Interview: The Rusty Cleavers Gettin’ Rowdy In Tacoma

Spotlight with guitarist Daniel Ahrendt  |  By Hutch

The Rusty Cleavers come from the Tacoma area of Washington. Dark, dense, green forests provide a somber foundation for these men to craft their sullen stringed concoctions. The end result is a distilled folksy, rootsy feel that can boil a crowd into fevered, punchy punk confusion.

“Essentially, we all like folk, country, and bluegrass,” explains frontman Daniel Ahrendt. “Initially, we didn’t have the ability to play solid bluegrass and made up for it with yelling and exuberance. While, we’ve all become better musicians over the past few years, we never really stopped being drunkenly, punkishly rowdy.”

The booze factor is apparent when you listen to the solemn, plucked notes carried by an Irish feel of camaraderie. For three years, The Rusty Cleavers have played local and area shows that have solidified their talent and ability. Their view of Tacoma is as sour as the mash that supplies the body for whiskey.

“Tacoma is the calloused ball sack of the Pacific Northwest,” Ahrendt declares. “As for the music scene, lots of house shows, a substantial amount of crustiness, but Tacoma could use a larger venue.” The Rusty Cleavers prefer more intimate, organic forums. “We kick the most ass around camp fires and ferry lines.”

Wrestling straight answers from these men was difficult, but that is the charm of The Rusty Cleavers. They aren’t doing this as some hipster coattail jaunt. The music and the makers are honest and not all too serious. My inquiry into touring plans received a response of, “The San Juan islands. We’re currently looking for venues for our Ukrainian tour.”

Their album, which was put out digitally at the beginning of 2014, is a collection of personal stories that are offered for all to take in as they wish. Their recording approach is as simple as their demeanor.

“[Mandolin player] Kevin [Shintaku] set up the recording equipment, mixed it, and has plenty of complex things to say on this matter. Regardless, it was fun. Kevin and Daniel have a studio in their basement and we recorded it all together in a few days over the course of two months.”

I will take their music and uncomplicated manner as I take their recommendations for beer in the area – “Tacoma has three great breweries, Wingman, E9, and Tacoma Brewing.” – with anticipation and a grin.

Members’ instrument, favorite whiskey:
Daniel: Guitar, Black Maple Hill
Zach: Bass, Black Maple Hill
Luke: Washboard and Ukulele, Whisky
Kevin: Mandolin, Balvenie
Forest: Banjo, George Dickel

FFO: Roma Di Luna, Trampled By Turtles, The Tossers, Wicked Whiskey, Slim Cessna, Iron Horse


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