By Sander Wolf
Sixteen years after brothers Curt and Cris Kirkwood blew their college trust fund to start a band it seems that the Meat Puppets have finally come into vogue. The duo, along with drummer Derrick Bostrom, has long attracted faithful insiders with its eclectic amalgam of contradicting styles, but mass success has been elusive until now. That's right, believe it or not, psychedelic pseudo-punk rockers the Meat Puppets now have a gold album. The band's last effort, Too High To Die, contained the single "Backwater" that pushed the album over the popular edge and into metallurgical significance and its new album, No Joke!, with its similar preponderance of catchy tunes and zonked-out lyrics is quickly heading in the same direction.
But bassist Cris doesn't seem to care too much.
"Yeah, I got the gold record shoved up my butt right now," he explains in true rock star fashion.
It's this lack of concern for the normal trappings of corporate rock 'n' roll that is the Meat Puppets' main tenant. "We kinda feel that rock 'n' roll can actually be the art of multi-influenced, spoiled white-boy, noise-making people," says Cris, "That's what our influence was on the punk rock scene, that's what (Kurt) Cobain loved us for. The Meat Puppets was the band that stood up to the ballsy contingent in punk rock that insisted that everybody dress like they dress or else you weren't hardcore. We went ahead and ignored all that and played our own things." As if to illustrate his point Cris pulls out his banjo and plays a surprisingly accomplished riff. [Cris also played banjo along with Curt's lead guitar on Mike Watt's opus, Ball-Hog Or Tugboat?]
Still, for all their eccentricities, the Meat Puppets have managed to remain fairly normal guys. Back at home Cris has a normal life living in his house next door to Curt's children (who also designed No Joke!'s album cover), and some fairly normal, albeit lazy, habits, "I got an amp here in the living room with the TV and my guitars and a banjo and some different things. I don't really practice, but I'll play bass along with Seinfeld and stuff like that."As if to justify the whole experience Cris notes, "I've spent the last fifteen years smoking pot and picking my butt, which is all I ever wanted to do -- so I've already been a major success in my eyes."