An Interview with Derrick Bostrom of the Meat Puppets

RSR077 – Derrick Bostrom – The Meat Puppets & Nirvana – Recording Studio  Rockstars

There are a ton of seminal Alternative bands that come to mind when you think of the 80’s and early 90’s. Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Husker Du, The Replacements, Jawbreaker, Pavement…the list goes on. Did you know that most of these bands wouldn’t have been possible without the existence of the Meat Puppets?

The Meat Puppets’ unique blend of Punk, Psych, Alternative and Country was often overlooked by the mainstream, but for their fans- it’s everything. The brothers, Cris and Curt Kirkwood along with Derrick Bostrom (who I’ve got “in the house” today), released some of the truly memorable albums of the 80’s and 90’s. You may not have heard them back then, but now is as good a time as ever to get yourself a copy of Meat Puppets I, Meat Puppets II, and Too High To Die. These are essential albums, and are important to any music lover’s education. While you’re at it, head over to their website here, and grab a copy of their latest album, Dusty Notes. It’s awesome. Oh, and check out this interview as well. It’s pretty awesome too. Derrick is a cool guy. Enjoy.

Andrew:
Derrick, thank you for taking the time to speak with us. It’s been a weird year, hasn’t it? What have you been doing to pass the time?

Derrick:
Thank you for having me!

2020 has been a terrible year for live music, but at my day job, it’s been a great year for staying home and watching online training videos! As for the band, we cancelled all our shows and watched our very first Record Store Day release – a ten inch EP of all-new recordings – get pushed back until the fall. Now we’re waiting for the RSD exclusive to end so we can hopefully offer it on our own online store. To commemorate all the tours we had to cancel, I ripped and uploaded a whole bunch of live Puppets video to a special “Virtual Tour 2020” playlist on YouTube.

Andrew:
Tell us a bit about your backstory. How did you get into music? What was the gateway so to speak?

Derrick:
I used to bang on coffee cans when I was a kid. Eventually, my mom bought me a drum kit, but my little brother quickly destroyed it. About ten Christmases later, my mom tried again and got me a very shitty department store drum set, but just fine for Punk Rock. I was really into punk at the time, and had a buddy who had an electric guitar. I browbeat him into playing with me. By the time he moved away to college, I had connected with a pair of brothers also uninterested in doing anything with their lives but playing music. They put up with my punk rock aspirations for a while, but eventually managed to browbeat me into something more substantial.

Andrew:
As an artist and drummer, who were some of your earliest and more important influences?

Derrick:
I used to play the coffee cans along with my Banana Splits album, but later it was all about Punk Rock. Later, I got into Disco and Reggae, and eventually Rock music. When I listen to myself, I hear a desperate attempt to swing a combination of Jaki Liebezeit, Mitch Mitchell, Don Bolles, Disco and Roots Reggae. What a mess.

Q&A: Meat Puppets - Rolling Stone

Andrew:
You’re one of the founding members of the band, Meat Puppets. Tell us how the band got started. What is the origin of the band’s name?

Derrick:
After we both quit school, Curt and I used to get together to smoke pot and play hooky from adulthood. Around that time, he saw an Iggy Pop concert, which was all the impetus I needed to loan him a bunch of records from my collection. He quickly learned a bunch of Stooges and Damned songs, then we got his kid brother Cris over and taught them to him. We got the name from a song that Curt wrote. We’d been trying to come up with a name for a while, and that one seemed to suit us.

Andrew:
Meat Puppets started out on SST. Such a seminal label. Do you have any stories from those early days on SST? What was it like coming up with all of those incredible bands?

Derrick:
History has been very kind to these incredible bands. But for me, I mostly tried to be polite, waiting for them to finish until it was our turn. Sometimes not so polite.

Andrew:
Meat Puppets really set themselves apart with a distinctive blend of Punk, Country and Psych. How did the band go about developing it’s signature sound? Who were some of the most important influences?

Derrick:
Probably our biggest influence back in the day was our general distaste for the Punk Rock scene. We wound up feeling pretty limited by it. We also didn’t like getting spit and bottles thrown at us. So we resolved to go our own way.

Watch: Meat Puppets' original lineup reunites to play live for first time  in nearly 22 years - slicing up eyeballs // 80s alternative music, college  rock, indie

Andrew:
Speaking of influence, Meat Puppets are known to have heavily influenced the likes of Nirvana, Dinosaur Jr, Pavement and Jawbreaker. How gratifying is it to have had such a wide spread influence over Alternative music?

Derrick:
It beats a poke in the eye, I suppose. I feel better about it than Little Richard probably felt about having to hear about Pat Boone all the time, but not much.

Andrew:
You initially left the band after the first hiatus in 1996. You finally returned in 2018. What went into the decision to return to Meat Puppets after so many years away?

Derrick:
As with a lot of important decisions, I wait until fate takes a hand. Eventually an opportunity presented itself, so I had my people talk with their people and a deal was made. In truth, I never really “left” so much as took a real job and was unavailable. During the entire time, however, I was involved in reissues and social media. The band got inducted into the Arizona Music and Entertainment Hall Of Fame in 2017, so we decided the time was right to mount a formal “reunion.” I had forgotten how good the weed…er, I mean the MUSIC…felt! A few months later, the band’s drummer moved to Europe and my life and career was in a stable enough place for me to be able to rejoin officially.

