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| by Lindsay Patton-Carson

to take the band’s music all over the world. He’s succeeded at both. For the band’s 20th anniversary, it’s only


fitting that the members hit the road for the “20 Years of Beer Tour.” “It’s a bizarre milestone, because it’s not

something we ever thought we’d attain,” Kirchgessner said. “It’s longer than

MUSTARD PLUG The Intersection, Grand Rapids Dec. 30, 5:30 p.m. $10 in advance, $12 day of show All ages, (616) 451-8232

we’ve done anything else,” added Bassist Colin Clive. Kirchgessner and

Clive are the band’s original members, hav- ing known each other since the late ‘80s. The two bonded over punk shows and the fact that

they both owned Volkswagen Beetles. At the time, Clive was studying at Western

Michigan University, while Kirchgessner was at Michigan State University. The two made a deal to make a ska-punk band once they moved back to Grand Rapids. “It wasn’t anything serious. We didn’t

think it would be around 20 months, let alone 20 years,” Kirchgessner said. “We just grabbed whatever friends that had any interest – friends of friends, anyone.” Clive added there was no musical quali-

fication at all. “Basically our audition was, ‘Do you have

a pulse? You’re in,’” Kirchgessner said. From there, Mustard Plug had a mission

to educate Grand Rapids about ska-punk – a music style that’s fast, upbeat and is heavily defined by including a horn section.


AVE KI RCHGE S SNE R HAD TWO goals for his career in music. The Mustard Plug front

man’s first goal was to get free beer. His second was to be able

For the first five years, Mustard Plug

played – a lot. “There was no Internet. The only way

you could find out is if you went to a show and bought our record,” Clive said. “We were just goofy and had horns … it just kind of confused people.” Confusion quickly led to fanaticism, as

ska-punk broke through the mainstream in the mid-‘90s. Bands such as Mighty Mighty Bosstones, No Doubt, Sublime and Reel Big Fish dominated radio. Riding the ska wave, Mustard Plug filmed

a couple music videos and toured with the likes of Five Iron Frenzy, Less Than Jake and

The Toasters on the “Ska Against Racism Tour.” The band also hung out with “Weird Al” Yankovic – an unexpected fan – a couple times. A couple years later, ska left the main-

stream as quickly as it entered it. A few bands died out and a few, like Mustard Plug, contin- ued on with the support of a strong fan base. “They’re one of the few ska bands that

survived,” said Intersection General Manager Scott Hammontree. “It’s a testament to their hard work and dedication.” The results of that hard work and dedica-

tion are seven albums, including a greatest hits album released in 2005. The band’s most recent album, In Black and White, was released in 2007 with the label of Mustard Plug’s most mature album to date. “We started with any song that we wrote

was good enough,” Kirchgessner said. “Now it’s that none of them are good enough. And




part of that’s us, part of it is knowing [the song needs] to measure up to our best songs.” Currently, Mustard Plug has 10 songs in

the works for its next album. “With Mustard Plug, there’s always a new

album in the works,” Kirchgessner said. “It’s just hard to pinpoint the approximate month, year, decade it’ll come out.” For now, the band is focusing on its 20th

anniversary tour, which will take the guys across the U.S. to revisit some of the places they consider to be their “homes away from home.” Even if that “home” is a little more uncon-

ventional than what the band is accustomed to, such as the time in 2010 Mustard Plug was asked to play a nudist campground. “It was pretty surreal, but after a while –

maybe 20 minutes into it – I was like, ‘OK, there’s a bunch of naked people,’” Kirchgessner said.

“It was still pretty weird,” Clive added.

“Ever seen a grown man hula hoop naked?” “I have,” Kirchgessner said. Throughout their years of off-the-wall

shows and countless amounts of beer, the only thing Kirchgessner and Clive say they would take back are the matching yellow tuxedo jackets the band wore in the ‘90s. “The most gaudy tuxedo jackets ever,”

Clive said. “No one’s ever said, ‘I miss those tuxedo jackets.’” n


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