Mudhoney - Endless Yesterdays

Dave Kerr asks Mark Arm what elixir his Seattleite quartet been guzzling to remain so raw and invigorated?

Feature by Johnny Langlands | 17 Mar 2006
  • Promos

"If current levels of retro consumption are allowed to continue unchecked, we may run entirely out of past by as soon as 2005..." an article in The Onion half jokingly observed nearly a decade ago. As far as the contemporary rock music scene goes, can you really argue with that right now?

To get the pre-emptive jump on what could be the advent of such a ridiculous paradoxical era, The Skinny exchanged patter with the very man who is oft credited with inadvertently emblazoning a scene with the term that buried the misogyny of hair metal (that's right, Grungeā„¢) and who was recently commissioned to co-curate one of the forthcoming All Tomorrow's Parties weekends.

Mudhoney are settling into their 10th album in a thus far 18-year-spanning career with Under a Billion Suns, a fresh bite in the ass for "The" bands everywhere. 18 years? What elixir have the Seattleite quartet been guzzling to remain so raw and invigorated? "The easiest answer to that would be by us not giving a shit in terms of how people perceive us, or even caring about our popularity" affable frontman Mark Arm fluidly declares.

This nonchalance is no longer extended to matters of the home, however, as songs like Hard-on for War display a more satirical dimension to the otherwise seemingly ramshackle punk rock of the Mudhoney dynamic. The contempt they used to purvey for the prying eyes of the popular media's magnifying glass on their fair city in the early 90s (see Overblown) has been diverted to their current home climate, the blatant ineptitude and deviance of "the fucker" Arm endearingly refers to: "the political aspect of the record is a reactionary move, a reaction to the fucked up environment around me, it astounds me that people are so half paying attention and uncaring."

This is not to say that they've suddenly given in to delivering an all out tumid political prose however, and it's clear that Arm has no aspirations to appropriate himself with the mantle of iconic rock n' roll saviour, as he considers: "Bono's probably doing a lot better work outside of rock n' roll but I don't understand why he insists on wearing those fucking stupid sunglasses when he's in front of the world bank or whatever. I mean, you're wearing leather pants and pink wraparound sunglasses to meet Kofi Anan?" It seems more as though they've simply caved under the overwhelming conditions thrust upon them, coercing the appearance of a temporary shadow over their carefree frolics.

The last year has undoubtedly been one in which Arm has had a moment to afford himself the luxury of indulging in good clean fun though, given his call to duty when fellow Sub Pop veteran Mark Lanegan pulled out of a proposed stint as vocalist for the recent DKT/MC5 tour. Although Arm confesses he had "serious doubts" at first, given the baffy size he was expected to assume, the experience was ultimately one of kindred spirits united.

Is it any wonder then that frenzy of the new-born Mudhoney instrumental A Brief Celebration of Indifference echoes so loudly of his subliminal chums? "Some of that stuff is so ingrained, the MC5, the stooges, they're such a big influence on this band that it just comes through unconsciously at this point" he acknowledges, knowing exactly which school of rock he graduated from.

The Onion article continues, "Before long, the National Retro Clock will hit 1992, and we will witness a massive grunge-retro explosion, which will overlap with the late-period, mainstream-pop remnants of the original grunge movement itself" Can you argue with that right now? Mark Arm doesn't give a shit, but can we get 120 minutes back on the box please?

Under a Billion Suns' is released through Sub Pop on March 6.