at the onset of our conversation here. One of the things that I’ve noticed after years and years of having played with Curt -- played a lot of shows together -- was that there would be particular shows. . .I suddenly started having this experience, and it was so profound the first time that it happened and I just realized, “Wow!” And then it would happen again and again, because it’s not the kind of thing that I keep in the forefront of my noodle, and it just now happened again. I would be sitting there singing this song that I’d sung so many fucking times, and I might be in a particularly groovy state personally or something, and all of a sudden the fucking lyric would hit me with what he actually had written, and then you’d just like, “Wow that’s so fucking gnarly!” And it would hit me in so many different ways dependent upon the lyric or whatever, and at that point I would sneak a glance over at Curt. The first time it happened I looked over, and I was just out of my gourd, and I looked over and Curt’s just bathed in this lovely glow of just, just such a, I mean, a filial attachment there. And, uh, it was profound. Just how odd the way that my mind works. I’ve fucking known these words in this sequence for so long and never even put the thought to it. And just there it happened again when you said the lyrics about the man put his hat on the table, and it’s the kind of thing where I’ve probably actually considered it really in depth, especially when I was younger, because I was so healthy, and young, and have forgotten by now.
M- It’s quite possible that I’ve thought more about these lyrics than you guys have in a long time. I suppose that’s possible. You might get up and sing them without thinking about them.
C- Yeah, that kind of thing definitely happens, and what I got out of that whole period was just all those things. One of the places we are definitely coming from is The Dead. How cool those guys lyricist are. Bob Hunter. That guy writes some groovy shit man. People write books about his stuff. For good reason, because you can get in there and dissect it and realize, “Whoa look at this!” That guy references all sorts of neat different things. And it’s deeply American, and it’s part of this groovy artistic continuum, musical continuum. We garnered that off of those guys and other people as well, like the Brothers Grimm. A lot of that weird fable stuff in which the morality involved is not. . . that happens to be a part of it. But more of the word play and imagery and the use of stock imaginary characters, and just parts of the subconscious. It’s like Curt just blossomed into this lovely thing. Part of it was we were getting sick of Derrick’s lyrics. He wrote a lot of lyrics on the first album. He was singing about Nixon and shit and we were trying to get it. I was like, “Really? God.” But it suddenly became apparent that Curt and I were going to be the singers. And it’s dorky to try and sing in front of people. I mean some fucking hit to reality that’s just so gallingly blatant. I don’t know how people get by in the slightest and, once again, like I said, my reputation precedes me. I am a fucking wreck. So to be able to stand up there and actually sing shit, and hold your fucking self together. I don’t know. And you get behind it in a way, and suddenly Curt just started being able to voice like. . .he became, like, French. The French have words for, like, nuance? Look at nuance. Nuance is a goddamned French word! You can just nuance. Suddenly he started to do that in a really colorful way. That was far out man! It was bitchin’! We got a new record we got done, and he’s still got some really fucking neat stuff. I don’t know, it’s just bitchin’. That side of the band is a fascinating thing. To see how far we went and then what I did to make it not keep going with the three of us. And then how Curt just soldiered on and did some really, really fucking good work. And then how I managed to get it together to the point that Curt and I could get back together and continue on. And to put some time in it up to this point and to be at a place where we’re at now with Shandon playing drums again. The guy that was playing with Curt. And it’s just like, wow, what a cosmic connection that is! And how it’s like actually kicking the band up to another level. This is not only a rebirth in terms of mine and Curt’s actually getting together to play again, but suddenly there’s a fucking musical reality that’s going down. I don’t know if we can necessarily make it sound as youthful and buoyant as we once did, but it has so much of a particular energy that’s specifically relevant to where we are now.
M- It’s more mature now, of course.
C- Yeah, and it may not be as bitchin’, and we’re definitely fucking uglier. We were all fucking cute as hell back then. I’m a huge Curt fan. That’s for sure. I am his most diligent and long-lasting employee, and an unending fan. When he started writing this shit it was just like, “Fuck dude!” It was so up my alley as a space noodler. That’s what Meat Puppets II is for me: do lots of drugs and fucking noodle all over Curt’s bitchin’ compositions. Just like my hero Phil Lesh from The Grateful Dead. He was a fucking acid head. But I was a fairly precise player. Meat Puppets II sounds amateurish and dorky to me.
