Brent Amaker and the Rodeo
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Brent Amaker and the Rodeo

Seattle, Washington, United States | INDIE

Seattle, Washington, United States | INDIE
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"Yee Haw! It's Kraftwerk Gone Kountry 10/15/10"

In Johnny Cash’s American Recordings series, he covered Depeche Mode, Beck, and Nine Inch Nails. Sadly, he never quite made it to Krautrock. If he had though, it might have sounded like this. Well, vocally at least. If Rick Rubin produced it, there’d be more cello. - Cover Me


"Blurt Review 11/1/10"

Brent Amaker and the Rodeo are a bunch of characters. Not the kind of characters defined by eccentric personalities or the type that tend to have a few too many brews and then light up the party in the process. Not that they don't fit that description, but mostly, to their credit, they're musicians who emphasize their image as much as their music, even to the point where there's no separating the guise from the substance. On this, their third album, the Seattle-based band continue to pursue their outsized ambitions, creating a sound that could have once sprung from the score of a classic western movie, the kind that would find John Wayne battling the bad guys before riding off into the sunset. It's rodeo music all right, filled with loping rhythms and deep-churned vocals that might make Johnny Cash blush with pride. Dressed to the nines in their ten-gallon hats, dark suits and shades, they create a striking visual, although careful observers might detect a certain amount of tongue locked firmly in their collective cheek. - Blurt Magazine


"BAR: Towards the Horizon 9/13/10"

Four years ago a rag-tag troupe of rockers did one of the most risky moves in the music industry. They formed a country band. However it was not just any country band; it was one that harkened back to the days of old western country, from the authentic compositions to the visual appearance of the band. The surprises didn’t end there; the attitude of the band and lyrical content were brazen in both action and expression; almost to the extent of punk rock. But there is something else, something so subtle that it may seem half imagined, yet a nagging impression of the aura and the autonomous enjoyment of world music encompasses the essence of Brent Amaker and the Rodeo. - Best New Bands


"McRiprock’s Lonestar Six Pack Project 11/18/10"

Rebellious, gritty, broken-hearted country music full of life and love. They cover everything from putting a broken heart back together to skipping town after a showdown. They promote themselves as all country with a little Johnny Cash in between.
4.0/5.0 McRiprock’s - Austin Daze


"Los Skarnales, Radio La Chusma, Brent Amaker & the Rodeo 11/5/10"

Wow, this is a serious triple bill folks. Headlining the night is Los Skarnales, one of our absolute favorite ska bands outta Houston. These guys know how to have a good time on stage and always put a show on that leaves the audience looking forward to their appearance. High energy and sure to make you dance, Skarnales by themselves are enough reason to come out on this Friday night.

BUT

we’re also bringing you two more must-sees! Radio La Chusma, the hottest thing happening in El Paso, brings their Latin/Reggae/Funk grooves to the Flamingo AND Brent Amaker and the Rodeo a dark country band who sounds like they could be blasting from a jukebox of the latest Quarantino movie.

Yeah, this is gonna be a helluva night. - Austin 360


"Free download BAR Pink EP 9/3/10"

Seattle’s wiley Brent Amaker & The Rodeo, known for its invigorating live shows and Johnny Cash vibe, is releasing its new album, Please Stand By, on October 19 on Spark & Shine Records. It will be out digitally, on CD, and on vinyl with a limited-edition comic book. - Alarm Magazine


"mp3 at 3pm 8/29/10"

"Brent Amaker and the Rodeo sound like they were born in the desert of a Sergio Leone spaghetti Western" MAGNET MAGAZINE
- Magnet Magazine


"BAR's 5 Favorite Places to Visit on Tour"

Seattle's wiley Brent Amaker & The Rodeo, known for its invigorating live shows and Johnny Cash vibe, is a group of characters — literally. The band’s brand of country/western is as much an homage as anything, calling on the tried and true clichés of sex, booze, and rock ’n’ roll.

