MF Ruckus Refused to Quit During Tough Times | Westword

MF Ruckus Refused to Quit During Tough Times

Local rock band MF Ruckus is releasing a new album and plays a concert in Denver this weekend at the Bluebird Theater.
Nothing can stop Denver's MF Ruckus. After a slew of bad breaks, the rowdy rock-and-roll band is back with a new record.
Nothing can stop Denver's MF Ruckus. After a slew of bad breaks, the rowdy rock-and-roll band is back with a new record. Michael Gonzo Olivas
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The new MF Ruckus album, The Front Line of Good Times Vol. I, which releases Friday, July 21, via Glory or Death Records), has been a long time in the making. Vocalist Aaron Howell rehashes the ups and downs of the past six years with a matter-of-fact attitude, as if he's told the story many times before — but it still sounds unbelievable when he says it all out loud.

First, the band split with longtime guitarist Parker Meehan, who “basically took his ball and went home,” Howell says.

Then, beginning in 2019, the remaining musicians experienced an overwhelming wave of loss, as a dozen family members and friends passed away, including Howell and bassist Logan O’Connor’s brothers.

“We ran out of spots for the dedication section in the liner notes because people just kept dying,” Howell says, adding that drummer Ty Blosser’s brother-in-law and guitarist Tony Lee’s mother-in-law are among them. "It was just crazy. It was crazy. Just so much loss.”

While the MF Ruckus members were still reeling from that, as well as starting families of their own, the uncertainty of the pandemic resulted in the group's being unexpectedly dropped from its European label, agency and management company.

“The original deal that we had was an album and a tour and marketing campaigns and all this stuff. We were really looking forward to that; then it was pretty much nothing,” Howell recalls, calling it a “miracle” that the Denver band didn’t break up with so much misfortune and heartache piling up.

“You add into that the regular delays or studio time, and it’s a miracle the band is still together, to be perfectly honest,” he adds. “A lot of guys my age have fishing boats; I’ve got a rock-and-roll band. And me and the guys like to take the boat out on the lake a few times a year, and we were unable to take the boat out on the lake for two years."

That time certainly “challenged” Howell’s resolve to “continue in music,” but he and MF Ruckus used the lack of a label and release schedule to their advantage. They began putting out singles from their upcoming record, alongside complementary content such as lyric videos and fresh artwork.

The renewed MF Ruckus — now with guitarists Gianni DiGiacomo and Tay Hamilton, a founding member from 2013 who rejoined the boys — opened for the Koffin Kats at the Gothic Theatre in February 2022.

“It was like we were fucking back,” Howell says. “We picked up right where we left off. We had an amazing show. We had an amazing response.”

The excitement in his words is palpable — defiant, even — and understandably so after everything he and his bandmates had to endure. For the past decade, MF Ruckus became known locally for regularly entertaining audiences with a sonic stew of classic rock and heavy metal, mixing in everything from Thin Lizzy to Iron Maiden on early albums The Dirty Half-Dozen (2013) and Thieves of Thunder (2016). Of course, the band’s name is a reference to a line in the 1993 Wu-Tang Clan song “Bring Da Ruckus.”

“We just want to be the most fun rock-and-roll band you’re ever going to see. Now, that’s a lofty goal because there’s a lot of bands that are more fun, talented and skilled, but that’s what we aim for,” Howell says of MF Ruckus's plan to be the “world’s greatest opening band.”

Now with a new stateside label, MF Ruckus has fine-tuned The Front Line of Good Times Vol. I and is ready to unleash it during a proper record-release party on Saturday, July 22, at the Bluebird Theater. The Blind Staggers and Ipecac are also on the bill. To celebrate the occasion, wings purveyor Fire on the Mountain, one of the event sponsors, came up with a new wing sauce, The Front Lines of Good Thai'mes, and dry rub, MF Rub-kus. Odell Brewing also brewed a beer, We Don’t Party Pils, for the group that will be available at the show, as well as at both Fire on the Mountain locations. The Denver-based Never Summer Snowboards is giving away a board, too.

So it’s definitely going to be a party, and Howell is excited to finally share the new tunes, or what he calls “sweaty, loud, high-five music,” in a live setting.

“We want to put on the most entertaining show. We want to put on the most engaging show. We want to make direct contact with our audience and hug them and sweat all over them and shake their hands and high-five. All that stuff,” he says.

According to Howell, that attitude extends to the band's songs, too. MF Ruckus members “just write songs” based on whatever the six-piece is feeling, he says: “As long it’s fun, entertaining and people are responding to it, who gives a shit? Because in the music business, nobody fucking cares except for a handful of people.”

With that in mind, MF Ruckus dropped three new singles this year — including “Tres Reyes” this month — that will appear as bonus tracks on the digital release of The Front Line of Good Times Vol. I, and will be included on The Front Line of Good Times Vol, II, Howell shares. That’s right, MF Ruckus isn’t taking a long victory lap, but already working on the next record.

“Knock on fucking wood, obviously, because the last one took almost a decade,” Howell says. “Just so many moving parts.”

MF Ruckus, 7 p.m. Saturday, July 22, Bluebird Theater, 3317 East Colfax Avenue. Tickets are $20.
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