Mudhoney is an American alternative rock band. Formed in Seattle, Washington in 1988 following the demise of Green River, Mudhoney's members are singer and rhythm guitarist Mark Arm, lead guitarist Steve Turner, bassist Guy Maddison and drummer Dan Peters. Original bassist Matt Lukin left the band in 1999.
Mudhoney's early releases on the Sub Pop label, particularly their debut single "Touch Me I'm Sick" and the Superfuzz Bigmuff EP, were massively influential on the Seattle music scene. More than almost any other release of the era they inspired the dirty, high-distortion sound that would become grunge. Later on, Mudhoney also mixed heavy blues rock and punk rock into their sound at various stages. Although the band has found little commercial success during its long career, which has yielded 9 studio albums, it has inspired countless grunge and alternative rock musicians.
Mudhoney (known as Mr. Epp and the Calculation at the time) started in Bellevue, Washington, a suburb of Seattle in 1980. While at Bellevue Christian High School, Mark McLaughlin (later known as Mark Arm) and some friends started Mr. Epp and the Calculations, a band named after a math teacher of his. Initially the band was essentially a joke band rather than a serious one; their first "show" was in class singing Marvin Gaye's "Got to Give It Up", using rolled-up maps as guitars because they could not actually play any instruments. Mr. Epp and the Calculations played their first real show in 1981, three years after they formed. To make the band seem more serious, Mr. Epp added a second guitarist Steve Turner, who was in a small garage band called The Ducky Boys. Mark Arm and Steve Turner became instant friends. Mr. Epp and the Calculations appeared on KZAM-AM radio and were introduced as "the worst band in the world." They played their last show on February 3, 1984 with Malfunkshun at Seattle's Metropolis. Mark Arm and Steve Turner formed a joke-punk band called The Limp Richerds in 1984 near the end of Mr. Epp but this band ended shortly after Mr. Epp's ending as well.
Green River was formed in 1984 when Arm and Turner recruited Alex Vincent as drummer, who had previously played with Turner in the short-lived Spluii Numa. Bassist Jeff Ament joined the band after arriving in Seattle with his band Deranged Diction. Stone Gossard, another of Turner's former bandmates, was recruited as second guitarist. Green River recorded their debut EP, Come on Down, in 1985, and it is often regarded as the first true "grunge" record. Turner left the band after its release due to his distaste of the band's hard rock leanings. He was replaced by another Deranged Diction member, Bruce Fairweather. After recording another EP (Dry As a Bone) and a full-length album (Rehab Doll), the band disbanded in late 1987. Gossard, Ament, and Fairweather went on to join Mother Love Bone. Following lead singer Andrew Wood's death, Gossard and Ament went on to form Pearl Jam, and Fairweather joined Love Battery. In January 1988, Arm reunited with Turner to form Mudhoney.
Turner wanted to start a band that rehearsed before playing to a live audience. He and Arm began songwriting with Bundle of Hiss drummer Dan Peters. The trio decided that Matt Lukin, who had recently left Melvins, should join the band as bassist. They named themselves after the Russ Meyer film Mudhoney.
"Touch Me I'm Sick"
Sample of "Touch Me I'm Sick", a single by Mudhoney. The sample illustrates the song's high tempo, main guitar riff, heavy use of distortion and frenetic drumming. Also heard are band frontman Mark Arm's self-deprecating and sarcastic lyrics.
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In 1988, the band recorded and released their debut EP, Superfuzz Bigmuff, and their first single, "Touch Me I'm Sick", on the Sub Pop label. The single attracted attention and the band enjoyed moderate success in the United States. Mudhoney quickly became Sub Pop's flagship band. Sonic Youth, who were fans of the band, had invited Mudhoney to join them for a tour in the UK in 1989. After this tour Superfuzz Bigmuff entered the British indie charts and they received a respectable amount of press coverage. The band released their first album, Mudhoney, in 1989.
Kurt Cobain listed Superfuzz Bigmuff as one of the albums he thought were most influential to Nirvana's sound in his journal in 1993.
Mudhoney's first album with Reprise was Piece of Cake. In a 2008 Mojo magazine article, Turner explained the album references "how easily things had come to them...the songs were kinda half-baked..." They also contributed a track "Overblown" at this time to the soundtrack to the film Singles.
With their 1995 album My Brother the Cow they mixed their earlier and more recent sound, but Turner explained in an article in Mojo, "There was a backlash after Kurt [Cobain] killed himself. The English press were so angry that we were still around. Those were some of the worst reviews we'd ever gotten. We were mocked for still existing." The press was not all negative, as the album received praise in certain U.S. publications, including People magazine: "Leave the brooding anthems to Pearl Jam. Mudhoney delivers pure grunge—messy music that casts a powerful spell."
In 1996, Mudhoney appeared in the comedy movie Black Sheep, starring Chris Farley and David Spade. The band was shown performing at an MTV concert and then speaking with Farley backstage. Tomorrow Hit Today was released in September 1998. The album demonstrated a blues-rock influence, and the band used record producer Jim Dickinson, who worked with The Rolling Stones. They recorded the set in three different cities.
Mudhoney continued to play some concerts in the Pacific Northwest, and recruited permanent bassist Guy Maddison (of Monroe's Fur and Lubricated Goat) who had played with Arm in one of his many side projects, Bloodloss. In 2002, following their return to Sub Pop, the band recorded and released a new studio album, Since We've Become Translucent. This was followed by a major South American tour.
In early 2003 the band entered the studio to record "Hard-On For War", that would appear exclusively on Buddyhead Presents: Gimme Skelter compilation album. Later that year the band recorded Under a Billion Suns on which a new version of the song appeared. The album was released in 2006 and received favorable reviews. In 2006 the band also helped to curate an edition of the British All Tomorrow's Parties festival.
During 2007, Mudhoney played in Brazil again and went on a brief European tour. In November that year, the band released a live album entitled Live Mud, containing songs recorded at a concert in Mexico.
In 2008, Mudhoney began recording their next album with producer Tucker Martine, The Lucky Ones, which was released in May 2008. Shortly thereafter, Sub Pop released a deluxe, remastered edition of Superfuzz Bigmuff. The reissue contained the original EP in its correct running order, along with singles, demos, and two live recordings from 1988. In the liner notes of the reissued Superfuzz Bigmuff, Jay Hinman wrote:
My feeling—and I know I’m not alone in this one—is that for all the play and worldwide attention several Seattle-area bands got during the 1988-92 period, at the end of the day (and even at the time), there was Mudhoney—and then there was everybody else. To me, you, and everyone else paying close attention to underground rock music during those years, Mudhoney still sound like the undisputed kingpins of roaring, surging, fuzzed-out, punk music.
In 2009, Mudhoney announced a series of live dates. This included an extensive tour of Europe which started in Edinburgh, Scotland with Sub Pop label mates The Vaselines. The tour ended on October 26 in Tel Aviv, Israel. The group performed at the Nelsonville Music Festival in Nelsonville, Ohio in May 2009. The group played at the ATP New York 2010 music festival in Monticello, New York in September 2010, where they performed Superfuzz Bigmuff in its entirety.
In 2011, Pearl Jam had Mudhoney open for them on their 20th Anniversary tour. They were chosen by Mogwai to perform in May 2012 at the All Tomorrow's Parties 'I'll Be Your Mirror' festival at Alexandra Palace, London. In April 2013 the band put out their ninth studio album Vanishing Point on the independent label Sub Pop.
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