meat puppets

Left:Curt Kirkwood's live soloing is something to behold, enabling him to take entire songs hostage with his experimental bending, stompboxing, EBowing, and other techniques.Right: Bassist Cris Kirkwood plays Fender Precision basses, following in the footsteps of two of his favorite players—James Jamerson and Dusty Hill.

Photos by Jaime Butler

Hailing from the “middle of nowhere” in Arizona, brothers Curt and Cris Kirkwood continue the Meat Puppets’ irreverent psychedelic grunge on "Rat Farm," solidifying a legacy of desert-punk songcraft that influenced a generation.

There was no shortage of punk bands in America's suburbs as we entered the '80s, but very few of them continue to make music today. The Meat Puppets, however, are very much alive and well, and have just released their 14th album, Rat Farm.

Formed by brothers Curt and Cris Kirkwood, and their high school friend, Derrick Bostrom, the band fused hardcore punk, classic rock, AM radio country, and more than a little of Doc Watson's influence into a unique sound that only could have happened in the Arizona Desert. But their survival, both as a band and as people, was far from guaranteed. After years of hard living, the band found itself in disarray in the late '90s, with Cris eventually serving two years in prison in 2003 after an altercation with a security guard. Tough times for a band that had a gold record (Too High to Die) under its belt, a successful tour supporting Stone Temple Pilots at the top of their game, and joined one of its biggest fans, Kurt Cobain, onstage during Nirvana's now legendary MTV Unplugged in New York performance, which included three songs from Meat Puppets II in the set.

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