Few bands in Chicago
have been around as long as The Mushuganas. The band continues
to bring their rock emphasized twist on punk to crowds around
Chicago and the Midwest stirring up more and more attention through
each show. Questions answered by Craig Mushugana.
Choose three words that begin with
the letter "F" that would help someone who did not know
what The Mushuganas sound like get a feel for your sound.
Faces, (Ric) Flair, frenetic.
is the main difference between The Mushuganas that existed 5 years
ago and the current Mushuganas?
years ago we were broken up. We were gone from November 1996 through
December 1998. So 5 years ago would be April 1997. Before April
1997, I'd describe our band as being alienated by everyone. It
was not a fun time to be in our band because we were slowing down,
musically. We were learning our instruments better and writing
songs a bit slower. I guess we alienated our fans by not playing
faster stuff, but this was also the time when a lot of the punks
were getting into the grindcore scene, and leaving their punk
rock roots behind. Had we kept playing our earlier stuff, we still
wouldn't have been nearly as fast as people wanted. Nobody came
out to see us, and we were living so far apart from each other
that it became a drag to get together to practice, and it became
a real drag to perform in front of five people. A little bit after
April 1997 we got back together because we were living closer
together. Joe and I moved back to Chicago after living in or near
St Louis. We reformed with Pete Oblivion on bass, but soon got
Ron from Lunkhead in the band. We came up with a few really good
songs--songs we were kind of amazed we could write. We have since
overplayed one, and as a result don't play it anymore--but the
song "Heartbreak '98" took about a whole year to write.
That was the first one we wrote after getting back together. But
we fell into a rut, exactly like we did during our first four
years together--we had a hard time writing new songs. Seriously,
we write maybe 4 songs a year that we keep. We probably come up
with 20 total a year, but we throw out so much stuff. Anyways,
we had a hard time writing, and we never played out of town. So
we played the same clubs in Chicago over and over, and we wore
out our welcome. Ron moved to Washington, and we were lucky to
have Aaron rejoin us. We recorded our second album with him, and
we're getting ready to do our third. One problem we've had since
about 1995 is finding our crowd. When we started we just played
basements, and that was great. We just played for friends and
high schoolers in DeKalb, pretty much. We were a pretty big hit
with the people and bands from Chicago when we started playing
out there. And we were a huge hit when we moved near Homewood.
I wrote Aimed Wrong, and things haven't been the same. We're too
rock n roll for the punk crowd, but we're too punk for the older
rock n roll crowd. I have the feeling like we can set everyone
on their ear with our live shows, but nobody's willing enough
to get down. Every once in a while we'll get some people slamming
into each other, and that makes me feel great, like we're finally
fucking getting through to them (again). But, you know, we've
been doing this a long time now--playing really loud, and playing
aggressively (except for the period right before we broke up).
It's strange, but I think people are realizing how long we've
been around (almost 10 years), and that we really have been doing
things our own way for the whole time, and that we are one of
the only punk bands to still be around all this time, and they
can appreciate it.
your opinion, has punk become less or more dangerous and suspenseful
in the present than it has in the past?
think the lines of what's punk and what's not are so blurred right
now, and have been for a while. I wish there weren't so many factions
of it, because that might make everything clearer. I think punk
attitude is the most important part of it. Musically, who knows?
Most stuff that's marketed as punk right now I think is a total
waste of time. What the public sees as punk is absolutely not
threatening anymore. Anyone can get a tattoo. Anyone can dye their
hair a strange color. Anyone can look into a camera and sneer.
I don't give a fuck about that. Saying "fuck" on the
microphone doesn't impress me. I think everyone who thinks or
says he is a punk has got some sort of idea of what that means.
It seems that lots of people believe being a punk means dressing
a certain way and having their hair a certain color and spiked.
Other people look at punk as a type of music. There are bands
who "look" punk, but are actually just a pop band because
they are threatening in no way whatsoever. It makes me sick. There
are bands who try so very hard to do something different--odd
time signatures, odd instruments, you know--and they do it because
they believe punk music is about doing something *different*.
"The punk movement in the 70s happened because the music
was so very *different* from what was out there". And that
music also doesn't do it for me. The punk bands playing the most
vicious music have hippie attitudes that drag them down. Meanwhile,
all the regular kids are the ones acting crazy and taking chances.
And what if a punk band reaches through and gets many people to
react? They're sell-outs! What great friends we are to each other!
Do I get off on tangents, or what? Sorry.
Besides playing in The Mushuganas, what other things do the members
of the band do?
of us is a painter, one of is a silk screener, one works in shipping
for a distributor, and one works in a pharmaceutical plant. Joe
DJs at Club Foot on Tuesday nights. Nathan also plays drums for
the Ponys. We all cook.
Name one thing you like about the Chicago punk scene and one thing
tell you the truth, I don't know what the Chicago punk scene is.
If we're a part of it, I have no idea. I have been wrapped up
in school about the last 5 years and make it out when I can, but
I am lost in the music scene. I really like The Mashers a lot.
If you want to talk about a crazy band to go see, they are it.
Otherwise, I'm not on top of the scene for two reasons: 1) I haven't
had time to go out to shows, between school, work, and moving
four times in the last year. 2) Punk bands seem to have life spans
so short that I miss them by the time they break up. That said,
I like the number of venues. It seems like, on the north side
at least, there are lots of places to see bands play, and you
can get to them all fairly easily. I have come to think that punk
shows are most often held in houses. House parties are where it's
at. Everyone is pretty much themselves, as opposed to most clubs
I go to. People are doing whatever they want, they bring all the
beer they want, and it's all a good, cheap time. What I dislike
about the Chicago punk scene is the number of bands. I also am
fed up with the press in this town. There are two free music and
culture newspapers on the north side that cater to the music we
play: The Reader and New City. In the three years we've been back
together they have mentioned us twice. Twice! Those were both
by New City, who actually recommended people go out to our shows.
But we released this great album and neither one said anything
about it. We've sent them about 5 copies each.
What were your reactions to the events of September 11th? Do you
think the US's course of action is justified?
spent the day of and the day after that happened watching the
tv. It was hard to not watch it. I'm not going to go on because
anything else I could say would be too obvious. As for the U.S.
course of action, I think it is kind of ridiculous. At least what
they tell the public that they want to find the leaders of the
terrorist groups--please. I really think Bush thinks the war is
over if they capture Bin Laden. Again, I'm not breaking any new
ground by writing this stuff, I'm just answering your questions.
There needs to be other changes for this thing to slow down--I
don't think it will stop. Everyone is too macho to back down,
so it probably will not come to an end.
Tell us about your new CD and where one can pick it up if they'd
newest CD (Mushuganas 2, or Including Heartbreak '98) came out
a year ago, I think. It was the last record to be recorded at
Attica Studio. It is my favorite thing we've recorded because
we got so much better in the time since the first album was recorded
(1996). It is available through our website www.mushuganas.com,
through Choke Distribution, and at some record stores. We also
sell them at our shows, so there are a few ways you can get it.
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