Last Crack - Sinister Funkhouse Reunion

by Rökker
November 2009

Last Crack's first band photo since breaking up in 1991

Last Crack's first band photo since breaking up in 1991

It started as a dream… to make it to the top. The formula is easy. Start a band, write some songs, get a singer, record a demo, get signed by a major label, put out an album, tour the world. Success.

And that’s exactly the way it started. Last Crack’s rise out of the local music scene in Madison is the thing of legend. Almost every band starts with the same credo in mind, but not many break through. For Last Crack, it was a given.

Many bands make their start from a garage or basement, but for Last Crack it would be a storage facility in Madison on Stoughton Road just off the beltline, and answering a classified ad from the Good n Loud billboard for a singer named Buddo in 1987.

The chemistry was instant and the new songs seemed to write themselves. Guitarist Paul Schluter and drummer Phil Buerstatte would start the process, putting riffs to rhythm. Bassist Todd Winger would jump in to fill the gap while guitarist Donny Bakken crafted the color, leaving Buddo to brood over his lyrics like a mad scientist discovering the ultimate theorem, and as a madman, wrote random quatrains all over the inside of that storage bin. Bin #17, the Sinister Funkhouse.

This was the place that bred songs like “G.V.C (Gush Volcano Crush),” “Slicing Steel,” “Saraboyscage,” “Concrete Slaughterdogs,” and the band’s namesake, “The Last Crack.“ But it would be one of these songs that would define a generation in Madison that lay hidden amidst the college backdrop and dance scene, it would be “Blood Brothers of the Big Black Bear.”

The Black Bear was a popular hang out in the late eighties and early nineties for the metal scene in Madison. Located in the basement, the bar featured a few pool tables, foos ball, and a juke box with metal, oh, and cheap beer.

It was the “Cheers” of metal with characters like Brent the bartender, Big Willie Whitaker the bouncer, Steve the manager… and Philo, Reno, Buddo, Pablo, Donny, and plenty of long hairs.

Last Crack wasn’t like the other metal bands though, they didn’t sing about girls or getting drunk, lyrics were deep and contemplative. Drums were complex and earthy. Guitars melded rhythm, riff and solo to a unified purpose. They fused traditional metal with other music forms to create a unique style that was ahead of its time, yet right at home.

A demo tape made at Randy’s Recording in Cottage Grove attracted scouts from a few national labels and Roadracer/Roadrunner signed the band to a multi-album deal after a little more than a year.

The band moved to Minneapolis to get into a bigger market and started recording at Prince’s Paisley Park studios, retaining Randy Green as producer. In 1989, Last Crack released their debut album, Sinister Funkhouse #17.

The front cover featured Buddo in an archers pose in the nude before a wall spattered with paint to look like blood. That gave the critics much to talk about and the band enjoyed good sales from the publicity generated by interviews, reviews and articles in both international and national magazines like RIP, Metal Maniacs and many others.

The band enjoyed further success producing a second album on Roadrunner, Burning Time - produced by legendary producer Dave Jerden (Jane’s Addiction, Alice In Chains), an MTV video of their hit song “Energy Mind,” and a European tour.

Stresses of the music industry drove the band to part ways shortly after the release of Burning Time and the last time the original line up played together was at the R&R Station on 12/31/91.

Now, after all of these years and all of the different paths the members have taken, the original line up will play a celebration concert on Saturday, November 14th at Scatz in Madison.

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