I am doing a series of interviews with several Eastern Iowa musicians who have been playing music in this area for about 40 years. These guys are personal friends of mine and they have just put together an exciting new band called The BarnRockers. These interviews will all be exploring the pre-BarnRockers experience of these fine musicians. This is the first of six interviews. I will be posting the interviews in alphabetical order going by their last name. 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 Music.com.
Billy Rose: Well Bud let’s start out with your first instrument. Were the drums your first instrument? And how old were you when you started playing?
Bud Benson: Yeah! Drums were it. I was in fifth grade. Whatever age you are when you’re in fifth grade…ten, eleven.
Billy Rose: So how did you get into drums?
Bud Benson: Church. I played drums in the church band. The youth pastor was the church drummer and he said “Hey Bud why don’t you start playing these drums. So I started playing every Sunday and Wednesday night.
Billy Rose: So were you a natural? Did you pick it up right away?
Bud Benson: It was hard…well I went to the same church Evan Vulich went to. He was the church Bass player, and he rode my ass solid for two years. (laughs) “Cut those jerk ass fills, quit trying to be a rock star and keep the beat”. (laughs) He was more of a teacher than anybody else as far as playing the drums. Ya know “play the drums man don’t play that other crap”. (laughs) “Keep it simple stupid” (laughs)
Billy Rose: So your first band was the church band?
Bud Benson: Yep. Then a bunch of the youth group kids and I started a Christian Rock band. Threshold. I still have a T-shirt from those days hanging on the wall of the studio in the basement.
Billy Rose: Is that the band you put out a cassette? Do you have any of those tapes left?
Bud Benson: Well I didn’t do any with that band. The cassette was with Eat Love.
Billy Rose: So what ended the Christian rock faze of your career?
Bud Benson: Well we kinda did that Eat Love thing and we realized that if you’re gonna do that sorta thing you’re basically pastors. We weren’t pastors we were just a bunch of punk kids…we go to church and worship God and play the music that we like to play. It was just life ya know living and I caught a lot of flack for that too.
Billy Rose: Probably from both sides. Christians and those who were not really into God.
Bud Benson: Oh yeah! What the hell were you thinkin’? Well we were just playing music. Really that’s all it was.
Billy Rose: How old were you when you were in Eat Love?
Bud Benson: Early twenties.
Billy Rose: You went from Eat Love to What?
Bud Benson: That band…we kinda went our separate ways one of the guys really got into the church. He felt he was riding on the fence with what we were doing so he quit. I went through a bunch of other bands for a while. It was actually Kerri (Schmalfeldt) who introduced me to Jack (Schmalfeldt) and The Unidynes.
Billy Rose: Really Kerri hooked you up.
Bud Benson: Yeah. Amber and I…my first wife…had a baby and Kerri worked with new parents and babies…she worked for the State of Iowa. She came over to the house one day and I was telling her how I was a drummer and she said her husband and his band were looking for a drummer. I said really, what’s the band called. She said The Unidynes. I about fell through the floor.
When I was eighteen, nineteen or so I used to sneek into bars to hear those guys play. They were so good.
Billy Rose: So basically you went right into The Unidynes when you were in your mid-twenties. Did you know what you were getting yourself into?
Bud Benson: Oh no man, not at all. When I went to the first practice, sort of my try out…I put on some really nice pants and a belt, tucked in my shirt and everything. That’s not how I dress. You know I thought these were older guys…classy and everything (laughs). So I open the door and a big cloud of pot smoke rolls out, everybody’s drunk and I thought “what the hell” (laughs).I didn’t know it was like this (laughs).
Billy Rose: I remember Jack coming over to the house and saying “Hey we got a new drummer”. I said cool is he good. Jack says “Great! Man oh man he’s young, dumb and full of come.” (laughs)
That was how Jack described you to me. I said what’s his name and he said Bud Benson. I said oh I know Bud. I’ve played some of his stuff on Midwest Revue.
So did you fit in right away or did it take some time?
Bud Benson: I was a little apprehensive. Ya know those guys were kinda crazy. I never knew what was gonna happen next. I was just trying to do my thing and be a part of it. It took awhile, I suppose. When we went out and recorded Smoke at Junior’s Motel, we spent three or four days together and really got to know each other.
Billy Rose: How long after you joined the band, did you do the recording?
Bud Benson: Two or three months. It was pretty quick I just learned all the songs and we went and recorded them. Jack used to record every practice session so I would go home with a tape and listen to it all week. I would hear what I didn’t like and what wasn’t working. So after three months I had it down. It’s not because I’m an awesome drummer it’s because every week I’d have a new tape to listen to.
Billy Rose: It basically happened pretty fast for you then. Getting in with The Unidynes and putting out a CD within about six months. Are you glad you got hooked up with these boys?
Bud Benson: Oh yeah, it’s been the best. These guys are the best musicians I could ever hope to play with.
Billy Rose: What do you think of Bingo as a bass player?
Bud Benson: The best fucking bass played I’ve ever worked with. He is the best musician I’ve ever known. He can play everything. He sucks on drums though (laughs).
Billy Rose: So Bud are you a songwriter?
Bud Benson: I’ve got a few actually, I’ve done on the guitar. One of these days I’m gonna get my balls up and let these guys hear ‘em. See if there is anything that they feel we could play. Right now with the Barn Rockers we’ve got almost eleven tunes, so by the end of the summer maybe we can get in the studio and put ‘em down.
Billy Rose: I didn’t know you played guitar, do you play anything else?
Bud Benson: Not very good. I play a little piano. After I started playing drums my grandmother told me to learn piano because if you can do that you can pick up anything. So I took a few piano lessons. I play a little…not like Bingo (laughs). Nobody does it like Bing.
Billy Rose: Thanks Bud. I wanted to talk to you and the rest of the guys about your pre-Barn Rockers career. I plan on following up with the whole group after I get this preliminary stuff done.