"WE DON'T LIKE to do interviews," Trent Ruane tells me from his car, speeding from Sacramento to the Bay Area. "There's not a whole lot we feel like we can say that really matters." This makes sense, given that his band's most notable claim to fame is that all four members perform dressed in ragged, dirt-and-sweat-soaked mummy costumes.
The Mummies came of age in the early '90s garage rock scene in the Bay Area. Ruane and his cohorts became notorious for their incessant insults thrown at the audience, plumb-dumb riffage, and a bevy of record jackets adorned with grinning men wrapped in bandages, flipping the camera off. Sub Pop Records asked the band for a 7-inch to put out as part of their monthly singles club. The Mummies responded with a terse letter that mimicked Sub Pop's snotty rejection letters, ending with, "I guess I could say that we appreciate the offer, but I would only be lying. So fuck off. The Mummies."
True to form, the Mummies died as they lived, imploding before the release of their full-length, Never Been Caught, only to return in undead form for two European tours in 1993 and 1994. A few scattered reunion shows have followed in the decades since, including their first appearance in years on July 4 at Oakland's Burger Boogaloo. A mummy is born through death, though, and the Mummies' glee with which they insulted their audience, each other, and the record industry suggested maybe they never were alive in the first place.
Indeed, the reason for this year's reunion is the mark of death for the punk institutions the Mummies gave so few shits about. "What was the impetus to get us back together? Money." Ruane pauses after the word "money," and to my ear he seems less concerned about respectability than he seems to lament the fact that he has to make this distinction at all.
Before the interview is over, Ruane stops to ask, "How did you get stuck doing this piece? You pissed your boss off and he said 'You, you're gonna do the Mummies piece, because I hate you'?"
I tell him that the piece was of my own volition, and that I'll hopefully get to see his show. "Well, I'll try to make it out too then," he retorts. "I was on the fence, but after this, I thought, 'What the heck?'"