MUCK AND THE MIRES : There’s nothing better than finding out your heroes are amazing people
Boston has always had a large and diverse music scene and you can see all types of live music 7 nights a week. But it was a handful of now legendary garage and punk bands from the 60s and 70s that created what many around the world consider the “Boston sound”. Groups like The Remains, The Barbarians, The Real Kids, Jonathan Richmond and the Modern Lovers, DMZ, Lyres, Nervous Eaters to name a few.
Who are the musicians without whom Muck & The Mires wouldn't be what it is today? Which bands have really influenced you?
I was introduced to The “Nuggets” garage rock compilation album when I was 15 which changed my life. And it is why songs like “Lies”, “ (Just Like) Romeo and Juliet”, and “Open Up Your Door” still occasionally end up in our set. In terms of songwriting and musical style, our biggest influence is probably the early Beatles, and the more obscure Liverpool Merseybeat bands such as the Big 3. But it was The Ramones who taught us how to deliver the songs- loud, fast and nonstop.
|Jessie At Vintage Weekender
Drummer Jessie Best and I had a band called The Nines. Our Lead guitarist Pedro had a band called The Apehangers who were signed to A&M Records and appeared on the “Empire Records” movie soundtrack. The three of us joined forces and became Muck and the Mires with John Quincy Mire completing the lineup on bass. Prior to that I was in a garage/punk band called The Voodoo Dolls. We opened for the Ramones half a dozen times. Before that, I was in The Queers and played bass on their sessions with legendary Stones producer Jimmy Miller.
It's not very often that a band that doesn't really exist releases an album before it's formed. Tell us about the birth of Muck & The Mires.
Just for fun, I decided to write and record a song in the style of With The Beatles. I had so much fun doing it that I ended up going back and writing an entire album which I credited to a fictitious group called “Muck and the Mires”. At the encouragement of friends, I shopped the record and AMP records in Canada, and Soundflat in Germany released it as All Mucked Up (The Best of Muck and the Mires). We were eventually invited to play in Canada so I had to quickly put a band together and Pedro and Jessie were thrilled to join in on the fun.
Your name comes from the film Honeymooners. Can you try and explain it to us? What name would you have chosen if your name had been inspired by a French film?
Actually, it was from the classic 1950s TV Show, the Honeymooners. I was taking a break while working on All Mucked Up and a rerun of the Honeymooners came on the TV. It was the episode where Ed Norton mentions he has a friend who works alongside him in the sewer that they called “Ol’ Muck and Mire”. I thought, that is a great name for a 60s garage group! And although it is not a French film, there is another Honeymooners episode where Norton dresses up for a costume contest as “Pierre Francois de la Brioski”, designer of the Paris sewers. If that episode had been playing that fateful day, perhaps our band would now be called “The Brioskis”!
|JQ at Vntage Weekender
Steven has been a fan and champion of Garage rock for decades and has a radio station on Satellite radio called Underground Garage that has helped introduce classic bands like The Sonics and newer bands like us to an entire new audience. In fact, when Springsteen played in Boston recently, they covered The Standells’ "Dirty Water", which is about our city. I should mention that Boston has cleaned up “The River Charles” mentioned in the song…but I still would not recommend drinking from it!
Kim Fowley has described you as a cross between the Beatles and the Ramones. How would you describe Kim Fowley, and can you tell us a few anecdotes about him?
We stayed at Kim’s house when we recorded the album Hypnotic with him. He was proud of how filthy his house was and told us that there were snakes living in the walls that were going to come out and eat us while we slept. Everyone was afraid to use his shower, so by the third night, we decided to get a hotel. He was furious. He said “I thought you guys were ‘street’…You are middle class!”. We were fine with that. At least we were finally able to shower and be clean. He had pages 1 and 2 of a 3 page contract that would have given him back royalties for “Pappa Oom Mow Mow” which he produced. But his house was so messy he couldn’t find the 3rd page and there was no way we were going to sift through the filth to help him find it. It was a trip working with Kim and we miss him very much. He was very generous to us, brilliant and funny.
In France we get the typical question: "Are you more Beatles or Stones?" It seems that for you it's more the former. Tell us about your love of this band.
That is always a divisive subject! In fact you might get different answers from the members of Muck and the Mires. To be clear, I am a fan of both bands. But I believe that The Stones were influenced by The Beatles, far more than The Beatles were influenced by The Stones. I don’t think you would have had Aftermath without Rubber Soul or Satanic Majesties without Sgt. Pepper. So while the Stones introduced us to all of the great blues players and had a more “garage rock” sound, it was the Beatles vocal harmonies and songwriting style that really influenced Muck’s sound and songwriting style.
|Jessie At Vintage Weekender
You played in Liverpool at the Cavern Club just like them. Did you also want to move to Hamburg, to the red-light district where they learned everything? What are the craziest things your band has done that would be comparable to the Beatles' life in Hamburg?
