Last Crack's Don Bakken, Paul Schluter, and Buddo
photo by Takis Kinis
The band that put Madison on the metal map, LAST CRACK made a big splash worldwide when their album *Sinister Funkhouse #17* was released on Roadrunner Records back in 1989. Following it up with 1991’s *Burning Time*, the group seemed on the same track to larger stardom as other popular alternative-metal acts like Alice in Chains or Soundgarden when they broke up shortly after their sophomore effort. Over the years, they’ve gotten the band back together for multiple reunions and tours and are now about to release a new album, 28 years after their last full-length work. *The Up Rising* will be released on Megadeth bassist Dave Ellefson’s EMP record label and they’ll be celebrating the new record on May 31st at the High Noon Saloon in Madison. We talked to Last Crack guitarist Paul Schluter (who engineered and produced the album at his own Megatone Studios in Madison!) about the upcoming album, show, and the future of the band.
MI: After three decades of working together on and off, what made you want to come back to release a new album?
PS: It’s been something that we’ve wanted to do for a long time but it required a solid commitment. We had gotten together many times over the years to rehearse for reunion shows and had always recognized how much we enjoyed playing together. Various things, including other projects we all had going kept us from jumping completely into Last Crack. I personally feel great satisfaction in finally getting the chance to rewrite the ending to our story and release new music to our fans around the world.
MI: How did you guys get signed to Dave Ellefson’s EMP label?
PS: My son Ethan is a big Megadeth fan and one of his favorite bassists is David Ellefson. He told me that David was doing a couple of exclusive Basstory events in Wisconsin. It’s like a bass clinic / storytellers / concert and there was an opportunity to attend a VIP dinner. I bought a copy of our remastered Burning Time CD on eBay to take with and figured I’d get a chance to do some networking and get some stuff signed for my son. I ended up meeting Thom Hazaert at the dinner who is the head of David’s record label EMP and he knew a lot about Last Crack. By the end of that dinner we had already discussed releasing our new album through their label and had a deal in the works.
MI: What’s the song people should listen to first in order to “get” you guys?
PS: I think it would take a few listens of a few songs to get an understanding of us. I’ve always looked at Last Crack as an acquired taste, not something that you can instantly lock on to. There’s depth to the music that grabs you more with each listen. It ends up being music that stays with you versus music that you can easily digest and quickly tire of. Our newest single “Golden Age” would give you a good taste of us since it takes you on a bit of a journey through a few sides of our sound. We’ve always played whatever we want to play and never pigeonholed ourselves to one style or sound. It allows us to have complete freedom in what we write because we’ve covered so many styles from funk, blues, pop, metal and straight up rock in past songs we’ve written.
MI: What inspired that song and why do you think it’s perfect for people to listen to for their first Last Crack experience?
PS: Religion seems to be a subject that comes up a lot in our songs. :Golden Age” has a pretty heavy religious theme and pushes some boundaries. I’m not exactly sure where the inspiration for them came from but I know when I first heard them I was like, “Whoa!”. Buddo wrote most of the lyrics for this album in about two weeks.
MI: You guys have had a chance to not only tour the US, but Europe too, what’s been your favorite show?
PS: There have been so many memorable shows. The first one that comes to mind is playing the Dynamo festival in Eindhoven, Holland in 1994 after the breakup of the original band. We were unsigned, with a new vocalist (Shawn Anthony Brown) and played to the biggest crowd I’ve ever played to in my life. There were 30-40,000 people there during our set and many thousands more later in the day for the headlining acts. I saw people in that huge crowd singing along to our songs. It was surreal. On our Burning Time tour we played other huge festivals in Germany and Holland. An up and coming Nirvana was on the bill with us for one of them. Marilyn Manson opened up for Last Crack at one of our tour stops in Miami. The big shows are always amazing but our crazy early gigs at O’Cayz Corral are also very memorable. No favorites but an incredible amount of memories and great times.
MI: A lot of musicians would have left Madison after getting signed and experiencing the next level, what made you decide to stay?
PS: We did leave Madison for a year and a half after signing our first record deal with Roadrunner. The label suggested that we move to a larger market so we relocated to Minneapolis. I don’t think any of us really loved it. We came back home a lot. The best thing that came of it was recording our first album at Prince’s Paisley Park Studios. I think that our families and friends are why we’ve stayed. We can always venture out into the world when we’re ready to tour.
MI: What can people expect from the release party at the High Noon?
PS: People can expect us to pull out all the stops to bring the very best show that we can play. Buddo is on top of his game vocally and the band is tight. We will be playing every song from the new album as well as old faves. Our shows are like a family reunion of old friends and local musicians. The High Noon Saloon will be alive with vibes!
MI: What are the plans for afterwards, can we expect a lot more Last Crack?
PS: Yes! We are committed to continuing on with the band. We are back to stay and have already been discussing writing for the next album. We’ll be doing some touring for The Up Rising and I’m sure that will include European dates as well.
MI: Any other words for the fans?
PS: I couldn’t be more proud and thankful for the opportunity to get to produce this album with the band at my studio. We’ve kept everything “in-house” with close friends doing our album artwork, mastering, merchandising, web site and even helping with band business. We’re handling a lot of things on our own this time and keeping the control in our own hands. It feels good to be in charge of our own destiny. We are all so proud of this album and feel that it’s our best album yet.
• Website • Facebook • Wiki
CD: The Up Rising Record Label: EMP