M- Well, you’re twenty-seven years older, twenty six years older.
C- I was, I don’t know? Twenty-three. Twenty-two? Twenty-two. I might have been twenty-two when we made that. I was a young kid. I was nineteen when we started the fucking band. I just turned fifty last month.
M- Happy birthday.
C- Thank you, sir.
M- So how about some other scenes in the record that I have noticed. I see this devil thing of course is all over the place: in “Split Myself in Two,” obviously in “Lake in Fire” it’s there again. Hell, anyway, it’s not the devil. Maybe in “New Gods” a little bit. They’re coming back and they’re talking to him again. I see that. There’s this whole idea in academics about the author is dead. I don’t know if you’ve heard of it. It’s the idea that once the author puts out his work, we can interpret it anyway we want. So I could be far off in my interpretations of whatever Curt had in mind when he wrote these songs.
C- I guarantee that you for sure are. My closest take on Curt’s stuff ever is he’s an imagist. I find that to actually get to the point of what this imagery actually specifically means, good luck! I don't think you could ever encompass what someone’s thought is. That’s what’s bitchin’ about academia and trying to interpret these complex things. Thank goodness for people that do because I’m a bit of a dunderhead. But I like to read and I’m capable of absorbing thought. I love reading things where people dissect things. Like I said we went to a Jesuit High School. It’s called Brophy. They’re Jesuits, so you if you want to they’ll really educate the crap out of you, they’ll expose you to some interesting schools of thought.
M- I think Meat Puppets are a worthy band of being remembered, so that’s kind of what I’m after.
C- Well, I agree. That’s the bitchin’ thing about Curt, he’s one of these guys that does work, and just puts it out there and then moves away from it, and people do what they do with it. And you have to. . . just being an artist myself. Being in the band. I have my feelings involved with the things I do, and it’s like, “Oh! You didn’t like my bass tones? But I’ve worked so hard on it for so many years.” But “New Gods”. You know where that came from? That’s Jack Kirby.
M- Jack Kirby?
C- Yeah, the comic artist.
M- Oh I’m gonna have to write that down. I don’t know who that is.
C- Oh get into Jack Kirby deeply. Derrick turned us onto Jack Kirby.
M- K. I. R. B. Y.?
C- Yeah. He was Stan Lee’s partner. He’s the guy that created with Stan Lee. Stan Lee was the business side of it more. Jack was the actual illustrator.
M- Okay. So how does “New Gods” fit in with Jack Kirby?
C- He had a whole career after the really exceedingly popular shit that you’re aware of.
M- Right. Spider-man and all that.
C- Yeah, and New Gods was one of the comic lines that he came out with.
C- Yeah, awe it’s so good dude.
M- It was the name of a line of comics?
C- Yeah, yeah. New Gods. Just google it up. You’ll see. Kirby’s just brutal dude. He’s so fucking bitchin’, and the stuff that he did post Lee was really stunning on a thematic level. It’s just primal, let alone the fuckin’ art.
M- I will look him up.
C- A world unto himself, artistically. And it’s just the comic shit, and that came through Derrick. Derrick was the guy.
M- The comic guy.
C- Then Curt and I were like fuckin’, uh, horrible people from the shitty side, shittyish side of a shitty town. Our upbringing wasn’t shittysh but it was steeped in the worst kind of a fucking American horror, as well as some of the lovelier parts of the youthful sixties and seventies. And then we met Derrick who was another kind of cat altogether. He was like really culturally attuned in a way. Derrick was hip to what was happening. So he turned us on to a lot of groovy stuff. Meat Puppets II is definitely redolent with that relationship. Meat Puppets wouldn’t happen without the three of us.
M- There seems to be quite a bit of, when you say imagery, imagery of hallucinations, maybe, acid kind of stuff and/or mental illness kind of stuff on there as well. Like in “We’re Here” and “Oh Me.” He seems to be taking on these characters that are having a tough time with a grasp on conventional reality.
