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Kirkwood Bros. Reunite For New Meat Puppets CD

Brothers Curt and Cris Kirkwood have completed work on their first Meat Puppets album together since 1995’s “No Joke!,” has learned. “Rise to Your Knees” will be released July 17 via Kansas City, Mo.-based indie label Anodyne Records, and will be supported by the Puppets’ most extensive tour in years.

Before he could resume playing music with his brother, Cris Kirkwood had to overcome a near-fatal heroin addiction and complete an 18-month prison sentence stemming from an altercation with a security guard, during which he was shot. The Puppets continued on with different members and made one album without him, 2000’s “Golden Lies.”

“Cris shouldn’t be alive,” Curt Kirkwood tells “There’s a dude who just died here in Austin with a wife and two little kids. They were just dabbling (in heroin) and he winds up dead on the couch. Cris has completely held hands with demons for 10 years and he’s still swinging. He’s not a total nut. He’s a really sensitive guy. He’s just been through hell.”

Album tracks include “Spit,” which Kirkwood compares to “Another Moon” from the Puppets’ 1991 album “Forbidden Places,” and “Enemy Love Song,” which he describes as “cheesy reggae” in the vein of Blondie’s “The Tide Is High.” “It’s a lot of ‘singer around the campfire’ songs, but done electrically,” he says, adding that the material has a free spirit in keeping with the Puppets’ beloved early albums on SST.

“I had been writing a lot of stuff all along that I thought had a very Meat Puppets-like vibe,” says Kirkwood. Once the brothers hit the studio, “It was just like the same old, same old in a way, which is kind of what I wanted,” Kirkwood adds. “It’s more of a vibe. It’s not a routine or anything.”

The Puppets had planned to record “Rise to Your Knees” with Primus drummer Tim Alexander, but he had to bow out due to commitments with his primary band. Curt Kirkwood played drums on half of the album, but live, where the band is back to a trio, the stool is being filled by New York multi-instrumentalist Ted Marcus.

Last month at South by Southwest, the Puppets played four shows in various styles, including a bluegrass-leaning set of vintage tunes at the Fader party. “Cris has been playing a lot of banjo, and Ted can play guitar, bass and drums, so we can switch around,” Kirkwood says.

The group has begun confirming spring dates, beginning May 15 in Los Angeles. The Puppets have also signed on for the moe. down festival alongside Ryan Adams and Medeski, Martin, Scofield & Wood on Aug. 31, Sept. 1-2 at the Snow Ridge Ski Area in Turin, N.Y.