Kim Shattuck mid-roar, photo by Rex Camphuis
Kim Shattuck has quietly crafted one of the most underrated catalogs of songs in the pop rock genre since forming The Muffs. The band’s template of classic moptop Beatles and Kinks melodies tweaked into blasts of bubblegum rage is nothing if not consistent. In the 90s the band comprised of Kim, Ronnie Barnett and Roy McDonald consistently created music that echoed their influences and rocked in a most uncompromising manner. Their live shows often blew away the other bands they shared the stage with and there was no such thing as “an off night”. While many of their contemporaries either broke up, faded into obscurity or otherwise fell out of the spotlight the Muffs just kept on releasing great, memorable songs. They plan on capping off their 21st year of existence with another great new album and of course more fun, fun, fun live shows. We recently talked with Kim briefly about all of the above. Read on….
Legendary Rock Interviews: Hi Kim…I don’t think we’ve talked since the Happy Birthday days but then I took a good decade off to stop writing and have a family. Of course The Muffs just keep going and remain as solid as ever with many subsequent releases under your belt. Give us the state of the union 2012 in terms of the band….
Kim Shattuck: I’m about to get our new album mixed. We spent the last couple years recording it and it is really cool. We are also talking to different labels and trying to figure out how we will put this puppy out. We also have some shows coming up.
This only looks retro it's actually an upcoming Muffs gig poster for May 11 in Minnesota!!
LRI: You would think at this point that the magic you guys had on the first album and the endless well of catchy numbers would dry up but you guys continually surprise and seem to be following a path similar to our hometown boys Cheap Trick where you always have that ear for melody. It sounds cliche or dumb but is it really just a case of you guys having so much fun and friendship?
Kim: Thanks. We’re like a family. We’ve known each other since 1985 and we all still have a lot in common. As far as the writing goes, I love to write and I love melodies.
Classic Muffage circa 95
LRI: Is the career almost easier to follow through on now that there isn’t as much red tape with major labels and all that stuff, or is it infinitely harder?
Kim: It’s harder to get things done because we have to be self motivated and with no deadlines, I could put it on the back burner.
On the labels you get put through the machine. Reminds me of a meat grinder. Put in the meat and out comes meatloaf.
Classic Muffs promo pic with debut lp lineup
LRI: For a brief period of time we could at least count on hearing your lovely voice on the Fruitopia commercial which was about the only tuneful thing on the tv for a minute. Have you had to resist the pull to go work for places like Disney? I know other pop rockers like Kay from Letters To Cleo and others like Robbie Rist or Alex Kane have turned some of that work into a pretty lucrative career.
Kim: We got a couple songs on Rockband 2. We definitely get songs placed now and then. It’s really the only way to make money in music.
LRI: You take INCREDIBLE pics with your camera and judging by your social media posts that seems to also have become a major outlet for you creatively, did some of that come from constantly sitting through photo shoots or having people sit in the pit with their camera snapping away?
Kim: Nope. I studied photography in college and started to have a photography career. Then I joined the Pandoras and started on a musical career. Back then I burnt out on photography by being a crazy perfectionist. Now I realize that no matter what I do I end up being a perfectionist.
old Muffs as KISS photos, with Melanie Vammen and Jim Laspesa photo copyright Jim Lespesa
Ronnie and Paul Stanley! (Maybe that's who talked Kim into the KISS makeup)
LRI: I know you werent totally into all the aspects of your earlier band but to those of us who make a trade of revelling in pop culture The Pandoras WERE sort of a fun thing. I still say you were the hottest in the Love Battery video which still gets played on Metal Mania! My question is, what was it that you enjoyed the least?, the METAL, the sexxed up image or were there just personality issues that made your career move so distinctly different?
Kim: I really hated the music. It was so generic. Paula was brazen about copying rock and metal hits and just ever so slightly changing them into a song that she would take credit for writing. I had no respect for her at the time.
Kim fourth from left in the Pandoras
LRI: One of the other things that changed when the industry died was of course the tour support. Of all the bands I saw in the 90s you Ronnie and Roy were by far the most powerful and consistent. I know you guys went to Asia recently but do you miss doing more shows here in the states?
Kim: I do miss the touring but this is such a better pace for someone my age. It’s really tiring to travel for months at a time.
LRI: You are at heart a poster girl for not only killer screams but killer melodies. I know you love the Kinks and a lot of those 60s melodies but I’ve always neglected to ask you what you consider the band’s punk influence to ACTUALLY be. You were always embraced by the punk rock kids, do you really have a strong punk influence?
Kim: I really don’t think I’m very much musically inspired by punk rock. Maybe somewhat the Ramones and the Sex Pistols. The Ramones have a lot of the same influences and I ONLY like the pop Ramones songs. Not the angular, unmelodic ones. The Sex Pistols had a great energy and a few awesome songs.
But my main influences are the early (1963 to 1965) Beatles, The Kinks, The Pixies, The Go Go’s, Charlie Parker, Sarah Vaughn and Redd Kross.
Muffs and Dee Dee Ramone
LRI: We have a very strange, passionate and ACTIVATED audience…I would strongly urge any of them not familiar with The Muffs to seek out your entire goddamn catalog because its fantastic and life enhancing. Such a lame question since most artists would rather listen to anything BUT their stuff but I have to ask, at this point in your career after…..do you have a favorite? And why?
Kim: I really like our new album. It has melody, energy, experiment, hard core guitar, bouncy. I love it. The old LP’s that are my fave are Happy Birthday to Me and Really Really Happy.
LRI: Thanks again for putting up with us, I wish you, your bandmates and your family nothing but the very best. Last question…..your house is on fire and you have to grab as much as you can. What are you desperately trying to save and why?
Kim: I would grab my cat, dog and husband. Then my hard drive and my purse, everything else is just stuff.