New music, same attitude: Mudhoney play Phoenix this week | Phoenix New Times
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Alt-rockers Mudhoney bring the attitude to Phoenix this week

The Seattle band's latest album, "Plastic Eternity," has sounds "we've never done before."
From left, Dan Peters, Mark Arm, Steve Turner and Guy Madisson are Mudhoney.
From left, Dan Peters, Mark Arm, Steve Turner and Guy Madisson are Mudhoney. Emily Rieman
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Since the late '80s, Mudhoney have been cranking out one good record after another. Several of them are even amazing, but what sets this band apart from many of their grungy peers is the staying power. Even more so than the Melvins, the key personnel in Mudhoney have stayed the same.

The lineup is: Mark Arm on guitar and vocals, Steve Turner on lead guitar, Dan Peters on drums and for the last 22 years, Guy Maddison (ex-Lubricated Goat) on bass. Matt Lukin left the band to become a carpenter in 1999, so that’s a pretty damn consistent track record since the band began playing together in 1988.

“We haven’t had a huge lineup change over the years; we just swapped out bass players in the early 2000s. There’s much love and camaraderie there,” Arm says over the phone while the band got ready to play in Cleveland a few weeks ago.

Arm and Turner have been playing together for almost 40 years now after starting the seminal, pre-grunge band Green River in 1984.

“One of the things that helped us in our case was that we never expected anything of it. A lot of people start bands with the expectation they will become big or whatever and there’s a small chance of that happening. Some people get disillusioned and disappointed pretty easily. Then they go work at Microsoft or someplace like that,” says Arm, who works for Sub Pop Records when he’s not making music.

Mudhoney recently released their 12th studio record, "Plastic Eternity," on Sub Pop, and it's pretty darn rockin’. Fans of the early records like "Superfuzz Bigmuff" (1988), "Mudhoney" (1989), and 1991’s "Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge" will enjoy some subtle and not-so-subtle nods to the band’s raucous beginnings, but Arm doesn’t see "Plastic Eternity" as some nostalgia trip.

“I don’t really feel like we are trying to go back to our roots. There’s shit on this record that we’ve never done before. A song like 'One or Two' (which is killer, by the way, in its weird, fuzzy nod to psychedelia) or 'Flush the Fascists' (another cool one with a great line from Arm about a Japanese bidet), they seem pretty different ... but they all sound like us to me. Whatever genre we try to take on, it would go through the filter that is us,” Arm says.

Arm is the first to admit, though, that the band has an attitude, and it's on full display on "Plastic Eternity." “Move Under,” for example, is straight-up early '90s-style grunge. Turner’s guitar tone has always been nothing short of delicious, and it shines on the aforementioned “Move Under” and on “Human Stock Capital.”

“The lyrics, that’s just me, but the whole band has an attitude,” he adds.

The combination of Arm’s sneery, early punk shout-singing on “Human Stock Capital” blends so perfectly with Turner’s winding riff. Imagine unwrapping a music box on Christmas morning, cranking the handle and having Stooges-era Iggy Pop leap out at you. That’s “Human Stock Capital” in a nutshell.

There’s a lot of Stooges influence in Mudhoney’s sound, but it was another lesser-known band that Arm says inspired him the most in the early days.

“Tales of Terror [active in the mid-'80s]. Seeing them come to town from Sacramento. Green River was just starting, and we were all just kids who were involved in hardcore. We were just trying to figure out where to go. Hardcore seemed like it was becoming a dead end. Some bands were going more speed metal, and some bands were just trying to figure out what was the path forward. Tales of Terror were a solid rock band that was just wild and loose and fucked up,” Arm says.

With Madisson living in Australia, the band do have a few challenges when it comes to getting together and jamming, but Arm says they are rounding into fine form as they march across the U.S. on this current tour.

“Guy’s living in Melbourne now and we did a tour of Australia last spring, but it’s not like we can do a U.S. tour and break it up into chunks. He came over a few days before the tour and we practiced and did a few ‘practice’ shows in Tacoma and Spokane, but I think we really started firing when we got to Missoula. We are not hitting every spot in the country, like Florida, which has been banished, but Phoenix has always supported us really well, which is awesome,” he says.

Mudhoney. With Hooveriii. 7 p.m. doors, 8 p.m. show, Friday, Nov. 10, at Crescent Ballroom 308 N. Second Ave. Cost is $30 in advance, $35 at the door, and tickets are available here.
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