Its blend of hooks, hoots, and reverb has taken it around the world. Naturally, the band has encountered a few standout locations in its travels, five of which it was kind enough to share with ALARM. - Alarm Magazine


"We Play Western Music and Do Whatever the Fuck We Want 11/8/10"

“Call it a throwback to a time when Johnny Cash ruled the airwaves and
Ennio Morricone made soundtracks for movies, but Brent Amaker and the
Rodeo’s ‘it’s beer swillin’, foot tappin’, shit kickin’ country and
western’ music–straight from Seattle–is the antithesis of every wanna be
hipster band turning up the reverb.” – OC Weekly - OC Weekly


"MKOB Exclusive: Tour Dates & Pocket Calculator Cover 10-11-10"

"Amaker is nothing less than a superhero in black, leading his charges
through a succession of hell bent for leather high-octane country
anthems designed to put a beer in your hand and a burr in your saddle" MY OLD KENTUCKY BLOG - My Old Kentucky Blog


"Tom Scanlon, Seattle Times 2/23/07"

A big Seattle howdy-do

I have three words for this band:

1)Yippy

2)Yi

3)Yo

Brent Amaker and the Rodeo recently put on a rowdy show at West Seattle's new Skylark Café. They won over several new fans, including one who described them like this:

"Not only are they all in black from head to toe in their 'uniform,' but the lead singer starts singing and you have to take a double take to see if Johnny Cash is back. Their lyrics are country with a little humor and deviance that might sound like Johnny Cash meets Quentin Tarantino; you can't help but laugh along."

This new fan also took part in a "baptism," a mildly irreverent ritual which had those willing forming a line and waiting for the tall, imposing Amaker to pour a shot of whiskey down their throats.

What do you expect, from a band that bellows the likes of "Give Me the Whiskey"?

The whiskey christenings, songs about lovin' and brawlin', black hats, the drummer in a mask — folks, this is a shtick up.

Yet this band brings some serious skills, recreating a long-ago sound. Tim Harmon, Sugar McGuinn, Curtis Andreen and Louis O'Callaghan play it straight, jamming foot-thumping, fast-driving music to power Amaker's somewhat goofy songs. (Example: "Sissy New Age Cowboy," which brings a little rap attitude to country.)
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Even when Amaker is singing tongue in cheek, he does it with a straight face — a sly, underplayed humor.

Songs like "I've Got a Little Hillbilly in Me" and "Get the Hell Out" become instant clap-along, stomp-along, sing-alongs, even for newcomers.

While the singer facially resembles more of a Crispin Glover, Amaker borrows heavily — even mimicking the way he holds his guitar — from The Man in Black, Johnny Cash.

Amaker is a native of Oklahoma who also spent time in Dallas; he moved to Seattle in 1996 and played in rock bands before deciding to get in touch with his country roots.

Via e-mail, he talked about what his band is all about:

"Our objective is to deliver a sound that is true to the era of music that we enjoy (1950s Country & Americana) ...

"Most of the inspiration comes from growing up in Oklahoma, where pretty much everybody is a little bit redneck. Most of our songs are about women, drinking and roughhousin' — traditional country themes.

"Now that we have made the transition to country music, we are trying to figure out how we fit in to the Seattle Music Scene."

Good luck with that, cowboy — though stranger things have happened. If nothing else, the Rodeo threatens to take Dudley Manlove's crown as Seattle's King of Fun.