C- I don’t know if it’s necessarily characters or if it’s autobiographical. Because Curt’s a fuckin vapor. He’s just one of those people. So am I for sure. I could speak about my own life. I mean it’s just ghastly: my fucking wife died, I have none of my original teeth, except for a handful on the bottom that got turned into little spikes, which fortunately I was able to glue a bridge to through the kindness of a fucking dentist who did it out of love and the goodness of his soul. Because fortunately I’m a pretty sweet cat, and always was. But, obviously, I had plenty of screws loose, and Curt’s my brother, so. . .
M- So by connection he has. . .
C- One of the good things about the Meat Puppets always was I had certain strengths. I was a fuckin’ trouble maker and a dick, but I was really good about keeping certain things together, and so is Curt. And his is the creation of the art, too. And all of us together, we’re really fucking arty in that way, and we collaborated to the degree that we did.
M- He seems to be a little bit more clever then just to write a straight LSD trip song.
C- Right. Regardless of whether or not he has the same fucking screws loose that I have, he continued to express himself other then acting out to the degree that I’ve ultimately wound up acting out. I mean, conversely, look at my actual creative output, other than being a functionary in a very creative band. And my fucking self destruction. My most creative act was an act of fuckin’ desecration, and Curt never did that. He managed to continue to be an artist. Which is really an interesting point to be looked into. Could be that these creative types live in a perpetual state of whatever the fuck they do, and some of them manage to continue to do their work. That’s what he managed to do. But yeah, I’d say some of that stuff you’re talking about specifically is definitely about the kind of person that Curt is. He’s a very alienated guy in a lot of ways. And I don’t even know if alienated is even the word to use because how do you describe someone else. He’s just Curt. He’s just how he is. He’s not that friendly of a guy in a lot of ways it would seem, conventionally. He’s just not that conventional. Maybe that’s an essential logical point. What is convention? Is that sociology? What is convention? How does it come to be?
M- Right. I suppose I’ve thought about you guys being in a weird position, being minor celebrities and all, and people like me know a lot more about you than you know about me, of course. It must be a strange kind of life to live. So I’ve thought about what you’re talking about, you and Curt have had this vision, and it came out of punk rock and it came out of, although you left it quite quickly, the Germs and like a nihilism and “Fuck everything, destroy everything.” Curt seemed to be able to channel that into his art and you seemed to rather live it.
C- There’s definitely some of that. I don’t think we necessarily got out of punk rock, like you said, I don’t think that we were ever in it. But it was definitely one of the things that struck us hard and we took on and it never left. We’re still totally punk rock.
M- You came of age at a certain time.
C- That’s your opinion. I was just telling you how like, what I feel about it is that it’s a part of me in the same way that everything that I take on is a part of me. And it never was there. There’s just these signposts that we erected called our records and people take their views from those, and I understand that. That’s fine, that doesn’t mean anything. I mean it means whatever your discussing. But to me it’s, like, it’s me. When you’re talking about who I am and how I feel about myself, that’s still just punk rock to the fucking core. But never like retard punk rock. It was never dorky punk rock. Why? ‘Cuz I’m not cool man. Punk rock is cool, and I was a fucking. . .I’m like spaz rock, still. Not only are we talking about sociological, fucking, or psychological influences at play, like alienation and this and that, not just mental illness, but actual genetics. Curt and I are fucking inbred. Our mother and father were the same person and they were both goats. So that could have been anything. If we talk about how do you actually put your finger on a person. I don’t know. That’s an interesting point that I embodied the thing or whatever. I think one of the things definitely that lead us into the arts is the people that we are. And the people that we are do tend to make the kind of art that we made.
M- And also the social scene that you came of age in and its influence was not dictated, but you didn’t have the fortune of becoming twenty in 1968. You became twenty in 1980 or whatever it was, and so the avenues that were open to you. . .
