Welcome Back: The Muffs

Having risen from the ashes of all-girl garage hook-machine The Pandoras in 1991, Californian popcore exemplars The Muffs – fronted by peerless Brill Building bubblegum scream queen Kim Shattuck – suffered from sharing their label, management and producer with a phenomenally ascendant Green Day. Following a decade-long hiatus, during which the songwriter/guitarist/vocalist spent eight months as the Pixies’ ‘new Kim’, the criminally underrated Muffs return with the spikily charming Whoop Dee Doo.

Ten years, Kim?

After 2004 our intention was to take a small break because we were burnt out. And the small break grew into a longer break. I started doing photography again, and went back to school. Then I started writing again. I wasn’t necessarily intending to write for The Muffs, but Ronnie [Barnett, Muffs bassist] found out and was like: “I wanna hear it.” So I said OK. He heard it, and said: “It’s amazing! We’ve got to make an album.” And then we started planning.

I really took my time on the album. But I don’t want to keep taking that long, because I’ll be an old, old, old, old woman by the time the next one comes out.

When you agreed to become a Pixie, was your ultimate aim to raise the profile of The Muffs?

Definitely. The Muffs’ album was already mixed and mastered before I went on the Pixies tour, but getting it out still took time, unfortunately.

You’re a married woman now. Doesn’t all of this romantic buoyancy interfere with your ability to scream like an unrequited wild cat?

It makes it easier to scream, because now I scream with happiness. It’s fun. I love screaming so much, it’s so refreshing.

Yet you don’t seem to damage your voice by screaming.

I’m really hoarse right now, though, but that’s because I put my head on a feather pillow. I’m not hoarse from screaming.

For the benefit of new readers, can you define Ronnie?

What can I say that doesn’t come across as totally mean? Because he’s awesome too. He’s a nut, likes to control the conversation when he’s around, and he’s hilarious, the funniest guy I know.

And Roy?

He’s the only drummer I’ve ever met who drums like a complete madman but is super-even-keeled and nice. He’s not at all like Keith Moon in his personality. A wild drummer doesn’t have to get his teeth knocked out while driving into a pool.

How’s life on the road with them?

I love going on the road with those guys because we laugh about stupid stuff all the time. And we’ve been doing it for so long that it’s like going out on the road with your funny, weird, dysfunctional family. Though we’re less dysfunctional than the Pixies… The Muffs will last until I’m a hundred years old.

Sell us Whoop Dee Doo in five words.

Raggedy, fun, vulnerable, angsty, loud. This album’s quite vulnerable. I wrote everything I thought in my head while feeling horrible. But the next album I write is going to be all about the Pixies and farting.

Whoop Dee Doo is out now via Cherry Red Records.

Ian Fortnam

Classic Rock’s Reviews Editor for the last 20 years, Ian stapled his first fanzine in 1977. Since misspending his youth by way of ‘research’ his work has also appeared in such publications as Metal Hammer, Prog, NME, Uncut, Kerrang!, VOX, The Face, The Guardian, Total Guitar, Guitarist, Electronic Sound, Record Collector and across the internet. Permanently buried under mountains of recorded media, ears ringing from a lifetime of gigs, he enjoys nothing more than recreationally throttling a guitar and following a baptism of punk fire has played in bands for 45 years, releasing recordings via Esoteric Antenna and Cleopatra Records.