It turns out the reunion of Tom Petty’s pre-fame band Mudcrutch in 2008 wasn’t a one-shot deal: This August, they’re going to reconvene to begin work on a new album. “Tom wants to make another one,” says Heartbreakers/Mudcrutch guitarist Mike Campbell. “It probably won’t take very long. It’s a labor of love, really.”
The group was originally going to begin work on the album in January, but things were pushed back eight months when rhythm guitarist Tom Leadon faced some medical issues. “Petty was going, ‘Well, that’s a good thing because I don’t have any songs yet,'” says Campbell. “We’ll come up with the songs when we have to.”
Mudcrutch – which also features drummer Randall Marsh and Heartbreakers keyboardist Benmont Tench – played seven club shows in California in 2008 to support their self-titled disc. “It was really fun,” says Campbell. “I hope we do some gigs again this time. If we have the time and the guys are all up for it, then I’d love to go out and play.” How about some shows on the East Coast this time? “We haven’t gotten that far yet,” says Campbell. “But we’ll start with the record and see what comes up.”
The group’s 2008 resurrection was a shock not only to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers fans, but to Leadon and Marsh. “They really haven’t done a lot of professional music over the years,” says Campbell. “This is really something for them to shine in. It makes us really happy to give them a chance to get some light. It’s a good band, different from the Heartbreakers. Tom [Petty] plays bass, so it’s got a different swing to it. It’s nothing that’s going to get us rich and famous, although I’m sure Randall and Tom wouldn’t mind if that happened.”
Leadon left Mudcrutch in 1972, three years before his older brother Bernie parted ways with the Eagles. The Leadon brothers almost certainly never foresaw reunions with their former bands, yet Bernie has been touring with The Eagles since the summer of 2013 and now Tom is gearing up for another run in Mudcrutch.
“In the early 1970s when were playing in Gainesville with Tom [Leadon], Bernie would occasionally come back from Los Angeles to see his family and whatnot,” says Campbell. “We’d all sit him down and be like, ‘What’s it like to make records? What’s it’s like in L.A.?’ He was like, ‘You guys should come. Just come to L.A. and go for it.’ He was the guy who went out and found the golden ring and inspired us to chase it as well.”
The group has been stationed in L.A. ever since. They wrapped up an extensive tour in support of 2014’s Hypnotic Eye last October. “We’re on a nice break now,” says Campbell. “It’s been wonderful. That was a pretty long tour of us, and now we’re just leading our lives and being normal. When we’re finished with the next Mudcrutch record, we’ll start looking at the next horizon for the Heartbreakers.”
Two years ago, the group thrilled fans by playing extended runs at New York’s Beacon Theater and L.A.’s Fonda Theater that were packed full of rarities and covers. “Those were so much fun,” says Campbell. “I hope we get to do that again. For me, as a guitar player, that was like heaven. We can do songs we don’t normally do and each night can be a different setlist. We can do a Chuck Berry song, a J.J. Cale one or anything we like. That might be harder on the singer, but for me it’s a piece of cake. As to whether we ever do anything like that again, we’ll have to wait and see.”