C- Well it was more like the eighties that we began on that level, and punk rock was just a cool new thing suddenly, and Derrick’s enthusiasm for the genre and his record collection turned me and Curt on to some stuff that we hadn’t been into specifically. It just kind of opened a door for us to be able to suddenly jam real easily to those songs that were real easy for us to play. Because Curt and I were kind of music heads already. An interesting point to look at, to look at and go: “Ok we got into this thing.” Because we could have done what we wanted to. Like I said, we went to a Jesuit high school, we’re white, we’re Americans. And yet we wound up in this place. I do know it horribly and intimately what became of us, and it’s a goddamned shame. I mean there’s something that I have to tolerate, have to bear that Curt actually. . .Somebody as great as Curt. One of the great unsung fucking artists in a way, like deeply unsung, and it’s so fucking literary it’s just beautiful. It’s so wonderfully American. It’s like Twain to me. Curt’s like Mark Twain or something. And uh for me to have actually have fucked it up. This thing that we had worked on for years, until we were middle aged practically. And it had suddenly become financially lucrative. To have blown an artist that I liked as much as Curt, and it was actually my brother’s as well, opportunity to cash in on their work just to the degree that they could at least have a comfortable environment in which to possibly create more groovy art. Like it’s something we’ve always kept quiet at my house. It‘ve been bitchin’ to see Curt embraced when we were kids. We were embraced, but not in as much as some people got embraced.
M- Well, you were starting to be embraced.
C- We were starting to but you could smell the lack of people’s ability to get it even back then. Just end with the fucking name, we’re called Meat Puppets as opposed to U2. So it’s just like: wait, fuck it. What’s going on here? Why am I floundering in the fucking desert? Obviously I’m not doing enough heroin. Obviously there’s way too many teeth that haven’t been shot yet. Onward little bucky. Dick. So, uh, what’s next?
M- Do you like Meat Puppets II? Do you think it’s a good record? Of all your records.
C- Yeah, it’s great. Yeah. No, I like all our records. They’re all groovy. I mean they’re like children in that way.
M- You can’t like one more than the other?
C- I don’t really.
M- Do you think it deserves its critical place. It’s the one that most critics point to, that and Up on the Sun.
C- Those two are definitely really in the zone records. I can step back and take an objective look at it and summarize and just go, “Yeah those two were fuckin’ sparkling special.” Talk about the way groovy shit goes down. And then I can specifically go, “Okay, well, we started using a different studio with a different engineer on the next records.” Some of it’s down to sound quality, some of it’s down to just certain indefinable sound quality. Just go, “No, it’s the gear. It’s the certain board. It’s the certain drugs around the time we were doing it.”
M- The song writing, and my focus on the lyrics, they’re phenomenal on Meat Puppets II. You’re stepping away from the whole dumb jock, punk rock stuff.
C- Right. One of the other cool things about Curt as an artist is you can also look at it like artists have. . .
END OF TAPE SIDE A
C- . . . all fucking completely brilliant. I don’t even have to qualify it. I made it. And I dig it all. And people have opinions about all of it. Mostly I’m bitter. What I am is bitter, and grasping, and desperate.
M- You’re bitter?
M- I’m sorry.
C- Don’t be. Don’t be. I love it. Seriously.
M- You should take solace in the fact that there’s people like me out there that you bring great joy to, Chris.
C- That makes me want to puke.
M- Well you’ve fallen into it, I’m afraid to tell you. Because you keep doing the same thing. If you really didn’t like it you would quit, which is maybe what you tried to do a few years ago.
C- No, no. I didn’t at all. I just fell into the kind of thing that somebody like me would fall into. Just some people get into the wrong circumstances and, poof!, you don’t take care of yourself the way that you should and bad things befall you, and bad things lead to worse things and suddenly you find yourself undergoing a fucking trash heap of epic proportions, of literary proportions.
M- Tragedy is what it’s called.
C- Yeah, and it’s self induced. It’s just like which Greek tragedy is this? It’s such old news. I’m such a fucking story already written and what a goddamned shame. I knew better. And that’s the irony of it all. How the hero knows better.
M- This is what inserts Meat Puppets in this classic Americana Western tradition. You guys have already happened so many times, but you’ve presented it in a new and creative way for a new generation.
