Murf doesn’t exactly aim for mass appeal. They’re a blistering Minneapolis hardcore band that’s dedicated to the films of Paul Verhoeven, 1987’s Robocop in particular. Fake blood, clown makeup, and confetti canons contribute to a well-earned live reputation they’ve loudly forged since 2016.
Name-checking influences like Sepultura, Black Flag, and Sonic Youth, gregarious singer Dan Hoffstrom can’t hide his excitement while discussing the Murf sound.
“It’s rowdy, party punk rock,” he explains, noting that geeky pop-culture references to The Simpsons and Star Wars are central to the equation. “It’s one part super heavy, kinda death metal, classic punk. Little bit of experimental harsh noise. Even kind of, in a way, hip-hop influence–there are samples. I guess art-punk? We’re kinda the creature in The Thing.”
You might not expect Murf to have a 7-foot-1 celebrity booster, but you’d be wrong. In February, Shaquille O’Neal arrived at the same conclusion as concert bookers at Mortimer’s and the Eagles #34: Murf rocks.
The connection came via Hoffstrom’s video production day job at ShopHQ, the Eden Prairie-based home shopping network that airs Cooking with Shaq, a program that showcases SHAQ-brand kitchenware and its host’s larger-than-life personality. Shaq is also a ShopHQ investor, Hoffstrom says, and the Basketball Hall of Famer recently joined fellow investors (“a bunch of guys who look like they’re on Succession“) for a corporate summit in the ‘burbs.
During a moment of downtime on the set, Hoffstrom’s boss encouraged him to plug Murf.
“I said that’d be dope, but I’m not gonna, like, push it ’cause it’s Shaquille O’Neal,” he says, “and I’m very nervous to be around this pop-culture deity, NBA All-Star… the list goes on.”
Hoffstrom eventually worked up the nerve, and the incredible moment when Shaq first heard Murf was captured on video.
See for yourself:
Then something even more incredible happened: While vibing to Murf’s “Your Move, Creep,” Shaq zipped the 2018 song over to his music buddy. Just 20 minutes later, a dubstep remix by DJ Diesel (Shaq’s DJ stage name) was born.
“Shaq recently played it at the Skyway Theatre, and the crowd went wild,” reports Hoffstrom, who was out of town for the March 11 show. “He said, ‘Everyone was going crazy, man, they all started moshing and fighting—it was awesome.'”
The “very surreal” friendship didn’t stop there. At a ShopHQ video shoot near Atlanta, Hoffstrom and Shaq continued to bond over their shared love of really fucking loud guitars.
“We’re listening to Murf in the van, and he’s singing the riff,” Hoffstrom says. “It’s like: ‘Holy shit, dude, I’m two feet away from an NBA All-Star’—I’ve seen him on Sega Genesis cartridges, in commercials, in basketball games, everywhere.”
Hoffstrom’s only regret? That his bandmates—Evan Clark, Jeff Truckenmiller, Tom Davoux, and Hunter Ness—have yet to talk tunes with The Big Aristotle, who Hoffstrom discovered is a big fan of punk in general.
“We’re all pop culture nerds, and we love Shaq,” he says. “I just scream on the song; I didn’t come up with the cool riffs or the sweet drum beat. Hopefully someday… I’ll just speak this into existence… we will play a show at First Avenue with Shaq aka DJ Diesel and the Murf guys will get to meet Shaq.”
Or maybe he’ll make a surprise appearance at Murf’s May 30 show at Palmer’s Bar as part of Caterwaul Fest. Watch out for massive elbows in the pit.