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Music | Grade A: The Meat Puppets stay relevant. 

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"I want to come off as pathetic, grasping yet gratified on every level. That’s the kind person I want to come across as.” n

For all intents and purposes, bassist Cris Kirkwood’s parting words over a telephone conversation should be taken with a heavy heart, seeing how his band The Meat Puppets are the reason shows like Behind the Music exist. Back in the ’80s, the seminal genre-bending band gained fans among the underground music elite, most notably Kurt Cobain, who invited the Kirkwood brothers (Cris and Kurt) to play along during three Meat Puppets songs on Nirvana’s Unplugged album.

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After the modest hit albums Too High to Die and No Joke!, Kirkwood began a well-publicized descent into drugs; his wife overdosed and he became estranged from his brother, who continued to write music as a solo artist.

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Yet, Kirkwood remains optimistic. “I fucking hurt myself pretty bad. The tragedy was unnecessary, avoidable, and I’ll never get over it. But I’m not going to let it control me or make me who I am. Now, it’s just a fucking blast for Kurt and I to be back together again,” he says.

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After nearly seven years of separation, Cris and Kurt got back together for the 2007 release Rise to Your Knees, an album full of tenderness and sensibility. Whereas most of their peers had either faded into obscurity or were recording the same dated ’90s-music, Rise to Your Knees had shown that the two had matured and that the Meat Puppets could remain relevant in the ’00s.

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“I don’t think we make a conscious effort to remain relevant; we were careful to not paint ourselves into a corner, but that’s more incidental in the fact that it’s the art that we like to make,” Kirkwood says. “Music today is more genre-specific: Punk-rock scene, alt scene, etc. Where we were coming from artistically, that’s the way that we want to play music.”

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The band continues their foray into reluctant maturity by playing songs from the forthcoming Sewn Up, due in late March

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“Using music as an art-form,” Kirkwood continues, “it’s going to be affected by whatever period of age that you’re at, relationship with yourself, or the instrument you use—you grow with it. Kurt and I aren’t cut out to do anything else than this.”

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The Meat Puppets
nThe Urban Lounge, 241 S. 500 East, Thursday, Jan. 22, 10 p.m. 24Tix.com

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