Sunday, April 19, 2015

An Interview With The Muggs

The Muggs have been making beautiful music for over 15 years. The band has gone through its ups and downs throughout the years, this includes appearing on a reality show and completely rethinking the set up of the band when bassist Tony Muggs had a stroke. The only constant for the band is that they play some really good music. I am inspired by their story and their perseverance. They are one of those bands that always puts on a great live show and always has a positive attitude. They recently released a new album called Straight Up Boogaloo, and they are about to embark on a European tour. They also released a new music video for the single "Applecart Blues".

We had a chance to ask the band a few questions before they head out of town. Check out what they had to say and make sure to head over to their website to give the new music a listen and the new video a watch! 

HID- What inspired you to begin playing music?
Dannymuggs- "I grew up in a family where three of my uncles sang and played acoustic guitar so I was always intrigued by the instrument and music in general. I finally decided to really learn to play when I was at MSU. I just wanted to play Beatles songs. But soon, blues music became my passion and my priority. I just listened and practiced all day. Tony and I started writing songs together around this time. He was the singer back then because he had the balls to sing original lyrics on a mic. I was scared to death. Still am, actually. But you gotta start somewhere."

HID- Who is your favorite band of all time?
Dannymuggs- "The Beatles will always be my favorite band. They did everything right and inspire me in so many ways. Queen is a close second though. Brian May is my favorite guitar player ever."

HID- How old were you when you had a stroke?
Tonymuggs- "I was 28 years young. It came totally out of the blue. No warning signs. Hell, I was the healthiest (I thought), of all my stoner friends! It came fortunately when I was at work, ironically, trying to book studio time, when I started losing my speech in a phone conversation. Luckily, one of my bosses was in during lunch hour. I came to him, couldn't speak by then (only minutes from the phone convo). He thought I may have been stung by a bee so sent me to the hospital (just to be safe). From there it went south real quick. I spent 2 months in the hospital. A couple near death experiences and yet here we are. I'm indestructible!!!"

HID- Did you know what a stroke was before it happen to you?
Tonymuggs- "I did. On my way to the hospital, I was losing my speech rapidly, and I recall telling the salesman who was driving me to the hospital that I think I'm having a stroke. My grandpa DeBol had a stroke at 82 and lost his speech. It's called aphasia. I had total paralysis of my right side too."

HID- Tell us about the process of learning to play your bass lines on piano. Did you ever think that you would play piano?
Tonymuggs- "In January 2003 I went to SoCal to rehab at this "alternative therapy clinic" in Mission Viejo, CA. It was a rip off but I met a Physical Therapist who really changed my way of thinking. Six months prior, Matt Smith, of Outrageous Cherry fame, asked if I had ever considered playing the "bass guitar" on "piano" like Ray Manzrek of The Doors. It never occurred to me!!! So when I was in Cali I called Dannymuggs, long distance, about trying it out and he said "Go for it kid!". So I did! 3-4 hours a day, 4 months straight and I gained a working knowledge of interpreting a "bass guitar" to "piano". The rest was just dialing in a good bass tone through an Ampeg bass head (with equalizers) and 6x10 bass cab."

HID- What gave you the strength to pick up and get your life back after the stroke?
Tonymuggs- "Love of music and my mom Judy! I've always routed for the underdog and now I'm looking at me as the underdog. Once I discovered I could play again, I threw myself at it as fast and as hard as I could. What was I thinking? I wasn't thinking. I was reacting. It gave me purpose, it gave me meaning, it completely absolved me of my handicap. My mom, Judy, was amazing throughout this time. I feel so lucky to have had her. What child can say he got the love and care from a mother twice in one lifetime? This guy!!! Judy never pressed me about getting back to work or anything like that. She let me figure my shit out and I'll forever be thankful for her selflessness and perfect humility."

HID- Do you ever get recognized for being on “The Next Great American Band”?
Dannymuggs- "I still get recognized all the time for being in that show. So many people in Detroit watched the show and voted for us. So cool. I'm a bartender at the Cadieux Cafe so people always come up to me and say "Hey! I remember you from that show" although nobody can remember what the show was called. It was a hilarious and surreal experience."

HID- The Muggs' bio states that the Muggs got a lot of attention after playing the Blowout in 2001. The festival has changed a lot in the last few years, what do you think of the “new Blowout”? Do you think that it still has the relevance that it once had?
Dannymuggs- "I still love The Blowout. A lot of people complain about the politics of it and what-not, but I don't get caught up in all that noise. All I know is its a great forum to see a cornucopia of awesome Detroit bands in one weekend. A celebration of Detroit music is always a good thing and great for the city."

HID- Tell us about the new album. Where was it recorded? How many songs?
Todd Glass- "We recorded all the rhythm tracks and most of the overdubs and some vocals at The Brooksfield Gentlemen's Club in Detroit. Owned and operated by Adam Cox. I play with Adam in The Octopus as well and had been cutting tracks there and I really liked the tones he was getting so I suggested it to the guys. While we were recording the building that the studio was in got sold and Adam had to move out. (He's currently building a new studio) Another brilliant Engineer I've been working with is Jason Kuehn at his Blend Studio. Jason and I had worked together on other projects and he's a world class engineer/producer so we finished some guitars and most of the vocals there. It couldn't have worked out better. This record was a fresh approach for us as a band and having new ears to get the sounds on tape was a great choice."

HID- You also released a new video, what was the inspiration behind that project and who created it?
Tonymuggs- "My mom's basement! Drew Podgorski, a brilliant video editor, whom I met about two years ago did this music video. He had similar deficiencies on his right side (having survived a stroke as well) and we have been like brothers ever since. Getting back to the video, The Muggs wanted a video that married our live rehearsal setting and cool "b-roll" European footage from 2012 & 2013 EU tours. We practice in my mom & Gary's basement so no need to find a place to film other than mom's. Mom's basement is quaint & snug and perfect for our first of many music videos off our new LP Straight Up Boogaloo."

HID- What are you most looking forward to on your European tour?
Glass- "Well, number one it's always nice to visit Spain and Germany, just to be in that part of the world is always fun. I'm just looking forward to further spreading The Muggs' music there. We have a core group of fans that I can't wait to perform for, but we are hoping to attract even more this time. We have a great team over there and things get better each time we go so far. Plus, we'll get to see many of the great friends we've made over the last few years."

HID- Are you listening to any local bands right now? If so, who?
Tonymuggs- "Moonwalks are blowing my mind right now as well as The ERERS, Outrageous Cherry, Duende!, The Beggars can't be beat!!! the Vonneguts, Size Queen for you punks, this awesome Cream tribute band, Tales of Cream, Dead Again- Grateful Dead tribute, Audra Kubat, Mike Galbraith, it's endless really. I love supporting local music. I need it every week!!!"
Dannymuggs- "AwesomeR is the best band on the planet, but those pompous jerks only play one gig a year. But I really dig Moonwalks, Blaire Alise, John Holk, John Speck, Matt Smith and any band that Eddie Baranek is in."

HID- Is there anything else that you would like our readers to know?
Dannymuggs- "Tony and I spent the night in jail for climbing on a church roof. Todd and I snore, but Tony doesn't. Theotis Toddlinski owes me 10 bucks and the moon landings were faked."


No comments:

Post a Comment