If there’s any band that could take credit for fostering the grunge movement of the early ’90s, it’s the Meat Puppets.
The group is taking the stage at the Rock and Roll Hotel Nov. 1, with an opening by the Dex Romweber Duo, an influential band in their own right.
The Meat Puppets formed in Arizona in 1980, and originally consisted of brothers Curt and Cris Kirkwood (guitar/vocals and bass, respectively) and Derrick Bostrom (drums).
The first album, the self-titled “Meat Puppets” was released in 1982 and featured a much different sound than the band is now known for. Kirkwood’s vocals were screechy and inaudible, and the group favored a sort of gentle punk rock styling.
However, they soon found their groove by blending their earlier punk influences with psychedelic rock and alt-country. Their sound became one of the earliest developments of grunge music, paving the way with their scuzzy reverb, moody solos and lazily deep vocals.
In 1993, the band was on tour opening for Black Flag when they got the attention of a famous fan.
Kurt Cobain was in the audience and was so amazed by their performance that he invited Curt and Cris to perform with Nirvana during their now-famous MTV Unplugged performance in 1993.
They ended up doing three Meat Puppets songs, “Plateau,” “Oh Me” and “Lake of Fire” from their sophomore album, “Meat Puppets II.” And thanks to Nirvana’s mainstream popularity at that time, the Puppets were propelled to cult indie stardom.
The band has since released 13 albums with their most recent being “Lollipop.”
However, the road has been long and hard for the Puppets, plagued with hardcore drug usage, lineup changes and long hiatuses.
Cris harbored an intense addiction to heroin and crack cocaine for the majority of his career.
In 2003 he was sent to prison for physically attacking a security guard, resulting in the guard shooting him twice in the stomach. Cris was then sent to prison, where he was forced to kick his addiction.
Bostrom left the band in 1996 after the band’s first hiatus and was replaced by Shandon Sahm. After the band’s next hiatus in 2002, the group reformed in 2006 with Ted Marcus as the drummer. Then, once again, in 2009, Marcus was replaced by Sahm.
Even though the band has had a rough few years, they remain as relevant as ever.
For Spin Magazine’s “Nevermind” tribute album this past September, the group was given the honor of covering Nirvana’s most famous song, “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”
In addition, bands like Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr., Pavement and Soundgarden have all cited the Puppets as a major influence. The group was chosen by Animal Collective to perform their album “Up on the Sun” in its entirety at UK indie festival, All Tomorrow’s Parties.
Head down to Rock and Roll Hotel to see what will be a tour-de-force performance.
After all, the band’s been around for the past 21 years — they must know what they’re doing by now.