Interview: Meat Puppets’ Curt Kirkwood Talks Nirvana MTV Unplugged & Band With Krist Novoselic

Ever since the early ’90s, if you were to bump into yours truly on the street, start up a friendly conversation, and bring up the question, “Who are your favorite rock n’ roll bands?”, undoubtedly, one of the top candidates would be the Meat Puppets.

Heck, I even wrote a whole bloody book about the band a few years ago, ‘Too High to Die: Meet the Meat Puppets’.

Best known by their appearance on what many agree was the greatest MTV Unplugged performance of all-time (of course, I’m talking about Nirvana’s), and their ’94 radio hit, “Backwater,” there is a whole heck of a lot more to the band (if you’re not that familiar with the band, please, I beg of you, check out ‘Meat Puppets II,’ ‘Up on the Sun,’ ‘Huevos,’ ‘Forbidden Places,’ and ‘Too High to Die,’ pronto).

The band – which includes singer/guitarist Curt Kirkwood, guitarist Elmo Kirkwood, bassist Cris Kirkwood, and drummer Shandon Sahm – is gearing up for a string of US dates this late fall/early winter (beginning October 21st in St. Louis and wrapping up December 6th in Portland) with co-headliner Cass McCombs. Recently, Curt was willing to answer a few questions via email for Alternative Nation, including info about the upcoming tour, new Meat material, and the aforementioned Unplugged performance.

What can fans expect from the upcoming Meat Puppets tour with Cass McCombs?

I think we might be doing this upcoming tour acoustically…working on the list of stuff we can do like that. We love playing the wooden guitars and it may be a nice break from the electric.

Is the band working on a new album? If so, how far along is it?

We recorded some stuff recently but there’s still a lot to be done. I’m waiting for a few more tunes to materialize and editing what there is on paper right now.

How would you describe the new material?

It’s still hard to say, but the one that I like is a power ballad sort of thing called “Brainless/Shameless.”

Can you give a few song titles, to whet our appetites?

That’s the only one that I have properly named and I may still change it. Naming is the last thing I do.

Will any new material be previewed on the upcoming tour?

We might try to play this one…it depends on if we get time to get together and rehearse before the tour.

Last year was the 20th anniversary of the Unplugged appearance with Nirvana. At this point, does it all seem like a feverish dream?

It kinda does seem like a dream…that’s quite a while back and it was dream-like to begin with. I tried to pay attention while it was happening and soak it up but it was really more like being at a great concert and I was more of a spectator left in awe of the cool beauty of the night. I knew right off it wouldn’t be the kind of feeling you get very often if more than once.

One of your most underrated projects/albums I always felt was Eyes Adrift (the band – which included Curt, Nirvana’s Krist Novoselic, and Sublime’s Bud Gaugh – issued a lone self-titled disc in 2002). Why the heck did music reviewers pan the album the way they did? Especially when taking into account the kind of doo-doo MTV and radio was playing at the time, it was good to hear some worthy rock n’ roll.

I don’t know??? I liked it and I thought it was well played and had good songs. I think anybody that said they didn’t like it had their head up their ass…but what do I know? I’m just a dumb musician.

If the Too High to Die: Meet the Meat Puppets book is ever made into a movie, which actor would you like to play the role of yourself and why?

I think Daniel Radcliffe as the young me…he’s magical and a dead ringer for young Curt. As I mature, Kevin Costner would step in…even more magical and also my identical twin. I know they’re both huge fans of the band and are just sitting by the phone waiting for that call.

For more Meat (and a complete listing of upcoming tour dates) click your clicker here.

Photo by Phil Pracht.