Local Spins showcases the veteran Grand Rapids ska band which just released its eighth album. Plus, we feature new tracks by Roosevelt Diggs, Les Creatif, Deerfield Run and more.
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When Mustard Plug sets things ablaze with another night of jubilant skanking ignited by the band’s punk-fueled ska music, lead singer David Kirchgessner feels like he’s “more or less dead center in this energy hurricane.”
“It’s great to be able to connect with your fans and feel that energy,” he said. “Ska music just has incredible energy live. It’s like no other music.”
Almost like no other band, the Grand Rapids-based Mustard Plug has been connecting with fans for an unfathomable 33 years, touring the globe and creating memorable, up-tempo romps occasionally accompanied on stage by the mysterious, costumed, fist-pumping “Mustard Man.”
“It’s really bizarre,” Kirchgessner said of the band’s longevity. “Even now it doesn’t seem like it’s possible. We’re still touring, we’re still recording, we’re still writing. We’re still really, really part of the scene.”
Indeed, Mustard Plug just released its eighth studio album, “Where Did All My Friends Go?,” just got back from a Midwest tour and a Virginia festival appearance, and are now preparing for a major West Coast tour in October.
Returning to Colorado’s Blasting Room Studios to record once again with Bill Stevenson from iconic pop-punk band The Descendants and punk’s Black Flag, Mustard Plug churned out 13 upbeat gems, including “Doin’ What We Do.” Watch the official music video for that track here.
VIDEO: Mustard Plug, “Doin’ What We Do”
‘THE ENERGY OF PUNK AND DANCEABILITY OF JAMAICAN MUSIC’
Most of the songs for the new album were written during the COVID pandemic shutdown when the band couldn’t tour or even rehearse.
“That was a jarring thing for us,” Kirchgessner said, noting the band had just completed its most successful year ever with tours of the United States, Japan and Australia.
“It came after a new high point for the band. We had no idea what was happening next. It was kind of crushing.”
But the band – Kirchgessner, guitarist-singer Colin Clive, trumpeter Brandon Jenison, trombonist and melodica player James Hofer, drummer Nathan Cohn and bassist Greg Witulski – managed to write and pull together new songs remotely, eventually returning to the road and revving up its avid fan base again.
It’s all part of the group’s longstanding mission to continue and bolster a musical style with roots in Jamaica and England, a horn-propelled genre that’s had its up and downs in terms of popularity but currently enjoying an upswing.
Kirchgessner said the “latest incarnation” of ska boasts “the energy of punk and the danceability of Jamaican music.”
“Feeling the energy of the crowd is truly amazing. When things come together, it really is a wonderful thing,” the singer said, adding that Mustard Plug has honed its chops over the decades.
“I think we’ve just gotten better as musicians and songwriters. We’ve definitely gotten older. … In my mind, I’m still 27 years old, but my body has some disagreement. I often feel old, but it (ska) keeps me young.”
And that means Mustard Plug will keep regaling its amped-up fans, starting with an Oct. 6 show in Seattle, followed by tour stops in Oregon, California and Arizona. In November, the band will hit Wisconsin, Minnesota and Missouri, with shows on the East Coast in December.
“We’ll be hitting most of the major markets in the U.S. over the course of the next few months,” Kirchgessner said.
For the Sept. 22 edition of Local Spins on WYCE – all about Michigan-made music at 11 a.m. Fridays on WYCE (88.1 FM) and online at wyce.org – Kirchgessner showcased two songs from the new album, the title track and “Why Does It Have to Be So Hard?”
Listen to them as part of the radio show below, including new tracks from Deerfield Run, Les Creatif, Rodeo Boys (this week’s musician’s pick by Kirchgessner), VS, Au Gres, Grace Theisen, Roosevelt Diggs, Lighting Matches, Rabbit Fur and Sophia McIntosh (who kicks off next week’s Sounds of the Zoo festival in Kalamazoo).
PODCAST: Local Spins on WYCE (9/22/23)
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