Mudhoney | Interview | Guy Maddison
The legendary Australian bassist Guy Maddison has been with Mudhoney since 2001. The band will be releasing their latest album, ‘Plastic Eternity,’ on April 7th, 2023 via Sub Pop Records.
In the following interview we will discuss Mudhoney, Lubricated Goat, Bloodloss and everything else that currently occupies his busy schedule.
The recording of ‘Plastic Eternity’ delivered several firsts for the band. With Maddison planning on moving his family to Australia, Mudhoney was forced to work on a deadline, booking nine days at Crackle & Pop! in Seattle with longtime producer Johnny Sangster. Since the pandemic had made it impossible for them to convene in their practice space for nearly a year and a half, this meant they were going in to make a record with an assortment of half-forgotten riffs and nascent ideas rather than fully-fledged, well-rehearsed songs.
“My scene was my set of friends”
What was it like for you growing up in the Perth area? Were there a lot of gigs that you were interested in as a young kid? What would you say were some of the places youth liked to hang out?
Guy Maddison: Perth is the most isolated capital city in the world. It’s a funny place to grow up because it is very beautiful, with excellent beaches and lots of parks and outdoors activities. I played a lot of sports when I was young. I became interested in punk rock around 1979 when the band started hanging out with some like minded friends. We would go skateboarding together and listen to each other’s records. It was not until 1981 that I attended a live show. It was The Quick and the Dead at the east Perth Tavern. My Alistair and I had to sneak in as we were underaged. It was attended mainly by skinheads as the band had a big skinhead following. It was a terrifying and exciting experience. Mostly we hung out in the walking mall in the middle of town or at people’s houses. There were no clubs that catered to underaged punk rock. Or any alternative cultures really. We had to make our own fun, as we were too young to go to the pub.
Where did you meet Paul Gill and what do you recall from Greenhouse Effect and the 7″ ‘Squirt!!!’ on Corroboree Records?
I met Paul Gill in Perth. He came over to my place looking for one of my friends. We became friends quickly as it became immediately apparent we liked the same sort of music and were both interested in starting a band. Greenhouse Effect had been playing around town for about a year before we made that single. We were about 20 years old. Corroboree was a small local label. The record did not come out for some time and we had left Perth and were in Sydney doing some shows as there was a lot more going on in the eastern states than in Western Australia. We actually heard the pressing plant had not made the records because Corroboree had not paid for the pressing. At that time the pressing plant Modern Record was also a label and we asked if they would put it out. They said yes and we did art work and let them put it out.
Later Corroboree showed up at the pressing plant and said they had a contract (which indeed they did) with the band and that the records were theirs. They did eventually release the record with an amateurish mix of art work. It was both a silly and infuriating episode. We were young and had no idea what we were doing, I think Corroboree also did not know what they were doing. The record itself was fun to make and we were happy with the outcome. Our songs were well rehearsed, and the sound of the record accurately portrayed the band’s sound.
What led you to move to Sydney? Can you elaborate on the formation of the Lubricated Goat?
Greenhouse Effect traveled to Melbourne and Sydney in hopes of getting more shows and finding a record label interested in releasing our music. Sydney was the mecca for Australian underground music at that time. There were lots of clubs to play at and lots of bands playing around town. It was a very lively scene. I had met Stuart Gray in Perth a few months earlier. He was there recording some Lubricated Goat tracks with our friends Brett Ford and Peter Hartley. Peter played bass on those recordings and borrowed my bass to do so. Even though I don’t appear on the first record ‘Plays The Devil’s Music,’ my bass is. We played a gig at a small nightclub called Meccanos with Stu’s cabaret act Chicken Holder, in which Stu dressed up like Elvis singing lounge songs to a backing tape, while an assistant hit a frozen chicken with a drum synth inside it to make strange noises. After that show I found the chicken’s neck and wings wedged in my bass strings, no explanation was made, was it voodoo? Later while in Sydney I had seen Stu a few times, he saw me crossing the street near his house one day and asked me if I wanted to be in Lubricated Goat. I had a tape of the recording from Perth that we had been listening to. I thought it was really great music so of course I said yes. Stu quickly had a show booked for the band at the well know Piccadilly club, because Brett and Peter weren’t in Sydney yet James Baker (Beasts of Bourbon, Hoodoo Gurus, Victims to name a few) played drums and our friend Patrick Cavanagh played guitar, clarinet and keyboards. Soon Brett and Peter arrived, Peter taking on guitar duties, Brett on drums and myself on bass. This was the line up that solidified the band’s early career.
“Man admits sex with Goat”
You got to love the name of the band, how did that come about?
I believe Stu saw an article in the gutter press with the headline, “Man admits sex with Goat.” The name is a play on that headline.
Why did you use the pseudonym Buster Smallgoods, when recording, ‘Paddock of Love’ (in 1988)? What do you recall from working on those tracks?
We all had pseudonyms on that record, Peter was Supernova, Brett was Sweetmeats, Stu was Wolfgang Von Spasm. Buster Smallgoods is a silly name, smallgoods is an arcane term used for Deli items such as pressed meat and sausages. The record was recorded with Dave Boyne of legendary 60’s band the Missing Links. The sessions were fun for Paddock of Love. The band was really tight and well-rehearsed and we all enjoyed the making of that record. Peter was able to create some very unique and sonically bizarre sounds from his guitar on that record.
What led you to form your own project, Monroe’s Fur, and what was the reason to relocate to Seattle?
