Full Interview Follows the World Premiere Video for "Lady Luck"
The Moonshine Bandits—Dusty "Tex" Dahlgren and Brett "Bird" Brooks—are no amateurs when it comes to raising hell. The duo have crafted a completely unique sound by taking cues from the hip-hop they loved and singing about the country lifestyle that they grew up with. They are able to take two forms of music that seem to be diametrically opposed to each other and meld them into a wicked brew, not unlike the prohibited hooch from which they derive their name.]
With their new album about to drop this July, Tex and Bird took some time to tell us about what we can expect from the upcoming album. "It's like a crock-pot of badassery," the guys say. "It's the best damn album we've ever poured our blood, sweat and beers into."
If you ever wanted to know what exactly a crock-pot of badassery sounded like than today is your lucky day, enjoy the world premiere of the music video for "Lady Luck" by The Moonshine Bandits below. To learn more about Tex and Bird, their tattoos, some of the crazy fan tattoos they've seen and more keep on reading for the full interview.
Let's start with the most obvious question—how did you come to find your sound? Did you come from a country background enamored with hip hop? The opposite? It's such a unique sound that I'm very curious how it came to be.
Our song writing and sound came from our upbringing. We went to high school together in a small town in an area that is known for agriculture, farming and dairy. Tex has uncles and cousins that work for John Deere, and his Grandfather also owned a Seed Farming Business. Bird comes from a family of blue collar workers and his dad owns a Roofing company. During our high school years, we had plenty of weekends where we were running from the cops at field parties or keg parties on canal banks in the outskirts of town. The music we write is a soundtrack to our lives. However, we also grew up listening to west coast hip-hop, but we knew that we had to write lyrics that were real to us, we couldn't write songs that would portray a lifestyle that we didn't live. We listened to 2pac, Eazy E, Dr. Dre and Snoop, but at the same time we also liked Creedence Clearwater, David Allan Coe, Kid Rock, Johnny Cash, Merle, Dwight and the list goes on. We also listen to guys like our buddy Uncle Kracker, Hank 3, Shooter, and Blackberry Smoke. We write our lyrics from our surroundings so our content is primarily countryish, but we deliver it in a non-traditional country music type of way. We've always gone against the grain. We never conformed to what people thought we should sound like or what people thought we should look like, that's why you see Bird with his mohawk that he wears proudly in honor of freedom and our troops, and Tex has fully inked arms including patriotic tats and his Johnny Cash portrait which is his favorite. We've always done things our way, so our music reflects that. Our sound crosses genres because we grew up listening to so many different types of music. We never once said, "we should create a country hip-hop mashup," we just made music our own damn way.
How did the country music community react upon first hearing you guys? Did people have no idea what to make of you?
People were confused. Record Labels knew we had a unique sound, but they didn't know how to market it so they tossed our demos in the trash. We wanted to quit many times, but we both had a work ethic that wouldn't let us give up. We can remember playing a little dive bar in Manteca, Calif., and we were getting booed on stage, but after the show, the same guy booing was first in line to get our autograph on a bar napkin for his girlfriend. After tons of slammed doors in our face and a bunch of naysayers that said it would never work, here we are 15 years later and we just purchased our own touring bus, played a show in every state in America, charted Billboard, and had a #1 Music Video on CMT.com. Not too shabby for two good ol' boys from a little ol' town.
Tell us a bit about this video that you are premiering? Is there a specific story behind "Lady Luck?"
Our fan base is known as "The Shiner Nation" and it has many lady lucks running wild! At our shows, We have plenty of Shiner girls, aka "Lady Lucks," that are inked up cowgirls that like to raise hell. Lady Luck has always been a very popular popular pinup style tattoo that symbolizes a girl of fortune. She's a good luck charm. We've already seen some Shiner fans with Lady Luck tattoos. We wanted to write the song about Lady Luck and her man, a modern day Bonnie and Clyde story, living life like rebels on the run.
A lot of people have tattoos that they consider lucky, or that they have gotten on Friday the 13th for cheap as a lucky charm. Do either of you have any luck related ink?
Tex has a horseshoe tattoo on his shoulder pointing upwards to symbolize good luck.
Tell us about your tattoos in general. What kind of ink do you have? Do you have any ridiculous stories behind some of your tattoos? Do you have a go to artist that you frequent?
Tex has sleeves and various tattoos related to his family, children, wife and Shiner Nation. His Johnny Cash portrait is his favorite done by James Hanna. He also has patriotic tattoos including "made in the USA" by our good friend California Corey, flag tattoos, etc. He has family forever tattoos written in Italian, "Only God Can Judge" me written in Italian, "walk the line" inked in a bottle, a moonshine jar, pistols by Ryan Eternal and some other rebel tats. We have had sponsors by Emerald Tattoo and our good friends Patty and Scotchie at Dos Changos Locos, both located in California. All of these artists have done solid work.
Bird's Tattoos: I am most proud of the "Freedom" tat on my left forearm. I was inspired to get that for not only all the service men and women overseas and at home but also for my grandpa who fought in WW2. The rest of my work was spur of the moment by various artists out of Dos Changos Locos in Modesto, Calif. I would like to get more musically related pieces but just have to find the time. ha ha
Fan Tattoos: We have seen thousands of shiner tattoos as a tribute to our band. We feel it is the greatest honor and we are very appreciative that they believe in us. The craziest tattoo is on the forehead of a 52 year old Shiner named Dickie Spears (see below). It's amazing that he got Shiner Nation and Moonshine Bandits both tattooed in a nice clean script across his forehead. He said he got the tattoos so that anyone he meets will ask him about our band. It's pretty epic. Another crazy fan tattoo story is when we played the Catalyst in Santa Cruz, Calif., a Shiner girl fan asked us to autograph her ass, so we did. 3 months later she had our signatures tattooed on her ass with a huge moonshine bandits logo right next to them.
Everyone expects metal bands or rappers to be covered in tattoos, how prevalent are tattoos within the country music scene?
Tons of country artists have tattoos, but it is rare to see full sleeves in Country music or even mohawks for that matter, but we never did follow the rules too well. We have seen tattoos on old school country legends like David Allan Coe, rebel country artists like Hank 3 and even new school artists like Brantley Gilbert.
What can fans expect from the upcoming album?
It's like a crock pot of badassery. It's raw, it's in your face. It's rebel music, it's party music, it's patriotic music that you can crank up and forget about your 9 to 5 job. It's tailgate music for your friday night football game or your sunday hangover. It's raise hell music, it's All American Drinking Anthems that you can BBQ to, music you can blare on your harley as you split lanes, or bang in your truck as you hit the back roads where the pavement ends and the mud gets thick, but most of all, it's the best damn album we've ever poured our blood, sweat and beers into.
I have to say, I wouldn't expect a band out of California to be named after moonshine... are there some secret stills I don't know about hidden somewhere in the desert?
Moonshine is worldwide and I'm talking about real copper worms dripping, not the kind of shine you make in your kitchen with everclear and a cinnamon stick. Bikers brew shine, farmers brew shine, and you'd be surprised, even politicians and law enforcement make lightning. Aside from shine, Tex's great grandfather bootlegged booze during prohibition. He used a barber shop in the San Francisco bay area as his front and he peddled shine to local politicians. It was an outlaw way to live, but he did it to provide for his family and he even used Tex's great aunt to peddle the booze in baby carriages so they never got caught! We now have our own, legal "Outlaw Moonshine" in 3 flavors and it is distributed to 4 states and available online for purchase. Check out www.outlawshine.com.