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Puddle of Mudd’s Wes Scantlin on potentially losing historic master tapes in the Universal Studios fire

Interview by Lucy Walker

MGM spoke to Wes Scantlin from Puddle of Mudd during a recent trip to the UK. Wes, ever the trooper, despite feeling unwell was still able to perform a great set and still found the time to talk to us after the show. With their well received album ‘Welcome to Galvania’ proving that they’ve still got what it takes to make an impact, we dug into the meaning behind the unusual name.

LW: Thank you so much for seeing us especially as you are ill. I will try and make it short. I think you are aware that you are one of the artists affected by the fire at Universal in 2008?

From Wikipedia, 
A fire erupted on June 1, 2008, on the backlot of Universal Studios Hollywood, an American film studio and theme park in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles County, California. The fire began when a worker used a blowtorch to warm asphalt shingles that were being applied to a facade. He left before checking that all spots had cooled and a three-alarm fire broke out. Nine firefighters and a Los Angeles County sheriffs’ deputy sustained minor injuries. The fire was extinguished after 12 hours.

A June 2019 New York Times Magazine exposé asserted that the fire destroyed [in addition to the confirmed losses by Universal] some 118,000 to 175,000 audio master tapes belonging to Universal Music Group (UMG). This included original recordings belonging to some of the best-selling artists worldwide. UMG initially disputed the story, but CEO Lucian Grainge later confirmed that there had been a significant loss of the musical archives.

Fast forward to July 2019 and UMG archivist Patrick Kraus has now stated on an internal note to Universal staff, that only 22 original master recordings by five artists were lost in the fire, and backup copies had been found for each lost master. He added that UMG has been fielding requests from over 200 artists and their representatives. Kraus said his team had reviewed over 26,000 assets by 30 artists. From that sample, 424 assets (including 349 audio recordings) might have been lost due to the fire. On November 4, 2019, a lawyer representing Universal claimed the artists would receive no compensation. 

Whether Puddle of Mudd is affected or not remains to be seen….. 

Wes: Yeah yeah I am supposed to sue them or something?

LW: I think you should!

Wes: I’m on the road, its hard to communicate with anyone.

LW: Did you know about it at the time?

Wes: I didn’t know about it. The engineer on the album called me to tell me about it about a month ago. He said all the masters had all been burnt. That it was my stuff, yeah my stuff. It’s a lot of memories

LW: It’s a lot of stuff. And to tell you now about something that happened in 2008 is appalling.

Wes: Yeah its shit to keep it all hush hush but yeah yeah it’s because they will get sued. Yeah well they didn’t tell me about it. Don’t really wanna fuck with them though. It isn’t going to exactly help my career.

LW: So what do you have as a backup then?

Wes: They probably have it as backup on digital. Mike we’re talking about the fire when the Masters burned up (Bassist Michael John Adams has just walked in).

Mike: Oh messup.

Wes: Yeah they probably have backup. I’m sure they have it all backed up. They probably have it on a computer

Mike: Maybe there is some really rare stuff that is kind of forgotten now. I remember when they used to just run the tape during these recording sessions. All these things that might be songs later so that stuff was probably never transferred to digital so that kind of thing was probably lost.

LW – Your new album, ‘Welcome to Galvania’ came out in September – where has that name come from? I tried Googling in and the closest I got was Galvanic which means electric currents produced by chemical action or sudden and dramatic experience which does sound apt considering the band and your very public past experiences.

Wes: Yeah it’s sort of like that – we all release a chemical reaction to things. Yeah yeah it’s that.

LW: ‘Uh Oh’– such a classic Puddle of Mudd track and one which I and my daughter have got into straight away seems very autobiographical with lyrics about ‘Cops swooped me up off the ground’ and ‘I’m really not sure, if you’ve had enough’. What is the story behind that and is that an indication of the remaining tracks?