Monroe’s Fur was an offshoot of Southern Fried Kidneys, Lubricated Goat and Greenhouse Effect. Containing members from all those bands, so I would not say it was “my own project.” Paul Kidney had been in Southern Fried Kidneys and that band had effectively stopped playing by the late 80’s. Paul, Ringo (Paul Gill), Peter and myself began jamming in an art collective warehouse called the Gunnery in Sydney. This was where Peter lived. It was an old (over 100 years old) Naval Gunnery installation with many strange rooms for arcane ballistic research and development. We used to jam in a large half domed room with very unusual acoustics. We were a very loose experimental band and mostly played free uncharted music based around a few basic grooves. I had relocated to Sydney by 1986, as there was just much more going on there for music, compared to Perth at the time.
What do you recall about those fantastic Bushpig recordings?
Very little, haha. There was only one session I attended. I played some bass and some piano. I was not sure what would become of it. That was the first time I recorded with Mark Arm and Steve Turner from Mudhoney and it sort of solidified my friendship with them. John Murphy was also at that session as a ring in like me. I always admired John’s abilities, he later played on some Fur stuff.
You also played bass in the new incarnation of Bloodloss?
Yep, obviously I’d known Ren (Renestair E.J.) and Marty (Bland) for years in Australia, and they were in the last incarnation of Lubricated Goat that I was in. We toured the US in 1989 with Lubricated Goat. We were signed to Amphetamine Reptile Records who had a close relationship with Sub Pop. Mark was a fan of Lubricated Goat as were quite a few musicians in the US underground scene at that time. We met Mark for the first time on tour in 1989. That’s how the Bloodloss thing came together years later as Martin, Ren and I had all relocated to Seattle. Mark was a fan of Bloodloss before he joined the band. He really liked the album ‘The Truth Is Marching In’ by Bloodloss. I think he was interested in making music like that. We were attempting a blend of amature jazz, psychedelia and no wave music.
Those recordings are absolutely fantastic…. raw to its core…
Yes it was recorded mainly with our friend the amazing Jim Collier in his studio Wedgewood One. Very old early 70’s era tape recording devices.
How was it for you to fill Matt Lukin shoes in Mudhoney?
I’ve been, and am still a big fan of the band. Matt was a friend and so it was a pretty laid back affair taking over the bass duties for Mudhoney. Steve and I got together on his front porch in Seattle, and went over the songs on acoustic guitars. Then I just started playing shows. Of course, at live shows initially there were audience members who called out for Matt, and asked where he was. He had a legendary presence on stage due to his unique personality, that I cannot recreate, so I just plough on ahead with my own bass stylings.
“We have hours of tape of us jamming on ideas that will probably never see the light of day”
What was the typical creation process for the band?
If we are referring to Mudhoney here, our writing process involved each of us bringing riffs or song ideas to the practice room. We jam on those ideas, and begin structuring them into songs. Then Mark adds words and we again restructure the songs to fit the lyrics. At this point we are all co-writers of the songs, that said Mark is the only lyricist, which makes sense he has to sing the words every night haha, There are many ideas that never get words written for them, and sometimes we revisit these in the future to complete as songs. We have hours of tape of us jamming on ideas that will probably never see the light of day, haha.
What currently occupies your life?
I am currently working on a release for a new band featuring Martin Bland and myself called La Paire D’Or. It is Martin on drums and me on synths, with both of us adding guitars and me laying down some bass and trumpet. Mark Arm sings on a couple of tracks and Annabella Kirby (a fantastic Seattle based singer (Moonspinners, and Lushy) sings other tracks). A record will be released this year on Hex Enduction Records from Seattle and Weird Beard records in the UK.
I continue to collaborate with my bandmates in the synth art Project Beauty Hunters. Mudhoney will tour Australia in April and the USA in October.
Apart from that I continue work at the hospital, and live my home life with my family. I ride my bike as much as I can, and get in the occasional game of tennis.
What did you think of the grunge scene?
The scene was very vibrant when I arrived in Seattle back in 1993. It reminded me a lot of Sydney at that time. Lots of bands and lots of gigs, with lots of people trying different things. A very exciting, experimental time, with a wide variation of sounds and styles. My scene was my set of friends. Pretty small and focused on our little corner of the sonic world. I did not swim with many of the fish searching for fame and fortune through grunge, haha.
Let’s end this interview with some of your favourite albums. Have you found something new lately you would like to recommend to our readers?
Favourite bands include The Stranglers, Magazine, Roxy Music, Hawkwind, Black Flag, Kraftwerk, The Birthday Party, New York Dolls, Stooges, The Byrds, The Beatles, The Troggs, Sonic Boom, Spacemen 3, Ras Micheal and the Sons and Daughters of Negus, Junior Kimbrough, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Charles Mingus to name a few. I am also a fan of classical music, and would add Scriabin, Beethoven, Suk and Shostakovich to the list.
Well the favorite albums question is a tough one to answer, let’s stick to top 5
1. Stranglers IV, ‘Rattus Norvegicus’.
2. Magazine, ‘Real Life’.
3. Fripp & Eno, ‘(No Pussyfooting)’
4. Black Flag, ‘Damaged’
5. Kraftwork, ‘Radioactivity’
Wow that’s tough, and leaves a lot of stuff out!
New stuff, well there is a great new band out of LA called Hooveriii, check them out.
Also my other band Beauty Hunters.
That last link is to a movie for our second record.
Thank you. Last word is yours.
All my problems are first world problems, so not really very serious problems at all. I am very happy to be able to make music and continue to be productive after nearly 40 years as a musician. Thanks for listening!
John Wisniewski and Klemen Breznikar
Mudhoney Official Website / Facebook / Instagram / Twitter / Bandcamp / YouTube
Sub Pop Records Official Website / Facebook / Instagram / Twitter / Bandcamp / YouTube