Moonshine Bandits Interviewed By Bend Bulletin (@MooshineBandit)
The Moonshine Bandits recently sat down with the Bend Bulletin to talk about their Rebels on the Run Tour and history online at: http://www.bendbulletin.com/entertainment/2731051-151/moonshine-bandits-invade-bend. Check out the full transcript here:
The core members of twang-rap duo Moonshine Bandits — Brett “Bird” Brooks and Dusty “Tex” Dahlgren — attended high school together in Los Banos, California, a small, dusty town in the state’s San Joaquin Valley, where parties tend to have two very different soundtracks at the same time.
“On a canal bank, or at a little house party or a keg party, you pretty much hear one truck playing rap and one truck playing country, and that’s kind of what we grew up on,” Dahlgren says in a phone interview from his hometown, where he’s taking some time off between legs of the Bandits’ first headlining tour. “Our content has always been the same since we started in ’99. It’s been about our surroundings and farm boys and the blue-collar aspect of California, where we’re from.”
In recent years, more and more mainstream country artists have been dabbling in rap music, including big stars like Brad Paisley, Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan. But the odd stylistic coupling’s roots run much deeper than that, back to Big & Rich, Kid Rock, Bubba Sparxxx, the Bellamy Brothers’ 1987 hit “Country Rap,” even Charlie Daniels and Johnny Cash, who talked moreso than sang through some of their biggest hits. In recent years, acts like Colt Ford and Florida Georgia Line have been blending the two genres more seamlessly than ever before.
Still, in 1999, people thought Brooks and Dahlgren, who’ll bring the Bandits to Bend Wednesday (see “If you go”), were crazy to make music so brazenly rural and urban.
“I remember playing little bars 12 or 14 years ago and getting booed,” Dahlgren said. “Finally, people are like ‘Oh s–t, this is pretty cool. Maybe they were onto something back then.’”
That shift has accelerated over the past decade, as music has become more portable and the album format has fallen out of favor, Dahlgren said.
“If you look at people’s iPods nowadays, it’s like just carrying around a jukebox. You’ve got every single genre you can think of on somebody’s iPod,” he said. “I don’t think there’s many people that just say, ‘I’m strictly all country.’ So I think this generation is starting to move toward being more accepting.”
Moonshine Bandits started with the duo “just messing around” at parties, Dahlgren said. Soon, they decided to make a demo.
“We thought we’d get signed by some big record label and we’d be millionaires overnight,” he said. “We must’ve mailed it to 100 record labels and didn’t get one answer.”
The Bandits took matters into their own hands, releasing the demo, “Life in a Paper Bag,” on their own, complete with artwork from Kinko’s. They sold 1,000 copies, Dahlgren said.
“We took that money, reinvested it, started doing shows, reinvested, reinvested,” he said. “Here we are 15 years later and we just bought our first tour bus. It’s a really big deal for us to be able to do that. The slow grind is paying off.”
You don’t need a tour bus unless you have shows to play, and you don’t have shows to play unless you have people who want to see you. Dahlgren says the Bandits’ fan base — they played to more than 1,000 folks in Indianapolis — was built without the help of TV or radio, and as a result, is loyal and on board for the long haul.
That fan base also powered the success of Moonshine Bandits’ 2014 album “Calicountry,” which peaked at No. 22 on Billboard’s country chart and No. 10 on the rap chart.
“They don’t know what (category) to put us in,” Dahlgren said with a chuckle.