Mud, Blood and Beer’s “Gone for Good” EP (and two free full length downloads)
NYC’s Mud, Blood and Beer have followed up their self-titled debut disc with another dose of guitar-heavy tunes flavored with a touch of twang and jangle on Gone for Good. Mining the usual influences (see interview that follows) several tracks on MB&B’s latest have a Nuggetsish (made-up word) 1960’s feel. With at least one foot in the alt-country camp “Mine the Light” adds pedal steel (David Kaye) and is the most country flavored track and one of my favorite tunes from the disc. My only complaint, and perhaps a selfish one, is the brevity of the disc but Jess Hoeffner (songwriter/guitar/vocals) was kind enough to talk with me about perseverance and the problems and pleasures of completing the project.
HB-Warren Zevon sang about “piss, sweat, jizz and blood”. Cool lyrics but not really a great band name. Blood Sweat and Tears? Taken. How did you come up with Mud, Blood and Beer?
JH-The four of us come from very different music backgrounds, but one of the few areas of overlap between us is Johnny Cash. After one of our earlier rehearsals we were drinking at a pub around the corner from our rehearsal studio in Manhattan trying to come up with a band name and Stephen (our bassist) suggested the name which as you probably know comes from a line in the Shel Silverstein/Johnny Cash song “A Boy Named Sue”: “And we crashed through a wall and into the street kicking and a gouging in the mud and the blood and the beer”. The sentiment seemed to reflect who we are-kind of grimy, raw and gin-soaked.
JH-Thanks! We’re really happy with it, especially considering all that went into the recording process. We were really happy with our first album but the studio time to make a record like that became prohibitively expensive. I’m fortunate enough to have quite a few friends who are recording engineers so I spent about six months picking their brains and investing in some recording equipment. I spent a few months experimenting with the new gear and finally felt comfortable enough to try and make a record. We recorded drums, bass and some scratch guitars/vocals in our drummer’s living room and then spent a few weeks overdubbing guitars and vocals at my place. It was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed the creative control of being able to record whenever the mood hit me (as long as my kid wasn’t asleep in the next room). About halfway though the record, we had a falling out with out other guitarist/songwriter so when he left we were down to only half the songs. With the project nearly complete we decided to release it as an EP instead of as a full-length record. We had initially discussed perhaps either taking the time to write more songs or maybe waiting to find a replacement guitarist/songwriter. But not wanting to delay the project any longer we just wrapped it up and called it an EP. On a personal level, I just needed closure so that I felt like we could have a clean break and move on to bigger and better things. We were fortunate enough to find new guitarist/songwriter Jon Glover and he brought a lot of fresh ideas and enthusiasm to the project. He came out to my place one Saturday and tore through a bunch of guitar solos and some additional rhythm guitar parts that really complemented the songs. He’s an immensely talented guy and we’re fortunate to have him in the band.
So with all of our tracking completed I brought my files to my friend Greg Thompson to mix the songs. Greg is a fantastically gifted musical engineer who won a Grammy award for his work with They Might Be Giants. He took my raw DIY tracks and turned it into a really great sounding record. I’m very fortunate to have so many really talented friends. I think the songs on Gone for Goodare the best we’ve done (so far). They’re introspective and thoughtful but at the same time it’s a big loud rock record. It’s definitely an album that’s meant to be played really fucking loud while driving way too fast. If you’re in NYC come out to our album release party on February 4th at The Bitter End!
HB– I hear the Byrds, The Long Ryders, Jason and the Scorchers and Uncle Tupelo. But feel free to tell me if I’m wrong or if you’d like to add some other bands that have influenced you.
JH– Yeah, I’m a huge Uncle Tupelo fan and I absolutely love Son Volt too. Jay Farrar just burns with authenticity which is something I really value. Drive-By Truckers is a big influence as well-they just have so many incredible songs. When I was a kid I listened to R.E.M. for years and that is definitely reflected in the songs I write. CCR too! I love the simplicity of their song structures and arrangements and the raw power with which they’re delivered. An amazing band. Neil Young, The Sadies, Waco Brothers, The Silos and Blue Rodeo too.
HB-In concert do you throw any covers in your sets?
JH-We almost always throw Hank Williams’ “Six More Miles” somewhere into the set. It’s just an incredible song that’s fun top play. We do it fast and twangy. We’re currently working on a version of the Blasters’ “Long White Cadillac”.
HB-I can’t quite put my finger on it but on a few tracks I got an alt-country sound but with an almost sixties rock sound?
JH– Jon added more of a Don Rich vs. Danny Gatton vibe to flesh out the psychobilly elements hidden in the songs. He’s a ferocious guitar player. Jon and Stephen (bassist) were in a rockabilly band together about ten years ago so they both come to the table with those influences filtered through a bit of a garage/punk window as well.
HB– Weirdest gig?
JH-We played a show at NYC’s Rodeo Bar in February 2010 the night of the worst snow storm in 75 years. Big, crazy gig, and it was pretty obvious that the folks who made it out to the show despite the storm were there to party. It was just a wild fun night and we played for almost three hours. Of course, when it was over I had to dig out my car from beneath four feet of snow but hey man, that’s rock & roll. It’s not always pretty.
HB-Thanks Jess and best of luck to you and the band with Gone for Good in 2012!
HB note: While internet stalking the band I stumbled across this info from Jess:
“In February 2011 I participated in the RPM Challenge the goal of which is essentially to write, record and produce an entire album (10 songs or 35 minutes of original music) in just 28 days. The resulting record is called Crooked Highway, a fun side project featuring Jess Hoeffner and Stephen Sperber of Mud Blood and Beer. Here is a download of Crooked Highway. We hope you dig it as much as we do.”
Stephen Swalsky (bass), Jon Glover (guitar/vocals), Stephen Sperber (drums), Jess Hoeffner (guitar/vocals)