Q&A — MF Ruckus Returns to Denver on July 22nd to Rock the Bluebird Theater into the Ground

MF Ruckus

The Motherfucking Ruckus breathes rock and roll. Sometimes referred to as MF Ruckus by those less willing to get down and dirty, the band has kept the spirit of classic rock and metal alive in Denver for over a decade. Their music punches the listener in the eardrum with screaming guitars, a brutal rhythm section and soul-tearing vocals.

Aaron Howell, the band’s frontman who spits fire and lightning with each lyric, spoke with 303 Magazine ahead of their July 22nd headlining show at the Bluebird Theater about staying true to himself while being unafraid of creative exploration, the ever-changing landscape of modern music, cursed moonshine, putting out new music after a variety of setbacks and more.

MF Ruckus

303 Magazine: It’s been a minute since you’ve put out a new album fully comprised of new music. I believe your last release was all the way back 2016. How does it feel to be putting new music out into the world again with The Frontlines of Good Times Vol. 1

Aaron Howell: Given the vast number of setbacks, delays and disappointments that have gone into the process of putting this out, it feels amazing. We did manage to put out digital singles on a fairly consistent basis but finally releasing them all in a physical format is huge. A lot happened over the years trying to get this damn thing out. Friendships and relationships fell apart, babies were born, people died, there was that whole life-shutting-down-for-two-years thing we all went through and we lost our label, management and agency in one fell swoop. It’s been bananas. The whole process started with the ritualistic sharing of a jar of moonshine I bought from Nathaniel Rateliff so I’m starting to think it was cursed or something. It’s incredible though and I’m really proud of what we made. The last several years would have broke a lot of bands but my dudes and I stayed alive. 

303: A lot can change in that amount of time. What can fans expect from the new project that they may not have heard on your previous releases? 

Howell: I think what stands out on this record is the fact that we stretched ourselves a bit creatively compared to previous records. We really took our sweet ass time with it and that allowed us to experiment with some new elements and really tinker with lyrics and sounds before putting it out. Brad Smalling at Evergroove and his team really helped facilitate that process. Whatever we had in mind, they tried to help us execute it. The songs are a bit more stylistically diverse. We have thrashy/hardcore sounding stuff, catchy classic hard rock, snotty punk rock, straight-up honky tonk and operatic space metal; we got weird. I personally also got a bit more personal and message-driven on the lyrics. We’ve always written a lot about partying and Satan and what have you, but this is the first MF Ruckus album with songs about self-liberation and understanding the inherent chaos of life and the universe. There are also songs about partying and Satan too so we didn’t totally forget our roots!

MF Ruckus

303: You play a brand of rock and roll that isn’t the most prevalent these days, with elements of thrash, hardcore, punk, prog and more. Can you speak to how you merge genres so seamlessly? 

Howell: We do have a couple of songs with some thrash influences but, for the most part, we play whatever we want. Everyone in this band has a highly diverse musical taste and skill set. We used to be way more restrictive when it comes to which ideas we would develop and which we wouldn’t. Nowadays, we’re old and don’t care as much anymore about the market response or projecting a certain kind of tribal affiliation, so we’re way more open to playing around. We honestly make music for pretty much one guy. His name is Joey and as long as Joey digs it, we’re good. That’s our own version of WWJD: “What would Joey Dig?” So far, he’s liked whatever we’ve put out, even the country stuff. I think as time goes on, we’ll just continue to open up more and more. All the best bands did it that way. You look at bands like Queen, Ween, Faith No More, Chicago, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard; they just write whatever the hell they want. We’ve always been like that to a degree, but recently, we’ve started branching out of the punk, metal, classic rock categories. I think it’s all prevalent and relevant by a matter of degree. Wacken Open Air and Rock In Rio are two of the biggest festivals on earth and they’re both packed with metal, thrash, hard rock, etc. Besides, like I said, as long as Joey’s happy, we’re good. 

READ: REVIEW — You’ll Never Shred as Hard and King Gizzard and the Lizzard Wizard

303: The musical landscape is constantly changing. Are there certain trends or aspects of modern rock that you really love to see? Conversely, any you aren’t too fond of? 

Howell: I’m so grateful to live in a time where literally anyone can make a record and everyone borrows from everyone else. I work with a bunch of young folks and we just talk about music all day (Shout out to Fire on the Mountain Buffalo Wings!). We introduce each other to bands, we go to shows together and I think it makes me a better musician and a more well-rounded human. You’ve got guys who are spending their weekend seeing Phish before going to see Municipal Waste the following weekend. They introduce me to whatever they’re into and I show them the stuff I’m into and next thing you know, everyone has a new band of the week they’re obsessing over. I also love that all subcultures are active and it’s totally fine. Trends come and go but in the 21st century, there are always metalheads, goths, punks, rockabillies, jazz cats, bluegrass/country fans, hippies, hip hop heads, EDM kids, whatever. It all belongs to us all and I think that’s amazing. I made a decision a few years ago to stop yucking anyone’s yum and instead, take responsibility for the value I extract from any experience. Even if a certain band isn’t my usual thing, I try to look for what I like about it. 

MF ruckus

303: Finally, besides the shows coming up and the album release, anything else you’d really like to plug?

Howell: Yes! The Front Lines of Good Times Vol. I is available now from Glory or Death Records. The 10th anniversary super deluxe edition of our live album The Dirty Half Dozen is coming in 2024 and The Front Lines of Good Times Vol. II will be out the following year. We never went nowhere, folks. There’s still so much to come. 


Catch MF Ruckus at The Bluebird Theater tonight! Purchase tickets here.

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