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Four questions with Muzzle of Bees about "Wisco: A Tribute To Wilco’s Summerteeth"

Post by Jesse Russell on 9/3/2010 10:16am

This has been a sad week for music fans as we learned of the suspension of Paste Magazine in print. This was especially sad for me as I had been an early subscriber to the magazine, but even I had let my subscription lapse in the last two years. For a long time Paste fulfilled a unique role in the world of new and interesting music (and film) due to the CD they included with every issue. Not only could you read about new music, you also had the opportunity to sample tracks. It was an important model in the pre-music blog world and the magazine's demise in print is regrettable, but makes sense due to the way people now find out about new music - on the Internet. By the time Paste arrives in your mailbox many of the songs on their sampler have already found the music blogs. This, to me, isn't necessarily always a good thing, but that's a rant for another day.

One of the music blogs that fills the role previously filled by magazines like Paste is Wisconsin's very own Muzzle of Bees. The website, started by Ryan Matteson in 2005, has become the ultimate resource for advocating Wisconsin as a place to not only for touring acts to come perform in front of hungry audiences, but to also find quality bands that may be flying just below the national radar. MoB was an early enthusiast of Wisconsin musicians such as Bon Iver, Pezzittino, and Jentri Collelo. The website fills a role that a national music publication can not - a laser like focus on one state's music scene.

As if to drive this case home Muzzle of Bees released a tribute album this morning to what can be considered one of the most important albums of the 90s: Wilco's Summerteeth. This tribute, dubbed Wisco: A Tribute to Wilco's "Summerteeth", features all Wisconsin acts and while it has only been online for a handful of hours I've listened through most of it twice. It is a tribute to be proud of with every single one of these musicians bringing their passion to the piece they've chosen to perform. Shortly after MoB announced the tribute, which is also released as a fundraiser for the Wisconsin Humane Society, I fired off four questions to Matteson regarding his first step into the waters of album production.

How did you go about deciding the bands to put on this comp?

I had the idea in November of 2008. Jeremiah Nelson was actually the first person I called. Once he was on board I was confidant I could convince some of my other favorite bands to jump on board. I'm ecstatic that all of these bands participated. I think it speaks volumes about what's going on in Wisconsin.

How long have you been working on it?

Almost two years. Sadly, I put the project on hold when Jay Bennett passed away. It was ready to come out right about then and the last thing I wanted to do was make it look like I was trying to use that very sad situation as a reason to get traffic to my website.

Where did the bands record?

The bands recorded in studios and homes throughout Wisconsin. Everyone recorded on their own and brought me the finished results. It was so amazing listening to these tracks as they came in. Each one became a favorite.

Did you decide who would do each track or did they choose?

All bands chose what songs they wanted to do. The bands that jumped on board first got first pick so I was able to give the latecomers a list of what was taken and what was up for grabs. There was only one instance where a couple of the artists wanted the same song ("How To Fight Loneliness"). Jentri from Flight really wanted to do that song too. I'm so glad she ended up doing "When You Wake Up Feeling Old" because they absolutely nailed that.

Jesse Russell


Jesse was born and raised in Connecticut, began blogging in 1997, and moved to Madison in 2003. In 2005, he co-founded dane101 along with Kristian Knutson and Shane Wealti. In addition to helping nearly a dozen contributors run this website he's helped launch various events in the city including What's Your Damage?!, the MadPubQuiz of Awesomeness, the Fire Ball Masquerade, Dane101's Freakin' Halloweekend, and more.