Rustbucket is a collaboration of seasoned veteran musicians who are as cantankerous and unpredictable as a Michigan spring. And just when you think they are down for the count, they dust themselves off, get up on their feet and keep on rocking.
Despite an illustrious past of great songs and mass popularity, these touch-of-grey dudes had their share of the missed opportunities, busts, burnouts and barroom brawls. John Krogman and his band mates just won’t go away and bask in past glories. Sure it would be so much easier if they would just know their place - sit down in the old rocking chair, goof with the grandkids, look at old black & white photos and grouse about the old times.
Instead they are filled up with an unlikely drive and zest for playing rock & roll in clubs – way past their bedtime. And they are creating some incredibly hot music that needs to be heard. Rock & Roll may be dead but it continues to flourish in the vision and craft of artists like Krogman, Jim Davenport and Scott Causley.
Indeed, it seems like fate intervened to create just the right conditions and circumstances for the Phoenix to rise from the ashes and spread its brilliant multi-colored day-glo wings one more time. Johnny Boomer and the Burdon-twins earned their stripes in one of the many renaissance eras of Old Town Saginaw. A recent archeological excavation on the former site of Daniel’s Den uncovered the original rust bucket in which Dick Wagner bequeathed his ancient oversized genius to future generations of rockers.
So the torch has passed. Sure Rustbucket may be grizzly, wizened and seasoned beyond the years of their youth; but protest and rebellion and passion are the key components, and this band is still able to stand up and dish out some of the best Rock & Roll in mid-Michigan.
Why did you form a new band?
Krogman explains the conditions that led to the formation of Rustbucket. “I did a solo house gig out in Frankenmuth for about 4 years. When that was done, I was ready to rock with a band again. All through my career, I have switched between solo and bands out of necessity really.
Jim Davenport and I have been friends for a long time. We hooked up through “social media” and kicked around the idea of doing something together. Jim is a great songwriter and I had wanted to work with him when we were younger, and we did have a band together. It was the birth of Johnny and the Boomers. Jim was playing drums. Anyway when we reconnected last year we decided to start a band. Scott Causley was interested along with John van Benschoten and we started playing and it’s going great.”
Weren't the Boomers and The Burdons ruling the scene at the same time in the 1980s and ‘90s?
The Burdons were around right before the Flies broke up. Johnny and the Boomers came later, but our paths never crossed during those years, so I think it was like they had their scene and we had ours.
What is it like to write music and create songs with a new set of partners?
It’s great! Jim and Scott and I are like-minded so we work well together.Scott Causley is a great engineer and has a 24 track recorder and is able to record live drums, so we can lay the basic rhythm tracks down and then add on from there.
Jim and Scott are also good singers and recognize the importance of harmony, and they
both have a great work ethic and the sense of being a team. All that together makes our songs better. Another thing is I have with this group is my good friend John van Benschoten playing guitar, and we work well together, as he was one of the guys that taught me how to play back in high school.
How did you come up with the name Rustbucket?
I was playing in Fayetteville, North Carolina and staying with my friend Rob Anderson. I did a radio show at WFSS 99.9 in Fayetteville and met some awesome musicians who made me one of their own.He had a house in the woods and there was an old abandoned falling apart red barn wood house on some property nearby. I went over to take some photos and I found this old rusty bucket. That is the inspiration for the name and I brought the bucket home with me. Plus it’s a tip of the hat to Neil Young.
Listening to some of your demos, I'm struck at how adept you are at shifting into different styles and genres. How were you able to incorporate various influences and still be totally original?
I like many different genres. Because I write songs, when I get an idea, I don’t listen to anything else until I’m done working on a particular piece. If I am going to the studio I only listen to what I’m going to be working on that day. This stops the “oh it sound like this or that song” syndrome, which can be a big obstacle, because when you write with an acoustic guitar, at first it’s bound to sound like something else until I present it to the band. I don’t dictate to them what to play. I just let them feel it and play what they play.
I love your new song Carolina Moon - It has a folksy Harvest Moon vibe with Workingman Dead harmonies but doesn't sound like Neil Young or The Grateful Dead. It seems to capture the essence of your own unique vision without borrowing too much from those other artists. What do you think?
Carolina Moon was inspired by exactly that - when I was in North Carolina. Many great songs are 3 or 4 chord songs. Some come out of nowhere, like a gift from God. The song usually will lead me where I need to go.
How would you characterize your music?
Good question. Rock, Blues, old Country, Rockabilly, Ska. No boundaries. My music is my music; I do it because I like to write songs, so as long as I’m happy with it that’s all that matters. Songs just happen and it’s not the same every time. Sometimes I will head in a certain direction, and other times I just work with what comes out.
I love the nursery rhymes you set to music on the demos. I believe you made them for your grandchildren. This Old Man has incredible charm. Is it something you might keep in your shows or on a future CD?
The nursery rhymes are for a new company in Redlands, California, DND English Learners, Consultants and Coaches. They are language professionals and Rustbucket is recording nursery rhymes and original material to help young children (ages 5 to 10) from different foreign countries to learn English.
You reworked the incredible Follow Me Down with Rustbucket and it is even better than the original version. Your guitar work is excellent; probably you’re best ever. You were up and down the neck from the E string to the bass strings. Is this one of your shining moments on record?
I was in the studio working on something else and just tried it on a big distorted electric guitar and it worked. Yea, probably the best lead work for me. This song has taken on a whole new life.
I enjoyed your socio-political themes on Kandahar Is Falling. Is this a new stance for you?
When we went into Afghanistan, the reporters just kept on saying Kandahar is falling, so the whole song is built around that phrase. As far as my stance…no comment.
Do you have plans on recording a Rustbucket CD?
Yes, we are doing that right now, and we have a lot of music to record.
You have an upcoming show with legendary Michigan poet John Sinclair. Do you have any special plans for that show?
No special plans except to put on one hell of a show for our part. We are very excited to meet John. We will play mostly original material. I can’t wait for that show!
How did you hook up with Bob Goodman and his radio Show Whole ‘Nuther Thing
When I was in North Carolina, I received an email from Bob that said if I would send him a copy of Live without Love he would play it on his show. I think he stumbled upon my website http://www.johnkrogman.com and listened to the song there first. Since then I’ve been on 7 times, the latest being April 2, 2011. If you haven’t listened to Bob Goodman’s webcast Whole ‘Nuther Thing, it’s on every Saturday 6:00pm till 9:00pm out of Mission Viejo, California. All the webcasts are archived. Check it out it’s a great show. There is a link on my homepage to the show.
Any last comments?
Yes, thanks to you and all the rest of the people who have shown me their support over the years! Rock till you drop!
Editor’s Note: Rustbucket will be performing with counterculture icon John Sinclair on Saturday, April 23rd at White’s Bar.