Andrew:
Meat Puppets’ newest record, Dusty Notes came out in 2019. Great record. What was the inspiration for this record? Your last record with the band before this was, No Joke! What was it like recording with the band again?

Derrick:
Dusty Notes is the best experience I’ve ever had in the studio. The band was magically in sync on that one. It’s always amazing to go into the studio and see what we come up with, but this one was special. I think the real inspiration for that record was Curt wanting to come up with some very simple acoustic based songs that he could then have the band flesh out. Having Ron and Elmo involved allowed him to step back more than previous, so he could see what they could do. It was pure fate that Shandon bowed out in time for me to get in on it.

Meat Puppets, Dusty Notes | The Vinyl Anachronist | Part-Time Audiophile

Andrew:
Let’s talk about the state of music in general a bit. In your opinion, what’s the state of the music industry these days? What are some things that need to change?

Derrick:
The music industry needs today what it has always needed. It just needs to die.

Andrew:
In the world we live in today, we are more or less dominated by the never-ending barrage of social media. How has this affected music as an artform? Is an artist’s ability to get their music out there hindered by all this, or helped?

Derrick:
Social media allows the band to take a much more active role in promotion than in the past. This is a double-edged sword though, since not only are promotional budgets essentially non-existent (at least at our level), but the label and the booking agent feel like they should have a say in what we post to social media.

Andrew:
Who are a few artists, past or present that mean a lot to you?

Derrick:
I’m a musical omnivore, and I appreciate just about everything. As someone who feels that completely unreasonable urge to make music beating in my breast, I feel a sense of wonder and kinship for anyone who feels the same – even when I personally cannot stand what they do.

Meat Puppets

Andrew:
What are a few albums that mean the most to you and why?

Derrick:
There are so many, it really just depends on the mood I’m in at any given time. Sometimes it’s Rock, sometimes it’s Country, sometimes it’s Disco, sometimes it’s Reggae, or Bubble Gum or Easy Listening. But in general, I’m less of a whole-album person than I am a deep-cuts person. If an album has one good cut on it, I mark it a success.

Andrew:
Aside from music, what else are you most passionate about and why? How do your other passions inform and inspire your music?

Derrick:
These days, I’m happy enough to be able to just sit back and watch the world destroy itself. I also read a lot.

Krist Novoselic: 'Meat Puppets II' Inspired Me Because 'There Were No  Barriers' | Billboard

Andrew:
Are you into vinyl? Tapes? CDs? Or, are you all digital now? Where do you like to shop for music?

Derrick:
Back when I had more time and more room, I used to haunt thrift stores for vinyl. I’d buy just about anything for a quarter. Nowadays, unless we have to order it from overseas, my wife and I prefer to patronize our local shops for our physical media. However, we also use streaming services, which are very handy for just throwing on some random sound at bedtime.

Andrew:
What’s next for the Meat Puppets once COVID-19 is done with us? Can we hope for some new music soon?

Derrick:
We wonder the same thing.

Andrew:
Last question. The Meat Puppets have had a long and amazing career, with many more years to go. Looking back, what are some of the band’s finest moments that you will cherish forever?

Derrick:
There was the first rush of discovering, after trying to form other bands, just how perfect the Meat Puppets were. Then there was the wonderful freedom of leaving it. Then there was the incredible experience of rejoining it!

Catching Up With Meat Puppets' Derrick Bostrom | Phoenix New Times

Interested in sampling the music of the Meat Puppets? Check out the link below:

Dig this interview? Check out the full catalog of Vinyl Writer Interviews, by Andrew Daly, here: www.vinylwritermusic.com/interviews

Published by Andrew Daly

Since he was a young child growing up on Long Island, NY, USA, Andrew has always loved writing, music, drumming and collecting music on CD, tape and vinyl. After losing his life-long vinyl collection in 2014, Andrew began his vinyl collection from scratch again when he met his future wife Angela in 2015. Andrew’s love of music only further blossomed as his collection spanned all genres possible. After amassing over 3,000 albums in under two years, he knew it was time to finally follow his dream of being a music journalist, and thus, Vinyl Writer was born.

Andrew’s not only the go-to friend for music trivia, but his intricate knowledge of the ins and outs of the music industry allows him to develop engaging questions that really tap into each artist and individual to deliver insightful and enjoyable interviews. He’s proud to share his love of music with the world through his writing, and the result is nothing short of beautiful: articles and interviews written by a music addict, for fellow music addicts.

Andrew lives on Long Island, NY, with his wife Angela and their four cats, Oliver, Patrick, Charlie and Kevin. Andrew’s collection of over 4,700 vinyl albums, plus several hundred tapes and CDs, tells the story of his passion for all that is music. Andrew works as a Horticultural Operations Manager by day and runs the Vinyl Writer website by night. Andrew is also the admin of several Facebook groups dedicated to music.

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