Meat Wave live at a hundred miles an hour. Chicago punks with speed on their side, It’s easy to see them as having torn away from the start, their whirlwind rise gathering pace with every two-minute thrash out of the underground. But they’ve put in the hours, grafting amongst Chicago’s dingiest venues and starting from the bottom in a way Drake could only dream of.
Below, we’ve got the band’s frontman Chris Sutter to take his foot off the pedal, look back and collate his influences, inspirations and musical identity. From dodgy kids’ cartoons to ‘Dude Ranch’ and Breeders - this is Meat Wave’s musical upbringing.
Foot back on the gas, they’re currently tearing through the UK on a tour in support of their SideOneDummy debut ‘Delusion Moon’ - full remaining dates for that are as follows:
25 Birmingham, Sunflower Lounge
26 London, Victoria
27 Manchester, Gullivers
28 Nottingham, JT Soar
29 Leeds, Brudenell Social Club
30 Norwich Owl Sanctuary
What was the first gig you ever went to?
I think it was the Marshall Tucker Band at Itasca Fest. Itasca is a Chicago suburb. I remember seeing the lead guitarist and being really entranced by that. I also saw Creed with my Dad when I was a kid. Painfully true.
Were there a good supply of venues in your hometown?
There were a few places to play in the group of towns by where I lived. Not for big bands, really, it was all local bands. One was a big roller rink called Just For Fun. Pretty seedy. Clearwater Theater in Dundee, Illinois which I think was operating without a liquor license. That was the first place I ever played at. Also VFWs and basements. It’s actually surprising how many places there were to play.
Can you remember the first song you ever developed an obsession over?
When I was probably three or four years old I really liked this cartoon musical Rock-A-Doodle which was like a singing Elvis rooster guy. I loved that shit. I would dance around in my living room to it and sing it.
‘Sun Do Shine’ from Rock-A-Doodle
What was the first album you purchased with your own money, and why did you choose it at the time?
‘Dude Ranch’ maybe? I was a big blink-182 fan. I think both mine and Ryan’s first CD ever was the Mortal Kombat soundtrack. I think Joe’s first CD was Breeders’ ‘Last Splash’ which is way cooler. Can’t change the truth.
What’s the story behind you getting your first instruments?
I remember really wanting to play drums at first, but for some reason I asked for a guitar. So my Dad got me an acoustic guitar and an AC/DC guitar book for Christmas when I was 11. That’s pretty hilarious. I think “Back in Black” was the first song I learned.
What’s your worst musical habit?
I tend to write pretty negative sounding music. When we returned from Europe last May I was feeling really good and inspired and felt compelled to write some really positive music. Then I got back to Chicago and wrote the darkest shit. Ha. Maybe next time around.
‘Delusion Moon’ - Meat Wave
What kind of inspirations outside of music have an impact on your songwriting?
Bizarre news stories. Or bizarre people. I always want to soundtrack points of view. It’s also cool to hear a sound in nature or society and translate it into a musical sound. When we were in New York recently we were staying with a friend in New Jersey and would take the light rail train into the city. The printer for the ticket made a really cool sound and inspired me to write a song that sounded like that printer.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given as a musician?
The constant reminder that there is no right way or one way to do this. We have all the power to do whatever we want. That’s reassuring. Also seeing really good bands this year. That’s as good as advice. Seeing Ex Hex blew my mind. Their set was more like a journey and made me think about what we were doing. Drive Like Jehu. Protomartyr. Bands who know what they’re doing.
If you could be any band from the past two decades who would it be, and why?
Deerhoof probably, because they’re amazingly creative and inventive. Love everything they do.
Meat Wave’s latest album ‘Delusion Moon’ is out now via SideOneDummy.