Fusing big guitar riffs, pop hooks, fast tempos, and an attitude that sways between sweet and snarky, the Muffs were a pop punk band from Los Angeles led by guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter Kim Shattuck.
After making their name on the West Coast punk scene for their wild live gigs, the Muffs landed a record deal with Warner Bros., resulting in an engaging self-titled debut album in 1993 and two similarly fine follow-ups, 1995's Blonder and Blonder and 1997's Happy Birthday to Me. After leaving the major labels, the group became less prolific, and they'd gone ten years without making an album when they returned in 2014 with Whoop Dee Doo, a fun and exciting return to form.
The Muffs' story begins in the late '80s, when Kim Shattuck and Melanie Vammen were members of the Los Angeles garage band the Pandoras. Under the direction of group founder Paula Pierce, the Pandoras began to evolve from garage rock revivalists into a metal-influenced hard rock act. Shattuck left the group in 1990, a few months before the band broke up following Pierce's death due to a brain aneurysm, and Shattuck and Vammen decided to put together a band of their own. They formed the Muffs with drummer Criss Crass and bassist Ronnie Barnett. After two singles for indies Sub Pop and Sympathy for the Record Industry generated a large underground buzz, the Muffs were picked up by Warner Bros. and subsequently released their powerful eponymous debut album in 1993. Shortly after the album's arrival, Crass left the group and was replaced temporarily for the tour.
Finally, after two years of playing small venues throughout the world, the Muffs headed back into the studio to record the follow-up, Blonder and Blonder. The group was now a three-piece due to Vammen's departure citing creative differences; she went on to work with longstanding California punk band the Leaving Trains. For the Muffs' second album, ex-Redd Kross drummer and longtime Muffs friend Roy McDonald joining Shattuck and Barnett. Happy Birthday to Me followed in 1997. It was the band's last record for Warner Bros., and 1999's Alert Today, Alive Tomorrow was released by the punk-leaning indie outfit Honest Don's Records. A rarities collection, Hamburger, appeared in early 2000. After a five-year break from recording, the group reconvened in 2004 to release its fifth studio set, Really Really Happy.
In 2011, the Muffs issued another collection of odds and sods, Kaboodle, and in July 2013, Shattuck announced that she had been hired to join the Pixies as bassist following the departure of Kim Deal. Shattuck's run with the Pixies turned out to be brief, as she was fired from the group in November 2013. Undaunted, Shattuck reconvened the Muffs, and in July 2014, the group released an album of new material, Whoop Dee Doo. The Muffs also found new champions at Omnivore Recordings, who released remastered and expanded editions of their three albums for Warner Bros. The upgraded version of The Muffs appeared in August 2015, Blonder and Blonder was reissued in May 2016, and Happy Birthday to Me completed the series in March 2017. Following a two year battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Kim Shattuck died on October 2, 2019. She passed a little more than two weeks before the scheduled release of the Muffs' seventh album, No Holiday. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi