"Do you ever listen to Dead Moon?" Ted Tarka asks, pulling up the sleeve of his well-worn Stooges T-shirt to better reveal a tattoo of the band's emblem, a crescent moon with a skull face. "That's just fucking rock 'n' roll to us, and not in a cheesy way."
"Us," in this case, is Tarka's band, Mud City Manglers, who certainly know their rock 'n' roll. Inspired as teen-agers by '70s and '80s punk and metal, and later by grimy garage-rock bands like Devil Dogs, New Bomb Turks and, of course, Dead Moon, the Manglers have spent the last decade and a half -- seemingly fueled by beer and good-natured misery -- making fun, drunken punk 'n' roll.
Front-man Tarka and drummer Brian Porter, who have been playing together since they were barely out of middle school, have seen other members come and go. ("Brian and I have always been the core of the band," Tarka says.) But the Manglers have remained active for 15 years -- their lineup now includes bassist Mary Bielich and Matt Tuite on guitar -- and to call them an institution wouldn't be a stretch.
They haven't been quite as active in the recording studio, however, at least not in the past few years. Their 7-inch split with local punks Plastered Bastards (one of the many self-proclaimed "worst bands in Pittsburgh") comes out Friday on Bob Spieler's Sock-It Records. It's the first thing the Manglers have released since 2001. The usual suspects, like full-time jobs, are largely to blame, but it took a clear end-goal to get things going.
While "drinking beer and cooking up bad ideas," Tarka and Plastered Bastards guitarist Kenny Houser decided that the two bands, which have toured Europe separately, should plan a tour together. It was Tarka's girlfriend who suggested that the two put out a split, something that they could send out to European promoters, laying the groundwork for a joint tour. "That's one of the things we want to come out of this," Tarka says.
The two bands share a devotion to partying, though Mud City Manglers' side of the split has a more potent dose of celebratory loathing, of self and humanity. The Plastered Bastards tracks are goofier: The first, "Chimps Ahoy," may well have been inspired by that "Punky" Chips Ahoy commercial with the computer-animated version of the Casualties. The Manglers' chemistry as a band, which is so evident during their live shows, also stands out on the split. "After playing together so long, you're just comfortable with each other, as any touring band can tell you," Tarka says.
The record will be available in four different colors of vinyl, including glow-in-the-dark, so get to the release show early to snag your favorite. "I'm surprised when I think about the fact that we've been doing this for so long," Tarka says, shaking his head. "But it pisses me off that it took this long to get something new out."
MUD CITY MANGLERS and PLASTERED BASTARDS with RATFACE, MOWER. 10 p.m. Fri., Oct. 21. Gooski's, 3117 Bereton St., Polish Hill. $5. 412-681-1658