Brent Amaker and the Rodeo play from a new self-released album at Ballard's Sunset today (9 p.m., $7). For a sip: www.myspace.com/brentamakerandtherodeo. - Seattle Times


"Slug Magazine, 3/2007"

Brent Amaker and the Rodeo = Johnny Cash + Deadbolt
These 10 simple little country songs have more real life to them than anything on the country music charts since the death of the man in black. Brent Amaker carries on Cash’s tradition by crooning with that low bass vocal while the Rodeo don’t get in the way of the song; they just let it fly. There’s some rough country in “I Guess You Want to Die:” Brent discusses hanging a man upside down and cutting him up with a knife just for flirting with his girl. In “Sissy New Age Cowboy,” he pokes fun at the lame stuff that Nashville keeps churning out. Country music needs more stuff like this to save it from the depths to which the music industry has caused it to sink. Country, like punk, is a music that belongs to the people, and groups Brent Amaker and the Rodeo want to take it back. –James Orme - Slug Magazine


"Boise Weekly 3/14/2007"

At a time when country music radio stations have songs by American Idol--and Grammy Award--winner Carrie Underwood in heavy rotation, Seattle-based band Brent Amaker and the Rodeo offers up a breath of fresh, real country air.

The band is Brent Amaker on vocals and guitar, Tim Harmon and Louis O'Callaghan on guitar, Sugar McGuinn on bass and Curtis Andreen on drums. Dressed in black--including cowboy hats--and made a shade darker by Amaker's deep, raspy voice, the similarities to Johnny Cash are unavoidable. And it's not a mistake. It's a well-thought-out plan, though they've changed in some ways to better suit getting out on the road and touring. Initially, they were a bad-ass biker band, but the impracticality of riding motorcyles to each show won out over the total coolness of riding motorcycles to each show. And though they've eschewed two-wheel transportation, they've kept their signature sound: simple songs, simple instrumentation, simply sung. Their self-titled debut CD is pure old-school country, and Amaker makes no apologies for his feelings about fakers. On "Sissy New Age Cowboy," he sings, The highlights in your hair are a dead giveaway/You're not singing country music.

On their myspace site (www.myspace.com/brentamakerandtherodeo), Amaker is quoted as saying, "I am so tired of seeing bands who don't know what they are." Amaker and the Rodeo know just who they are, and a note or two into the first song, you'll have a pretty damn good idea, too.

--Amy Atkins

- Boise Weekly


"Three Imaginary Girls, Salvador Santos 4/6/07"

I have to admit that this is one of those burning questions which has bothered me since I moved to Seattle: Where are all the men? Sure, there are plenty of underfed, waifish nancy-boys who parade around in their “I’m too emo to wash my hair” ways, but I want to know where the REAL MEN are. Men who will drink you under the table, wrestle a hog, and get a new tattoo – all in the space of an hour. Men who remove beer caps with the same teeth they use to light matches. Men who drive ridiculously tall American trucks and who think global warming means more women in bikinis and BBQ’s year ‘round. Men who think foreplay means buying her another beer.

Just when you thought the Seattle music community couldn’t get any more pussy-fied, in rolls Brent Amaker and the Rodeo on their hogs to save your manhood. These ain’t your unshaven, chaw spittin’, flannel-shirt, dirty jeans type of country bumpkins either: these boys are well-groomed, dressed to the nine’s with matching dry cleaned and wrinkle-free black button-down shirts, crisp and creased black jeans, matching cowboy hats, and neck scarves. Upon first glance of their get-up, you might wonder if they aren’t more suited for The Timberline than The Tractor, but when Brent starts singing lines like “the highlights in your hair are a dead giveaway, you’re not singing country music,” followed by “the rodeo is here to kick your ass,” you know that these boys aren’t light in the loafers.

So what if most of their songs sound like a cover of “Fulsom Prison Blues”? So what if they are all written in the same key? Originality is not the point; it’s beer-swillin’, foot tappin’, shit kickin’ country and western, and it’s an homage what we are so desperately missing around here: a couple of well-slung balls in the horse saddle. And unlike Johnny Cash, these boys leave the churchin’ to the preachers on Sunday and are just out to have a good ol’ whiskey stompin’ time.

