Right photo credit: 2011jaimebutler.com
In Part 3 of Alternative Nation’s interview with Meat Puppets drummer Shandon Sahm, Shandon remembers touring with Stone Temple Pilots, discusses the new documentary Sir Doug & The Genuine Texas Cosmic Groove (which features his father), and his influences. Check out Part 1 and Part 2 as well!
What do you remember about when the Meat Puppets opened for Stone Temple Pilots during their reunion?
That was wild. It was my first time back with the guys in almost 9 years, and it felt like getting back on your bike. Curt was funny, he told me, “You most likely won’t see Scott Weiland” but “the other guys hang out, you’ll see them.” And he was right! They were all sweet, really cool dudes. Eric is a bad ass – it was great watching him play. They even invited me to play a tune but I didn’t know what they wanted to play, so I just chilled. But the first show back was Mobile, Alabama, with thousands of people. I explain a lot of this in your great book, ‘Too High to Die: Meet the Meat Puppets’ [thanks Shandon!], but the DeLeo bros came up and said, “Man, you sound great with the guys.” It’s really amazing and I thanked them for the kind words, but those dudes wouldn’t say that if they didn’t mean it. They are the real deal. I thank Curt to this day for giving me another shot. Like I said, it’s better the second time around, and playing with Cris is a gas. He’s one of my fav bass players for sure. The guy rips it up, like Curt says, “It’s a good fit,” and I agree. Now with Elmo we cant be stopped – full throttle all the way. Nothing can stop us – it’s a well-oiled machine now. Everyone’s in tune with each other and like I said, I love those guys like family. Thanks Curt for believing in me, and I’m still very proud to this day to be the drummer and backing up the Kirkwoods. They know I have their back and won’t let them down.
You have also recorded a few solo albums over the years, right?
Yes, I did two. ‘Good Thoughts Are Better Than Laxatives, which I got the title from a health book called ‘Young Again’ – I thought it had a great ring to it. And the other was ‘Knock Yourself Out,’ and most of those are experimental really. I still don’t know how to write a proper bridge, so most of them are verse/chorus/verse type songs. But it was a great learning experience and taught me a lot. I played most of the instruments here and there, did my own artwork just like the Kirkwood bros did – a lot of it I threw together and I ended up liking the results. They were fun records to make. Curt told me one time, “You have some cool ideas, you should record them.” So that’s what I did. It gave me the push to go for it.
Your dad was Doug Sahm, who played with Sir Douglas Quintet, among other rock bands, and is the subject of a new documentary, ‘Sir Doug & The Genuine Texas Cosmic Groove.’ What can people expect from the documentary?
Expect a ride thru Doug Sahm history. It starts with my dad’s brother, Vic Sahm – who’s 81 and still healthy and strong – telling the great story of a prodigy who was great at steel guitar, and would practice on his sound every night after coming home from the clubs in San Antonio. The world revolved around a 7 year old whose parents knew he was special at music, and would bring home the bread. Vic does a really great job at telling the story about him and dad and their parents living in a real small house in San Antonio – he would hear T-Bone Walker and other great blues players by just hanging outside the club, and goes thru “She’s About A Mover” and “Mendocino,” the pot bust in 1966 at the Corpus Christi Airport. If it wasn’t for that, I would have been born in San Antonio too, like my sister and bro. But once that happened, we went to California – just in time for dad to be in San Fran at Summer of Love and be friends with the Dead and play the Fillmore. We went ’cause the probation people were way cooler in Cali than in Texas at the time. And it goes into his Europe career – he had a huge hit in Sweden with a song called “Meet Me in Stockholm.” My favorite part of the film is when they ask Bob Dylan who some of his fav bands are at the moment in 1966, and he says, “Sir Douglas Quintet are probably the best,” and it talks about how they were the first non-English group to have a hit while acting British. They had 2 Mexican guys in the band and it worked for a while, until on Shindig they told the audience they are from Texas! Can’t wait for it to come out on Blu-ray and DVD next year.
Which Doug recordings would you recommend to those who may be just discovering his music?
For starters, I would go to 1968’s ‘Honkey Blues’ album. Just terrific acid drenched blues songs, like “Are In-laws Really Outlaws” or “Dig My Vibrations” or the longest song title ever was “You Never Get Too Big and You Sure Don’t Get Too Heavy, That You Don’t Have To Stop and Pay Some Dues Sometime.” Anything though from the 50’s up till 1981 border wave. The 70’s had a great bunch of records too, like ‘Texas Rock for Country Rollers,’ which had the song “Give Back the Key to my Heart,” which Dwight Yoakum did and Uncle Tupelo. And the other was ‘Groover’s Paradise,’ which had Credence Clearwater’s Doug Cosmo Clifford on drums and Stu Cook on bass – they both produced it too. And the Texas Tornados’ self titled first record with “Que Paso” and “Adios Mexico” is great too. The 1975 Austin City Limits performance is fantastic, with dad playing fiddle on “Cotton-Eyed Joe.”
Who are some of your top drumming influences?
Too many too mention but I’ll try…Charlie Watts, Ringo Starr, John Bohnam, Cedric Sharpley from Gary Numan, Roger Taylor from Duran Duran, Alan Myers from Devo, Peter Criss from 1973 to 1978 era, the drummer for the Cars [Dave Robinson] is amazing, Doug Clifford from CCR, Bun E Carlos from Cheap Trick. George Rains who played with my dad and today plays with Jimmie Vaughan is killer, Ernie Durawa from the Texas Tornados, Brad Wilk from Rage Against the Machine, Simon Kirke from Bad Company, Bernard Purdie, and Anton Fig – the drummer from ‘David Letterman’ who played on Ace Frehley’s ’78 solo rec. Man, that’s about it. I’m sure I have missed a bunch, but you get what I mean. Really, anybody who “swings,” and I like a good pocket. Oh, and last but for sure not least is Derrick Bostrom, who’s a total bad ass – as the Meat Puppets records progressed, so did he. His most badass drum track to me would have to be “Popskull,” though “Sam” is pretty killer, too. Having learned the old songs, I have a real fondness for his playing. The “Scum” snare drum roll is great, too. His playing on “Up on the Sun” is totally wicked – I truly love it. Derrick was/is the shit man! Thanks Greg for inviting me to do this interview, I had a blast. Meat Puppets rule, and it’s awesome being in the drummer’s seat! Come out and see us on tour in a town near you…
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