The Muggs have been making music here in Detroit since 2000 and have quite the dedicated fanbase. Did you know…they also have a dedicated fanbase in Spain?
The trio returned just last week from a 3-week tour of Spain, and now that the jet-lag has faded, we had the opportunity to connect with bassist Tony Muggs to hear all about their time abroad and the love for Detroit rock in Spain!
Give us a quick “elevator pitch” on The Muggs, for any of our Detroit Proud readers who may not have yet discovered your awesomeness.
“Detroit rock ‘n’ roll seekers! If you want to see an authentic, power trio (a la Hendrix or Led Zepp) performing all original, face melting jams, electrified riffs, bombastic bass and thunderous drums, why then, look no farther, go see the Muggs!”
The Muggs just returned from a May Tour in Spain – your sixth time gigging there, yes? What brought you to Spain for the first time – and what keeps you coming back?
Yes, this is our sixth time going to Europe and touring the entire country of Spain. Our first tour was back in January 2007, with another Detroit rock band called The Paybacks. Since Dannymuggs was in the Paybacks as their lead guitarist, Wendy Case, lead singer and front woman, invited the Muggs along. So Danny ended up playing two shows a night for the 10 show tour that year.
What keeps us coming back to Spain is our fans in Spain! After touring with the Paybacks in ’07, word started spreading about the Muggs in Spain. Since then, the people in Spain, rockers, just like Detroit, love the excitement and energy we bring to our live shows.
How did The Muggs build such a dedicated following in Spain?
The internet. Bands like the Muggs are independent and as a ‘blues rock trio’ we are a niche market (but hopefully not for long with bands just like us that are breaking out mainstream like Greta Van Fleet). The internet is the most useful tool to market yourself and because we wanted to be taken as a serious rock band that could go national, we’ve put in 100’s of hours getting our name out there to the world, but especially Spain. We find all the cracks in the internet and stuff them with the Muggs!
Talk to us about Spain’s love for rock music – and for Detroit rock!
I see Detroit and Spain as very similar places. Both are very blue collar, we both work hard and play hard, we both love rock ‘n’ roll, both places have exquisite food, the people are very friendly in Detroit and all over Spain, and both our landscapes vary in beauty.
Spain sees Detroit as one of the birthplaces of authentic, ‘real-deal’ gritty rock ‘n’ roll. They crave it, but it seems to me that it has to be a genuine performance. Our shows are not perfect, but neither is rock ‘n’ roll. It was never supposed to be. So I guess Spain loves us for our entire show with all the raw energy and excitement we put into it and they can tell the difference between real rock and posturing.
How are gigs in Spain different from gigging here in Detroit?
I see the difference as being this: You just can’t get that level of high quality entertainment every day in Spain like you can in Detroit so Spain values it and treats it as a special event, because to them, it is special. Detroit is a special place where anyone can see high quality bands every day of the week if they so choose, thus I employ the old saying, “familiarity breeds contempt!” Everyone in my circle of friends supports Detroit bands weekly. This is what we choose to do with our lives. In Spain, a Muggs fan has to wait 1-3 years to get their fix! Therein, lies the difference.
I’m so proud of the Muggs. Dannymuggs, Todd Glass, and now Zach Pliska (our touring drummer from this past May 2018 ‘Get It On’ Tour) give it their all on the stage. We go 110%, and 1 1/2 to 2 hours every night when we are on tour, and we all play like it’s our last show! It doesn’t matter if there are 7 people in attendance or 700 people, we always give you the best, exciting show we can every night.
Craziest thing that happened while in Spain (this time)?
This is a first: Our 4th show of the tour was at this venue called Peter Rock in Valencia. We were jamming on our 5th song in the set, and Zach was bashing the drum kit really hard on one of those tall, drum risers (which by the way, I personally hate drum risers!).
It was the very end of the song and he hit a crash cymbal so hard that the cymbal stand fell over and landed behind my bass amplifier. Seconds after the song ended, I went over to help him set the cymbal stand back up. Dannymuggs started into the next song of our set, but out of the blue, my Fender Rhodes (I play bass on a Fender Rhodes Piano 73 keys) was suddenly not working, no power. Puzzled, I went over to my bass amplifier (Ampeg head and 4X10 cabinet) and saw exactly what had happened!
When the crash cymbal stand had fallen, upon impact, the cymbal had perfectly severed the power cord into two pieces!!! Unbelievable. So luckily, the sound men were on top of the problem and within a minute tops, we were back performing.
Favorite on-stage moment from a performance on this tour?
