THE MULDOONS Interview! Detroit Rock Family!
The Muldoons! photo: Patricia Muldoon
By: Rich Tupica
The Muldoons are a family punk-rock band from Detroit, Michigan. Shane, 10 and his older brother Hunter, 13, both write and play guitar while their father Brian, 48, pounds away on the Gretsch drum kit. These kids haven’t even reached high school yet and they have already opened for virtually every great Detroit rock band, recorded a couple 7” singles and are days away from releasing their debut full length album. Dirtbomb Ben Blackwell and his uncle Jack White of The White Stripes will co-release the new LP on their labels, Third Man and Cass Records, making this even more of a family oriented album. Not to mention Hunter and Shane's mother Patricia and their uncle Dan Muldoon did the album art. Though, I should warn you, even in the presence of their father the Muldoon boys were not deterred from penning songs about topics that would get other kids grounded for a month!
Hunter and Shane’s lyrics on the new LP range from explosives, to comic book fantasies, to killing zombies “one by one.” While their guitar riffs echo The Stooges, Nirvana and on one track The Gories, they use their influences to make every song different from the next. Ben Blackwell recalls the day he discovered The Muldoons’ music, “My first experience with The Muldoons was actually reading Shane's handwritten lyric sheet for ‘Destruction Boy’. She may kill me for saying this, but Shane's mom was looking at me, almost scared, saying, ‘Social Services are going take him away,’ while I thought I'd finally found the reincarnation of Darby Crash,” said Blackwell. The Muldoons first public gig was not at a bar, it was opening for the Grammy Award Winning White Stripes, Blackwell was there to witness. “The first time I saw them live was complete and utter joy...I'd taken a 6 a.m. flight from Ottawa, where the Dirtbombs had just wrapped up a three day Canadian tour, back to Detroit to catch them in their surprise opening slot for The White Stripes at the Masonic Temple. But there was also a bit of uncertainty as to whether or not it would actually happen, so it was all kinds of anticipation and fear and excitement building up at the same time. When Shane started singing that first song I felt so proud I almost started to cry,” said Blackwell. Since The Muldoons first started playing music in late 2004, they have gained the respect of veteran Motor City bands and their loyal followers making them a staple in the rock community. “The Muldoons are pretty damn important,” said Blackwell. “Not only did they set a precedent for a lot of the ‘kid rock’ bands, but they also put on a blazing show every time they step onstage. And they never play the same set twice. Hunter and Shane are humble and yet remain a force to be reckoned with. Brian's not too bad either,” said Blackwell. If you want to buy their new album, be at the Lager House in Detroit, Michigan on June 9th for the record release party.
Brian: "In my preteen years, I listened to what my brothers were buying, from The Beatles to all the things that were happening at the Grande Ballroom and on WABX fm in the late sixties. My early teen years I was obsessed with the album 'Raw Power', The New York Dolls first album and The Spiders From Mars era of Bowie. When I was in my junior and senior years of high school it went from Brian Eno to Phillip Glass to The Ramones and all that early punk stuff."
How about you guys, what bands have influenced your tunes the most?
Hunter: "Well, the guitar work of artists such as Kurt Cobain, Ron Asheton, Johnny Ramone, Fred 'Sonic' Smith, Wayne Kramer, Pete Townsend, Tony Iommi and Jack White. The lyrical phrasing of Dee Dee Ramone, Kurt Cobain, Iggy Pop, and Ozzy Osbourne...the first five Sabbath albums only."
Shane: "Some bands that influenced my music are Beck, The Stooges, MC5, The Ramones, The Go, Nirvana, Black Sabbath, The Hives, Hot Hot Heat, Led Zeppelin, New York Dolls, and the list goes on."
Hunter and Shane, when did you first learn an instrument? How old were you and what did you play?
Hunter: "I started taking drum lessons when I was five-years old. I picked up the guitar when I was 10-years old. I took guitar lessons when I turned 11."
Shane: "I was six-years old when I first took drum lessons. I was eight when I started playing the guitar."
Hunter Muldoon! photo: Dan Meyering
What does your mom think about the band? Has she ever jammed with you guys?!
Hunter: "Our mom is very supportive of our music. She has yet to jam with us, but someday! She’s been to every one of our shows, listens to a lot of loud rehearsals and has been very loving and supportive of our music since the beginning."
Brian, you still run your home business, can you tell me a bit about that?
Brian: "I’ve been a furniture upholsterer for 28-years now. I run a one-man shop. The last 15-years I’ve focused on restoring furniture designed from the mid century modern era."
What do you guys do when you're not playing music, any other hobbies?
Hunter: "I like to skateboard a lot, but everything else I do is music. I’m in three bands, and it’s my only passion in life."
Shane: "I like to play baseball and basketball and I’m on a soccer team called the Sonics. I like to skateboard with Hunt and others from the neighborhood. Video games, Guitar Hero!"
