Mudhoney. The band’s name has always sounded like something delicious, like a melted Caramilk bar or some kind of swirly and molten pudding cake concoction. Although I’m fairly sure that’s not what the much-heralded Seattle-based band had in mind when they formed some 25 years ago, I’m not alone in this thought — check out this Mudhoney dessert pizza. Mudhoney are playing here in Calgary this coming Monday (December 2) opening for another band with a recipe-worthy name, Pearl Jam. I thought about coming up with some kind of Mudhoney almond bark or something, but then did one better and got a hold of lead man Mark Arm to chat about food.
Now, Mark Arm is a Seattle legend — a lot of people like to call Mudhoney the best of all the ’90s grunge bands, but they’re much more than that. An intense blend of punk and straight-up garage rock with some blues and god knows what else thrown in. They were dirty and loud when they started up in 1988 and 25 years in with the release of their newest album Vanishing Point, they’re just as dirty and loud as they’ve ever been.
So, I called up the guy revered for screaming “Touch Me, I’m Sick” and dozens of other depraved classics and asked him about his favourite kind of pie. I’ve got to admit he seemed a little bemused by my line of questioning, but as it turns out, Mark Arm likes a good meal just like the rest of us, and even more so, he appreciates a really nice glass of wine. Preferably not Chardonnay.
Are you a food guy?
I’m into food. I would never call myself a foodie though. But, last time we were in Chicago I finally got to eat at Topolobampo. I’ve been wanting to eat at the Frontera Grill or one of Rick Bayless’s places for years and finally made it happen. So, when we can do it, I try.
Do you cook at all or are you more of an eater?
More of an eater, but I do cook. (Laughs) Pretty simply. I do things like braise some short ribs and then do a braised kale or something. But that’s something I’ve only started doing recently. Last night I broiled a couple of lamb chops, but I picked up the sides when I was at the store when I was getting the lamb chops. It went great with the bottle of Brunello I was drinking.
Are you a big wine drinker? I know people talk a lot about that song “Chardonnay” on the new album and you’re holding wine in your press photos.
Yes! I spent a lot of years drinking beer, I feel like I’ve done that, though now beer is getting super fancy. I don’t like heavy beer. If I want to drink a beer, on a hot day I’d prefer a cold Mexican beer or something like that. Something light and refreshing. But it doesn’t really have the same surprise for me that wine does. I’m not the kind of person who wants to drink the same thing every night. There’s some adventure in it. My life is so dull that I have to find adventure in what I drink (laughs).
Do you actually hate Chardonnay?
I hate getting it on the rider because it’s usually cheap and oakey crap from California. Our ride is generally just two bottles of red and two bottles of white, and the Chardonnay I just can’t drink. I actually had opened a bottle of Meursault and that was delightful and I was surprised how much I liked it. And that was just last week. So I keep giving it a shot, I think I just have to avoid the kind that’s been aged in oak and stuff like that.
One of my favourite white wines is a super cheap one and that’s Vinho Verde. It’s nice and acidic and refreshing. You can drink it while you play, it’s low in alcohol, so you can drink a lot of it…
So, you’re about to do a few shows with Pearl Jam. When you’re playing in those big arenas, what is the food like?
It varies from whoever is taking care of the catering. We did a cross-Canada tour with them a couple years back for their 20th anniversary tour and some backstage catering was better than others.
Do you usually have to eat at the venue on those big tours or do you get a chance to get our and explore restaurants in the city.
On our own tours we have a little bit more leeway. We’ll be playing at, like 7:30 with Pearl Jam, so what we’ll probably do is after we’re done playing we’ll go to catering, which probably closes 15 minutes later. Because catering is there for their crew. And then we’ll hang out and watch the show.
What are your favourite restaurants in Seattle?
There are a lot of really great restaurants, of course I don’t really have the personal budget to go out all the time. There’s a chef named Renee Erickson who started off with a place called the Boat Street Café and is now at a place called the Walrus and the Carpenter, and her stuff is amazing. The Walrus and the Carpenter is more like an oyster bar and has all kinds of seafood items and the Boat Street is more straight-up French. A friend of mine, Desi, is the chef at the Palace Kitchen, and that’s always a treat to go to. I like Matt’s in the Market a lot, which is sort of Northwest cuisine.
What’s your favourite kind of pie?
I really like a rhubarb pie. Like, a strawberry rhubarb pie.
Speaking of Chardonnay, here’s what Mark Arm and the rest of Mudhoney really think about that particular variety of white wine with the song “Chardonnay” from their latest album, Vanishing Point, captured by the folks at NPR: