Full disclosure: I went to high school with Colin, the guitarist for Mustard Plug. We shared a theater class one semester and I always thought that Colin was a nice guy, quiet and good looking. I figured he would go on to be a model or an actor. I had no idea that he was a musician. Colin went on to college at Western Michigan in Kalamazoo and we hung out for an afternoon while I was hitchhiking home from a David Bowie concert in Detroit. Then I lost touch with him for the next twenty-five years.
The internet being what it is, Colin and I got back in touch with each other and he sent me this DVD, which is perfect, because it is the story of his band, Mustard Plug. Not knowing much about Mustard Plug, or ska in general, I looked forward to watching this DVD. Never Get out of the Van documents the beginning of the band in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Grand Rapids has had a great alternative scene and bands like Born Without A Face and The T.E.X.A.N.S. (Featuring Maynard from the band Tool), along with other unsung bands like the Reel Bodeans dominated the town. There were many “arty” type bands and a couple cool places to play, like the Reptile House and the Intersection.
When Mustard Plug began, however, the ‘80s hardcore scene had begun to wane and they were a band without a scene. However, they never backed down, played to larger and larger audiences, and begun to foray into neighboring states, eventually touring Japan and Europe. Growing up in the same town, I shared their excitement when they recorded at Bill Stephenson’s Blasting Room studios in Colorado. The idea of recording with the Descendents’ drummer was outlandish to us young punks growing up in West Michigan.
I enjoyed this DVD far more than I thought. The interviews with members and former members—interspersed with live videos and directed videos—were fun to watch and told an interesting story of a band who, against all odds, skanked their way out of the Midwest. (Hopeless)