Kim Shattuck to Potato Gibberish about the story of
The Muffs. One of the most loved pop-punk bands
of the 90's.
Interview done 10/05/07.
First of all, thank you very much for your time.
I know you have been very busy lately. How are
Kim: I'm great, thanks. Very busy with my stuff but happy.
What kind of music did you listen to while growing
Kim: When I was a little kid I listened to Yogi Bear
and the Flintstones on Hanna Barbara Records. I had a
See and Say record player where you put the single on
and there is a strip of slides you coordinate in the
machine that plays while you listen. And you read along
with a book at the same time.
The See and Say played records at 78 rpm, 45 rpm, 33 1/3
rpm, and 16 rpm. I used to listen to my favorite kiddy
songs on every speed.
Then I found my parents McGuire Sisters record and learned
how to sing every harmony in every song.
Could you please tell us a brief history of The Muffs?
Where are you guys from? When did you start playing
Kim: The Muffs formed in 1991 in Los Angeles, CA. It was me, my boyfriend at
the time Ronnie Barnett, my bandmate from the Pandoras, Melanie Vammen and Criss
Crass. Then Criss Crass and Melanie both ended up quitting and Roy McDonald came
into the band and we became a 3 piece.
Who came up with the name of the band? Does the name
have a meaning or a story behind it?
Kim: I don't remember who actually yelled it out, but we were all shouting out
name ideas and my only firm notion was it had to be a noun, start with a "the" and
What artists or bands do you consider your major
influence in music? What motivates you to write music?
What are some of your all-time favorite bands?
Kim: I was hugely influenced by the early Kinks, The Beatles, The Pixies and
The Ramones when we first started. Then a little later got really into stuff
like Dean Martin.
In the 80's, you decided to leave The Pandoras to
start The Muffs. What made you change your music
Kim: My style had always been the same, and since I had no choice in the matter
regarding the songwriting, since Paula stubbornly insisted that only she wrote
the songs. So I bided my time and started writing songs for myself, never playing
them for anyone. I started becoming better at my songwriting so I shyly played
it for someone backward. Then I got braver and played it for Ronnie and Melanie
and they both said they were much better than Paula's songs. Which actually wasn't
saying much by then because all her songs at that time were rip offs of bad hair
metal songs of the day. They encouraged me to keep going with it and I did.
After the whole Green Day explosion in the mid-90's,
many music producers started going to underground
punk shows looking to hire bands for bigger
record labels. One of those bands was The Muffs.
How did the whole moving to a major label process
go? Do you have any stories from that time?
Kim: We were actually on Warner Brothers by 1992 way before Green Day were signed
to Reprise. We came in on the grunge wave when every A & R person was looking
for their new Nirvana and Mudhoney. What happened was an A & R guy was at
a show we opened up and he came up to us afterwards to see if we were receptive
to the idea of doing a demo deal. I was weirded out because of my bad experience
with the Pandoras on Elektra Records but gave him my phone number anyway. Eventually
we ended up doing a 4 song demo for them and were picked up for a contract.
The Muffs started releasing records in small local
and independent labels, later to be hired by the giant
Warner Bros. Records. What do you think was the biggest
difference between recording in a small studio and
a major label?
Kim: The recording budget is the biggest difference from small contract to big
major label contract. That and on a major label you get in their system and their
sole job is to work your band. Without the machine you have to do everything
yourself and it's harder to get in the door.
In 1994 you recorded vocals for NOFX's song Lori
Meyers and in 1999 you released an album with Honest
Don's Records which is a subsidiary of Fat Wreck.
Are you good friends Fat Mike and the Fat Wreck gang?
Do you get along with other punk rock bands?
Kim: Fat Mike is a nice guy. The Fat Wreck gang were good to us in 1999. I guess
I get along with punk bands. I don't think about it like that.
Many fans consider Blonder and Blonder and Happy
Birthday to Me The Muff's best releases. Both
records were released during your stay in Warner
Bros. Records. What was the main reason for The Muffs
to be dropped from the label after those releases?
Would you consider that major labels are more
interested in quantity more than quality?
Kim: I think the label and us grew apart. We had a manager at the time who was
a lying creep and he probably messed up that relationship too. I heard they thought
Happy Birthday to Me sounded too indy. I think it sounds classic. Oh well.
What is the story behind the Courtney Love's voice
message posted in your b-sides compilation Hamburger?
Kim: Courtney was a fixture in Hollywood and read everything she could get her
hands on and it was fun to fuck with her. So when we did a Fizz magazine interview,
they asked me who started the dress. The dress was the babydoll job that lots
of girls in LA were wearing at the time. So I purposely said Kat from Babes in
Toyland started the dress, knowing that it was a point of contention with Courtney
and that Courtney would react. She had my moms phone number for some reason and
late one night left the drunken message. I kept it because it was so funny.
The Muffs' newest album Really, Really Happy has
a lot of happier and mellower songs than the previous
albums. Would you consider that your writing style
has changed? Is there a reason for this change?
Kim: The change of my songwriting is the natural change because I am maturing
and I don't want to write the same song over and over. I think they are definitely
happier songs. I'm a happier person so it makes sense.
Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to interview
the lead singer of The Queers, Joe Queer and he mentioned
The Muffs as one of his favorite bands. How do you
feel when you hear that your music has served as
inspiration to other artists?
Kim: Joe is a great guy. He's one salty character! We toured together and had
a great time. I think it's nice that we inspired a few folks. That's how it is
in music. We inspire someone, someone inspires me and so on and so forth.
What is the band currently up to? Can we expect a
new record soon? Do you have any projects in mind?
Kim: We're taking a long-ass break right now. I've gone back to school to brush
up on my photography. I love photography and am starting to do it again.
Are The Muffs going to go all political like many
other bands have?
Kim: Oh god, no. There's nothing that dates your band faster than political lyrics.
And how preachy does it sound to bitch about the status quo? I should write a
song about how global warming is a crock of shit!
Last, but not least. What do you consider is the
most important thing about punk music?
Kim: like the DIY mentality and the goofy hair don'ts. I'm a huge fan of singsongy
lyrics and loud guitars. Whatever punk band does that gets a gold star!