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MUTUAL LOVE OF MUSIC BINDS SOUL ASYLUM

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Even during Soul Asylum's hectic touring schedule, the band managed to step into the studio and record a cut for the upcoming "Sweet Relief II" compilation.

"We have to give something back," said bassist Karl Mueller during a phone call from a hotel in Atlanta. "It is important to do things for people other than ourselves."Soul Asylum, composed of Mueller, guitarist/vocalist Dave Pirner, guitarist Daniel Murphy and new drummer Sterling Campbell, will play Saltair, Thursday, Oct. 5. Special guest Radiohead will open the show at 7:30 p.m.

But just playing music is always what the band has wanted to do since it's formation in 1981, said Mueller.

"I was just out of high school and living with Dan when we decided to play music," Mueller remembered. "We had just gotten back from an Iggy Pop concert and Dan asked if I wanted to learn the bass and start a band. I said, `Sure,' and went out the next day to buy a bass."

The first song Mueller learned to play was the Sex Pistols' "Bodies."

"I was influenced by many different types of music," he said. "Disco was a very big part of my influences - I still like it, by the way. Then came Tom Petty and the Rolling Stones which my brother played. But what really got me interested was the album "London Calling" (from the Clash). I had a friend who lived in London at the time and he sent me the album. I put it on and it really broke so much ground for me. I went out and bought the other two albums that were available at the time."

Other influences Mueller rattled off included the Ramones, Johnny Thunders and the Velvet Underground.

"All those bands were very organic and really sparked my mind," he continued. "We ended up covering (the Velvet Underground's) `Sweet Jane' and other songs."

Some would call it coincidence, but it must have been fate. During the Concert for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, two of Mueller's fantasies came true - Soul Asylum backed Iggy Pop and jammed with Velvet Underground founder Lou Reed during a rendition of "Sweet Jane."

"We had a hard time deciding who to play with," said Mueller. "There wasn't really anyone that we were interested in. We had though about Johnny Cash, but it didn't go through. Just before we were taking off for the gig, the organizers called and asked us about Iggy and Lou. We couldn't pass that up."

But becoming famous and jamming with Pop and Reed were not ultimate goals of the band. Soul Asylum was formed through the love of music.

"We spent a good part of our career traveling in a van," said Mueller.

Thanks to last year's hit "Runaway Train" on "Grave Dancer's Union," Soul Asylum has become a household name. The new album "Let Your Dim Light Shine" features Campbell, who permanently replaced former drummer Grant Young after "Grave Dancer's Union."

"Sterling brings something to the band that we were missing," said Mueller.