Having a brimful with the Muggs 

When the Muggs play the Magic Bag in Ferndale on Saturday, March 21 (doors at 8 p.m.; $10), they're celebrating the release of their fifth album, Straight Up Boogaloo, before heading to Europe to tour in support of the thing. These blues-rock stalwarts, who've now been together for 15 years, are a definite notch above your local blues-rock act, so we sat down to chat about their storied history as well as the groovy new release.

Metro Times: When you started this band, did you think you'd be around long enough to make five records?

Danny Methric (guitar): Actually, no. I wouldn't have thought that I could write enough riffs to fill all these records without it sounding tired or repetitive. I kind of thought that every record would be our last, and yet here we are cranking out another one. I finally feel confident as a songwriter now, so I really want to make more records.

MT: What was different and new for you in making this record?

Methric: This was the freedom-to-do-whatever-we-want record. Lyrically, musically, tempo-wise, album artwork — we just made the record we wanted to hear instead of the record people expected of us. We threw the kitchen sink at this one: laser blasts, megaphones, a Roger Corman tribute, politics, religion, mortality. I've never had so much fun being this pretentious.

MT: I know this is super old news, as Tony is fully recovered by now. But he suffered a stroke, and you guys waited for him to recover rather than replace him. Do you think that by keeping him on, that contributed to his recovery?

Tony DeNardo (bass): Absolutely. The fact that Danny put down the band and said, "No Muggs until Tony gets better" was a huge incentive for me to recover. I'll never be able to thank him enough. In a way, he saved my life — just knowing that I had something to strive for made me super motivated.

MT: Why did you decide to go it your own, label wise? What is the upside to doing that?

DeNardo: In 2004, Times Beach out of Royal Oak signed us, along with some other outstanding local acts like the Hentchmen, Audra Kubat, and Deadstring Brothers. When the main backer for the label pulled out, it was only a matter of time until they had to close shop. In 2007, after we got voted off from the American Idol spin-off TV show The Next Great American Band, we decided to record again. Those were humble beginnings, but we had this idea to borrow the money from friends and family, and pay them back with 15 percent interest. And it's really worked out. Also, this way, there's no dipshit A&R guy saying, "I don't hear a hit! Write 30 more songs, and we'll talk."

MT: Straight Up Boogaloo — what's the title all about?

Methric: Todd came up with the title in Spain while we were listening to an actual boogaloo on Spanish radio. I loved the term "straight up boogaloo" and drunkenly decided then and there that this would be the title of our next record. Four Roses bourbon is great for making impulse decisions.

MT: Congrats on doing justice to Sabbath; what made you cover "Tomorrow's Dream"?

Methric: We're very proud of that one. We have always been slightly compared to Black Sabbath in the way we write riffs and my high-pitched voice. Plus, we are all huge fans, obviously. I was in a Halloween Sabbath tribute a couple years ago and I had to tune my guitar down to D to play the songs. It was a revelation. Consequently, I wrote this whole new record in D tuning because it was so heavy and a great key to sing in.

MT: Love that song that's a Roger Corman tribute; what can you tell us about that?

Methric: First of all, Roger Corman rules! His low-budget, no-permit, DIY approach to making movies changed Hollwood forever. I'm a huge horror movie fan. I've seen almost everything, from the transcendent to the terrible. Horror is art to me, and I just love and respect so many of the artists who make it happen. Corman is one of the all-time greats because he made movies his way with no budget, a three-day schedule, a small crew, and no-name actors and directors. But his movies always made money and that's all the beancounters in Hollywood care about. That's why I wrote a tribute song to Roger. He always fought for his vision and the Muggs deal with the same problems he did — no budget and no time. Get it done quick but get it done right, and keep taking chances!

More by Mike McGonigal

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