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Mark Arm (of Mudhoney) interview

03/04/2006

Markhoney:

Mark Arm (of Mudhoney) interview

words: John Simandiras

They survived the ups-and-downs of grunge. They even survived the flannel-shirt haute couture! Theyre as alive and kicking (ass, to be precise) as ever. Theyre called Mudhoney, and they changed rockNrolls face by not changing anything actually. Instead, they have been going back to basics; reviving that indestructible Stooges/MC5 sound.

Singer Mark Arm, guitarist Steve Turner, drummer Dan Peters and semi-new bassist Matt Lukin are among the first ones to blame for the fathering of the much-talked about grunge movement, which nearly became as big as a cultural phenomenon. The Seattle foursome are back with their seventh studio album, Under A Billion Suns.

During their European tour on Under A Billion Suns, Honey are hitting Athens, Greece in May. This is Mudhoneys second tour of duty with Sub Pop. After helping launch the label, the band signed with Reprise / Warner Brothers in 1991. Arms primitive and raw delivery over fuzz-drenched guitars and pounding drums never translated into major record sales, and the big label dropped Mudhoney in 1999. Back to the Seattle label. At the time, that might have seemed like a wounded animal crawling home to die, but Arms men still had the guts to continue. 2002s Since Weve Become Translucent was nothing but a pure prove that these guys can surely rock, and 2006s Under a Billion Suns is probably even better, already collecting rave reviews on both sides of the Atlantic.

Their metal-punk-garage sound hasnt changed much, although Under a Billion Suns features the occasional horn section (as did Translucent), and has some of Arms most sardonic vitriol and political satire: T he little boys are dying / to preserve our way of life / Its our patriotic duty / to make sweet love tonight.

Having turned 44 last month, Mark Arm -who shares a West Seattle home with his wife- remains one of rocks iconic figures. Please welcome him.

Hi, there! This is John from Greece. Hows things?

Things are great!

Ive been a Mudhoney follower, playing your records on my radio show constantly, since the very early days, so its hard for me to hide my enthusiasm for getting to interview you.

Thats greatly appreciated.

Congrats on this new record of your, it sure rox! Great stuff and greatly performed!

Aw shucks, thanks.


Your previous studio effort, Since Weve Become Translucent appeared in 2002, and -before that- there was Tomorrow Hit Today back in 1998. So, is this the way its gonna be from now on? I mean, are you guys gonna hit with a new studio album every four or five years or what?

I dont know what the future will bring.

What do you think of the Bush administration?

Its poopy.

Whats your opinion in the whole Iraq thing?

Its a big poopy mess.

I asked you about President W, because Under A Billion Suns stands as your most direct political step. Of course, there were -slight- political references in your records here and there, but this time youve done it straight!

Well, as straight as I can do it, which is through a filter of black humor.

Do certain political climates cultivate certain types of music trends, and if so, how does the political climate of today shape the music that is emerging?

I dont know it thats true or not. Thats a question better suited to a cultural critic or pop philosopher.

How come Under A Billion Suns is produced by three persons? Whys Conrad Uno absent?

We recorded it over three weekends, so we figured we might as well do it in different places with different people. Conrad doesnt record bands very often anymore.

What does this -sometimes mindblowing!- horn section bring to the sound of Under A Billion Suns?

It brings mindblowingness.

OK, Mudhoney is an all-male band, but ever thought of collaborating with a woman? Would a female artist fit Mudhoney?

The background vocals on I Saw the Light and Lets Drop In are by Christy McWilson and Amy Allison, both of whom are ladies.


Youre playing Athens in a couple of months, how do you feel about touring Europe?

Weve never been to Athens, so were super psyched that we finally get to play there. Europe is cool. Every country is a little different. Were going to some places that we havent been to in over 10 years.

Is there really any difference between the European and the American audience?

Every audience is a little different. Some are very different.

What will make your shows so special that gig-goers should be sorry they missed it?

Our shows are special because were special.

How long will A Brief Celebration of Indifference (Under A Billion Suns shortest track) last on stage?

About the same length as on the album.

Is there any venue or city in particular that youre looking forward to playing at?

Were looking forward to the whole tour.

Of the four, whos the most difficult to get up in the morning?

Usually Guy or Dan.


Whos the worst drunk?

The drinking members of Mudhoney are well-practiced and very good at being drunk.

What attracts you most to touring?

We love to play.

Aside from the essentials, what cant you go on touring without?

Cream puffs.

Worst live performance-related injury?

I got my forehead split open by Jeffs bass in Green River.

Whats on your average rider?

Water, beer, booze and snacks.

Whats on your average rider that it used not to be on your average rider when you were starting?

Our first booking agent was straight edge and she didnt think her bands should drink either. After one tour of us buying our own drinks, we made her put beer on the rider.

Any funny/memorable stories from your Reprise / Warners-era?

Funny? Danny Goldberg, whose company Gold Mountain, managed Nirvana, was briefly the president at Warners. He refused to meet with us after hearing Into Your Shtik. I guess thats funny.

Have you ever thought of forming and running down your own label? A hell lot of artists do it these days

Nope. Steve did it for a little while. It seems like an awful lot of work.

How many flannel shirts do you have?

Flannel shirts? None.

What pleases you the most: listening to music or playing music?

I like both.

Is there a record you dont like to admit to owning?

Nope, Ill fess up to owning any record in my collection.

Whats the best piece of advice to ignore?

Never ride a pony with your finger in a light socket.

Did you ever thing youd be going strong for so long?

Not in the beginning, thats for sure!

Peace and love and best of luck to all of you guys, thanks very much!

Thank you, and see you at the Acropolis!

A great deal of efkaristo to Kyriakos Skordas of www.atraktos.net ,
and many-many cheers for him!

This interview was done exclusively for www.atraktos.net
and for < diamonds.explode.to >.

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