C- And we continue to, and I think we continue to add to our larder in a way. We’re still playin’. And then you represent, you define something else. Because we’re still playing, and we’re a band from all our childhoods. This thing has been going on for a while at this point. We never really achieved the commercial success of other bands that are as long lived as us. Yet, we’re still as, I don’t know, we’re fucking sick these days! What I always dug about us, one side of us, I just loved mine and Curt’s guitar work. Guitars are fun, and both of us have this. That’s where the band started from. It was a pot head scene. And Curt, Derrick, and I together one magical evening were just some sort of special new sound generating device that none of us had ever encountered before. It’s so obvious. That was thirty one years ago. Ah, goodness!
M- Beautiful. You’re always a great interview Chris.
C- Yeah. That’s one of my hallmarks. I’m so compliant. You’re doing this fucking book about Curt’s stuff or writing articles about Curt’s lyrics and shit and he won’t even talk; you can’t even get him on the phone. And yet, getting a hold of Chris is like. . . Hey, look at what it got me. Like I said, the fucking dentures. That came from love, man. They came out of the fuckin’ dentist dude who did it out of love and respect. ‘Cuz I ain’t got no dough. It’s because of the good will that I engendered. There’s a trippy irony. Curt’s as creative as he is and it’s like. . . it’s not like something I dwell on, but it’s something I become aware of more and more. Especially these days. We get a lot of people who we’ve been a big part of their lives, a significant portion of their lives even. But, uh, let me keep my thought, it was a good one.
M- It was about Curt.
C- In that we have enriched people’s lives to whatever degree, the art that they’re talking about there, the flavor of it, the color of it, the ability to express our view of things so succinctly. Curt comes up with the shape of that stuff.
M- Well, the irony is.
C- But here’s the irony. The irony is in that Curt is the guy that does that, and people think he’s just a sparkly little gem, and it’s like, Curt’s a grumpy old fart. He’s a fucking prick and he always has been in a certain way, and yet here’s sweet little lovable Chris. And most people look at me as just so wretched.
M- Well, it’s also ironic in the sense of Curt being so elusive, and a horrible interview, and not doing interviews.
C- Oh no, no, he’s a great interview. He’s a brilliant interview. And he definitely does interviews. For him to shirk you in every situation is very typical of him, and that’s the horrible thing. You have to applaud that kind of behavior. Applaud people like Curt. Thank god there’s people like him. And how small minded and robotic people are. Obviously there’s lots and lots of these little critters. It turns into a fucking herd. It’s too obvious. It’s just like what do people do? They all fucking turn at once. It’s amazing. How do they do that? I think they’re picking up vibrations from each other’s wings.
M- The irony is that he’s able to express something that many other people feel and can understand. He’s not so idiosyncratic that nobody can get him. He’s not an artist that nobody get’s. People can get him.
C- Oh yeah. Definitely. He’s a wonderful person too, and he’s really magnanimous and he’s a fucking great father. Always has been. He’s “Big Papa.” We all have our strengths. Derrick smelled bad and played half shitty drums, but he was a trip. And I was just like a soldier. I was like “Fucking whatever! I’ll sock the shit out of whoever needs to take their anger out on a overly revved bunch of punk rockers.” Curt’s just always been a personable guy in a lot of ways, in some ways. He’s just beautiful. He’s a really fucking unique guy. He definitely does interviews. And I say the shit that I say and it doesn’t really contrast that well with what he says about our experience. I’m the dooby ding dong that threw his life in the fucking toilet, and subsequently that portion of the band and a lot of hard work and love and just horror, just horror, horror, horror. And uh, what was I saying?
M- And he didn’t.
C- And he didn’t, no. The point I was making was like the difference in the version of our interviews. My take on it. I’m way more sentimental and put this arty spin on shit. Just my trying to do a good job.
M- A good job?
C- Of doing the interview. And actually not having a fucking clue where Curt’s actually coming from at points on some of these interviews.
M- Well you do a great interview. I’ll give you that.
C- Well. Thank you. It’s a defense mechanism. Um, no, I think they’re fun. I think they’re interesting.
M- You could have turned me down, that’s always your option.
