Puddle of Mudd
"Life On Display"

Puddle of Mudd

Wesley Scantlin - vocals/guitar
Paul Phillips - guitar
Douglas Ardito - bass
Greg Upchurch - drums

Any listener to rock radio is familiar with the name Puddle Of Mudd by now, but many don’t appreciate the sheer scale of success the band’s debut album, 2001’s Come Clean, achieved: over 5 million copies sold and spawning no less than 4 radio hits (“Blurry”, “Control”, “Drift And Die”, “She Hates Me”). The ubiquitous “Blurry” became the most played track on Modern Rock Radio for 2002 and earned the ASCAP award for most played song of the year. Come Clean sold 116,000 copies in its first week of release - a record for a new rock act. Puddle Of Mudd’s songs have become a benchmark in contemporary guitar rock.

Fame came organically to Puddle Of Mudd, building from the band’s relentless touring, opening for The Deftones, Staind and Godsmack. Puddle’s reputation as live performers translated to a strong following of fans and national attention from radio stations which ignited the spark that led to their enormously successful debut. Frontman Wesley Scantlin first became aware of that tipping point in a very public way: “Those moments where you get recognized, y’know? Not being able to walk through a pool hall without stopping at every table and signing autographs - that’s when you know you’ve made some sort of dent.”

It’s this kind of attention which inspired the title of Puddle Of Mudd’s sophomore collection, Life On Display (released November 25). This long awaited follow-up (produced by Come Clean’s John Kurzweg, Michael ‘Elvis’ Baskette and the band) retains the quartet’s no-nonsense anti-formula, and brings a more defined and occasionally dark edge to the songs.

“We wanted to make a great rock record that has nothing else coming in to play, like rap or electronics,” deadpans Paul, “It’s not punk, it’s not rap-rock, it’s rock. It’s not retro rock, we’re not playing through all these old amps and sounding like we’re in the ‘70s - it’s modern, new rock, and there’s not much of that going on right now.”

“We wanted it to sound like we sound live,” he continues, “So many people say we’re heavier and a whole other band live - we tried to capture what we actually sound like in a rehearsal room. We kept it simple: four takes of everything and minimal overdubs. It’s just a bigger sound - not in terms of being polished in sheen, it’s rawer.”

The first single, “Away From Me”, cradles a desperate angst reminiscent of Alice In Chains, yet retains Puddle Of Mudd’s signature, stays-for-days, anthemic chorus, while “Nothing Left To Lose” combines a Led Zeppelin air with a new millennium crunch. “Change My Mind” is a tale of deceit and suspicion, with a strummy, melancholic post-grunge chorus and those subtle classic rock undertones that set Puddle Of Mudd apart. Album closer and band favorite “Time Flys” is an ambitious, lengthy piece of many parts: “It changes time signature and it’s not a typical structure” notes Greg. Indeed “Time Flys” shifts through multiple moods and movements, culminating in a three-minute instrumental outro: it’s the sound of a band expressing themselves freely and honestly.

In terms of songwriting, Wesley hasn’t changed his approach: “The only thing I’m really aiming for with a song is making that galvanic skin response come to life with the goosebumps and the hairs on the back of your neck standing up. That’s how I write.”

Although Puddle Of Mudd haven’t consciously changed their approach to writing and recording, the chemistry between them over three years of touring certainly shows on Life On Display. “The more you play with certain individuals the more you just know,” stresses bassist Douglas, “You just get tighter as a band and everything just seems to click quicker ... and everyone’s becoming better musicians - we’re getting better at our craft.”

After completing the recording of Life On Display, Puddle Of Mudd are ready to take their new material out on the road, a prospect they relish: “I really think that Puddle Of Mudd is still at its best in a live show,” Greg enthuses. Summing up the unpretentious approach that has resonated with millions, Paul concludes: “I don’t give a fuck about anything but playing live and rehearsing: I just like playing with these guys.”

With back-to-back great tunes, heart-on-the-sleeve lyrics and organic, yet crafted production, expect Life On Display to become another contemporary classic.