Rockabilly Riot: a conversation with Brian Setzer

Brian Setzer
Brian Setzer (Surfdog Records)
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Rockabilly Riot: A Conversation with Brian Setzer
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Brian Setzer started his career in the 80s with the Stray Cats, with hits like "Rock this Town" and "Stray Cat Strut"; ne continued his career into the 90s by starting the Brian Setzer Orchestra, scoring a hit with a cover of the Louis Prima sibg, "Jump Jive and Wail."

Setzer now lives here in Minnesota; he's recently been all over the news after donating his signature, orange Gretsch guitar to the Smithsonian Institution. He has a new record out now, called Rockabilly Riot. Setzer launches his Christmas Extravaganza Tour tonight at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis. "I've kind of wrangled it so I can kick off the tour here," Setzer says. "I can just drive downtown to the Orpheum and bring everything I need."

Here are additional highlights from the interview:

On his approach to songwriting:
"I don't really write songs in the rockabilly style; I just sit down and write and it becomes rockabilly music."

On finding local drummer Noah Levy to play in his band:
"Where do you find a guy that good? All the local musicians know who Noah is. I heard him play; his style mixed with mine. He's got kind of a swampy, laid-back feel to his play."

On donating his guitar to the Smithsonian Institution:
"I can't think of a better place for it; it goes behind glass forever. When all is said and done, that's where it will go … McCartney's bass is there — that's the one he used with the Beatles, so I've got to give them the real one that I grew up with."

On how his guitar came to have dice for volume and tone knobs:
"When I bought the guitar, it didn't have any knobs … as a kid, I just took Dad's vise in the garage, put a pair of Monopoly dice in there, drilled them out, put some Krazy Glue in there and I stuck them on the shafts, because it didn't have them. And now it's become a thing that people do that. But it was just, like, kind of a kid thing to do."

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