Go pick up a copy of their self-titled debut release and expect a record that gets directly to the point; where the average song clocks in just shy of two and a half minutes, and the topics range from gettin’ drunk and getting’ cheated on, to getting your ass kicked and getting’ drunk again. Recorded on a 4-track reel-to-reel in mono, B.A.R. has all the production quality of AM radio. Highlights include “Sissy New Age Cowboy,” which features a generous portion of profanity and serves up one of the best damn spaghetti western guitar riffs I’ve heard recorded.
-Salvador Santos, April 06, 2007 - ThreeImaginaryGirls.com April 2007


"Men in black are devoted to country -- and putting on a show, SEATTLE P.I. 2/26/09"

For the past few years, Brent Amaker and the Rodeo have been branding Seattle clubs with their self-described "cowboy arena rock," and, like a stubborn steer getting the flesh of its behind seared by a cowpoke, their music has a kick and puts up a fight.

That kick hits hard when you're slamming down shots while listening to "Bring Me the Whiskey" and the fight comes strong on "Knock You Out." Those songs perfectly encapsulate what Amaker and the Rodeo -- bassist Sugar McGuinn, drummer Mason Lowe and guitarists Steve Davis and Ben Strehle -- are about.

Their music is outlaw country that covers the traditional bases of lost loves, tears in beers and barroom brawls, with extra attitude. And while the music packs a wallop, it's visual flair and showmanship that delivers the knockout punch and sells the essence of the Rodeo.

"People are either going to either love us or hate us right out of the gate because we put on a show," Amaker said.

The show typically begins with Amaker taking the stage donning a red velvet cape. The cape is taken off by a stagehand, who hands Amaker sunglasses and black gloves before he and the Rodeo break into "Welcome to the Rodeo," the opening track from the group's 2008 release "Howdy Do!" Oh, and it is worth mentioning everyone on stage is dressed from head to toe in black, complete with cowboy hats and boots.

"I don't know when bands decided to play and stare at their shoes, but people deserve a show," Amaker said. "When I go to a show I want to see people putting on an event, so I try to do the same. Our goal is to put on an arena rock concert as cowboys."

Sometimes part of that show involves what Amaker calls a "whiskey baptism." This can happen during "Bring Me the Whiskey," when shots of liquid courage are brought to the stage and Amaker "baptizes" fans into the Rodeo by pouring the shots down the hatches of the willing.

So what exactly inspired an outlaw country band in Seattle?

"We're all fans of really good old country music you don't hear anymore," Amaker said. "It seemed like country music had become so crappy and worthless on mainstream radio. Once we started doing this thing it was so fun, it just seemed worthwhile."

Another reason Amaker wanted to play country was to breathe some life back into music he loves.

"I felt there was a whole generation of people who grew up listening to a type of music that had no identity," he said.

Part of that identity has been the outlaw cowboy image that has helped them find success in, of all places, Europe. Whenever the band goes overseas, members always wear their outfits.

"We dress the part and wear our matching outfits all the time," Amaker said. "It's easy to get a buzz going when you travel like that. I can't tell you what a cool experience it is to go to another country like a cowboy 24/7. ... It's like a weird social experiment."

While the cowboy lifestyle is cool, for Amaker it's all about the music and the show.

"The bigger the stage and the better the light system the bigger the show we're going to put on. It's a spectacle," he said.

That spectacle will be on display Saturday at Neumo's when the band plays with The Dusty 45s and North Twin (8 p.m.; $12).

http://www.seattlepi.com/pop/401549_earcandy27.html - Seattle P.I. by Travis Hay 2.26.2009


"Jersey Beat, Jim Testa"

A perfectly catchy, witty and engaging serving of neatly snappy and harmonic downhome old-fashioned shit-kickin' country and western music that's done with a hilariously offbeat sense of eccentric humor. Brent Amaker's deep, twangy, drawling voice exudes a deliciously dry and deadpan charm. The songwriting is likewise amusingly droll and quirky. The slowly chugging tempos and hefty clip-clopping beats gallop along at a pleasingly gradual clip. The say-it-like-you-see-it blithely caustic sensibility at work in such choice kooky cuts as "Sissy New Age Cowboy," "Bring Me the Whiskey," and "You Call Me the Devil" is a real riot to hear. A total hoot. - Jersey Beat