Brian: "Cycling on Belle Isle and restoring vintage Italian racing bikes."
Hunter and Shane, do kids at school dig your band and do they get to come to see your shows?
Hunter: "We have never told one kid at our school about our band. We really don’t think they would be interested at all, even if we were to tell them. Our musical interests are just too far apart. They like rap, hip-hop, and newer rock music. They have probably never heard of most of the bands we mentioned, or bands we have played with."
What are your favorite newer bands right now?
Shane: My favorite band right now is SSM.
Hunter: My favorite band right now is The Go.
Brian: My favorite band right now is Lee Marvin Computer Arm.
The Muldoon brothers! photo: Patricia Muldoon
What is the best and worst part of playing in a rock band?
Hunter: "The best parts are when we get to play with some of our favorite bands. The worst part is when gear malfunctions and I have to figure out why it broke. It’s even worse when it happens live."
Shane: "Best part is being asked by a good band to be on a bill with them. The worst part is loading and unloading gear."
Brian: "Getting excited about playing a new song they’ve come up with. The worst part is trying to fit all the gear into our car for shows, a Ford SUV, plus leaving enough room for all of us.
Shane: "Sometimes I come up with a guitar riff, but most of the time it’s Hunter. If we all like it, we try to make it into a song. When we first start to run through it I usually don’t play guitar, I just make up words that will fit. Sometimes words from another song will fit and I’ll sing them. Once I figure out the words and can remember them, I'll try to learn the guitar part and practice singing and playing at the same time. Some songs come together fast, like ‘Zombies.’ Some take a long time, like ‘Tall’.
Hunter: "Yeah, what Shane said."
Shane, Brian & Hunter Muldoon
How often do The Muldoons practice and write songs?
Brian: "Unless there is something more important going on, it’s usually four or five times a week. Generally right after we get back from school for 45-minutes or so, hardly ever on the weekends. New songs get worked on when one of them comes up with something we all get
excited about spending the time to develop further. It’s always a guitar riff first, lyric ideas second. Sometimes they write them together, usually it’s Shane though."
Brian: "When we finished mixing all the tracks I sent one to Jack to see what he thought. He thought it had some great moments and offered to help us. It took awhile to figure out how the distribution would be handled. Ben Blackwell's Cass Records is going to help us on that end.
Shane at The Lager House! photo: Patrick Currie
Brian: "We recorded and mixed the record at Brendan Benson’s Le Grand Studio here in Detroit before he moved to Nashville last spring. At the end of last summer it was sent to New York City and was mastered. Through the winter my brother Dan Muldoon worked on the sleeve art. My wife Patricia took the photos. We’ve been at it on and off for a year or so.
Do you plan to do a tour for the new album?
Hunter: "My dream in life is to be a musician and just go out on tour whether it’s with The Muldoons, or another band I may have. I would love to go out and support our new LP, but it’s hard because my parents have to work and 10 months out of the year we’re in school.
Brian: "We’re going to Chicago in July, we hope to get back to New York this summer. We will do what we can, gas is rather pricey now."
Hunter getting down! photo: Patrick Currie
Hunter and Shane, being younger than most bands, how do you get along with your fellow Detroit bands? Are they pretty cool to you guys?
Hunter: "Everyone is extremely nice to us in the city. They’re all very positive and supportive. They come out to our shows and talk to us. All in all, they’re really cool and nice."
Shane: "Yeah, what Hunt said."
Shane and Hunter, How was it opening for The White Stripes at The Masonic Temple in Detroit? That's a huge show! Were you guys nervous at all?
Hunter: "Personally, I was really nervous. All that was going through my mind was, 'What if they don’t like us? What if I break a string? What if I forget how to play a song?' So that was kind of nerve wrecking. It was also a bit intimidating having all those people staring at us when we first got on stage. The reaction we got was even more surprising. The show was amazing and I was really happy that we got to do it, I think it opened up a lot of opportunities for us."
Shane: "I remember sound checking in the afternoon being fun when nobody was there. It was kind of scary when it was full of people and we were waiting to go on. I remember Jack telling us to just keep going if we made a mistake and to not stop. I sang into the mic Jack uses over by Meg so I wouldn’t have to look out at the crowd. We played eight songs in about fifteen minutes. It felt good to have people cheer for us."
How would you describe your band to someone who has never heard your music?
Hunter: "I would have to say loud, energetic, in your face punk rock.
Shane: "We write songs for 10-year olds everywhere."
If The Muldoons were approached, would you ever consider signing with a big label?
Brian: "If there was an opportunity for wider distribution for a record, promotion and tour support, sure, why not? I think any band that makes something they’re proud of would like to see it be made available to a wider group of people than they could reach through shows, the internet, or a Myspace page."
THE MULDOONS LP! Available June 9th!
art: Dan Muldoon
Cass Records: (BUY Muldoons!)
Article about The Muldoons:
84 Tigers Interview:
This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.