C- No, no, no. That’s just back to me being a nice guy and actually, I love the Meat Puppets. It’s a fucking great thing, and somebody wants to talk about it. I ain’t got no problem with that. And it’s a unique opportunity, new opportunity, to fuckin’ think about what you think. See what people ask you and then to amuse yourself, as well. It’s all that this has ever been is just introspection. But Curt’s definitely an interesting guy as far as being interested in his own introspections and his ability to create that in art. I’m just now reading Albert Baldwin’s, Grossman, or whatever his name is, book, uh, The Lives of John Lennon. Hang on a second, it’s like one of these definitive rock biographies. Alright, Albert Goldman. Talk about a good lyric writer. John Lennon. The book’s not about the lyrics at all. It’s like a biography. Rock ‘n’ roll, the Beatles.
M- Maybe one of these days I can get around to writing a biography of you guys. Someday. I’m not there yet though.
C- Yeah well, there’s some easy money. Here’s what we do. We write my life story. We play up like the feel good parts at the end and all that stuff. And we sell it to Oprah. She had that guy on there that wrote the book that turned out to have fake parts in it.
M- That he made up. Yeah.
C- I read the excerpted parts that were supposedly fake. It’s some bad stuff, right? Are you fucking kidding me! I went through so much worse, daily. I put myself through so much more horrid shit, for real, and got down into such a dank underbelly of fucking existence.
M- You’d make a good biography.
C- Page after page after page.
M- And maybe when I don’t have all these kids to take care of, maybe when they grow up I’ll come down and spend some days with you and we’ll write a biography.
C- There you go. Well, it’s already written. What I’m going to do is self destruct again really colorfully and see if I can pull myself out of that. ‘Cuz that’ll be fucking worth selling.
M- So twice?
C- Twice. It’s just an ongoing process with me. Take it day by day. Just take it day by day. One day at a time.
M- I don’t want to take any more of your time.
C- If you got what you think you need, man. It’s been fun chatting with you, and that’s one side of the interview experience for me that’s definitely been odd for a long time, and haven’t quite had a handle on how to deal with, is it’s real easy for me to talk about the band, my part in it, the guitar sides of things, certain sides of things. But then somebody goes, “What’s a song like ‘Backwater’ about?” I’ll just be like, “I have no idea. It’s like alienation. I don’t know. I think it has something to do with the distance one feels from other people, and how feelings are strange things that we experience inside these strange things that we are and something. It seems to have something to do with, I don’t know.” Alienation is one of Curt’s big themes. But, I don’t know.
M- Asking you about this gives another perspective. Especially, you’re more intimately involved in all this than almost anybody other than Curt, with these lyrics. So you have idea’s that can help patch things up.
C- Definitely. And you certainly have a relationship, what your working on here and stuff. And you’re having a hard time getting a hold of Curt. Well he can be gotten a hold of, but I can be gotten a hold of easier. And then let me throw at you what I. . . let’s see what comes out. Ask me something and let’s see what comes out. And, like you said, he’s been unavailable or is unavailable. That’s one side of it that’s just a little bit strange, but I think it played into my downfall. It’s hard to be around somebody as potent as Curt, especially when I was younger and more of a fucking firebrand, and so aware of my own short comings. It’s not even a question of talent or anything, because if you set out to do some work your going to do some work, if you make yourself do it. It’s just a question of fucking making myself do it. Which is survival. Which is self sufficiency. It’s like: “Oh I don’t have any of that. Great. Bye everybody. Bye teeth. I love you.”
M- Well uh, I hope that when I have questions about other parts of the band you’ll be willing to do some interviews of other things.
C- Sure, man. It’s fun for me. Definitely. Definitely. Maybe I’ll just cue you in. The name of the new album is Lollipop.
M- Lollipop? What happened to X-Ray of a Dream?
C- Eh, too much of a mouth full.
M- So are you bullshitting me, or are you telling me something?
C- I mean, don’t spill those beans or anything.
M- I won’t spill any beans. I have nobody to spill them to.
C- I know. Like anybody’d care. I’m telling because I think that’s the name we finally went with at the end of the day.
M- Ah, cause I heard a few days ago, or a few weeks ago about this X-Ray of a Dream thing.
C- That’s one of the lyrics.
