Meat Puppets

Formed in Phoenix, Arizona in January 1980, Meat Puppets is one of the most influential alternative / indie rock bands of the 1980s and 1990s. Founded by brothers Curt Kirkwood (guitar and vocals) and Cris Kirkwood (bass and vocals) with their high school classmate Derrick Bostrom (drums), the trio were inspired by punk rock, but would eventually add country and psychedelic influences into their sound, creating a unique sound that influenced groups like Nirvana, Dinosaur Jr., Pavement, Soundgarden, Jawbreaker and many other groups that followed in their wake. While not as commercially successful as some of their contemporaries (and followers), Meat Puppets’ influence on the indie rock scene is undeniable. Initially, the group was signed to iconic punk label SST Records and released their first EP, In a Car, in 1981. Still playing songs heavily inspired by hardcore punk, they released their self-titled album in 1982 but would soon become tired of the limits of the genre. Meat Puppets II (1984) showed the band retaining a hardcore foundation but embracing acid rock and country music. Each subsequent album – Up on the Sun (1985), Mirage (1987), and Monsters (1989) - added new layers to their sound and earned them a devoted international following. If they weren’t in the studio, they were out on the road and earned a reputation as an excellent live outfit. Meat Puppets left SST, signed with London Records, and released Forbidden Places in 1991. Their most successful album to date, the released paved the way for their rise in popularity two years later when Curt and Cris Kirkwood performed with Nirvana on their episode of MTV Unplugged. The band’s popularity grew, and their 1994 album Too High To Die was their most successful yet and featured two charting singles: “Backwater” and “We Don’t Exist”. However, the Kirkwood brothers’ drug use began to cause issues with the band and after the release of the album No Joke! (1995), the label pulled support for the album and brought the band’s career to a halt. Derrick Bostrom pursued his own musical projects while Curt Kirkwood formed a new band in 1999 that he eventually called Meat Puppets. This short-lived version of the band lasted until 2002 before splitting. Meanwhile, Cris Kirkwood’s drug problems worsened, and he was shot in December 2003 when he attacked a USPS security guard. After surviving these serious wounds, he was sent to prison until July 2005. The following year, the two brothers reunited as Meat Puppets with a new drummer. They released several acclaimed albums – Rise to Your Knees (2007), Sewn Together (2009), and Rat Farm (2013) – and continued to tour. In 2018, it was announced that original drummer Derrick Bostrom had rejoined the band, which had expanded to a five-piece featuring Curt’s son Elmo Kirkwood (guitar) and Ron Stabinsky (keyboards). This line-up of the band recorded the 2019 album Dusty Notes.

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