Mustard Plug’s 26-year career has found a steady dose of U.S. club shows and international festival tours, as well as studio albums. But the ska punk Michiganders—vocalist Dave Kirchgessner, guitarist/vocalist Colin Clive, bassist Rick Johnson, drummer Nate Cohn, trumpeter Brandon Jenison and trombonist Jim Hofer—are now focusing their efforts on their live shows.
On an upcoming West Coast jaunt, the band will stop by Crescent Ballroom with peers Buck-O-Nine, which excites Kirchgessner.
“It definitely brings another level of excitement for us because we get to feed off another band that we’re fans with and see them every night,” he says. “I think it just boosts the whole energy level. We already have really fun, energetic shows but I think it’s going to be even better than usual.”
Formed in 1991, Mustard Plug has seven albums’ worth of songs, and plenty of classics, such as “Beer (Song),” “Mr. Smiley” and “You,” to draw from during its live outings. In 1998, the band covered The Verve Pipe’s hit “The Freshman.”
“Doing it for 26 years is kind of surreal, and I think a lot of people might think that, ‘Oh, are you bored with it?’ and, to me, it’s like the opposite is happening,” Kirchgessner explains.
“The fact that I feel like I’m getting away with something, pulling off the impossible, something that I shouldn’t be allowed to do, it makes it kind of even more exciting than it would be otherwise.”
Although Mustard Plug continues to tour, the band is in no hurry to return to the studio, Kirchgessner says.
“Every time we put out a record it takes longer for us to put out another record,” he adds with a laugh.
Since the turn of the century, this idea rings true. While the band’s most recent album, Can’t Contain It!, was released in 2014, the prior project, In Black and White, was released seven years earlier, with Yellow No. 5 coming five years before that. Now with seven albums in their repertoire, however, the band members have separate lives beyond their music. Mustard Plug has evolved from the full-time gig it once was to a part-time effort.
“It’s just a matter of getting older and getting more wrapped up in adult lives and that sort of thing,” Kirchgessner says. “It’s been a few years since Can’t Contain It! came out and we just kind of took some time off. The people in the band have kids and that sort of thing. We’re just basically kind of talking about right now working on some songs, but nothing concrete.”
He adds, “We’re kind of just at the point where we just take it as it comes and there’s no huge, huge pressure to put something out.”
This recipe for Mustard Plug’s success has worked. As such, its lineup has remained solid since the mid-1990s. With the pressures of being a full-time act off the table, the six musicians are comfortable only doing things they all agree on, Kirchgessner says.
“Everyone is in the band now because they enjoy doing it,” he says. “It’s not like anyone is expecting to get rich doing it or they need to do it to play the rent or whatever. So, when you take those kinds of burdens and your strains off, it makes it a lot easier. You just kind of focus on the things everyone in the band enjoys doing.”
Mustard Plug continues to fill clubs, but Kirchgessner admits the American ska scene is not as popular as it once was.
“Honestly, the overall ska scene, it’s definitely not as strong as it used to be,” he says. “I think in the ’90s, people were looking for whatever trend was going to happen, like whether it’s grunge or ska or swing or whatever. Now, I think the people that are involved with the ska scene, I guess, are just really there to have fun and enjoy the music.”
Still, Kirchgessner finds joy touring and seeing new, younger fans alongside those who have followed the band for decades and those who have only recently rediscovered their love for ska.
“I think it’s cool to see younger people coming in,” he says. “It’s always amazing that we do get a whole crop of new fans, and I think you can just kind of look at the look on their faces and the excitement and the energy and it’s like they’ve discovered something amazing, which is great to see because I can definitely remember how I felt whenever–26 years ago.”
Mustard Plug w/Buck-O-Nine, Crescent Ballroom, 308 N. Second Avenue, Phoenix, 602.716.2222, crescentphx.com, 8 p.m. Thursday, January 18, $15-$18.