A CHAT WITH: KIM SHATTUCK (THE MUFFS)
aaamusic | On 23, Jul 2014
The Muffs’ front-woman Kim Shattuck has been part of the US alt-rock scene since the ’80s, initially achieving underground fame via the all-female rock group The Pandoras. Those not familiar with The Muffs or The Pandoras might recognise Kim Shattuck’s name regardless, from her controversially short-lived time with Pixies – she replaced Kim Deal on bass before allegedly being fired after a few months.
The Muffs, however, are her priority and have been since 1991 – she sings, plays the guitar and writes the music. They have just released their first album in a decade, entitled Whoop De Doo. Join us as Kim speaks with AAA Music editor Clive Rozario about her new album and the truth about getting fired from the Pixies…
Hi Kim. You’re gearing up to release your first studio album with The Muffs in 10 years. Can you tell us a little about why there has been such a big gap since your last release?
Kim Shattuck: After touring for our last album, Really Really Happy, I started feeling burnt out, so I went back to school for photography. I used to do photography before I was corrupted by rock n’ roll. But I love writing songs so much I can’t stay away, so after a while I had a bunch of cool songs that I was just keeping to myself and the guys started wondering if I had any…So I emailed my demos and they said they loved ’em. Gradually, I wrapped my head around doing another record and slowly we recorded it. Very slowly.
What about the songwriting process this time round – did you write alone or was it a collaborative process with the other members?
Kim Shattuck: I always write songs alone. It’s a very intimate process.
Did you write the songs recently or is the album a collection of songs written over the past decade?
Kim Shattuck: I wrote these between 2006 and 2010.
AAAmusic: What comes most naturally to you, writing music or writing lyrics?
Kim Shattuck: Writing melodies is my favorite thing in the world. So music first, lyrics last.
The album is called Whoop Dee Doo, allegedly referencing a quote by Pixies frontman Black Francis regarding your departure from the band. Has your time with Pixies influenced your album or shows in any other ways?
Kim Shattuck: The Muffs album was completely mixed and ready to be mastered in the fall of 2012 when Charles [aka Black Francis] started asking me if I wanted to join the Pixies. By the time I passed the audition in January 2013, I realised I was going to have to put the untitled Muffs album on hold. Then from January to July, Joey [Pixies guitarist], Dave [Pixies drummer] and I rehearsed usually three times a week. Once in a while Charles would fly out and it would be all four of us practicing for eight hours a day. It was like having an unpaid full-time job. By the time it was announced that Kim Deal had quit in June, I’d been in the Pixies secretly for six months.
During the Pixies tours from September to November 2013, The Muffs were securing our record deals with Burger and Cherry Red Records. It was only at the last minute that we realised the title of Whoop Dee Doo would be perfect. But our next album will probably be all about the Pixies. Haha!
Have you come across any of the Pixies since their manager called you to tell you they were going to hire a different bass player? Have they spoken to you in person?
Kim Shattuck: Nope. Radio silence from all of ’em. Joey called me once about a month after I was fired. He called to tell me to quit talking shit about them in the press. I wasn’t. He said it wasn’t cool that I announced being fired before they could announce it. Haha. Tough shit. It’s my life. And I waited several hours before I announced it. I wasn’t talking shit either. I was announcing my new situation. But he started talking shit about me soon after. I found it all to be extremely entertaining.
Back to The Muffs…Your music is regularly described as pop punk. Do you consider The Muffs a pop punk band?
Kim Shattuck: It’s hard for me to categorise The Muffs. We are melodic and loud. But I’m influenced by jazz too. Our aggression reminds people of punk. That’s fine. It’s way better than being called heavy metal, which I totally hate.
What is your all-time favourite song to perform live and why?
Kim Shattuck: I’ve always loved performing ‘End it All’. It’s a compact, bittersweet little ditty and it’s fun to sing. I’m also a big fan of playing the solo and the cool bass on that.
What’s your favourite musical memory of touring in the ’90s?
Kim Shattuck: It’s totally hard to pick out one. There are tons of insane stories, but one of my happy memories is when we headlined the Fillmore in San Francisco in 1997 and that was a huge honor for me. Such a historic venue. And it was a riotous show.
Any plans to tour the UK?
Kim Shattuck: We want to play in the UK so bad. It’s been a long time since we’ve performed there. When I was with the Pixies last fall we played for Steve Lamacq on BBC 6, The Jools Holland show, and the iTunes Festival at the Roundhouse and it was insanely fun. I love the UK and can’t wait to come back with The Muffs!
Lastly, what are your aspirations for the future? Would you ever consider a solo record under your own name?
Kim Shattuck: My goal is to keep putting out records with The Muffs. My other goal is to continue producing bands. I love producing. Putting music out under my own name is possible but I think the act is much stronger when I do it with Ronnie and Roy. We are like a gang. In a good way.