Recorded in Seattle in 1999, this monster record is now being reissued on vinyl remastered by Jack Endino.
As soon as the opening track of ‘Electric Children’ begins, you realize that The Monkeywrench have gotten much tighter in their second album, since their debut eight years before.
The production also seems rawer, possibly due to the fact that the band moved from Conrad Uno to veteran Seattle producer Jack Endino, who also engineered the first releases from bassist Steve Turner and vocalist Mark Arm‘s other band, Mudhoney.
Also contributing to the rawness of the record is the absence of Arm’s trademark piano and organ. This enhances the energy, causing you to notice a more frantic, electrified side of the band.
As on the debut album, Clean as a Broke-Dick Dog (1992), several genres of music are given equal time, including the country of “Thirteen Nights” and “The Empty Place“, the rockabilly of “The Weasel’s In The Barn“, the Eastern modal quality of “Around Again“, and the noise rock of the closing number, “In the days of the Five“.
The Monkeywrench have grown in their ability to craft a song, and the result is a masterpiece.
It seems to be a thing in 2020 with no live shows to get excited over and everyone everywhere being on lockdown. Some labels have been very busy trawling the archives for material to pull together box sets and nobody has been better at it recently than Cherry Red who have released a plethora of great box sets of the last few months many that we here at RPM have been very happy to get our teeth stuck into. Today we tackle another of the better box sets that which belongs to Mudhoney easily one of the best bands ever to emerge out of the early 90s grunge explosion but those who know are well aware there was so much more going on with Mark Arm and his band of Brothers than being anther Grunge band because they never really fitted into the genre comfortably as much as the media wanted to paint them as just another Sub Pop band they were more closely belonging to the post Stooges garage scene than anything else and their music was so much better than 99% of the other bands coming out of the USA at the time. showcasing Mudhoney’s major label period, 1992-1998.
What we have here is the three albums, some B-sides and live recordings, plus the promotional-only ‘On Tour Now’ live album that the band did during their major label period in the ’90s, 1992-1998 if you want to be precise.
Also includes are rare outtakes and sampler-only tracks. as well as the singles ‘Generation Spokesmodel’, ‘Suck You Dry’, ‘Blinding Sun’, ‘Five Dollar Bob’s Mock Cooter Stew’ and ‘Into Your Shtik’, plus the B-sides. This was also loving put together in conjunction with Mudhoney. and to be fair the Sleevenotes includes new interview material with Mark Arm so a thorough trawl has been made.
Having emerged in 1989 and become a mainstay of the American alternative scene, Mudhoney moved from Sub Pop to Reprise Records and produced three albums during the 1990s for Reprise Records. Whilst not achieving the success enjoyed by the likes of Pearl Jam and Nirvana, the band kept at it and even expanded their live following and always maintained the respect of their peers.
The live promo-only recording is unhinged and shows how damn good Mudhoney was/are live. ‘Suck You Dry’ still sounds fantastic and ‘Piece Of Cake’ was and still is a cracking album. For me I loved ‘My Brother The Cow’ most of all and still consider it their finest album from that head fuck slide of ‘Judgement, Rage, Retribution And Thyme’. The brooding menacing of ‘In My Finest Suit’. The wild ride of ‘F.D.K. (Fearless Doctor Killers)’. Some of the period B sides do leave a lot to be desired and were cutting room floor experiments to amuse the band and probably were better off staying uncovered. ‘Sissy Bar, ‘Carjack 94’ etc are fine examples of a band not taking themselves too seriously. but amongst the rough tracks are the diamonds that need a little spit and shine and songs like ‘Not Going Down That Road Again’ are gems. HArdcore fans and completists will find a lot fo this as much needed nuggets from Arm and co.
‘Tomorrow Hit Today’ is one of those long-overlooked albums but when you have distance and clarity like maybe now, it’s a lot better than I remember. Who knows if the band were tired or had hit a bit of a wall only they know that but songs like ‘I Had To Laugh’ and ‘Poisoned Water’.
Finally, disc 4 sees the first eight-track being commercially available for the first time but taken from the promo ‘On Tour Now’ recorded in Seattle in ’93 at the peak of the band’s powers and rightly so. They were the kings of the scene for me they embraced Garage Rock of the Stooges and MC5 as well as what was current in the alternative rock scene as Grunge they had it all but were perhaps too cool and hip to be regarded as Grunge frontrunners. But those who know, know. Mudhoney fans and people with a hankering for some loud fuzzy Rock get a hold of this box set now. Happy Christmas one and all!
I just visited your website and there are Kiss levels of merch on there. When can we see the cutthroat bobbleheads? and what merch would you love to see for the Cutthroat Brothers?
Jason: bobbleheads would be fantastic! Just looking for somebody that will make a two-headed monster version. We’ve talked about Cutthroat Brothers barber products, you know, pomades, shampoo…maybe it should all be blood-red liquid but not stick to the skin. Or maybe it should?
