This is the final part of a series of interviews with several Eastern Iowa musicians who have been playing music in this area for about 40 years. They have put together an exciting new band called The BarnRockers. These interviews have explored the pre-BarnRockers experience of these fine musicians. This is number 6 of six. I hope you enjoy the interviews with this talented bunch of guys. If you ever get a chance to see The BarnRockers play make sure you tell them you read their interview on Independent Midwest
Billy Rose: Okay! Dave let’s start out finding out how old you were when you first started playing guitar?
Dave Schneider: Right after I saw The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show. I must have been twelve give or take a year. Then I played my first band job…do you remember back in the old days up in Lyons they had Frontier Days?
Billy Rose: Yeah I remember that.
Dave Schneider: Well that was our first paying job. Seven of us, I think. That would have been in 1966 or ’67. No it was before that. I was fourteen. Anyway it was at the Band Shell on Main Avenue. I believe at that time we had a seven piece band, safety in numbers (laughs). We made thirty-five dollars.
Billy Rose: Was it guys you went to school with?
Dave Schneider: Yep! There were a couple guys who were a little older than me. We bought a carton of cigarettes, and we split the rest. We all learned to smoke together (laughs).
Billy Rose: What was the name of that band?
Dave Schneider: The Lovin’ Souls!
Billy Rose: So you were in junior high?
Dave Schneider: Well it would have been the summer out of eight grade. However old you are then…about fourteen.
Billy Rose: The Lovin’ Souls played what?
Dave Schneider: Believe it or not there was a guy named John Renchler in that band who was writing songs. We did a couple original songs. Other than that we did the sounds of the day, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones.
Billy Rose: Did you take guitar lessons?
Dave Schneider: When my dad bought me my first guitar, for Christmas, it came with about a half a dozen free lessons from L & L Music. Old Harold Loeffeholz, there was a class of about ten of us and basically they told us how to take care of our guitars. It was an acoustic guitar, impossible to play (laughs). Everybody needs to start out on something impossible to play. It makes you strong (laughs). Of course I never did get any better (laughs).
Billy Rose: So did you continue playing in bands in high school?
Dave Schneider: Yep, I pretty much didn’t stop.
Billy Rose: So is there any one band from high school that sticks out in your mind?
Dave Schneider: Stonehenge was a band that my buddy Hap, Mark Hafebeir and I put together. It was the summer between ninth grade and high school. That took us all the way through high school and then some. We played every mixer, dance, after game thing that we could. We never went to Prom or Homecoming or anything because we were playing. I didn’t do much dating.
Billy Rose: After high school, what happened then?
Dave Schneider: After high school I was in a band called…I think it was Hard Luck and Trouble, that band was very short lived. Then when Ken Clarke, Mark Rollins and Bill Henley came back from Canada after doing a stretch up there with Bruce McCabe…after about a year and a half. When they moved back we started the Ric Pike Band. That was in the days of the Rascal tavern. We were all discovering alcohol about that time. They dropped the drinking age to eighteen I think it was. That band went on ‘til…oh gosh about 1979 or somewhere around there.
Then it was on to Dave and The Rave. That was a cover band. We were fairly popular, played a lot. That band was done about 1985 or so. Then along comes Jack Spunk! (Jack Schmalfeldt) That would have been about ’86 or so, I hadn’t played for about six months or a year. Jack had been living up in Milwaukee for a few years. He put together a band in Milwaukee. Jack and I had started playing about the same time. When I saw John Lennon, I said that’s the job for me.
Billy Rose: So you and Jack went to school together right?
Dave Schneider: Oh yeah! We went to kindergarten together. I still have our kindergarten picture as a matter of fact. I went to St Boniface and he went up the hill to St. Irenaeus. We always lived a stones throw away from each other.
Billy Rose: I was talking to Bill Schmalfeldt one time and he said his earliest memory of you was when he was about five years old. He said you were standing outside their house and yelling at Jack. You were saying if you didn’t get your tambourine back you were going to kick his ass.
Dave Schneider: (laughs) That’s probably right on track. Oh, we fought like brothers and we made up like brothers (laughs). I was always one step behind Jack in those days, ‘because they lined us up alphabetically (laughs).
So that was the birth of The Unidynes. We started that in late ’87. At that time Jack didn’t really have a band assembled. He knew he wanted to work with Kevin Kash. Ken Clarke used to drive to Milwaukee on weekends to play with Jack up there. When Jack moved back to town Ken wasn’t really interested in playing. So he set his sights on Kevin Kash. Those two sat in the bedroom for months before they contacted me. We played out the first time in ’89. It was at The Longhorn Saloon. That band went on for almost eighteen years. Then Jack died and that changed everything.
Billy Rose: So you guys all went to school together?
Dave Schneider: Yep! Jack moved away…I think it was his junior year. So I hadn’t seen Jack for a couple years. Ken Clarke was a year ahead of me and I think Bruce McCabe was in my class.
Billy Rose: So did you ever play in a band with Bruce McCabe?
Dave Schneider: No I never did play with Bruce. No Bruce was always much more serious as a musician than most of us were. He’s done quite well for himself. Bruce knew early on in life what he was going to do.
Billy Rose: When did you first get serious about music?
Dave Schneider: When Jack and I started writing songs together.
Billy Rose: So did you write any music before you and Jack did?
Dave Schneider: No, not really. I had some ideas, but never had the balls to put it out front. If you introduce an original song to a room full of guys it’s like dropping your drawers (laughs). But we got over that. Jack and I wrote probably forty or fifty songs. Some you’ve never heard and never will.
Billy Rose: Why because they’re bad?
Dave Schneider: There’s a little bit of that (laughs). The other part is not being able to remember them (laughs).
Billy Rose: You’ve been playing music for forty years or more. Could you have foreseen thirty years ago, the music business going the way it has?
Dave Schneider: No, not at all. Everybody is independent. We have a web site. But I have no idea how to do any of that. I’m just along for the ride on that part. That’s the new way of organizing though. You have to get into it or be left behind.
Billy Rose: Are you going to do some recording?
Dave Schneider: Yep, that’s all part of it. It’s a lot of work, but after we reach our comfort level we’ll dive right in to that. We have almost enough original songs with this band The BarnRockers, to make a CD.
Bill Rose: What do you think of this group of guys? Talent wise.
Dave Schneider: Well, I don’t know. What’s not to love about Bing? (laughs) We’ve all had our ups and downs. But that’s all part of it. We have a great core. Bud Benson sometimes drives me nuts (laughs). But he’s there and he does what you want from a drummer. He’s very steady, right now. He hasn’t always been, but Bud is a rock solid drummer. Ken is a world class guitar player and Kevin is right up there too. JC is great to work with and a good writer. These guys are not just my band mates they’re my friends.