The Flesh Eaters
Slash Magazine writer Chris D. (Chris Desjardins) began playing music in the summer of 1977 and would go on to become an in-house producer and A&R rep for Slash Records from 1980 – 1984. He pulled varying line-ups together for his eclectic punk rock band The Flesh Eaters, putting out 12 albums spanning the years 1977 – 2004. But the most critically acclaimed of the bunch was the one-time, so-called “supergroup” who played on the second LP, “A Minute to Pray, A Second to Die.” Released in 1981, the line-up consisted of Chris D. on vocals, John Doe (of X) on bass, Dave Alvin (of The Blasters) on guitar, Bill Bateman (of The Blasters) on drums, DJ Bonebrake (of X) on marimbas and drums and Steve Berlin (of Top Jimmy and the Rhythm Pigs, and later Los Lobos) on sax. Their unique style showed a cornucopia of influences, from garage band punk to blues to jazz. Receiving rave reviews from publications as diverse as The New York Times, New York Rocker, jazz mag Downbeat to various homegrown fanzines, the album was compared to everything from The Stooges and The Sonics to Captain Beefheart to Link Wray and Bo Diddley. The line-up played a handful of shows, all in Los Angeles, in the spring and summer of 1981. They reunited in 2006 at the request of Mudhoney to play the All Tomorrow’s Parties fest in southern England and also played three shows in southern and northern California. Nine years later, in January 2015, the line-up has once again gotten back together to perform 4 shows in Santa Ana, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego. Coincidentally, Oakland-based label Superior Viaduct has recently reissued the “A Minute to Pray, A Second to Die” album on vinyl and CD.
Mudhoney's time line begins in 1980, when teenagedMark Arm formed the band Mr. Epp and the Calculations with some high-school friends from theSeattle suburb of Bellevue; none of whom actually knew how to play at the time. More interested in goofing off, breaking things, and posting flyers for shows that were never scheduled than actually making music, Mr. Epp didn't get around to playing a show until late 1981, opening for a band calledStudent Nurse. Despite their legendary ineptitude (they were described as "the worst band in the world"on more than one occasion), Mr. Epp began to develop a following, and released a 7" EP in 1982. In 1983, in a bid to sound more like a real band, the group added a second guitarist, Steve Turner, who had previously played in a garage band called the Ducky Boys. That same year they released their Live As All Get Out cassette, but things began to peter out for the group, and they played their final show in February 1984. In 1981, Arm and Turner, who'd become fast friends, also began playing in another joke-punk band, the Limp Richerds, and briefly placed their focus on that group until the Richerds also broke up near the end of 1984.
Eager to start playing again, Arm andTurner teamed up with drummer Alex Vincent, who had played with Turner in a short-lived band called Spluii Numa, and bassist Jeff Ament, who had recently arrived in the Northwest from Montana. When Arm decided he wanted to put down his guitar and concentrate on vocals, Turnerasked former Ducky Boys guitarist Stone Gossard to join the group, and Green Riverwas born. Along with fellow Washingtonians the Melvins, Green River were pioneers of a new Northwest rock sound, merging the snot-nosed sneer of punk with the minor-key thud of heavy metal. It didn't take long for Green River to get noticed on the Seattle rock scene, and in 1985 the band released their first EP, Come On Down. By the time the record hit the streets, Turner had left the band to return to college (he was also growing disenchanted with the harder rock direction the band was following); and with new guitarist Bruce Fairweather, the band set out on a nationwide tour that was little short of disastrous, in large part because a delay in the record's release had the band supporting an album that hadn't come out yet. The band survived to make a second EP, Dry As a Bone, for a new Seattle label, Sub Pop Records, in 1987; but, by the time their first full-length album, Rehab Doll, was released in the summer of 1988, tensions between members of the band caused Green River to split up. Ament and Gossard formed a new band called Mother Love Bone, Fairweather joined Love Battery, and Vincent went to law school.
Arm and Turner, meanwhile, had formed a side project while in Green River called the Thrown Ups, featuring graphic artistEd Fotheringham on vocals. Essentially a more extreme example of the sort of goofy onslaught Arm and Turner had let loose with Mr. Epp, the Thrown Ups brought the two friends back together again, butTurner expressed a desire to form a new band that actually rehearsed songs before they played them in front of an audience. In his spare time, Turner began working up new material with Arm and drummer Dan Peters, who had played in Bundle of Hissand Feast. Needing a bassist, the three hooked up with Matt Lukin, who had recently left the Melvins shortly before they left Washington for California. Naming themselves Mudhoney, after a Russ Meyer film none of them had actually seen, the new foursome took the punk metal formula of Green River and the Melvins, added a dollop of '60s garage rock swagger and a large portion of Fun House-era Stooges, and ran it all through the cheap stomp boxes Arm and Turner so cherished. Turner initially expected the band to last about six month.
