Flashback: November 1989 — The Meat Puppets are in Boulder, CO to play a show in the Glen Miller Ballroom on the University of Colorado. The original Meat Puppets drummer was Derrick Bostram. He and I spent a few hours talking about the Meat Puppets, life, music and bowling.
In 1980 Derrick Bostram and his friends, Curt and Cris Kirkwood, decided to become the band known today as the Meat Pupppets. As the band approached their tenth year it seems they had nowhere to look but up, with hopes that a major record label would one day soon recognize their real talent and potential.
On November 18, 1989 the Meat Puppets were slated to perform in the Glen Miller Ballroom at the University of Colorado. I had the chance to spend some time with the Meat Puppet’s drummer, Derrick Bostram before the show.
Here are some excerpts from our discussion. We enter the conversation talking about their album “Huevos.”
Derrick: Huevos we recorded in a week. We were proud of that because we could do it in a week, but we’re proud of this one (“Monsters”) because we took longer on it, if you know what I mean, which is good for a record.
Matthew: How long were you in the studio for “Monsters”?
D: A couple months recording it, but we also took the songs on the road and did demos for it and really messed around as much as we could. Where “Huevos” was a rough, first take sort of a record, “Monsters” is kind of our album proper, as it were.
M: So, the band has always been called the Meat Puppets?
D: That’s correct. In fact I was the original Meat Puppet.
M: You came up with the name then?
D: Well, no. Curt came up with the song and then we decided to name the band after the song “Meat Puppets.”
M: How did you meet Curt (Kirkwood)?
D: Both Curt and I were looking to get into something cool around the end of our teenagerdom. As all our friends started to go to college, getting into careers, marrying, buying golf clubs or whatever people do, we decided to get into a band and prolong that teenagerdom. I went through all of my friends and none of them could handle the actual making of graven sounds. Then I met Curt. He, his brother, and I were the only people in my little group that had enough nerve to actually go up and make fools of themselves on stage.
D: He was working and Curt used to drop him off at work and then come over to my house and sit around, and then we’d go and pick Cris up and slowly we talked him into doing it. He was into it. We finally got together after about a month and started playing our favorite Stooges songs and realized we were better than the Stooges. Then we moved to the Sex Pistols and we were better than them. And before you know it we were covering Bruce Sprlngsteen songs. It was then we decided we’d better get a band together quick before we started doing Vivaldi covers.
M: So, what’s your favorite Meat Puppets’ album?
D: They’re all different. Each one was made differently as well as sounding different. Each one is an attempt to build on the one before. We did “Meat Puppets I” in about as much time as it takes to listen to it. We did “Meat Puppets II” over a period of 11 months. Really there were only three sessions, but they were spaced five months aprt. “Up On The Sun” we did in three days. “Out My Way” and “Mirage” were done at a somewhat leisurely pace in Phoenix as we decided to start producing our own records. You could say that “Out My Way,” “Mirage,” and “Huevos” were us learning how to do it and “Monsters” is us taking what we’ve learned and doing it. It’s also an attempt for us, who are on the verge of trying to become a major label sort-of-an-act, to get out and actually do something about it. We want to be called the next Led zeppelin this month. Anyway, we decided to do”Monsters’ by ourselves and try to make it sound as much like a real record as possible so that when we did make the move nobody would think that it was because we sold out. In other words, we want to do our own thing. In order to get on a major label on the right foot, we’ve got to prove to them that we can do it our own way. We think we’ve succeeded in doing that with “Monsters”.
M: So you are actually looking at getting a major label deal in the future sometime and breaking away from SST?
D: We only stuck it out this long because we have extremely bad attitudes. Oh, I didn’t answer your question as to which album is my favorite. I don’t like any of them. I like the next one. I’m looking forward to the next one.
M: Do you already have material for the next album?
D: Oh sure. We’ll do a little of it tonight, maybe one or two songs. We’ve got songs we’re working on now which are occupying most of my time and thoughts.
M: One of the things that’s fun about a Meat Puppets’ show are the covers you throw in. Is this something that happens spontaneously during the show or do you plan out cover material you’ll play?
D: Sometimes it has to do with the lapse time between recording the songs and going out on tour with them. “Up On The Sun” is the record that did really well for us and started us on our careers as being able to tour in any town and being able to go on the road all the time. Those songs were already a year or so old by the time we started going out and doing them. We started getting sick of them, and I hope we never have a hit, because we won’t p lay it. We ge sick of our own material. So we started playing covers then. At one point in 1986 our set consisted of half covers and half originals. These days we’re doing mostly originals. We do an occasional cover to blow people’s minds or put a change in things.
M: Who does the writing for the Meat Puppets?
D: Curt writes the music these days. He did all of “Monsters”. What little contribution Cris and I have are an occasional lick here or song title or changing an “if” to a “but” or something like that. Curt’s the man. That’s why he’s not here. He’s “exclusive.”
M: How would you describe a typical Meat Puppets’ fan?
D: Demoralized, ignorant, yuppie-spud moron of an idiot. No. I don’t know actually. There are the people who think we’re like the Dead and the people who think we sound like ZZ Top. There actually are a lot of different people, because we’ve done so many different records. We get people who are into country, and then people who like metal and people who like the jazzy, Dead sort-of-a-thing. I don’t know. We’ve been on the road a lot and we have this, what you call your grass roots following from playing in bars for no money for years and years and years, and they’ve all really yet to gel. I’m hoping, for the sake of all of us, that the various groups of people that like the band, will get into a cohesive whole. There’s just a lot of different sort of people, young and old, straight and totally freaked out. We have people who follow us around and tape us every night, and regular, straight people who have cellular phones and stuff like that.
M: What’s been playing on the bus for this tour?
D: Everything from Bobby Derrin to reggae to ZZ Top to the Grateful Dead to just about anything. We don’t listen to a lot of classical; but loud, soft, and anything in between.
M: Many critics would like to see you step in as the next REM-like success story.
D: That’s because most of the people, the journaiistic intelligencia, that have nothing to do with the money, would love to see us get really big. We play to the stars, we don’t play to the gutter so to speak. We’re always out there pushing our trip in it’s highest terms. We don’t get drunk on stage, play 15 minutes, then try to score with the local chicks or anything. We work our butts off out there and it’s obvious by the end of the show. We’d play more if we had the energy.
After our conversation we moved on for a bit of bowling in the student union.