Stuck in the Muck
By A.J. Wachtel
After a recent show, an excited member of their audience went up to to the group and loudly exclaimed “you are my new favorite band in Boston,” as the members smiled politely and knowingly. It’s not the first time this has happened and they’ve heard this sentiment; and in fact it has almost become de rigueur to hear similar comments after any and all of their gigs. Their passion and talent is unsurpassed on the scene and their perfect performances are both exciting and memorable. Muck & the Mires are Muck (Evan Shore) on guitar, Pedro Mire (Peter Sjostedt) on guitar, John Quincy Mire (Hugh Beckett) on bass, and Jessie Best (Linda Shore) on drums.
Read the following and you will declare that Muck & The Mires are your favorite band too.
Noise: Muck & The Mires began as a studio project you released in 2001 as All Mucked Up — The Best of Muck and the Mires and you then assembled a band with each member stepping into fictitious pseudonyms listed on the original record jacket. Is this a correct synopsis and how has the band evolved and changed in the past fifteen years?
Muck: Exactly. I made home demos of a fictitious early ’60s band called Muck & the Mires. For authenticity, I even panned the vocals to one side like they used to do back then. Then to my surprise it got released on AMP Records in Canada and later on vinyl from Soundflat Records in Germany. I kind of knew going in that it might be fun to play out once or twice as a side project, so on the sleeve, I had given the drummer the unisex name “Jessie Best” to leave the door open for Linda. And the guitarist was named “Pete Mire,” because I already had Peter (aka Pedro Mire), from the Apehangers, in mind for the guitar position. It took about a year and a half for the band to evolve from studio project to side project to full-time band.
Noise: Did you initially plan the humor of a brand new band releasing a “Best of” album and is a bit of satirical commentary behind everything the band does?
Muck: Well humor and fun seem to have attracted any success that we may have had. I mean, first we record a greatest hits compilation by a band called Muck & the Mires who are so obscure you can’t even find any of their original records, and that leads to us getting signed. And even after we started taking things a bit more seriously, we continue using their ridiculous stage names and dress like them in matching attire. When Muck started out, grunge was winding down. Music was very serious, and no one even smiled when they played. We decided to bring back the joy that went missing from rock ’n’ roll, but deliver it with a serious punch.
Noise: An early Boston area show had you opening up for Mike Smith of The Dave Clark Five. Did you blow him off the stage when he saw how focused and authentic you were playing the music he helped invent?
Muck: Well, there was no blowing away Mike Smith. He’s easily one of the greatest rock ’n’ roll singers that’s ever lived and a big influence on our band. Many people don’t realize that Mike Smith was the lead singer and Dave Clark was the drummer. Mike was extremely friendly and was really impressed that we were using Vox amplifiers. He walked up to my amp and said, “We played Shea Stadium with these… but just these… no PA!”
Noise: In 2004 you released your first proper album Beginner’s Muck and were featured on MTV when you became co-winners of Little Steven’s Underground Garage Battle of the Bands. What did this do for your career and what is Steven Van Zandt like in person. Did he ever jam with you?
Muck: Steven’s a great guy. The experience definitely brought us a lot of exposure. It’s kind of like winning the Boston Rock ’n’ Roll Rumble, but in 50 states. We’ve never jammed with Steven or anyone. Our songs are two minutes long, and we don’t stop between them. So by the time anyone got up there, plugged in and tuned up, the song would already be over.
Jessie: This was such an amazing experience. We got to play at Steven’s festival on Randall’s Island in 2004 and he let us hang out on the stage in the back and we got to watch all the acts – Bo Diddley, The Strokes, The Stooges and many more. It was surreal.
Noise: Are you a British Invasion or a Garage Rock Band?
Muck: Hard to say. We’re not British and we don’t rehearse in a garage. We play loud and fast like The Ramones. I guess that makes us New England power pop punk.
Noise: Muck, your previous bands, The Queers and The Voodoo Dolls, were both known for their great live shows as are Muck & The Mires. Currently, your shows are high energy, fast-paced, post punk, gritty garage rock ’n’ roll. Is performing live in your DNA or what makes your name and electric events so strongly connected?
Muck: Well, I love what we do, and I guess it just shows.
Noise: What’s the difference between hearing a song on your CD and seeing you perform it onstage?
JQ Mire: Live it’s much louder, faster, and sweatier.
Noise: You have toured in Austria, Canada, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Norway, Spain, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Japan and The United States. What’s the difference in American and foreign audiences and is your show the same everywhere you go?