Wes: *laughs*Yeah yeah it kind of is – So it’s about love and how I can’t have relationships because they don’t work because of all the travel and touring. When you have all your stuff stolen by your ex, your house and cars and all the shit that goes with it. Yeah it does sound like what it’s been like but that’s all in the past.

LW: There have been many line up changes since you put POM together in 1991 – how settled and tight are the group now with the current lineup?

Wes: Yeah we are like brothers – we get on like brothers and we just work together really well on stage. Just out on stage with rocking music for everyone to enjoy.

LW: You’ve toured up and down the country this time, what has the reaction been like from the fans?

Wes: They were really great but because I am sick, trying to get over it mainly because my voice is hurting, that’s been the battle, it’s not been so great.

I love the English accents that you British girls have. I keep listening and it’s really cute. I think it’s because you all say ummm all the time. I have noticed you’ve keep saying it. Yeah your accents, it’s really cute.

LW: *blushes and giggles like a schoolgirl instead of the grown ass woman she is*. Aww thank you and thanks for speaking to us after the gig especially with you being sick. Appreciate it!

LW: *Giggles again and skips out of the room in her DM’s*

Our live review of the last London show Puddle of Mudd performed can be found here:

Puddle of Mudd play in Puddle of Sweat on Britain’s hottest day on record – Live review

Welcome to Galvania is out now – our review is below :

Label: Pavement

Track listing

You Don’t Know
Uh Oh [Explicit]
Go to Hell
Diseased Almost [Explicit]
My Kind of Crazy
Time of Our Lives
Sunshine
Just Tell Me
Kiss It All Goodbye
Slide Away
Uh Oh [Clean] (Come Clean Version)

Now that the album is out, if you look closely you’ll find the definition for “Galvania” on the cover. “A change in the electrical resistance of the skin” it says, so our intrepid interviewers web searching skills remain intact!

With Wes the only original member of the band in place, the 21st Century Puddle of Mudd doesn’t feel like a solo outfit and Wes himself describes the band as ‘brothers” in Lucy’s interview above. It’s encouraging as the album sits comfortably in the band’s discography.

Having happily dismissed his previous band mates, and looked to steer himself back onto the right path once more, his band of brothers have helped him and the band deliver something of note, encouraging when it’s your first album in a decade.

Welcome to Galvania doesn’t try to be anything other than a Puddle of Mudd album and for that we are immensely thankful. It has the feel and the sound of an album that would have come out in the 90s and as far as our interviewer is concerned that simply hits the sweet spot for her when it comes to quality music.

Whereas members of the MGM team are a little more upbeat and look to the sounds of the 80s where we ‘didn’t need nothing but a good time’, the 90s saw us and the music a little more downtuned and focused on a tougher life. Scantlin remembers it well and on ‘You Don’t Know’ he sings “you don’t know what it’s like to be in my world, you don’t know what it’s like to live in my head”. No change from how he felt some twenty years ago I imagine and also echoing the voice of that particular decade.

‘Uh Oh’ is pure hook laden goodness. Your 90s crowd might try and hate it saying it’s too upbeat a sound but try and shift the bloody song from your head and nope…. everywhere you go…. no escape.

The anthems and the grunge elements factor heavily on the new release with ‘Go To Hell’ being a prime example. It continues through ‘My Kind Of Crazy’, which, whilst slower still ticks all of the boxes for the PoM fans out there. ‘Time Of Our Lives’ is the win for me though where it takes me back to a time forgotten and the sort of carefree lifestyle I wish I could still employ from time to time.

If you’re looking for mid-nineties and new music (that isn’t simply tagged nu-music) then ‘Sunshine’ makes the album an essential purchase. It closes with ‘Slide Away’ and leaves you with a reminiscing smile on the face, grateful that one of the important bands of that era are still making quality music.

In this century, the re-energised Puddle of Mudd return all the better once more as an out and out grunge band. And there’s still a huge market for it.

Rating 7/10

Reviewed by: Adrian Hextall

 

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