Chubby mallrats returning too-tight sweaters, exhausted parents sleeping off holiday hangovers and bratty kids lamenting their lame presents- the day after Christmas is such an awfully dull day for common folk. However, here in Michigan, Mustard Plug delivered a lovely present by returning to their hometown and playing a festive show at Grand Rapids’ Intersection. Couldn’t have been nicer if they were wrapped in yellow paper, and the fans couldn’t have been more appreciative (see: kid in actual mustard bottle costume).
Eating Jimmy John’s subs in a room next to a room rumored to have hosted a few of Tommy Lee’s sexcapades, bassist Rick Johnson and trombonist Jim Hofer of Mustard Plug sat down on plush couches a few hours before their set and gave me a damn good reason to proudly hail from the Midwestern Mitten, and to teach me exactly where Mustard Plug stood on the following topics.
80’s HAIR METAL
Sound the Sirens: If you didn’t play in Mustard Plug and you were in an 80s metal band, what would your name be?
Rick: Like fictional band name or real band name?
Jim: Actually, I was in an 80s metal band in the eighties, and the name of the band was Bloodshed.
Sound the Sirens: You were! I did read that.
Rick: The Rakkoons. With a “k.”
BILLIE JOE ARMSTRONG
Sound the Sirens: A long time ago, Billie Joe Armstrong from Green Day had an article in NY Rock, where he was talking a little shit on the ska scene. Any trash talk you’d like to spit back? I mean, there’s a lot of potential material.
Rick: (shrugs) Mascara? (everyone laughs)
Rick: I don’t really have a beef with him at all. We did steal his beer, right?
Jim: That’s true.
Sound the Sirens: What?
Rick: When Mustard Plug played with Green Day like, years ago, we stole their beer.
Jim: Didn’t Billie Joe used to go see OpIvy?
Sound the Sirens: Yeah, I think he said something about how he didn’t like any of the ska scene except OpIvy.
WEIRD AL YANKOVIC
Sound the Sirens: So how was playing with Weird Al?
Rick: We never played with him.
Sound the Sirens: Oh yeah. Well, I heard you met him years later.
Jim: Yeah, actually, I didn’t know it was him. He bumped into me after the show, shook my hand and is like, “Hey, good show.” And I said “Hey, thanks. Thanks for comin’ out.” And I kept walking.
Sound the Sirens: How did you not recognize Weird Al?
Rick: He was in that phase where, like in the eighties, Weird Al had that short curly hair and the mustache.
Jim: He wasn’t in character. He didn’t have a Hawaiian shirt on, he had shaved his mustache off and he had really long hair.
Rick: He looked like he looks now.
SEX AND KENNY G.
Sound the Sirens: I was talking to a kid a few months ago who was saying that Mustard Plug and bands like that were the only reason that band nerds like him got laid.
Rick: Got laid?
Sound the Sirens: Yeah, he said that. Seriously, I think without Mustard Plug, he would have had to wait a couple years…
Rick: More than a couple years.
Jim: How come it never worked for us?
Sound the Sirens: Well, how was it for you in high school, you know…?
Rick: Rick Johnson was not getting laid!
Jim: Neither was Jim Hofer! (everyone laughs)
Rick: Yeah. That was, that was not on the agenda whatsoever. I was a band kid.
Sound the Sirens: Well, now you made it cool for band nerds to be band nerds.
Rick: I don’t think that’s true though. I think he was the cool kid that was in band who was getting laid to begin with.
Sound the Sirens: I don’t think he was…
Rick: What did he play?
Sound the Sirens: Um, he played saxophone for a while and then switched over to the tuba.
Jim: Well, see, it’s the saxophone players. The saxophone players are always like the, uh, the-
Jim: Yeah, like Kenny G. Kenny G is suave.
Rick: I bet Kenny G’s getting laid more than me.
Jim: I bet he is. (everyone laughs)
Rick: And I bet he’s playing saxophone while doing it!
Sound the Sirens: See, I’d think Kenny G would make one lose an erection.
Rick: Nah. It’s a smooth groove. All laid back.
COREY FELDMAN (former Goonie, current douchebag)
Sound the Sirens: All right. You guys have ten seconds to come up with a consensus on what celebrity you’d like to punch in the face.
Jim: There’s so many.
Rick: Yeah. So many. Corey Feldman, Vanilla Ice, Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, Kevin Federline, Nelly, Jimmy Buffett-
Jim: The dude from American Idol.
Rick: Taylor Hicks? Ruben Studdard?
Jim: Nah, dude, the judge guy.
Sound the Sirens: Simon Cowell.
Jim: And all the contestants. Actually, I work at Meijer Gardens, I do bartending over there, and they had the American Idol tryouts for Michigan there… and I had to work that night and I had to sit through all those acts. It was the most haunting thing I have ever seen in my life. Everyone’s got thirty seconds to go WHOO-woo-ooooooooo…
Sound the Sirens: You should have tried out.
