2013 Meat Puppets Bio re: new record Rat Farm (street date April 16, 2013, pre-orders available at www.themeatpuppets.com March 11, 2013)
Let's take stock of Meat Puppets as they enter their fourth decade of work that was genuinely legendary the day they first arrived on the underground punk scene. A scene spawned by America's most heralded independent acts. The scene that was DIY to its core, and has shaped American musical culture in a zillion ways ever since.
It is an accepted fact that Meat Puppets were the wayward desert punks of the bunch, carving out an oversized taste of cosmic country leanings filtered through countless acid trips, dog-eared comic books and their eclectic record collections. This did not endear them to the hard core generation, but that was never the Puppets' chosen passage anyhow. They were too musical for that prong. So off they went hazarding confusion, and, if you really think about it, what could have been more punk rock than that? Along the way, not at all surprisingly, they earned the admiration of a global pantheon of critics and rock music peers. Which was natural in the sense that the certified classics reach back to Meat Puppets I, II, and Up On The Sun, continued into the mainstream gold record deviance of Too High To Die, and have been book-ended by recent releases Sewn Together and Lollipop.
With brothers Curt and Cris Kirkwood reunited in 2007 and last year's publication of the graphic tell-all biography, Meet the Meat Puppets: Too High to Die, the Puppets' iconic status is fixed in cement.
This status is furthered deepened in the tracks of the band's 14th studio release, Rat Farm (April 16 release via Megaforce Records). Rat Farm is a 12 song sonic feast that is at once colorful, vital, and original, as the Puppets can only be. His role as producer, arranger, and song writer finds Curt Kirkwood radiating, in his words, "real blown-up folk music" on Rat Farm. The title cut features the brothers' almost-there harmonies, latticed guitar work and the sort of mind bending psychedelic sound that escaped all the other pursuers of the cosmic country genre, and that is no small feat given those roots stretch back to Parsons, the Louvins, and beyond. Yet for all their familiar touchstones, Meat Puppets have made a career out of not repeating themselves. And why should they? You'll never mistake them for anyone else, nor anyone else for them, despite their patented influences from Presley to Michael Jackson to Bowie to ZZ Top and Sabbath. You try to find another act that handles those influences with such deceptive accomplishment.
"I tried to write stuff that would stand on its own -- just the chords and the melodies, and play it kind of straight," he says of the Rat Farm material. "I think that was the guiding boundary that I gave myself. It was one of those things where a lot of times, in the past especially, Cris would go, 'Well, that's all there is? Let's put a prog rock part in the middle.' But I tried to hold it off as much as I could."
It's those instincts - knowing when to be understated, the confidence that comes with decades of honing your craft -- that keep the Meat Puppets pure and relevant. They are entering a point in time which most bands of their heritage get by on familiar early works. That's not the Puppets chosen field of force, and Rat Farm is exhibit 1-A that we're blessed with but a few creative masters.
The noise that emanates from these ruffians is heavily reliant on the vibe. Imagine that lone, solitary man on the front porch in Mississippi, playing only for the God within and around, suddenly splitting open – wild with color – Think Blind Willie McTell giving Ray Charles an Indian rug burn and The Kinks bleeding all over them. This should give you a good sense of what it’s like to hear Ranch Ghost.
Im on a different plane baby, Im ridin a tram-ride on the milkyway highway, and Im crusin your airways searchin for the key to life. Im real-cool, laid back, and humble. I like to have fun and cut up rugs. Most my friends smoke cigarettes. I dont believe in slaughterin wheat or vegetables just to eat them. Thats wrong, but if you disagree, i respect your opinion because freedom is the price we pay to get to blow stuff up with hand-grenades and bazookaz.