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Driver 13

by John Noyd
September 2001

When Shawn Anthony Brown returned to Wisconsin last fall, he had a long drive to contemplate his future.  His first time to Wisconsin was nearly ten years ago when Last Crack recruited him as their new lead singer. That road led to a European record deal, playing before tens of thousands of people and munching on sandwiches back stage with Ozzy and Sepultura. Splitting from Last Crack to form Spiritus, Shawn eventually grew tired of low wages and indifferent response from local radio. Returning to his native North Carolina, he dabbled in bands and jams that honed his awesome voice and brought him in contact with the woman who eventually became his wife. Still, something was missing. So, encouraged by his Madison friends who spun tales of Spiritus getting airplay and a renewed interest from radio for the local scene, Shawn packed his bags, kissed his wife goodbye and came back to seek his musical destiny. Thirteen hours later he got out of the car with his dreams intact and a name for his new band Driver (now Driver 13).

Hooking up with some of his old bandmates, Shawn actually came back to form two bands, Grip and Driver. While Grip fell to the wayside, Driver flourished, fronted by Shawn and piloted by Kerry Koppen, Mike Hagen and John Stone (Smolak). Pooling their experience in countless local bands and a profound love for Tool and Led Zeppelin, Driver creates a swampy, low end mix of industrial strength rock and spooked-out metal with traces of Middle Eastern warbling and iron-fisted rap. Shawn describes it as a chunkier, more evolved Spiritus .

Settled into the area with his wife, dog Tyler and steady employment, Shawn sees Driver’s future not as a breakout act to be courted by the industry, but rather a solid live band looking for local notoriety.  While they are cutting a single at Sleepless Nights later this year, there are no plans for CDs and national exposure. It doesn’t matter, Shawn says, how talented you are, the music industry is only interested in a look, a gimmick, the latest trend. Following their own muse, Driver shows samurai grace under extreme pressure, screaming when the spirit moves them, and shaking out the demons at the drop of a hat. Appearing at Bomblastica 2001 on September 22nd, they are sure to seize the night with their particular brand of feverish metal.


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Madison's own Droids Attack in Maximum Ink in December 2006

Droids Attack

by Sarah H. Grant
March 2006

In an age where music bands are defined by their range of MySpace graphics and anyone that can strum a hackneyed power chord is a rockstar, it is no wonder that originality in local bands today is alarmingly scarce. Droids Attack is, however, the exception.

Droids Attack consists of Madison’s rock triumvirate: lead vocalist and guitarist Brad Van, bassist Nate Bush, and drummer Tony Brungraber. Droids Attack’s premier album, “All Your Chicks Are Belong To Us” garnered much deserved recognition in the punk-metal realm of the Midwest. In 2004, the album won a MAMA (Madison Area Music Award) for Best Punk Album.

Currently, the band is promoting their sophomore album, “Fatal Error,” due to be released in late 2006/2007. Fatal Error maintains the same rhythmic foundation of the first CD, but with tighter riffs and a distinctly sharper sound.


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Madison's Droids Attack Vs. Chicago's Imperial Battlesnake on the cover of Maximum Ink - photo by Brad Van (drawing)

Droids Attack

by Kristen Winiarski
August 2008

Once fronted by a robot, Droids Attack is now focusing more on their music and getting their name further into the music world. Brad Van on guitar and vocals, Nate Bush on bass, and Tony Brungraber on drums, align this trio of hard stoner rock. With a CD release, vinyl, and radio campaign in the works, this band certainly has been busy since the story we did on them back in 2006. I had the opportunity to speak with Brad Van who told me a little bit about their past and the many, many projects that the band has for their future.


early Droids Attack

Droids Attack - 2003

by David A. Kulczyk
March 2003

In five years of writing for Maximum Ink, it is rare that I receive a call from Rökker at 9pm asking me to check out a band’s website and write about them two hours before print time. You must remember that Rökker receives 4,000 CD’s a year and hundreds of phone calls a month from bands, publicists and managers. And while he’s easily amused, he’s not easily impressed. ‘What band could be so important?’ I thought. Tapping in, I immediately saw what Rökker was pining about.

