Lollipop, the Meat Puppets’ new country-rockish CD, isn’t even close to the sun-baked 1990’s desert thrash that defined the trio. If you’re looking for anything akin to 1994’s Too High to Die, you won’t find it here. No one could have predicted the Puppets of today back then. But if the band has a new message, it turns out that it is not so new after all.
“I actually wrote the first track on Lollipop in about 1983,” says Curt Kirkwood from his home in Austin. “But we’ve always had the ability to do different stuff. We covered ‘Tumbling Tumbleweeds’ on our first record, and Doc Watson’s ‘Walking Boss.’ We were caught up in the over-the-top approach of the punk-rock thing. We weren’t punk rockers. We just thought it was, like, the new ’60s or something. Punk rock is just another style, and we can still do it, but it’s an anachronism now.”
One could attribute the Puppets’ peripatetic musical direction on the band’s hometown of Phoenix. “There’s a hardcore Alice Cooper–sort of a surrealism coming from Phoenix. There’s a wide variety. You’ve got your Stevie Nicks coming from here. Marty Robbins is from Phoenix. Duane Eddy did his stuff here. The Tubes were big for me. They’re from Phoenix.” The problem with Phoenix, he says, is too much time on your hands. “And there’s no ocean.”
Kirkwood found childhood respite in San Diego. “My grandfather lived in Santee. He moved out there in the 1950s. I spent a lot of time there, fishing as a kid at El Capitan reservoir and all that.” Is Lollipop an indication of the Puppets’ future? “You make a different thing every time. That’s the way I look at it. It’s a soundtrack for a movie that doesn’t exist. And then I move on to the next one, whatever that will be.”
Flamingo also performs.
MEAT PUPPETS: The Casbah, Tuesday, June 14, 8:30 p.m. 619-232-4355. $15.