It was on our day off in Vigo. Our promoter, Alfonso, lined us up with an ‘in-store’ record store performance to hype our show for the next evening at La Fabrica de Chocolate in Vigo. We only played three songs, but our songs can be up to 7 minutes long. The second song in the set was a B-side from our October 2008 single release called Bite Of The Weredog. The song is titled, “Leanin’ Blues.”
In the middle of Danny’s solo, he decided to take a stroll outside of the record shop and play to the folks on the street. It was fun seeing my best friend sit down at one point, leaning against the open door to the record store, legs extended while donning a Detroit Tigers baseball hat and The Beggars shirt and just play the blues like the old times when we were young learning our craft and could only dream of being on tour, let alone in beautiful Vigo, Spain.
Love seeing you guys rep Detroit while on tour, rocking local gear, from Danny’s Tigers hat, to showing love for other local acts like The Beggars & Pretty Ghouls. Is that part of your master plan for Detroit rock domination?
No…ever since Danny and I could get into bars, we’ve been staunch supporters of the local music scene just for the love of live music. Eventually though, and because we are very outgoing, we’d see the same people going to our shows or other bands shows, and you know, we became friends. Then, because most people we’d see at shows are musicians themselves, we’d expand the radius of bands we knew and it just snowballed. You won’t see me wearing any bands’ tee shirt that I don’t believe in. Detroit music is alive and well and the Muggs are just happy to be a part of this amazing community of talented, world class musicians.
We know your tour was jam-packed with show dates – but we’re sure you also probably got a chance to enjoy…Spain! Favorite new place or area you discovered while sightseeing/touring?
This tour, we went with a new promoter, Alfonso Cito. He’s been a blues/rock-a-billy promoter for the past 40 years and has quite a name for himself in Spain. So with every new promoter, I learned that they have unique relationships with certain cities and clubs. The Muggs had the pleasure to play Boiro, Spain, and we stayed in a hotel right off the Sea of Boiro, which spills into the Atlantic Ocean. Danny and Zach got to swim in the salty sea twice while I collected seashells for my niece and nephew. Every city has its charm. Sometimes, depending on the distance between cities, we get a reprieve and can hit the town running for a few hours before load in/sound check.
Biggest difference playing Spain in 2007 vs. 2018?
I think we know what to expect these days. The 2007 tour we just treated as a vacation, wide-eyed and excited to be somewhere foreign, rocking out to a different crowd. I’ve always fancied myself as the business side of the Muggs and with every subsequent tour, we’ve learned how to minimize our headaches and maximize our fun!
Best thing you ate in Spain?
Zach and I threw down on NAVAJES or Sea Knives (shellfish) from a region in Spain called Galicia. Similar to mussels in texture, but thinner, 10″ long and juicy!
One thing from Spain that you wish we could bring to Detroit shows?
Sidra! A sour cider made in the region Austurias that I fell in love with while on tour.
Local familiar face, Zach Pliska, joined you on drums for this tour – any chance we’ll see him make an appearance back in your line-up down the road, as a special guest?
I’m not sure. He’s an honorary member of the Muggs now, but Todd Glass is still in the band and gigs with us locally. Either way, for future tours, if Todd can’t go, it’s great to know Zach is a professional guy who can lay down some explosive drums as he sits back, cool and calculated as ‘the Ice-Man!’
Describe Detroit rock and what makes it so special.
I still have to run a few more tests and get my results back from the lab, but I’m 99% sure it’s in the water!
What makes you proud being a musician from Detroit?
The rich history of music in Detroit. It still blows me away that so much talent, discovered and still covered, are from this swatch of land I call home and I’m somehow a part of it?!?
Top 5 favorite Detroit musicians/bands (past or present)?
1. Stevie Wonder 2. James Jamerson 3. Smokey Robinson 4. The White Stripes 5. Sixto Rodiguez
What’s next for The Muggs, here in Detroit?
Laying low, nothing on the books currently. Getting ready to record our 5th studio album, entitled Slave To Sound during the summer. We’re all so busy with our other projects as well. Dannymuggs is in Rattlesnake Shake: a Peter Green Fleetwood Mac tribute band, along with me and Todd. He’s also in Awesomer with Todd. Todd is a session drummer and plays in several live bands including Octopus and I’m writing my autobiography, recording Dude’s 2nd full length album entitled, Autobiograffitti and am a blogger for www.rockthestroke.com —- busy, busy, busy!
Thanks to Tony for chatting with us! We wish ya all the Navajes and Sidra you can handle. (We’re not drooling. YOU’RE drooling).
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