Kim Shattuck on How Getting Fired by the Pixies Named Her Album
Kim Shattuck The Muffs
The Muffs (Kim Shattuck, Ronnie Barnett and Roy McDonald) have been writing and performing spirited, clever and fierce pop-punk tunes since they formed in the very early 1990s. Their first full-length release in 10 years, Whoop Dee Doo, hit the streets this week and both fans and critics are eating it up like candy, rightfully so. The 12-song recording is loaded with exciting, dynamic and catchy songs delivered with all the punch and spunk these longtime rockers have made us expect. Kim Shattuck, the band's lead vocalist and guitarist, was in the garage rock band The Pandoras, prior to The Muffs, and most recently did some time with the Pixies. Shattuck, whose voice can whip from snarl to sweet before you can blink an eye, got chatty with us about all that and more.
The reviews [of your new record] so far have all been over-the-top good. That has to feel great
I am very happy with the reviews. The thing about reviews is, though, if I do see a bad review, that's fine, because I feel very good about this record. The only time bad reviews make me mad is when I'm feeling insecure about something. I feel confident with this one in a positive way, not at all in an arrogant way. I'm just very, very happy with how it came it out. When I was listening to the mastered tracks the first time, it wasn't quite sitting right. I was in a super critical mode when I listened to it. This was before the Pixies tour. When I got back from that tour, I went and did a little tweaking with the mastering guy and when I left there, I was listening to it and I started crying. I just kept thinking, "I love it, oh my God, it's perfect, it's done." I got really emotional -- that's how I good I feel about it.
This is the first Muffs full-length in 10 years. Why so much time in between releases?
After Really Really Happy (2004), I just wanted to take a little time off to do some things I wanted to do, like photography and to focus on home life. I guess time just kind of slipped away. Around 2006, I started writing again but I didn't tell the guys at that point that I was writing new stuff. It was a couple of years later when I told them they really wanted to hear it so I sent them demos and they were like, "We can't believe you haven't shared these songs yet -- we gotta make a record!"
Whoop Dee Doo is on Burger Records. How did you guys hook up with get involved with them?
I originally heard about them from our drummer Roy who heard about them from Steve McDonald from Redd Kross -- Roy also plays inRedd Kross. Steve is the kind of guy that knows everything about everything that's going on in the music world. I am the opposite of that kind of person; I live under a rock and do my own thing. Steve was telling us that Burger was amazing. Roy met them with Redd Kross and they were great. I really liked their name. Burger is like the best name for a label, ever. Right before it came out that I was gonna play with the Pixies, we went down to their store and had lunch with them and talked. I was stoked by how sincere they are. They have their shit together and know what they're doing. Super cool guys and the whole thing they've created is perfect and perfect for us.
They've definitely got presence and have developed a great scene.
It's definitely nice to have something with that good of a scene and great vibes, all the people we have met are really nice. I haven't seen anything like that in a long time. I'm so glad they took us on. Some of the labels we talked to didn't seem as enthusiastic and didn't have the vibe we wanted. The Burger guys are happy, positive and make things happen.
Do you actively go out to see new bands?
Like I said, I'm kind of in my own world. I don't really go out to clubs unless I really know that I want to see a specific band. I don't just go out and see whatever band happens to be playing. I usually have a plan. I go to more baseball games than I do to clubs lately.
So now that Whoop Dee Doo is out, will a tour follow?
We are taking an interesting approach to touring right now. We picked specific spots for this year. Next year we'll probably go on a longer tour. We're playing west coast, then east coast, followed by a trip to Japan and then a couple different things in December. We're going to do it in spurts rather than long drawn out tours because that's just hard to do. I have a really nice family life and I like being home. You know, we're older now. I have a dog, who's like my son.
Are you completely over talking about your experience with the Pixies?
No, not at all. I'm like an open book; there's no topic that is off limits with me.
I guess it's safe to say you named the album Whoop Dee Doo based on Black Francis' quote regarding your dismissal from the Pixies as "A shift in the line-up, big whoop-dee-doo?"
Oh, totally! What's really funny about that is that we were done with the record even before I was asked to be in the Pixies. We were just finishing the mixes and I was being really slow with them, taking a lot of time with the process because I can be a perfectionist, though I am trying to work on not being one all the time because it can be a bit of a bummer. Anyhow, I wanted everything to be just right like I knew it could be. We finally got the order of the songs right, got through everything else but we didn't have a title. I had one idea that the guys didn't like at all and then all of a sudden Charles [Pixies front man Black Francis] says in the press, "whoop-dee-doo," and all three of us texted each other at once when we saw it saying "Now, that's an album title - - that's an amazing album title!" We thought it would be funny. We titled Blonder and Blonder after something Courtney Love said to me once when she walked by me in a club, because my hair was blonder than she'd seen it and she felt threatened. She said "Blonder and blonder, I see," [which Shattuck utters in a funny, witchy voice]. Ronnie brought it to the table that "Blonder and Blonder" should be an album title. Our next record, Happy Birthday to Me, got its name because I was in the studio recording on my birthday and the guys said they'd come down and take me for a drink but then they ended up going out to a show instead and flaked on me so I was all bummed, like, "Well, happy birthday to me," [laughs]. So, yeah, when "whoop-dee-doo" came tumbling out of his mouth we decided it would be our album title. We did all the artwork with the title on it, had the press release ready to go and then Ronnie decided he was having second thoughts about using that title and I was like "Fuck. You. No. It's done. Too late." (Laughter). He's fine with it now.