Jim: I should have. I’m too old.
Sound the Sirens: That one guy has gray hair.
Sound the Sirens: Wait, so why Corey Feldman?
Rick: He’s a douchebag!
Sound the Sirens: He was cute in the Goonies.
Rick: All right. Here’s my beef with Corey Feldman. Motherfucker is a millionaire by the time he’s fourteen, and he doesn’t blame himself for losing his fame and losing his money. He blames everybody else for not telling him that if he spends his money, he won’t get it back. End quote. If you watch E! True Hollywood Story, there’s a scene where he’s like, “It’s not my fault I crashed, I was a drug addict by the time I was fifteen, that I had four or five million dollars. It’s not my fault ‘cause nobody ever told me that if I spend that money I won’t get it back.”
Sound the Sirens: Wow. Thank you for screwing up the Goonies for me.
Rick: Yeah, I’m sorry.
Sound the Sirens: I heard something happened at the Detroit Warped Tour, in 2002. What exactly went down?
Jim: Uh, basically, they kept having us play these little tents that, like, thirty people can fit under and watch us. So, we’re playing the last day of the tour, and we told them that they really should get a bigger stage, ‘cause it’s not going to be good with all these kids coming out. And they didn’t listen, they kept putting us under the tent. There were hundreds of people there to see us, and the sound guys freaked out. The sound guys were kind of assholes, but they freaked out and kept turning the sound off on us. And the kids were fine; they weren’t going onstage, they weren’t touching the equipment. They were totally fine. But the sound guys kept freaking out and finally, they called out these bouncers, these like, football player guys, and started throwing around all the fourteen-year-old girls up front. Finally, Kevin Lyman, the guy who runs Warped Tour, cut us off. So apparently we’re never going to play Warped Tour again.
THE MIGHTY MIGHTY BOSSTONES
Sound the Sirens: Mighty Mighty Bosstones… can you talk to them and convince them to reunite and tour with you?
Rick: It’s not gonna happen. (laughs) We’re pretty good friends with one of the guys, and the thing is, when anybody asks him when the Mighty Mighty Bosstones are going to get back together, he just laughs. He’s like, “Yeah, man… sorry.”
Sound the Sirens: I’m sure that if you guys did tour again together, you could take over the world.
Rick: 1998 all over again.
Jim: I did an interview with Dicky [Betts] once, and he said something about- this is, you know, seven years ago- and I asked him what he’d be doing in another fifteen years, and he goes, “We’ll be singing songs, along with Mustard Plug and No Doubt!”
Sound the Sirens: Speaking of, how do you guys feel about No Doubt, or really just Gwen Stefani?
Rick: She’s probably doing what she wants to do. I mean, it’s so completely far away from anything that we’re doing. It doesn’t really matter. It’s like Hollywood pop.
CLICHE INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
Sound the Sirens: I hate to do this, but you guys have been around for fifteen years. Please say you’re going to do it for another fifteen.
Rick and Jim: (laughs)
Sound the Sirens: Just please don’t pull a Bosstones on us!
Rick: If Dave and Colin were here, their answer to this question would be that they never thought they’d be playing this long. You can’t really answer that question honestly. I thought we were going to break up like seven years ago.
DAY JOBS, WAL-MARTS, NARCOLEPTIC BOSSES
Sound the Sirens: You mentioned earlier that you were a bartender. Why is it that so many musicians are bartenders?
Jim: Well, they let me go on tour. And as a musician you’re also qualified to be a bartender without any experience.
Sound the Sirens: Really?
Jim: For being an alcoholic. (everyone laughs)
Sound the Sirens: Suckiest day jobs. Ever.
Rick: I used to mow lawns. That was the worst.
Jim: I worked at Meijer.
Sound the Sirens: I heard they were worse than Wal-Mart.
Rick: They’re not worse than Wal-Mart. They’re almost on the same level, but you gotta support them because they’re a regionally based local company. They’re in direct competition with Wal-Mart, and who would you rather see; the conglomerate that’s ruining everybody’s life-
Jim: Well, if Meijer could, they would, though.
Jim: I used to have this job, I was an assistant to this guy who owned a company and part of my job was to drive him around. But he was a narcoleptic, so he’s in the middle of giving me directions and he’d fall asleep. So I’d have to just drive around until he woke up.
(The rest of the interview was interrupted by drummer Nate Cohn, who at this point, walks in with a videocamera, getting footage for the Mustard Plug DVD and explaining how he got to dress up as a panda bear and wish kids a happy birthday at a roller rink he used to work at. Want to know more? Guess you’ll have to wait for the DVD to come out and hope the footage doesn’t get cut!)