I think the craziest thing we did was drive six hours out of the way on a Monday night to play in Hamburg at a venue that had gone out of business a week prior and was re-opened illegally for the night just so we could play. It was supposed to be our night off, but we were on tour in Germany and really wanted to experience Hamburg. We ended up writing a song about that night called “Hamburg Time” which is on the album Kim Fowley produced.
You've met some of the music greats we love. Tell us about your encounters with the MC5, New York Dolls and Rocky Erickson? What fan memories have you brought back from these encounters?
We played a few shows with MC5/DKT in Spain. The airline lost our instruments, so we had to rent guitars from a local band for the first show until they were eventually found. When Wayne Kramer heard this he said “I would have lent you my guitar”. How is that for generosity? We opened for the NY Dolls at SXSW in Austin Texas. Again, super friendly people. There’s nothing better than finding out your heroes are amazing people. Same goes for Roky Erickson. A man of few words, but when we opened for him in New Jersey he signed the show poster for me after I reminded him that we had opened for him in Norway a few months earlier. His son managed him at the time and had warned me Roky didn’t like to sign autographs, but I got one, so I guess he thought I was OK!
|Muck at Vintage Weekender
Between 2013 and 2020, you didn't release many records. What was going on in the life of the band?
I think we were writing and recording songs faster than our record labels could put them out. Our last album, Greetings From Muckingham Palace was actually recorded during that time but released in its entirety later. So during the pandemic, we ended up releasing 20 new songs as an EP and an LP. But the wait was worth it because we were able to get a lot of new music out at a time that we could not tour. And once again we have a full 14-song LP called Beat Revolution that we have been sitting on for months. We believe it will finally be released early 2024. So by the time it comes out it might look like we have not released a record in four years. but in reality, when we are not releasing music, we are out touring and when we are not touring, we are writing and recording.
You often tour in Europe. Could you explain to us how an American band gets organised to come to Europe? What kind of organisational and bureaucratic efforts are involved?
Muck and the Mires are always looking and listening for opportunities. We are often told “The next time you come to Europe, let us know and we will book a show here in our town”. And our response is always “Invite us and we will come”. Getting the first offer is the challenge, additional dates seem to always fall in place after that. We rarely turn down an opportunity to tour or even play 3-4 shows or festivals over a long weekend. So, if you are reading this, give us a call!
Could you tell us what you think the difference is between each of your albums? What do you consider to be the most important songs on each of them?
Every record we have released since All Mucked Up has been heavily influenced and inspired by 60’s Merseybeat and Garage rock. But we have never wanted to simply rehash that genre. So, with each album we’ve tried to show a little growth in songwriting, singing, playing, production while hopefully remaining true to our roots. Here are two favs from each album:
Beginners Muck: “I’m Down with That” and “One Of These Days”
1234: “I Never Got Over You” and “Don’t Let Her Get Away”
Hypnotic: “Hypnotic” and “Hamburg Time”
A Cellarful of Muck: “Saturday Let Me Down Again” and “King of the Beat”
Dial M For Muck: “Someday I’ll Get My Way” and “Whenever She’s Around”
Take Me back To Planet Earth: “She Blocked My Number” and “Zoom Breakup”
Greetings From Muckingham Palace: “I’m Your Man” and “Too Soon to Fall In Love”
What's the song you'd like to remember so far, the 'classic' song from the band that has to be played at every gig?
Probably “I’m Your Man”.
|Muck VIntage Weekender
The first time we were in France we stayed at one of those F1 hotels on the highway. Definitely not the Ritz Carlton. The showers are small stalls that are self-cleaning. Our drummer Jessie took a shower and then the door got stuck and she could not get out. She had to frantically bang on the door until an attendant heard her screaming and rescued her seconds before the shower went into toxic self-cleaning mode with her inside of it!
Anyway, we’ve played about half a dozen shows in France. We used to play Rennes at Mondo Bizarro and we love Secret Place in Montpellier. CBGS Sion looks like fun so we are really hoping that a booking agent reading this is available to take us back to France soon!
We have noticed that your group has not received much coverage in the French press. In your opinion, why aren't you better known back home?
We need to play in France more often and give them something to write about!
What are your next projects, do you have any in connection with France?
Our Beat Revolution LP is due out in the first quarter of next year. In the meantime, you can check out the video of the title track on our website, www.muckandthemires.com We are hoping to return to France as soon as possible.
Merci Muck and the Mires !