"Der Tagesspiegel"

BERLIN - Eigentlich ist es auf der Oranienburger Straße nichts besonderes, wenn fünf Männer mit Cowboyhüten zwischen Junggesellenabschieden und Touristen die Straße entlang schlendern. "Brent Amaker and the Rodeo" aber fallen auf. Allein ihr Gang und ihr Auftreten verraten, dass die Jungs aus den USA "echte" Cowboys sind. Sie sind auf dem Weg zum "Aufsturz-Klub", der an diesem Abend als Popkomm-Veranstalter die Folk und Country Nische füllen will.

"Folk" ist jedoch ein sehr weiter Begriff, und schon die erste Sängerin, die Schweizerin "Lole", macht den Gästen klar, dass er nicht weit weg von Singer/Songwriter anzusiedeln ist. Gitarre und gebrochenes Deutsch mit französischem Akzent machen Spaß. Danach baut die Norwegerin Susanne Sundfør ihre Pianos vor dem weinroten Samtvorhang in dem mit Kerzenlicht ausgeleuchtetem Kellerraum auf. Kraftvoll und mysteriös sind ihre Lieder - ihr Bühnenabgang eher geheimnisvoll bis divenhaft. Sie wird als aufgehender Stern der Szene gehandelt.

Den ersten "richtigen" Folk bringt Sarah Noni Metzner auf die Bühne. Die Kanadierin begeistert mit ganz wenig Tempo aber einer großartig effektvollen Stimme mit erfrischend klugen Texten. Hinter der Gitarre erinnert sie an Björk, mit Akkordeon an einen liebenswürdigen Tom Waits. Im weiß gepunkteten Kleid strahlt sie auf der Bühne unschuldig charmante Freundlichkeit und Spaß am Auftritt aus. Das Publikum liegt ihr schon zu Füßen, lange bevor sie während ihres letzten Songs mit der Mundharmonika noch einen drauf setzt.
Saloonfähig: Brent Amaker and the Rodeo. - Foto: promo

Die zahlreichen Gäste haben sich sich warm geklatscht, als endlich "Brent Amaker and the Rodeo" die Bühne betreten. Und das ist auch gut so, denn die Jungs aus Seattle fordern sogar vom sonst eher zurückhaltende Pokomm-Publikum, das es tanzt und "rockt". Eingängige Rhythmen verwandeln den Klub in einen Wild-West-Saloon, der Barkeeper im James-Dean-Look geht darin gänzlich auf. Die Country-Combo versteht sich eher als Projekt - privat hören die Jungs eher Rock und Indie. Sie fragen, ob sie hier im Western-Outfit überhaupt auf die Straße gehen könnten.

Dabei ist Country auch in Deutschland nicht gänzlich unbekannt. Allerdings wird die Musik hierzulande eher mit "Truck Stop" und "Texas lightning" aber auch mit "The Boss Hoss" in Verbindung gebracht. Die Gäste jedenfalls sind sich sicher: Singer/Songwriter und Country könnten zur Populärmusik aufsteigen. Und darum geht es schließlich bei der Messe: Trends von Morgen zeigen. (mist) - Der Tagesspiegel


"Trent Moorman, The Stranger 10/3/2007"

Sprechen Sie Rodeo?

Brent Amaker & the Rodeo Take Cowboy Country to the Old Country

by Trent Moorman

Six cowboys dressed in black are on a plane bound for Belgium. They're in a band from Seattle called Brent Amaker & the Rodeo, and they're traveling 6,000 miles to play country music to Europeans. They keep their black Stetson hats on for the entire flight.

Somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean at 38,000 feet, Brent Amaker—the tall, gruff-spoken bandleader originally from Oklahoma—is anxious. He needs to get some sleep, but he's worried about the band's first gig. It's at an outdoor venue in Beerse, Belgium, and they're supposed to play for three hours straight. Their only record, last year's self-titled debut, clocks in at 24 minutes.

