By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
“My wife and I go, ‘What?’
“Ted says, ‘Well, I’ve been a drummer since I was 8 years old.’
“And my wife and I go, ‘WHAT?!’ So we devised this plan where Curt would be unwittingly duped into letting Ted play the drums — we’d kind of just slide it in, and catch it on film. But Curt wouldn’t pay any attention. I’m saying, ‘Curt! On the monitor! Lookit! It’s Ted! Playing drums! He’s really good! He’s been playing since he was 8 years old!’ And he wants to play drums on the record for free!
“Curt finally looks, and there’s Ted, up on the monitors. Digga-digga-digga-DIGGA! digga-digga-digga-DIGGA! CHUNGA!-dung-gung-gung-gung . . .
“Curt’s like, ‘What the fuck? That sadist! He fuckin’ saw me beatin’ myself up all day yesterday? I’m dyin’ here!’ So now Ted’s the drummer. And that’s Ted’s story.”
It seems strange to be eating when the band’s due onstage at the Troubadour in less than an hour. “Do you guys always eat right before you go on?”
“Depends,” says Curt. “Fish is good, sushi’s good, and the tofu. If I ate a steak right now, though, I’d have to take a nap.”
“I’m trying to remember what I ‘do’ and ‘don’t do,’ ” says Cris. “You know what I mean? It’s been so long.”
We talk about art, fish and prison. Cris shows me his arms, heavily scarred, top to bottom and all around — beyond anything I’ve seen.
“They were talking about some of the things that he made up,” says Cris, “and I’m like, that is so much less harsh than my reality, and he made that up to make it seem bad?! It doesn’t even come close.
“Jesus,” Cris sighs. “I gotta get in on this book thing.” And then he rolls his eyes and leers at me like Groucho. “You know, Dave, I might be in the market for a ghostwriter . . .”
After dinner, the Meat Puppets will find the Troubadour packed with enthusiastic, mostly male 20- to 60-somethings. Perhaps to emphasize the significance of their brotherliness, they’ll kick off their set with the rapid rocker “Sam,” from 1991’s Forbidden Places, which begins with Curt and Cris chanting rapid-fire triplets in almost impossibly meticulous unison. By the end of “Sam,” the collar of Cris’ untucked button-down turns dark with Meat Puppet juice; over the ensuing two-hour spankin’-tight, groovin’, punkin’ psychedelic expedition, the darkness will spread downward, slowly, song by song, making its way past the .38 slug that remains embedded within, and on down to the end, to the very last song, completely saturated to the ’tails.
“Ask me anything you want, Dave,” says Cris, just before the van pulls up to take them to the gig. “Ask away.”
“All right,” I say. “When the boulder gets to the top of the hill and then rolls back down, how fast should you run after it so you can push it back up again?”
“I’d just fuckin’ lay down and quit.”
“That is . . . not the right answer. You’re supposed to be having this rebirth thing — the wayward brother who goes through hell and returns to his brother, his band, and then everything is good. Needs to be more noble.”
“All right,” says Cris. “In that case [Cris alters voice and face to effect a he-man rugged-individualist character, noble preacher of self-bootstrap-pullery], “what I do, before I even start pushing that boulder up that hill, is run to the top and build that mountain up higher! ’Cause I can’t get enough! I can’t get enough of pushing that boulder!”
The Meat Puppets’ new album, Rise to Your Knees, comes out July 17.