M- Maybe next time I stop you at a show I can get you to remember who I am. You can never quite remember because we’ve met so few times.
C- You keep after me. There’s an interesting difference between Curt and I. His memory is so gnarly; still. Like from our childhood. If I need specifics about our childhood I can get it from him. And then all the fucking work I did to eliminate my noodle. The successful work that I did. I feel like my memory is not what it could be. But I’m also very personable as you can see, aren’t I, considering that I am a fucking rock god. If you come up enough times I would remember you, I remember my friends. It ain’t no big thing. Memory is a strange thing. Imagine being somebody in, like, the fucking Beatles. Just having people scream at you like that. So many different people that cash their selves in. One of the other books that I’ve just read. I just read The Pianist.
M- I don’t know the book but,.
C- But they made a film about it.
M- Yeah, I know the movie, sure.
C- Yeah, and the story behind it is the book was written by the guy right after his experiences in being in Warsaw, uh, in ’46 he wrote the book and then it was suppressed for years. Then it was forgotten and resurfaced in the mid-nineties, and immediately made into that film. And that was like, what’s his face?
M- The author?
C- He’s having a hard time with the authorities about that young girl.
M- Oh, oh, the guy who got arrested up in Switzerland or Sweden?
C- Yeah, Switzerland, fuckin’. . .
M- It was a movie maker guy.
C- Yeah, yeah.
M- I don’t know my movie maker names.
C- That’s just a mind fart. Then there’s that. We were talking about if I recognized you or not depending on the times that you come up. It’s been the casual acquaintance here, here, there. It’s like, nope, it ain’t gonna stick. And then there’s things like this now: brain farts that are more, and more fucking, coming on. I mean that guy’s name is, uhm. Damn, that’s just so strange. My little brain is just too. . .
M- My internet is down otherwise I’d google it for us.
C- Oh it’s not necessary. It’ll pop back in.
M- It will?
C- Oh! It almost, it’s so close. . . And how the brain works. Cuz like I’ve been dancing right around the edges of it. Uh, Roman Polanski!
M- Roman Polanski.
C- And suddenly the brain kicks in. It’s so weird. I love that. Here’s something that I’m really, really, fucking, good at. And this is the difference between mine and Curt’s brains, ‘cuz I am fucking seriously good at it. Like “Rain Man” good, is jumbles. And my brain fucking loves it. I like to take a word, scramble up the letters, and give them to me scrambled up, and I’ll try to decipher what word it is. Go ahead, try it. Got one? Got a word for me? Got a word?
M- You’re asking me to?
C- Yeah, go ahead. Ready.
M- And what am I supposed to do? Spell it for you in the wrong way.
C- Yeah just jumble up the letters and see if I can decipher them.
M- Alright, uhm, jumble up the letters. C-A-L-T-I-H-S-N. . .
M- It was Hallucinations.
C- Oh. (laughs) Pretty close though. Pulling it out of your head like that. It was written in front of you?
M- It was.
C- Well then what you need to have done, is to carefully take a pencil, take a pencil and make a little dot over each letter as you give it to me so that you make sure that you didn’t. . . But really. There’s that one side of my brain that still works. And what else? What happened when I got back together with Curt? We both found that we had gotten into crossword puzzles. And there’s only three crossword puzzles worth doing during the week, when newspapers have them there’s the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday crossword puzzles in the “New York Times.” ‘Cuz they get progressively harder during the week: Monday’s the easiest, Saturday’s the hardest. We both can do the hardest level one. Just like, “Huh, lookie there. How odd.” Old farts.
M- Well, thank you Chris.
C- You’re welcome.
M- I appreciate the interview, and will accost you the next time I see you at a gig.
C- Cool man.
M- And, uh, maybe I’ll get Dennis to track you down again when I need a good interview.
C- I appreciate the consideration. Keep trying and you’ll probably get a chance to talk to Curt too. He’s pretty swamped. We’re working on this record. Just moving forward and shit going on in our lives. But at some point, especially once the record gets closer to being out, both of us will be availing ourselves of our yackity sides.
M- Ok, thank you Chris.
C- Right on brother. Good bye. Bye bye.