Despite the Valium and red wine, Amaker is wide-awake. It's 6:02 a.m., Seattle time. He writes in his journal to settle his nerves:

Jesus Christ! I hate trying to sleep on airplanes. It's going to be a long one today in full Rodeo attire. We have to take four trains, carrying our gear, and find our tour manager. I wrote six new songs for the first show, so we'll be able to pull it off. They'll have no choice but to love us.

The Rodeo's brand of spaghetti-western music is a mean-cowboy act, but it's no put-on. As Amaker admits, the Rodeo might not have the best take on country music, but it's their take. "Old-time country filtered through the minds of some guys who have been playing in rock bands," he says. Reverbed guitar twang and clip-clop rhythms underpin Amaker's low-register cattle call. Most of the songs are in G, the quintessential country key and a definite homage to Johnny Cash.

For the last couple years, European DJs and press have been requesting music from Amaker; they find their way to the Rodeo through MySpace. Noting the interest, he applied to Berlin's Popkomm Festival via the online booking service Sonicbids earlier this year. The Rodeo were picked as one of four bands from the U.S. to get a 1,000-Euro travel allowance and play Popkomm—a huge, multi-day festival featuring mostly pop, electro, and dance music—at the end of September. The rest of the tour—seven dates through Belgium, Holland, and Germany—came together around Popkomm, after a Belgian booking agency called Surfing Airlines took an interest in the Rodeo. Surfing Airlines is infatuated with American Americana bands like Amaker, Ruby Dee and the Snakehandlers, and the Black Crabs, all from Seattle. They agreed to provide the band with a house, transportation, meals, and a full back-line, including vintage Fender gear.

Seems like what we're doing might be right for the European market, Amaker writes. They want Americana and we plan on giving it to them.

And they do. After 30-some hours of planes, trains, and vans, their first show—the three-hour gig at an outdoor bar near a canal—starts out rough, but ends well.

It's cold out and the first two hours are grim. The crowd is either over 50 or under 12, more interested in frites than country music, and very European. By which I mean musty, kind, proud of their local beer, and getting drunk on it.

Eventually, the strong Belgian beer works up the Rodeo and wears down the locals. Everyone's loving the music and trying to sing along. Trays of whiskey—which will become a theme during this European vacation—emerge. The gig achieves a proper ending. The band drive back to their house in the Belgian countryside, polish off a case of Duvel beer, and pass out.

The next night, in Tilburg, Netherlands, the scene is even better.

A half-dozen guys are dressed in all-black Rodeo outfits. People have actually been gearing up for this show. In a big smoky club in a Dutch city we've never heard of, some guy comes up to me and says, "Brent Amaker! We drink!" We start the show with "Sissy New Age Cowboy" and the crowd is singing along. Singing a-fucking-long!

Thanks to MySpace, they know the lyrics: "The highlights in your hair are a dead giveaway/You're not singing country music/You keep singin' pop songs and takin' photo ops/ you're a sissy new-age cowboy country fuck!"

The band whips up a serious lather live, drinking and heckling onstage, encouraging drinking and heckling from the crowd. After more trays of whiskey and the end of the set, a girl asks guitarist Louis O'Callaghan if she can try on his Stetson. He obliges; she runs out the door with it. The band is stunned.

Our music is for real, Amaker writes, but we need our hats. Don't mess with the hats.

Averting near disaster, one of the Dutch cowboys lets O'Callaghan buy his hat—a black Stetson knockoff purchased online—for 20 Euros.

The next day, it's on to Berlin for the big festival. Half of the band, including Amaker, is sick and medicating with foul-tasting European cough drops and other foreign stuff.

Some of the guys are treating their symptoms with little bottles of mysterious brown liquor from the truck stops. They don't know what it is. I think they're just happy it doesn't taste like licorice. About 60 percent of everything here tastes like licorice.

