Punk trio's music evolves with move to Port City
Published: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 at 8:42 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 at 8:42 a.m.
Karl Kuehn jokes about working the system of divorced parents when he was 14, receiving in the same year a guitar from his dad and drum set from his mother.
What: Museum Mouth, with Pity Party and Mikey Erg
When: 9 p.m. doors, 10:30 p.m. show, Saturday, March 23
Where: The Soapbox, 255 N. Front St., downtown Wilmington
Tickets: Free, $3 for those under 21
Details: 251-8500 or MuseumMouth.bandcamp.com
At least the gifts didn't become a passing interest. Kuehn has played music since, either solo or in a string of bands. He's the brainchild of area act Museum Mouth, a fun, fuzzed-out punk trio that performs Saturday at The Soapbox with Pity Party and Mikey Erg.
Kuehn grew up in Southport. He put Museum Mouth together in 2009 after teaching two high school friends, Savannah Levin and Graham High, to play bass and guitar.
Though Levin and High left the band for school, Museum Mouth's January 2012 release "Sexy But Not Happy" has done very well through downloads and has gotten raves from music websites.
"I'm just stoked people care enough to download," Kuehn said. "I never expected people to care about my band in the first place. The fact that we have a core group of fans that come to shows, from someone who wouldn't have expected anything," Kuehn trails off, a mixture of humility and humor.
The band made four videos for the album. The title track's video won weekly contest The Freshmen on MTVu, an MTV alternative network that targets universities.
"This song we recorded in my dad's basement and shot at my friend's house is on MTV," Kuehn said, still surprised. "There are so many outlets for premiering a video – blogs and countless magazine websites. We all grew up knowing about MTV, seeing it as this iconic thing."
Kory Urban began playing bass after Levin left and Kuehn continued on drums, taking over vocals. High lives in Raleigh but is still a member. Corey Blackburn, a high school friend of Kuehn and High's, filled in as a hired gun at first, but the band now has shows only when High and Blackburn can play together.
"Corey is a stand-up guy," Kuehn said. "The new songs (we're playing) are more complicated. I've been writing guitar parts that are interlocking. He's an unofficial fourth member."
Kuehn said the last few months have been busy – he moved from Southport to Wilmington in December, and the band released an EP ("UR Who U Let Die") along with another free Valentine's Day cover song (The Yeah Yeah Yeahs' "Maps"). He also met Stephen King briefly at work.
"He referred to decaf as the devil's brew," Kuehn said with a laugh.
Kuehn still works in Southport but hopes to change that.
"I'm happy to be a citizen (of Wilmington) now," Kuehn said. "Southport is a retirement community with a high school. I was at the extremes of the spectrum – younger kids and older people."
Museum Mouth is readying a new album for a late summer/fall release. The original follow-up to "Sexy," recorded last fall with Derek Perry from Fake Problems, was 95 percent complete before the music files were lost.
"I was bummed for about a week. It was a chance to make a name for ourselves recording with (Perry)," Kuehn said. "In a way, I'm glad it didn't work out because the new songs are my favorite songs I've ever written. So it happened for a reason."