5Q :: Mad Trucker Gone Mad makes its way up to SuperiorMadison “psychobilly” trio Mad Trucker Gone Mad (or, if you’re so inclined, MTGM) will take the stage at Thirsty Pagan Brewery April 23. We chat with raucous frontman Del Monte Carlo.
A little piece of advice for those of you out there in Budgeteerland: MTGM should never be mistaken for MGMT. You might get hurt.
Mild issues with dyslexia aside, a quick listen will point you in the right direction: The sound of Madison’s Mad Trucker Gone Mad (or “MTGM”) is considerably more raw than the pop-goes-psychedelia vibe of the Connecticut-educated duo MGMT.
This is just one of the things we learned from the psychobilly trio’s outspoken frontman, Isaac Schulze (aka Del Monte Carlo), who is quite a hoot to talk to:
Budgeteer: MTGM has quite a unique sound. Did you come into the group with a country background or an alternative rock one? I haven’t heard much from your former outfit, Ladybeard; was that group’s sound pretty similar?
Schulze: I was raised in the hippy tradition by an acidhead mom and a blues drummer dad and transitioned from Steely Dan, Bob Marley and Steve Miller into new wave, punk and metal — esp. Adam and the Ants, Nina Hagen, Minor Threat, Suicidal Tendencies and Slayer — as a teen.
I was a skater and a BMXer as a kid, later to fall madly in love with big-block Chevy motors upon attaining my driver’s license. I gravitated toward “alternative” as did some ex-punkers and metal heads in my early twenties — [groups like] Jane’s Addiction, the Pixies, Skinny Puppy, Buffalo Tom, etc.
In the early ’90s I became disenchanted with the popularity of Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Stone Temple Pilots, blah, blah, blah….
Ladybeard was a psychedelic-metal-ska-jam band, to answer that question.
Mad Trucker Gone Mad was formed as a two-piece (with his brother, the former drummer of Ladybeard) the summer that Ladybeard broke up. My roommates and I had been evicted from that then-infamous party house at 610 E. Johnson St. in Madison after five years of partying that I believe conjured demons, trolls and other dark, unworldly creatures from the depth of the isthmus. I witnessed some of these things, but that is another story….
It was during that time of — for lack of any better words — chaotic revelry verging on the edge of madness that I became a huge fan of Hank Williams Sr. after acquiring a cassette tape from who knows where. I took refuge in a room in a gas station that had been converted into a couple of apartments on the corner of Livingston and Williamson. My new roommates were the kind of alcoholics that made my affection for strong spirits make me feel like a grade-schooler; however, they were brilliant artists and philosophers, as well as huge music fans with a penchant for [groups like] Uncle Tupelo, Son Volt, Wilco, Jon Spencer and Everclear — pre-suck — as well as classic [artists like] Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, etc. It was in that gas station that the first three MTGM songs were written: “Psychobully,” “Mad Trucker Gone Mad” and “Ain’t Life a Bitch” (which were released on the group’s self-titled 7-inch record in 1996).
MTGM was inevitable. It makes total sense.
Madison’s music scene seems to be on the up and up with great venues like the High Noon Saloon — would you agree with that statement? Do you think it’s moving beyond the “just a party town” vibe?
I have a huge place in my heart for the ol’ O’Cayz Corral, The Chamber and Club de Wash, etc. I am the wrong person to ask this question: I think Madison has lost a lot of why I moved here. It is still a “great town,” but it used to be a “f------ great town”!
The other Madison acts that play up here regularly are singer/songwriters like Josh Harty. Are there any local rock ‘n’ roll bands down there you would recommend to our readers?
There are a lot of really good bands from Madison, and I encourage anyone who likes music to check them out, but Mad Trucker Gone Mad is the best. It’s true.
I love the outrageous artwork you’ve used to brand the band. Who’s responsible for the Johnny Cash-lookin’ trucker on the new album’s cover?
I came up with the concept and let Pat Moriarity run with it. He is a brilliant cartoonist and a truly wonderful man. You are correct; it is inspired by “The Man in Black.”
Finally, this is probably a really stupid question, but have any clueless college students mistaken your group’s “initials” for MGMT? Would you entertain a request for “Time to Pretend” if someone stumbled into one of your shows?
That band is gay and they suck! I think it is “Time to Pretend” that they have testicles.
Just kidding, they are a great band and are totally different than us. They write really good songs, obviously. And no, we would not entertain that request.
However, keep in mind, MTGM formed in 1996. We were crashing at our girlfriend’s apartment in Brooklyn and doing lines at “Cokey’s” when they, perhaps, were learning to play music. Who knows? Maybe even on our stolen guitars. Tell them we want our gear back! I think they can afford to buy us some new stuff.
NEWS TO USE
Madison’s Mad Trucker Gone Mad will perform at 9 p.m. Friday, April 23, at Superior’s Thirsty Pagan Brewery. The Iron Range Outlaw Brigade is also on the bill. Check out www.madtruckergonemad.com to get a taste of MTGM’s sound.
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