Donny: potato chips, you just can’t eat one.
Some footage from the European tour is on youtube it looks insane, how good was the tour?
Donny: The most fun on tour ever, one night I tried to hug everyone in the place.
Jason: The tour was fantastic! Really great crowds and venues. The welcome for our first time was overwhelming. People screaming and dancing and not letting us stop playing until we played every song we knew. Tours really are about connecting with people on a personal level and that happened a lot. I’d never been to any of the places we went so everything was really fresh and exciting. We were supposed to be on tour right now. Life is cancelled due to Covid, so we wait patiently to return to work and the road.
COVID-19 has derailed everyone are there plans for a return to Europe? What about UK shows?
Jason: Absolutely, We will be coming back as soon as the dust settles. We can’t wait to play the UK! Punk is still alive more across the pond, so wherever people want us that’s where we will be.
The live album sounds amazing will it see a vinyl release?
Donny: I’m hoping Houndgawd will do the vinyl once life is somewhat back to normal.
Jason: Definitely we will get it out on vinyl. We will hopefully everything on vinyl as soon as the pressing plants start up again. A run of white vinyl for ‘Live in Europe’ would be fun.
How do you approach songwriting as a pair or alone?
Jason: Generally I will sketch out the song to a point then we will arrange it and finish them when we see each other. The demos sound a lot different than the final version because i just sketch them on my iphone. We are hoping to release a collection of demos sometime soon for our hardcore fans. I always enjoy listening to ones from my favorite artists.
Donny: There’s a major component to our writing that I think, makes this work, no negativity, we are friends, we do this to have fun.
What were the decisions you had about doing this whole thing as a pair and not heading for a more traditional band set up with bass or piano or two guitars? Is it something you might look into in the future?
Donny: funny you should ask, we have a collaboration awaiting the record presses with the legend Mike Watt. He had offered to play on our next record (‘Taste for Evil’) in our very first interview for our Debut album on his radio show. We took him up on it and sent him the tracks, somehow emails were in the spam folder and we missed having him on the record or so we thought. That said after ‘Taste for Evil’ was set to come out we found the Watt tracks, we have 4 collaborations from ‘Taste for Evil’ that we’ll release as soon as Houndgawd is back up and running full speed.
Jason: It was an accident. We didn’t intend it to be just two people, but it felt right and we didn’t see the need for more. We make creative decisions really quickly this way and with Jack Endino to steer us we can get a lot done fast. We don’t want to risk the squeaky wheel too. You know, the other person who is always arguing or being late, wearing shorts to gigs, you know THAT one.
Have you recorded using a full set up or are you open to ideas?
Jason: We are open to whatever for sure! It just hasn’t happened yet and probably won’t soon as long as it feels good to us.
Tell us a bit about your background in music?
Donny: Mudhoney, ELO, EODM, AC/DC, ZZ Top. My grandma was a classical pianist and the she taught piano and organ played at funerals and weddings. My dad was a keyboardist as well he had a band pretty much my whole life and then went into playing for church. My parents said I started playing at 2, I don’t remember but I also don’t remember not playing.
Jason: My father is a preacher, so I started playing in our family country western gospel band touring around doing Carter Family songs and such around age 13 I think. Early country and rockabilly were my first loves, then my folks bought me a Louie Louie compilation that started with Kingsmen and ended with Black Flag. My parents accidentally introduced me to punk rock and it was downhill from there.
what plays on the stereo in the barbershop? maybe a short back and sides or sponsored ‘something for the weekend’ could be on the merch desk at future shows?
Donny: Punk, Metal, Garage, Rockabilly, rap, hip hop.
You teamed up with German label Hound Gawd Records (which you mentioned) they’ve released some great records how did that pairing come about?
Jason: Oliver from Hound Gawd! Got a copy of ‘Taste for Evil’ when we just finished it. It was mentioned to him by our shared publicist, Ilka. He dug it and the rest is history. We love Hound Gawd! All the bands are great.
Donny: I can’t say enough about if you’re putting out your art do it with someone who loves what you do or even more than you, this is why we are with Houndgawd.
What plans have you got in the future? Recording? touring? I heard you were ready to record album three in March. Did that happen? is Jack Endino involved again? What can we expect on the next record? Is Mike Watt playing on it at all? If you could get a bunch of guest musicians to join on the next record who would you love to ask?
Jason: Jack is definitely involved with everything we do. He really is the third Cutthroat Brother. Mr. Watt has offered to play on stuff again, yes, but we don’t know any specifics. We have another album planned out. We had to push it to a safer time because of Covid but we will be at it ASAP. I’ve asked Jesse Hughes from Eagles of Death Metal, he said he would be on it but we will see. I would love to get him and Jennie Vee on the next one. Cross your fingers.