In 1987, Mudhoney’s caustic “Touch Me I’m Sick” revolutionized the Amerindie underground and sent Sub Pop Records speeding toward its tongue-in-cheek goal of global domination. Twenty-five years later, the goofy godfathers of Seattle grunge behind that tune are last of the old guard left standing. Hardcore ‘n’ punk disciples Mark Arm, Steve Turner, Dan Peters and Guy Maddison have outlasted most (if not all) of their fellow northwest denizens, plugging along with, seemingly, no end in sight.
After a five-year break between albums, Mudhoney—needing time to vent from its banal existence of day jobs, wives and kids—are back with the raging garage-punk hard-on Vanishing Point. The fiftysomething Arm is as pissed off as ever, hurling cuss-filled spit bombs at douchebags, critical darlings, and pieces of shit who want to cozy up to him. As he raves, Turner inflicts six-string damage.
Maura spoke to Arm about Mudhoney’s long arc over the phone; he was at Sub Pop’s Seattle HQ, where he works.
The last time we spoke, you were giving me juicy quotes for a piece I did on feedtime.
That was a band I never thought I would see… another band I never thought I would see, much less play with [laughs].
What other bands are you talking about?
The Scientists and the Stooges and The Flesheaters.
You sang on a Scientists tune with the Melvins on their new covers record, Everybody Loves Sausages. Did King Buzzo give you a choice of what covers you wanted to do?
They recorded two songs and they were like, “Sing on both of ‘em.” And I did.
What’s the other one you did?
Which one is on the record?
I’m blanking out.
It was “Swampland” and “Set It On Fire.”
Oh, right. “Set It On Fire” is on Everybody Loves Sausages. Are you working today?
You’re going on tour soon. Do you think things will get fucked up in the Sub Pop warehouse while you’re gone?
No, no. I’m pretty confident that the people who will be working when I’m out know what they are doing.
Why do you think people—rock writers in particular—are so fascinated by your day job?
[laughs] I have no idea. I don’t know if some people have the idea that just because you can put out a record and have a certain amount of name recognition it’s like you’re just living in luxury. I think people in Europe are really surprised.
Do you get psyched when a lot of Mudhoney records are being shipped out?
It’s good to see. I try not to get too psyched because of those times when there aren’t a lot going out. Then it’s like, “Well… ” You gotta keep that kind of balance. [laughs]
What don’t you like about your job?
The thing you don’t like about any job is that you just have to be there at certain hours every day. That’s why it’s work, and that’s why you’re paid to be there. If it was something you just really, really loved to do no matter what, then they wouldn’t have to pay you to do it. [laughs]
I just saw that funny trailer you did with Tad Doyle, Jack Endino, and Kim Thayil from Soundgarden for Sub Pop’s Silver Jubilee, happening this summer. Do you see those guys regularly?
I probably see Kim the most but I see Tad and Jack on occasion, a couple times a year.
Since it’s both Sub Pop and Mudhoney’s 25th anniversaries this year, do you have something super-special planned for the Silver Jubilee?
Um, nothing that I’m aware of. [laughs]
You’re not going to bring back [former member] Matt Lukin to play bass on some songs or something like that?
[laughs] We did a record release show the weekend before last and he got out [laughs] and walked across the stage before we played and then… flipped the crowd off. Good work, Matt.
Lukin used to be on Facebook and posted the sickest shit. What happened to him? Did he take himself off?
No, he got kicked off. I think he did something where he posted his asshole and he sent that to all these girls that were his friends. And that got him kicked off. He’s on there under a pseudonym now.
What’s one of the best Matt Lukin stories you have?
The best Lukin story? [laughs] My kinda weirdest favorite Matt story is watching him become the character that he became.
Is that good or bad?
Well, no, it was weird, like something in his brain broke or something, and I don’t know what happened. It was pretty early on, probably like ’89 or something like that and we were on tour on the West coast. We played the night before in Davis, California, with Cat Butt. We all crashed on somebody’s floor in some condo apartment complex and there was a swimming pool there. The night before was just insane. [...]