Music News

Here Comes the Sickness

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"We were all hard-core fans from the beginning," says Turner. "That was what really brought us together, was that common interest. Black Flag was like the second band I ever saw."

"We had actually thought about doing a punk 'covers album' several years back," Arm relates. "The first time we went into Conrad Uno's studio [Egg Studios, in Seattle], we played nothing but covers of punk songs. But then we heard that Guns n' Roses was doing the same thing [The Spaghetti Incident?, eventually released in 1993], and we didn't want to be even remotely connected to that, in any way. So we dropped the idea."

Assembling a career compilation sounds like it would be a dangerous project for a band that was always so committed to waving away any whiff of hype, but Arm reports that it wasn't a nostalgic process at all: "Going back through the music, listening to all the stuff we did before in preparation for the compilation . . . I think it does kind of feel like we're capping an era. Of course, when you do something like that, some memories are going to come back while you're listening, but I didn't at all feel like I was dwelling on the past."

"This is only the end of the first 12 years," Turner says.

So out came March to Fuzz in 2000, and in its wake Matt Lukin decided he wouldn't be averse to playing a last handful of shows before Mudhoney officially called it quits. In December they picked up a year and a half later, right where they'd left off, in Portland.

"The response was really good," says Arm. "We hadn't played together for a long time by that point. I guess the people who came out are the people who would be into it anyway, but it felt great."

"Even Matt was having a good time, I think. In spite of himself," Turner says, laughing.

Five shows later, Mudhoney will play its last concert in the original four-man lineup. In February it'll head to Brazil, minus Lukin. "We're not real comfortable with that part of it yet," reports Turner. "It's an experiment. We have no idea what we'll even call ourselves, or anything. We're still planning on recording, definitely -- at this point, me and Mark are kind of stuck together forever, I think -- but we're all looking forward to this short part, playing as Mudhoney again."

"Having a good time again," says Arm. "Connecting up with good friends."

Ten years on, Mark Arm reports that he really can't see much of whatever influence he or his contemporaries might have had on mainstream music, apart from a superficial comparison: "I just keep thinking, when I hear these bands like Matchbox 20 or that guy in Creed, 'Man, stop singing in that strained register.' Just like the falsetto thing in the '80s." Most likely, though, Mudhoney's modern emulators are currently the same fucked-up kids they themselves were in the early 1980s; very likely there's some baggy-eyed naif strangling the chords to "Touch Me I'm Sick" in a suburban bedroom in Ohio somewhere, developing his chops far off the map.

At least, a lot of us hope so. But at any rate, part of the beauty of such things is that no one, thank God, can predict where the next uprising is going to come from.

"I think you have these moments in the culture from time to time," Turner muses. "Mostly it's the same-old same-old, the status quo. But you do get these short, shining moments of freedom before the culture reaches out and swallows it up, before it gets run into the ground."

He laughs. "There for a little while the inmates had control. It happens from time to time. It'll happen again."

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Eric Waggoner