JQ Mire: In Europe people tend to dress up real fancy for the occasion.
Muck: One thing that is incredible about foreign audiences is their knowledge of Boston rock ’n’ roll history. They seem to know more than we do! They’ve all heard of The Remains, The Real Kids, DMZ, Lyres. I’ve autographed Voodoo Dolls records in Austria and Tokyo. Crazy! I don’t even know where they found them. Our live show is pretty much the same wherever we go. We like to bring that classic Boston sound to the masses!
Noise: You’ve played The Cavern Club in Liverpool. What’s that like?
JQ Mire: Going into that place feels like entering some sort of ancient cathedral. There’s something really magical about it.
Muck: Yeah. We wanted to capture the moment, so we paid something like $50 for a VHS of our show and when we got it home, not only did the tape not play correctly, but it looked like they recorded over one of their worn out security tapes. It was completely unwatchable!
Noise: You arranged a meeting with ex-Beatles manager Allan Williams known as “the man who gave The Beatles away.” Rumor has it he declined the band’s offer of a management position. Fact or fiction and what was his excuse?
Muck: True! I have a video of him declining on tape. Someday I’ll find it and post it. Allan took us on a tour of Liverpool which turned into an all-night pub crawl.
JQ Mire: We should have asked him later in the evening!
Noise: In 2011 you released A Cellarful of Muck produced by Jim Diamond of White Stripes fame. How did this happen and what did he bring to the table?
Muck: We first met Jim down at SXSW in Austin. We were huge fans and made a plan to hook up in Detroit. In the studio, Jim had us set up all close together in a semi circle so we were able to play live without headphones. In doing so, he managed to capture not only the band, but also the energy in the room.
Jessie: Jim is amazing. He knows exactly how to get any sound you are looking for and his ideas are great. He comes up with great stuff.
Noise: In 2015 you released Dial M For Muck with Diamond and the late Kim Fowley who once managed the ’70s band The Runaways behind the boards. Tell me a bit about this album and what are you working on for your next release?
Muck: Kim was a trip. We had already done a full-length album together called Hypnotic. For that one, we spent two nights sleeping on his floor. We were supposed to stay three nights, but Kim’s place was so filthy that no one wanted to use his shower. We were forced to check into a Motel 6, which in hindsight wasn’t much better. When Kim heard we were checking out of the “Hotel Fowley” he was crushed. He said, “I thought you guys were street… you’re middle class!” We ended up cutting a few more tracks with Kim in Hollywood the following year which turned out to be his final recording session before he passed away. We combined those tracks with additional ones that we did with Jim Diamond in Detroit to create Dial M. Our next release is a split 7” EP with Tokyo’s The Fadeaways. Dirty Water Records is releasing it in time for our upcoming Japanese tour.
Noise: Fowley once described you as “’64 Beatles meet The Ramones.” Is this an accurate description of your sound and stage presence?
Muck: I would have gone with ’63 Beatles, but I could never win an argument with Mr. Fowley.
Noise: Will Stuck on Muck or Stuck In Muck ever be the title for a future album?
JQ Mire: Maybe for our Budokan live album.
Muck: Believe it or not, Stuck In The Muck has been on the short list for a while. Do we have to credit you now if we use it?
Noise: You’ve shared the stage with MC 5, The NY Dolls, The Bay City Rollers, Ray Davies from The Kinks, Dick Dale, and Pete Best of The Beatles. What is Pete Best like and care to share some short stories about the reaction of these headliners when they saw your very talented band? Anyone impressed enough to take you under their wing backstage and give you any advice?
Muck: Pete Best was really mellow. Out of like fifty bands at the Little Steven Festival he ended up getting stuck sharing a trailer with us. Probably his worst nightmare because we were such huge early Beatles fans and we wouldn’t stop chewing his ear off. I definitely wouldn’t have taken any career advice from him, but then again, Johnny Ramone’s advice to me was “stay in school… you don’t want to be in this business,” so something tells me Pete’s advice wouldn’t have been much different.
JQ Mire: Wayne Kramer and Dennis Thompson (The MC5) were the nicest guys imaginable. Ross The Boss (The Dictators) told us some of his guitar tone secrets but we swore not to reveal them to the public.
Noise: Anything you want to say to all of your fans locally and across the globe?
Jessie Best: We appreciate you! We have been so lucky to be able to go and play in these different places. We have met people, made friends and these are the things we will never take for granted or forget!