The Rodeo Bums

An interview with Madison cowpunk band, The Rodeo Bums
by Mike Huberty
June 2014

Rodeo Bums Live

Rodeo Bums Live

Deeply felt and raw vocals with dirty guitars, THE RODEO BUMS are heartfelt cowpunk kicking around the alt-country scene comprised of singer-songwriter Kurt Klinger, bassist Kurt Johnson and drummer Dave Dorst (of Wisconsin surf-metal legends Knuckel Drager) and former Blue Herons guitarist Charles Scott Carome. Their new release is an open wound that reveals a life lived hard. We talked to the whole band about the the new record and how they got together.

Maximum Ink: Music is a tough life, when did you decide to embrace it?
Kurt Johnson: In 9th grade, a friend and I wanted to start a band. My mom bought me a Lotus Bass from Patti Music, the rest is history!
Kurt Klinger: I started my illustrious music career on the violin, but the chicks didn’t dig that, so I switched to guitar. I also did time in church choir, but that didn’t last long…
Charles Scott Carome: I was always a music freak… I bought a left handed bass and when that didn’t work out, I switched to guitar. 
Dave Dorst: I marched Xylophone in the Madison Jr Scouts as a kid and have been infected by the percussive bug ever since.

MI: Who did you guys listen to most coming up?
KJ: Rush, AC/DC, Saxon
KK: The Kinks, AC/DC, The Pretenders, Buck Owens
CSC:  Rolling Stones, The Who… until Never Mind The Bollocks came out, then it was game on!
DD: I was all over the map… Adam and The Ants, Earth, Wind and Fire… and KISS!!

MI: Surf-rock to metal to cow punk - How did the Knuckel Drager guys end up doing country?
DD: I met Kurt Klinger through a Craigslist ad he ran many years ago. We tried to get something together but it fell apart. Fast forward to 2012, we re-connected. By that time, I was the drummer in Knuckel Drager, and I asked Kurt Johnson if he’d be interested in playing bass. The chemistry worked right out of the gate. We all have such varied musical influences, this band really works for whatever reason!  It ain’t all about the metal all the time!

MI: What’s the single?
DD: “Help Lenny Here” (off the new cd) is about the two most important things in life of course - Cars and Women!!  It’s a really well-rounded song that shows off our dynamics and energy. It really captures everything ‘Bums!

MI: What’s your most memorable performing experience so far?
DD: Ha! Well, we recently played a cool daytime festival that seemed to stretch wayyyy longer than anticipated. By the time we went on, all manner of “Spinal Tap” debauchery befell us- Guitar amps fried out, vocalists sleeping on the stage..and a visit from invisible “Rick”- our uber groupie. We pulled it off though!!

MI: What’s in the future for the band?
DD: To keep playing as much as possible, plug the new CD, and keep spreading the gospel according to The Bums!

MI: What’s a live Bums show like?
DD: Loud, twangy, rude guitars behind well crafted songs… and male nudity. (probably not, we’re all old men!)

MI: Where can people buy the CD or album (or download!)?
DD: Mad City Music Exchange and at live shows. (We’re working on other outlets…we’re slow)

MI: Anything else you want to plug?
DD: Come see us live! We have shared the stage with a lot of heavy hitters and have some exciting shows coming up! Visit us at, buy our music and stay away from cigarettes and hard liquor. Thank you.

Madison cowpunk and alt-country fans can check them out (and pick up their album) at the High Noon Saloon on July 25th when they’ll be opening for Dave & Phil Alvin with The Guilty Ones.

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