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Bloodshot Briefing: Hank Williams On Acid And The Bicycle Club He Rode In On

Here at the Bloodshot Briefing Desk in Beachwood Music headquarters, I've been fortunate enough lately to explore what's underneath some unturned rocks around Chicago.

This week is no different, as I spoke with Dave Schultz, a Chicago-born writer and musician who will be coming out with his multimedia project "The Bicycle Club" this summer. The 54-year-old's enterprise, which includes a novel and an accompanying album, follows the exploits of Wyatt Scruggs and his band. He spends also spends his time working at Hanson Guitars, where Bloodshot Records' Alejandro Escovedo gets his axes.

As usual, we tackled a number of topics, including Schultz's time spent as a funeral director in Rock Island.

Beachwood Music: You live in Naperville now. What's your connection to Chicago, other than associating with the spirited Joe Swank of Bloodshot Records?

Schultz: I was raised in Chicago near Newport and Damen. But every summer we'd go to southern Illinois to see the grandparents. It was a dual reality. Buckner has about 300 people now. When I would visit, it probably had around 450.

I really liked my childhood. It was really blue-collar. My dad ran a construction company. We were not rich and lived in a big blue-collar neighborhood. The kids I went to school with were very ethnic. Chicago is a true melting pot.

Then, I'd go to southern Illinois. The kids there were absolutely feral. We had fun to no end.

Beachwood Music: What do you think of the Wrigleyville neighborhood now?

Schultz: Completely different. When I was growing it up, it was a lot of families. Seemed like most of the apartment dwellers were permanent residents.

You could park anywhere on Addison and Clark, unless there was a ballgame.

And when I was little, my grandfather would take me to the Cubby Bear, which at the time was a little tavern. We'd sit in there and watch the game.

I miss the old neighborhood, but I think it's still cool, in a different way.

Beachwood Music: Writers love experiences. How did you wind up as a funeral director?

Schultz: It was the weirdest situation you'd ever want to be in. It was like living in the Addams Family house. When I could be I was a full-time musician. But I worked a lot in the hospitality industry, and my wife is a chef. When me moved down to southern Illinois, we got a little house down there and started a catering business. One of our big clients was a funeral home. I became good friends with the guy. When I'd make deliveries, we'd complain about our lives. We realized we had several of the same problems.

Anyway, the catering business folded, and I was looking for something to do.

Beachwood Music: Had you always been musically inclined growing up?

Schultz: I wanted to be an actor after high school. I thought that was it for me. I went to New York with a friend from high school. Our first audition there, there were all these little kids sitting there with telephone book resumes. Here I was having been in three high school plays. I knew right then, uh, no.

I always played music. I can be in bands and be on stage and perform. That's what I liked as an actor.

By the way, the friend stayed in New York, and he became a porn king. He makes pornographic films. Very weird guy.

Beachwood Music: While music is important to you, it seems like a vehicle for you to write. You mentioned how much you enjoy writing.

Schultz: I never really considered music seriously until I started writing songs. I was 19 years old when I wrote my first. I think it started with a riff, and it sounded really bratty. I was listening to the Ramones a lot, they were a big influence. It was a mindless song.

Beachwood Music: How many songs have you written? You wrote the title track for Joe Swank's latest album, Hank Williams Died for My Sins.

Schultz: Well over 600. I am constantly writing to improve my catalogue. I used to say I was inspired by the lyrics. That's still true. I am more of a lyricist than an arranger. But sometimes it's a nice lick that catches my ear.

Beachwood Music: What's left for you to finish before "The Bicycle Club" is available for consumption?

Schultz: Mastering. I am working with Rick Barnes at Rax Trax. He's become a good buddy. We are trying to get back in next Friday. We are thinking it will be out sometime in June.

Beachwood Music: But in the meantime, people can sample the tunes with your band Purple Hank. The live band includes Bill Borton, Doug Oliver, Steve Pirruccello and you.

Schultz: Yes, Purple Hank is the official show band. We've played the Horseshoe, Lizard's Liquid. We've done some shows in the suburbs. There's a place PK's in Carbondale. It's the knife and gun club of Illinois. Such a great bar.

Beachwood Music: What's with the name Purple Hank?

Schultz: We wanted Bicycle Club, but there are a lot of bands called that. The Hank is a tip to Hank Williams. We're countryesque. There's a lot of hillbilly in the songwriting, but we have a weird psychedelic twist. It's still pretty twang.

We got the band together to do this project, but the band has taken on a life of its own. We are looking at releasing something in August. We've working hard on that.

Beachwood Music: Finally, where are some of your go-to bars for a beer and a shot?

Dave Schultz: There's a place in Berwyn called Friendly Tap. Just down the street from FitzGerald's. Cool fun, little bar. The place makes you feel good being there.

Years back, the Double Door before it became what it is today. It used to be this hillbilly bar that played horrible country music. It was great.

There's a place out in Naperville called Miss Kitty's Saloon. Place is hysterical. One night the bartender was so wasted, he couldn't make change. He just put the liquor bottle on the bar. God, it was fun.

What I like about those places is they let you know up front where you stand. If they don't like you, they let you know early. If they like you, they let you know that too. It's just honest feedback.

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You can catch Dave Schultz and Purple Hank at Lizard's Liquid Lounge on March 19.

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Matt Harness brings you his Bloodshot Briefing every Friday. He welcomes your comments.



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Posted on March 5, 2010


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