Funrod - Punk for the Greater Good
An interview with Lead Singer Karp Dawg
by Michelle Harper
Andy, Nateball, Grizz, Ric and Karp Dawg, also known as the punk band Funrod, played Knuckle Down Saloon’s Snot Fest last month and recently returned from playing the independent underground music festival called The FEST 16 in Gainesville, Florida. As the band heads back into the studio to record the follow up album to their first album “It’s So Easy”, front man Karp Dawg gave me the lowdown on the current punk scene, funding his music career with student loans and the time he lit his crotch on fire with a lock de-icer:
Maximum Ink: What first got you into the punk music scene?
Karp Dawg: Seeing bands and thinking you know what I could probably do that. I had friends that played and I thought DIY, do it yourself. That’s the approach that’s so integral to punk rock. Iggy Pop said something like “You can’t sing, I can’t sing, lets sing”! For better or for worse, Iggy Pop is definitely an influence on my approach to life, especially as a young punk rocker. But just like Iggy Pop grew up, I did as well. Before just being a punk was good enough but now, musicianship is taking a little bit more of a driving role.
MI: You’ve been performing in punk bands for more than 20 years?
KD: Yeah I’ve been doing this over half my life. I wouldn’t be doing what I do now professionally as an Occupational Therapist if I wasn’t in a punk band back then, cuz I went to college so I could get financial aid so I could be in a band. I was pretty sure I was going to be a punk rock star. My first show was an open mike night, and it was like we were playing with the Ramones at CBGBs. I think we got asked to leave and I think I lit my crotch on fire with a lock de-icer. Intentionally. Some stage antics.
MI: So now you’re an Occupational Therapist with a Master’s Degree that fronts a punk band in your spare time. Who are your biggest musical influences?
KD: The Ramones, Rancid, Misfits, Suicide Machine and Dillinger 4. Our style is more like hardcore punk. I don’t know style is…it’s a punk band. That’s how I’ve always look at it.
MI: How has the music scene changed since you started performing?
KD: There are still all the variations of punks. Ya got your crusty punks, street punks, emo kids, there’s still a little bit of everybody. I think people have gotten nicer if anything. It’s less violent than it used to be. Things like Snotfest where you have 15 bands from all over the Midwest show up and there not be a fight or a toilet ripped off the wall or any broken anything, it didn’t happen back in the day. When I dyed my hair pink back in the day I got kicked off the wrestling team, I got picked on, chased, a lot of that stuff. Now there’s much less of a divide between people who look different.
MI: I’ve heard the punk music scene is like one big family:
KD: YEAH! At The FEST, I saw a guy eating tacos through a window, and our eyes got real big and we kind of smiled because we knew each other from playing together a few months ago here in Madison. It was a dude from California. You just develop this “I know you” kind of relationship. It’s just awesome to be a part of it. A lot of punk rockers feel like they aren’t a part of anything, so for a lot of people punk rock is the biggest part of their lives. And to contribute even a little bit to something that’s been such a big part of me I feel like I have to do it.
MI: What bands have you played with?
KD: The cool thing about it is I’ve gotten to play with some of my favorite bands. We’ve played with Teenage Bottle Rockets, The Dopamines, we played with the Dwarves a few times here in Madison, and we got to play at FEST in Florida this year. We got to play at a festival with a ton of other punk rockers that are like-minded people. My philosophy is if you can participate, you should. We just contribute what little punk rock we have to the greater good.
MI: What’s your most outrageous tour story?
KD: Most outrageous tour experience: We were in Florida and the bass player showed up with nothing but the clothes on his back and a bag of antibiotics. I don’t know there’s always something stupid. It’s just punk rock shenanigans. Someone’s gonna puke, something’s gonna get broke, someone’s gonna pass out.
MI: What’s the best part of performing as a front man in a punk band?
KD: The coolest thing has been people coming up after shows saying dude I’m gonna start a band! You’re awesome and I think I can do this! And a couple months later I’m hearing they started a band because they saw us. Just being able to keep people active in the arts and feeling like I contributed in some way to helping people get through garbage times and coming to a basement show forgetting about everything for a little bit. And you know we kind of do it because other friends we know can’t. You get to know new bands and new dudes are why we do it and why we keep doing it.
Punk is a participatory thing. You either show up and participate or go to Starbucks and drink some coffee.