Amaker & the Rodeo are the only cowboys at Popkomm. They are the only cowboys in Berlin, for that matter. They've been wearing the same outfits the entire trip and things are getting crusty, but the Europeans are still enamored with the men in black.

This is a place where a cowboy can make a splash. We get "yee-haw"ed everywhere we go. People either love us or ignore us. Not a bad way to operate.

After a minor scare over a missed sound check (blame that strong Belgian beer), Amaker reschedules at the club, a rock 'n' roll bar called Aufsturz. A German sound check is unlike anything I've experienced, even in good Seattle clubs. Soundman Jens was asking Curtis [Andreen, drummer] which particular frequencies he'd like to emphasize in his kick-drum sound. Hell yeah. Some German MySpace fans arrive in Rodeo gear. This is not something I'm going to get tired of anytime soon.

The show starts and the cowboys roll. They're feeling the music, O'Callaghan spooling out a psychedelic guitar solo that wows the crowd while bassist Sugar McGuinn keeps the beat slow and steady. Like an inverse Borat, Amaker has brought the exaggerated heart of America into an alien place, and that place has embraced it.

After the show, I hear again and again, "We were just going to listen to the first song and go, but then we stayed for one more, and one more...."

The Popkomm organizers love the Rodeo's set and afterward whisk them away to VIP rooms and more trays of whiskey. Amaker is introduced to European booking agents and label reps. Plans to return are discussed.

I could get used to flying at this altitude. These people said some shit that I won't even repeat here, because no one will believe it. Even I'm not a big enough asshole to toot my horn that loud. Plus, I don't want to jinx shit.

The last night of the tour is back in rural Belgium. The band is beat and sagging, the partying and the schmoozing and the sickness catching up to them: You know what a balloon looks a couple days after you blow it up? Amaker drinks half a dozen Duvel beers to cut through the haze as the band gets into stern-faced character. The venue is almost empty.

Just as we're about to lose heart, the club fills with what I can only describe as Belgian rednecks. Smoke is thick, dudes are sweaty, and the beer is flying. One fan in particular is way too drunk. He keeps trying to get me to sing "Bad Moon Rising." In any language, this guy is an asshole. Then he jumps onto the stage and starts singing in Flemish through my mic. I give him a minute to goof off then I push him back toward the crowd. Honest, I barely nudge the guy. But he slips on the beer-covered stage and flies off like a cartoon. He bounces up and lunges back at me but Curtis and Mason [Lowe, lead guitarist] are right in his face. The music stops. It's fucking tense. I'm going through the worst-case scenario in my mind (six dudes in a tiny Belgian jail) when someone yells, "Ah, iss no problem. Eees a facking dronk!" A quick "1, 2, 3, 4!" from Sugar and we're back on track. recommended

- Trent Moorman, The Stranger 10/3/2007


"KEXP - 90.3FM, SEATTLE"

Whiskey, Women, & Wild times.
The spirit of true country music lives on through Brent Amaker and the Rodeo.
Raise your glass, take a shot, and watch your back. The Rodeo is here, and it's about time. - Troy Nelson, DJ


"The Stranger, Seattle WA 11/16/2006"

"I am so tired of seeing bands who don't know what they are," says Brent Amaker. That's hardly an accusation one can level at Amaker and his band, the Rodeo. They have a distinct, straightforward sound and a consistent look. Until recently, the quartet—who play Cafe Venus and the MarsBar on Thursday, November 16—even had a signature mode of transportation: They all rode motorcycles.

Their eponymous debut CD (available now at shows) is single-minded in its musical vision. The Rodeo play old-time country, with clip-clop rhythms underpinning Amaker's low-register growl. Think "Tennessee Flattop Box" and you're right on the money.

"If you listen to any old Johnny Cash, that sound is consistent on those records," observes Amaker. "And that is the type of country music we like. When we set out to do this project, we put specific limitations on ourselves.

