KING MUD ARE singer/guitarist Freddie ‘Joe’ Evans IV from Left Lane Cruiser and drummer Van Campbell from Black Diamond Heavies. Their day bands are signed to Alive Records and when they began sharing bills, “a brotherhood developed,” says Campbell.
Plans were hatched to record an album and in February 2015, the pair got together at Joe’s house. “There was a snowstorm and, during it, we came up with a skeletal version of two songs, Rat Time and Take A Look. Then we spent the rest of the night killing a bottle of bourbon I’d brought from Kentucky,” Campbell explains.
These are just two of 10 songs from King Mud’s debut album Victory Motel Sessions, which also includes Dr Feelgood’s Keep It Out Of Sight, recorded at Comp-ny Studio in Glendale, California. “The goal was to not have too much ready and have a jam session,” says Campbell. “Most of the record was done live – even some vocals – while we were banging out the songs. The first night at the Victory Motel, Joe and I stayed up listening to tunes, trying to get into a headspace to make the record. We listened to a bunch of Dr Feelgood songs and that set the tone for the record.”
Produced by Arthur Alexander – “he’s an out-of-the-box kind of guy, he brought energy, then glued it all together” – and put down over five days, with the duo clocking in at 10am each morning and clocking off at 3am the next, the recording sessions were intense. As the group finished one song they then had to write the next with Joe on guitar and Van on drums or piano, then record it and so on. “The pace was crazy,” says Campbell. “Joe cut his last vocal on the last day at 4am and then got in a cab to go straight to LAX to fly home. His work ethic really impressed me. He stayed up all night writing riffs and lyrics. He’s a riff machine.”
Radio Moscow guitarist Parker Griggs dropped by to add soaring guitar to the gravelly Smoked All My Bud and their cover of the old Them/The Troggs’ I Can Only Give You Everything. “I’ve known Parker since he was a kid,” says Campbell. “I remember him and his wide-eyed cohorts out on the road. They were teens just tearing it up and sounding as heavy as Black Sabbath, just these weirdo kids from Iowa, I mean what the fuck? We thought getting him to lay down a couple of solos would add a cool texture to the record.”
So what does King Mud allow you to do that you can’t do in your other bands? “Just showing up in the studio and making a spontaneous record with very little or no personal or musical baggage is a unique experience. It is a real good foundation for creativity,” says Campbell.
It really is.
Victory Motel Sessions is out now on Alive Records.