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Interview Dave Kirchgessner of Mustard Plug

The Improbability of a Fourth Wave


Interview Dave Kirchgessner of Mustard Plug

Dave Kirchgessner

Photo © Nicole Lucas

RC: First of all, I gotta say I'm stoked that you guys are still touring and putting out records. Mustard Plug is a band that I've followed for a long time, since Club Soda was around. But getting into it, looking back at the days of the matching jackets and bowling shirts, did you guys know you were getting into something like this for the long haul, that six albums and 15 years later, there'd still be a Mustard Plug? Is it what you were hoping for?

DK: No, we really had no idea we'd be around this long. It's really strange actually. When we started the band, we didn't take it too seriously we just got our friends together to see if we could pull off a band.

RC: And what's the secret to the longevity?

DK: I think the two most important things are to enjoy what you're doing and have realistic goals. If our goals were to become rock stars we would have broken up years ago. If we didn't like what we were doing we would have moved on a long time ago too.

RC: Your sound seems to have evolved. It's definitely more mature. On the new record I'm hearing more straight-up punk as well as ska. What's pointed you in that way?

DK: I think on this record we went back further for inspiration, but toward stuff like the Clash and Specials. Straight forward classic punk stuff. I also think our song writing and lyrics have evolved more too. We still have an element of humor to some of our songs but it's become a lot more understated than the really early stuff.

RC: Even live, you seem a little more 3-chord. When you play old tunes like "Skank By Numbers" or "Brain on Ska", they're punker. Was this an intentional move or simply musical evolution?

DK: Yeah, again I think it's just evolution. Also with songs like those, they're pretty wimpy songs so we probably, subconsciously try to toughen them up a bit and make them mesh better with our newer material.

RC: And why is the new record called "In Black And White" – I mean, how much of it is a two-tone allusion, and how much (if any) is deeper to you guys?

DK: One of the reasons we liked that title is that it can be interpreted either way. Immediately you could take it as a reference to two-tone which we liked and is totally valid, or it could be a reference to the expression, "in black and white"....or a reference to newspaper writing...kind of telling a story or reporting the facts as we see them. It's cool that people can interpret it as they see fit.

RC: How is the tour going, by the way?

DK: Really well. We're currently out with Voodoo Glow Skull and Left Alone on the East Coast. The shows have been a lot of fun, good crowds and all. Both bands are really nice fellas. Also a lot of people already know the words to the new songs which is really encouraging.

RC: Ska shows are typically filled with youngsters. Are you seeing that as well? Or are some of the older, ruder crews turning out as well? Hell, are there even any rude crews still around?

DK: Yeah, its funny, we definitely get the kids coming. "We keep getting older, they stay the same age." But we're also getting a lot of older fans too. Especially on this tour with Voodoo. Every night I have someone come up to me and say..."I saw my first Mustard Plug show 10 years ago" or whatever. It's fun to have a wide range of people at the shows.

RC: How do you think ska – the music and the scene - has changed over the years? Has it?

DK: It seemed really tight knit in the early '90s when we started. It was lot more of a scene then. Both in terms of the bands knowing each other and helping each other out and in terms of the culture surrounding ska. You don't see as many people wearing suits or mod clothing anymore. You very rarely see skinheads or scooters at shows like you used to in early '90s. I really miss all that sometimes.

I think once things got really huge in the mid/late 90's all that got pushed aside. Bands stopped helping each other out because they didn't need to so much and a lot of kids who were really into the culture felt really marginalized by flood of fans in Less Than Jake t-shirts. Recently I think bands are starting to re-connect a tiny bit again, but still, a lot of the culture has disappeared.

RC: Recently, it seems like ska might be climbing a bit higher again. You know, the Toasters, Reel Big Fish, Fishbone, you guys… Do you think we're in for one more wave?

DK: I've had a couple people ask me that, or suggest that were in store for a fourth wave of ska but honestly, I don't see it happening real soon. I think what it would take is a bunch of completely new bands that have created something new with the genre and largely I don't see that yet. There are a couple bands coming up, but I don't see anything massive on the horizon. Not like it was in the mid-'90s. I think instead what we'll see is strengthening of an underground music scene. Hopefully we'll have a few more bands develop and things will grow, but I really don't see another truly massive wave on the horizon.

RC: What's next for the Plug?

DK: We're mainly going to be playing shows for the rest of 2007 to get the word out about the new record. We're going to Canada in November. We had planned to go west in December but that fell through so we'll probably hit the west coast in March/April 2008. December we'll hit up the Midwest again. Lately we've been really active putting new video footage up on the web. Whether it's us playing live, backstage shenanigans, or 15-second skits, it's all fun and seems like a really good way to connect with our fans. So hopefully we'll be doing more of that and possibly another music video or two. We'll probably start writing new songs soon as well.

In Black and White is out now on Hopeless Records.

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