The website crafts a dyamic, user-friendly interface that reflects Droids Attack founder Brad Van’s favorite hobby, and business - video games. Brad owns Aftershock Video, soon to be featured on State Steet in Madison above Ping Time. In his world, robots attack humans everyday.


Dropkick Murphys on the cover of Maximum Ink November 2007

The Dropkick Murphys

an interview with Vocalist Al Barr
by Kimberly E. McDaniel
November 2007

Coming from a working-class background in Boston, The Dropkick Murphys have not forgotten that life. Having been successful with fans and critics, the band has had one hell of a ride, highlighted in recent years by Martin Scorsese using their song “Shipping Up To Boston” in his film “The Departed” in 2006, and writing the theme song for the Boston Red Sox in 2004.

“The Meanest of Times” delivers the band’s trademark Irish-infused punk, with the central theme of family tying the album together. The album also marks the launch of the band’s label, Born & Bred Records. In the midst of their current tour, vocalist Al Barr took time out to talk to Maximum Ink.

MAXIMUM INK: Most people describe your music as punk music. Do you really think that fits?
AL BARR: Opinions vary. For me, we have the ferocity and the backbone and the ethos of punk.

MAX INK: How did you decide to put the Irish music in with the punk? Are you guys all of Irish descent?
BARR: You’re talking to the one guy in the band who doesn’t have any Irish blood in him! Everyone else in the band has got some Irish blood in them. The first song that the band wrote, “Barroom Hero,” had bagpipes on it. We could have always done it in the studio, but we decided that if we couldn’t recreate that onstage then it was kind of cheesey.


Dropkick Murphys live at Summerfest 2013 - photo by Peter Murphy

The Dropkick Murphys

An interview with drummer Matt Kelly
by Joshua Miller
August 2013

“For Boston.” These are the words prominently displayed on the front of t-shirts created and sold by Irish-punk rockers the Dropkick Murphys as part of their efforts to help raise money for victims of the Boston Marathon bombings. Donations from these shirts went to Claddagh Fund, a charity started by founding band member Ken Casey. They also supplemented those donations through benefit shows at Boston’s House of Blues and Boston Garden, where they sold their new EP “Rose Tattoo: For Boston Charity.” On the EP, Bruce Springsteen joins the band for a re-recording of their song, “Rose Tattoo.” According to Rolling Stone, the band raised over $300,000 in total donations. Earlier this year the band released their eighth studio album “Signed and Sealed in Blood,” a title that could be applied to the band’s pride and loyalty towards their home city and staying true to its ideals. Prior to his band’s headlining slot at Harley-Davidson’s 110th anniversary celebration Thursday, Aug. 29,  drummer Matt Kelly took a few moments to answer some questions over e-mail about helping their city, finding plenty of inspiration for “Signed,” as well as his connection to Harleys and memories of playing Milwaukee.

Maximum Ink: On “Signed and Sealed in Blood” there are some atypical story songs like, “The Season’s Upon Us” (which describes a dysfunctional family at Christmas). How does the songwriting on it, in general, compare with past albums?

Matt Kelly: Well, it was a refreshing and relaxing change from the challenge of making “Going Out In Style”, which was a concept album. As fun as that was (and it was a blast, don’t get me wrong!!), “SSIB” was a bit more free-form and written more off-the-cuff, much like a lot of the songs on our first album, “Do Or Die”. Songs came together quickly, and in some instances, with less effort than on some past records. 

We’re psyched about it, and since debuting some of the songs live six months before it even came out, our supporters have really dug it, too. The response to the new stuff really blew us away, and the fact that people went out of their ways to familiarize themselves with new stuff via Youtube videos, etc., really surprised us. We’d come through a city and you’d see people singing along to the new stuff that wasn’t even officially released yet. Pretty damn cool!


Drowning Pool circa 2004

Drowining Pool

by Sarah Klosterbuer
February 2004

The void that Dave Williams left behind when he died of heart complications two summers ago expanded beyond the borders of his band and shook the entire rock industry.

His band mates made the brave decision to continue the dream that Williams helped create. They kept their name and their arsenal of material, and began the search for a new singer. Fate ran its course, and the band unanimously chose Jason “Gong” Jones, a musician who had been working in the crowded LA scene.


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