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What's a mustard plug?
By Stephen Libin
"Sometimes masturbation is better than a relationship."
No, renowned sex guru Sue Johanson hasn't decided to join a ska band, but Mustard Plug trombonist Jim Hoffer has explained the inspiration behind one of their songs, "Miss Michigan."
"Michigan is in the shape of a hand. So when you say you are dating Miss Michigan, you're dating a hand," Hoffer explains.
Formed 10 years ago, Mustard Plug is still riding the wave of success from ska's golden years of 1997 and 1998. "We saw a big surge in the US, but we never went and signed with a major label. I think, in the long run, that made us stronger because a lot of bands are folding right now. The ska climate has died off and a lot of bands are falling by the wayside, but we're still going strong."
Touting appearances on numerous various artist collections, and three full-length recordings, Mustard Plug is still having a great time playing the music that has given them success. They have played on the Vans Warped Tour, SnoJob and Ska Against Racism.
"[Ska Against Racism] was the best tour we've ever done. It kind of united all of the bands. Ska isn't very preachy, but racism is the one thing that we have all stood up against. Not only that, but all of the bands were friends, so we were on tour with all of our friends. It was a lot of fun."
After joining the band in 1996, Hoffer was stuck with the name Mustard Plug. The founding members, bassist Craig DeYoung, lead vocalist David Kirchgessner and guitarist/vocalist Colin Clive picked the band's name.
"It's basically the little crusty thing at the top of a mustard bottle," explains Hoffer. "It's really that simple. However, somebody told me on Monday that a mustard plug is some sort of piece of cartilage in the nose of a fetus. It's some anatomy thing. But that has nothing to do with us."
It has been said that ska is nothing more than punk music with a horn section. Although not denying this notion, Hoffer explains the big difference is not in the types of instruments played, but rather the message behind the music.
"Ska has always been about everyone being together. It doesn't matter who you are. No one's going to preach. Just come and have fun. Although I would say that we still have a punk mentality, that of the counter-culture, we don't try and push our politics on anyone.
"Music has always been my favourite thing to do," he continues. This passion is what drives Hoffer to continue being a part of the ska band and prevents him from settling down into a desk job. With a new CD forthcoming and more touring to come, there is no question that there is a bright future for Mustard Plug. "We're trying to do this as long as we can we don't want to get day jobs."
What should fans expect when Mustard Plug brings their six-man group to Call the Office on Sunday evening? "A lot of alcohol, drinking and fun. We just want people to come on out and dance."