"It's been fun using more of a Ramones formula: This is who we are, this is what we do, and we're going to write confined within the context of what we do." They even write most of their songs in the same key, G, because it suits Amaker's range best.

But simplifying the modus operandi throws up other challenges. Drummer Curtis Andreen faced a particularly hard task. "Curtis was a rock drummer. He was all over the place. And we only gave him two drums: a kick and a snare. He asked, 'Can't I have a high hat?' No. This is what you get. It took him a little while to adjust to that, but now he's fantastic."

The Rodeo keep their lyrical subject matter focused, too. Songs including "Give Me the Whiskey," "Get the Hell Out," and "I Guess You Want to Die" are about exactly what you'd imagine. But, honestly, Amaker would rather sing about kicking ass than do it. "I like the whole mean-cowboy act," admits the Oklahoma native. But it is a put-on... at least, partially. "As with many musicians and actors, I get to let out a dark side that is buried deep within."

Speaking of dark, the guys also have a band uniform: black. Black jeans, black shirts, black cowboy hats. Again, this is part of a specific scheme. "One of my biggest influences for this project, even though we play country music, is the Briefs," the singer/guitarist reveals. "When I first moved to Seattle, I went to some of their shows, and thought, 'Goddamn, these guys are doing it right!' They knew what they were, and they dressed and looked the part."

But as they gear up to tour the West Coast next year, one of their trademarks is being phased out. "In the beginning, this was about motorcycles." The guys traveled to gigs as far away as Bozeman and Reno on their hogs. Today, it seems more gimmicky and less practical. "We have become a real band and defined our sound more," he concludes. "Now it's all about the music."

Spoken like a man who knows who he is.

kurt@thestranger.com - Kurt B. Reighley


Discography

They Make Cowboys in Montana (7" 45 rpm - mono)
This is The Gun (7" 45rpm - mono)
Brent Amaker and the Rodeo LP/CD
Howdy Do! LP/CD(GraveWax) 2009
Please Stand By LP/CD(Spark & Shine) 2010
Pocket Calculator (Single - Spark & Shine) 2010
Man in Charge - Tilson Remix (Single - Spark & Shine) 2010
I Can't Wait (Single - Spark & Shine) 2012
Year of the Dragon LP (Spark & Shine) November 2012

All registered BMI recordings

Photos

Bio

BRENT AMAKER AND THE RODEO: WHISKEY, WEEDS AND CALIFORNICATION COWBOYS

"it was still fun to walk in on these black-clad Seattlites turning a Kraftwerk calculator-pop number into a speed-hoedown; their originals, too, thankfully came off more old-school cowpunk than snoozy alt-country." - ROLLING STONE

Formed in 2005 as a cowboy motorcycle club for musicians, Brent Amaker and the Rodeo have earned cult status for their records, tours, comic books, and music videos. Dressed in black from head-to-toe, the Rodeo draw influence from new wave artists like Devo, glam rock innovators like David Bowie and original country music classics like Johnny Cash. Their look, their sound, their whole deal seems as if they were cast as the band in a Quentin Tarantino film. Three words describe their genre "Country New Wave".

Created with equals parts art and music, this Rodeo developed their own brand of cowboy couture which led to a cult following and positioned them to regularly receive national exposure on the Showtime series "Californication". Their song "You Call Me the Devil" was selected for inclusion on the Season Two soundtrack. And most recently the song "Doomed" was featured as the trailing credits music for the Season Finale of Weeds (Season 7).

B.A.R. has completed several North American and European tours and have made appearances at music festivals around the world including Popkomm Festival in Berlin, SXSW, the CMJ Music Marathon in New York City, Canadian Music Week in Toronto, and Bumbershoot in Seattle.

NEW RELEASE COMING FALL 2012 "YEAR OF THE DRAGON".

management: The FRED Agency
label: Spark and Shine Records
pr: Terrorbird