soup activists’ martin meyer on the new album + life after lumpy

An interview about Mummy What Are Flowers For?, Sweeping Promises, growing out of the Dumpers, egg punk, and more.

soup activists’ martin meyer on the new album + life after lumpy
Soup Activists perform in Zagreb, Croatia; November 17, 2023. Photo by Joža.

There were a few years where Martin Meyer was ostensibly “Lumpy”—the goblin screaming out front in Lumpy and the Dumpers, an explosively slimy hardcore outfit without hinges or fucks. Nobody quite did it like the Dumpers, a singular and tantalizingly disgusting voice often aped but never replicated. It was easy to think of them as a lynchpin of a greater scene thanks to Meyer’s label Lumpy Records, which put out essential records like the CCTV 7” or the Natural Man Band album. 

All things Lumpy quietly came to a halt sometime in the past couple years as Martin began releasing tapes on his new label Rotten Apple and rolled out a jangly Flying Nun-inspired singer-songwriter project called Soup Activists. The new album Mummy What Are Flowers For? was recorded with Sweeping Promises at their home studio, and it’s got some fantastic pop songs recorded minimally, which means the hooks pop all the more. It’s on his new label Inscrutable Records, which also put out albums by Famous Mammals, Pleasant Mob, and Tia Rosa.

With so much going on and an exceptional new full-length out, Martin jumped on the phone to talk about life in the present and what’s left in the past.

Are Lumpy and the Dumpers and Lumpy Records purely in the past at this point?

Yeah, pretty much. We did just play some shows. Dumpers toured Australia in 2016, and our friend Jake from Alien Nosejob booked the tour. We became really tight and have stayed in touch over the years. The Dumpers and Jake, we're good friends, so then he asked us to be his backing band on this recent Alien Nosejob tour, and we all said yeah, because it was our mate Jake, who we hadn't seen in forever.

So we started practicing before he got there, and we got to play music together for the first time in like, what was it, five years? And it was really fun, it immediately felt great. I kind of got conned. I was like, “I’m not going to do it again.” I didn't want to, because personally, I’ve moved on from that in a big way. But I don't know, we were all together, so it was like, ah, fuck it, why not? And so we ended up playing every night of the tour, like three to six songs or something.

When you say you’ve moved on in a big way, could you explain why? Are you just done making that kind of music?

I love punk music and all, but I don’t know, it just really ran its course. I didn’t want to make music like that anymore. Then egg punk came out and I really didn’t like being boxed in by that. I thought all of the egg punk bands weren’t good, anyway. I was over it. I like the old Dumpers stuff, but I’m in a new era of my life.

It’s interesting that you don’t think the new egg punk stuff is very good. I definitely enjoy some of it.

Yeah, people love it. It’s fine.

What would you say the moodboard is for Soup Activists? Where do you find inspiration?

Obviously, like, indie. I had a roommate for three years recently, it's my best friend Reese, who sort of changed my life. He opened me up to all this other music besides punk and hardcore, which I had been obsessed with for almost a decade. Reese showed me the way. Reese got me really into, like, Jesus and Mary Chain, Television Personalities, Dolly Mixture. Once you find the OG ‘80s indie bands, which are essentially punk bands, then you find the Clean and Flying Nun. You find this whole other universe that's basically the ethos of punk, and it is punk, but it's considered indie. I don't know. It’s all rocknroll to me, but Soup Activists is definitely a reflection of that newfound taste and style that I love.

Is the band named after the activists who throw soup at paintings?

No! I had the band name before that happened. The first Soup tape came out in December 2020, and then those kids did that thing, what, two years ago? People were like “you're gonna get so much attention.” It didn't happen. Me and my friend were just goofballs. We just riff on absurd ideas and have very similar humor. We just came up with Soup Activists one day; it was our bit for the day. 

The new album was recorded with Sweeping Promises in their home studio—tell me about that experience.

Oh, God, it was awesome. So they got a house in Lawrence, Kansas, which is like an hour away from Kansas City. I guess they got that check from Sub Pop at the time because they bought that house in Lawrence and built a studio in it. I met them in like 2022 at a show, and they were nice. Somehow, I heard they had a studio, and I think I just asked them if I could record there. My other band Pineapple R&R, we went and recorded with them August 2022 and saw the studio, worked with Caulfield, it was great, it sounded great. So then I asked him if I could just come back and do a Soup thing, and he said, yeah. So I went in November, and, yeah, we banged it out in three days.

The album description mentions that it’s a personal record for you. How does that come through on the album?

I definitely spent a lot of time on the songs, musically and lyrically, and a lot of lyrics are just references from real life and my memories. I drew the cover, designed it, played all the instruments. It is personal. I made this record by myself, essentially, but I can’t overstate how important Caulfield and Lira were, and I'm so happy with how it sounds. I mean Caulfield’s a genius. It was amazing working with him cause he would guide me sometimes and request another take of a vocal or suggest, “Why don't you add feedback here?” On “Chaos Girls,” there’s a feedback solo at the end that we added all these layers on. I think some of that was his idea.

And just such incredible gear, too. I've never been around stuff that nice. I mean, it's the first album I've ever made in a proper studio. He had this ‘60s organ, a farfisa, which I had never heard of before. But it sounds exactly like what the Clean used on “Tally Ho!,” so obviously, I was obsessed with it. And it's on the record a couple times. It’s on “Gilchrist” and “Matching Teens.”

And, oh my God, Lira. Lira makes the record. Her voice, she's a professionally trained singer and such a sweetheart. I asked her to sing a couple songs, and she said yeah. She makes it really special. I’ve got to give them props. They are such inspiring people. They've been together for, like, 15 years and played in bands together for that amount of time, too. Finally, Sweeping Promises got really popular. But they've been in the trenches for 10 years before that, so it’s totally deserved.

Do boys with plants actually drive you wild?

I'm having fun in that song. That line is something someone texted me once. I was having a romance with someone, we were sending dumb pictures back and forth. I think I showed her my plants. And then she said, “Boys with plants drive me wild.” I was, like, oh, that's good. I like that line.

You launched Inscrutable Records with four albums at once. Was this constellation of music meant to convey what listeners can expect from the label?

Sort of, yeah. They all sort of fell into my lap. It’s a very cohesive batch. They're all pop records, but also kind of hard to pin down. Thus: Inscrutable. It fit really well with the name. And, yeah, I think that is what you should expect: DIY, pop, indie, whatever, but unpredictable. I think records are really interesting when they're hard to categorize. There's lots of stuff like that now.

I feel like lots of people from the punk scene that I have known from eight or so years back, they're all starting indie bands now. Do you notice this? A lot of it has nowhere to go, in my opinion. I wanted to start a label where I could, like, put out all that stuff. I have four more LPs lined up. They're not at the plant yet, but they're going to come out probably end of summer. More info soon. Oh yeah and I’m going to make another record. I already have it demoed out, I just need to finish the lyrics.

What else do you have cooking?

Here's a funny tidbit. My friend, Gabe, who is in Dumpers, he has a new band, Still Animals. They got asked to open a tour for Me First and the Gimme Gimmes on the West Coast, somehow. Like, they got a message on Bandcamp giving them this insane offer, and the bassist, Jessie, is Gabe's wife, and she's pregnant. She's going to have a kid in July. In August, they want to do the tour, so they asked me to play bass. I'm going to play bass in this band on tour with Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, and their bassist is C.J. Ramone. I'm going to be on tour with a Ramone!