Thursday, July 30, 2015

up on the sun

Meat Puppets weaved warmth with an enchanted invisible sound like a hot pink volcano in the heart of a tornado.   With the universal critical acclaim afforded 'Meat Puppets II' the trio attempted to record their next album themselves; but the poor sound quality led them to book time at Total Access Studios in Redondo Beach, California.   They cranked it out over three days from January 26 to 28 in 1985 with  SST house engineer Spot engineering the sessions.  'Up On The Sun' features  Curt Kirkwood on guitar and vocals;   Cris Kirkwood on bass and vocals;   and   Derrick Bostrom on drums.     

Cris Kirkwood:    "That’s definitely a neat record. One of the things about being on something like SST, where their main focus wasn’t strictly about the amount of records sold, is that they had somewhat of a limited budget. So that record was made really fast. But we’d already recorded most of that stuff at home. We’d actually figured that stuff out… pretty much entirely. So we were able to go into the studio and make it really quick. That’s a neat record. There are all sorts of cool memories about that particular record."

Derrick Bostrom:   "In 1984 we rented a half inch eight track machine or maybe it was a quarter inch eight track machine.  We rented a machine from our local music store and began laying down demo’s for Up on the Sun.  We were actually hoping to flat out record the album ourselves in our own homes using the, at the time popular, DIY ethic, because we didn’t like the fact that SST had made us wait eight months to mix our record, six months or whatever.  So our plan was to finish the record in our living room.  We started getting into fidelity problems.  I didn’t like the way the drums were sounding.  I tried one strategy, which was popular at the time, which is to record the kick drum, and then record the snare drum, and then record the hi-hat, and the other guys didn’t have patience for that, and it didn’t work out very well.  Basically, it was just too lo-fi and too cheap an approach and we got a lot of really great demo’s out of it, some of which got completed, some of which didn’t, and it’s all pretty muddy as you might expect.  So eventually we were like, 'Ok, we know all the songs.  We’re going to rehearse really well and then we’re going to go in and do a three day blackout,' which is like Friday through Sunday.  That was the January sessions.  The first thing that I encountered was getting everything post-miked, and everything sounding right.  You’ve got to take your live performance and figure-out if it works in the studio.  We wanted to go for a certain clean kind of sound and once we miked up the drums I was having trouble getting the sounds I wanted.  And once again I encountered, as I did throughout my career, that nobody really wanted to wait for me to get my parts right.  They were like, 'Get your drum parts done so I can move on to my parts.'  So I had to leave the building, take a walk around the block for a half an hour until I could get my head around it.  And then in the process I had to simplify a lot of my parts down, specifically a lot of the kick drum parts, because I needed to get consistent audio quality.  Once I was able to get my parts rearranged on the fly, while the clock was ticking, we were able to move forward.  And the record benefits from the streamlining of the arrangements because it’s got a lot more of an immediate kind of up-tempo and spontaneous feel to it.  But there was a certain amount of on-the-fly rethinking of what I was going to do.  And I was able to get it done and we were able to get the whole thing done by the end of Sunday night:  basics, overdubs, vocals, mixing, cutting, sequencing and it was fucking done.  That was definitely an incredible thing for us to do."

Curt Kirkwood:  "[The crazy funk progressive sort-of-hippie-dance-record sound is] probably from The Who's Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy...Or The Who Sell Out  era of the The Who.  Shit, Jimi Hendrix.  Then The Minuteman were an inspiration at that point as well.   Wire too.  Of course, Parliament Funkadelic.   It was a cool little riff.  I was trying to do more with harmony vocals.   I was really starting to understand harmonies outside of country music and that came to me from the music of The Who.  Then also through the music of The Eagles as well.  I was really working on that with Up On The Sun.   I was also working on overdubbing guitars on Up On The Sun too because on Meat Puppets II we didn't have any of that.  With Up On The Sun we had a full studio at our disposal ... Reggae’s always been there [in our sound]. We used to listen to as much dub as we did punk rock, probably more. Something like Up On The Sun, I’ve noticed, has a lot of ska and disco. We would never have been able to do straight up reggae. It owes as much to Culture Club as it does to the real Jamaican stuff, though, honestly. Who doesn’t like Culture Club?"

'Up On The Sun' 
full album:

All songs written and composed by Curt Kirkwood, unless otherwise noted. 

1. Up on the Sun - 0:00
2. Maiden's Milk - 4:03  Curt Kirkwood/Cris Kirkwood
3. Away - 7:23
4. Animal Kingdom - 10:51  Curt Kirkwood/Cris Kirkwood
5. Hot Pink - 12:17
6. Swimming Ground - 15:44
7. Buckethead - 18:51
8. Too Real - 21:14
9. Enchanted Pork Fist - 23:26
10. Seal Whales - 25:55
11. Two Rivers - 28:15
12. Creator - 31:37

0:00 Up On The Sun
4:03 Maiden's Milk
7:23 Away
10:50 Animal Kingdom
12:14 Hot Pink
15:42 Swimming Ground
18:47 BucketHead
21:10 Too Real
23:21 Enchanted Porkfist
25:51 Seal Whales
28:11 Two Rivers
31:32 Creator

33:42 Hot Pink
37:37 Up On The Sun
42:06 Mother American Marshmallow Curt Kirkwood/Cris Kirkwood
46:33 Embodiment Of Evil
48:26 Hot Pink

SST - The Tour 1985

00:56 - SWA
12:00 - Saccharine Trust
27:40 - Meat Puppets
42:50 - Minutemen
54:30 - Hüsker Dü

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