In 1988, Sub Pop released the band's first single, "Touch Me I'm Sick" b/w "Sweet Young Thing Ain't Sweet No More", with the EP Superfuzz Bigmuff following a few months later. The timing proved fortuitous. The indie circuit success of the Replacements and Big Black had created a demand at college radio and theunderground club circuit for harder and heavier bands, and Sub Pop's homegrown-but-earnest media blitz was helping to make"the Seattle Sound" -- soon to be dubbed"grunge" -- the next big thing, with Mudhoneythe chief beneficiary. While the band's first american tour was nothing to write home about, the Sub Pop hype machine had already begun to take hold overseas, and the band scored a European tour -- mostly dates in Germany -- in early 1989. A few months later, Sonic Youth, who'd been big fans ofGreen River, invited Turner and Arm's new band to join them for a British tour, and soonMudhoney found themselves the talk of the U.K. rock press. Superfuzz Bigmuff landed on the British indie charts and stayed there for the better part of a year, and the band wasted no time returning for a headlining tour, complete with massive press coverage and riotous shows. Word of Mudhoney's rep in Europe quickly crossed the pond, and the band was the new heroes of underground rock by the time their first full-length album, simply called Mudhoney, came out in late 1989.
In the wake of Mudhoney's success, a number of other Sub Pop acts began making big noise on college radio and the indie club circuit, including Soundgarden, Tad, the Fluid, and a trio of Melvins fans from Aberdeen, WA, called Nirvana. However, while Sub Pop was doing a fine job of creating the Next Big Thing, they weren't making much money at it just yet; and the label's financial problems were one reason Mudhoney's second full-length album, Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge -- which found the band upping the garage punk quotient in their formula -- didn't hit stores until 1991. By the end of the year, Mudhoney was shopping for a new label, and they could have hardly chosen a better time; Nirvana had already taken the major-label bait in 1990, and by December of 1991, Nevermind had made them the biggest and most talked about rock band in America. Soon, seemingly every band in Seattle was being offered a major label contract, and Mudhoney signed a deal withReprise/Warner Bros. Their first major-label album, Piece of Cake, made it clear that the band's new corporate sponsorship wasn't going to change their musical approach; but their presence on a major label seemed to alienate old fans, while the mass audience who had embraced Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Pearl Jam (featuring Arm and Turner's old Green River bandmates Stone Gossardand Jeff Ament) found Mudhoney's work too eccentric for comfort. While Mudhoneyremained a potent live draw, their record sales during their tenure with Reprise were disappointing, though they recorded two of their finest albums for the label: My Brother the Cow and Tomorrow Hit Today.
In 1999, after an extensive tour supporting Tomorrow Hit Today, Repriseannounced that they had droppedMudhoney from their roster, and shortly after that, the band announced that Matt Lukin had turned in his resignation, citing his dislike of touring. With the release of March to Fuzz, a comprehensive career-retrospective compilation, many observers assumed that Mudhoney had called it a day, but in 2001 the band began playing a few live dates around the Northwest, with Steve Dukich (formerly with Steel Wool) sitting in on bass. The shows went well enough that Mudhoney decided to take another stab at their career, and Guy Maddison -- who'd been a member of Bloodloss, one of Arm's many part-time bands -- signed on as Mudhoney's new official bassist. Arm and Turner also found time to record and tour with a side project, the garage blues band Monkeywrench. When they came back together, they recorded Since We've Become Translucent and released it in the summer of 2002. The angry political and social commentary Under a Billion Suns appeared in 2006, followed by the deliberately raw, return to their aggressive roots The Lucky Ones in 2008.
In the years following The Lucky Ones, Mudhoney toured regularly, with one of the highlights being a showcase of the entire Superfuzz Bigmuff album at the 2010 All Tomorrows Parties in New York. All this was preparation for a 25th Anniversary blow-out in 2013, when the band released their ninth studio album,Vanishing Point, and a home video release of the documentary I'm Now, which was screened at various film festivals in 2012.
July 11, 2013 Mudhoney performed on the roof of Seattle’s Space Needle, part of Sub Pop record’s 25th anniversary celebration.