Dave Rudnik Interview (Kug Fu Rick, High on Crime, Seven Days of Samsara)

I first met Dave Rudnik in the early 2000's when he was playing bass for a band called Seven Days of Samsara.  His positive spirit, ferocious energy and technical musical ability left me extremely inspired. I've been following Dave's bands for some time now and he has just become one of those guys who never ceases to be a part of quality music.  Perhaps my favorite memory of Dave is when he jumped off the top turn buckle of a boxing ring and landed a knee into my back while I was playing a show.  Ah, those were the days. Dave is probably not jumping off of any top turn buckles these days; he's married, has a child and owns a house in Milwaukee and those things can make you rethink causing bodily harm to yourself and others.  However, he still manages to write and release some excellent music.  Here's a short interview I recently did with Dave on the past and the future.

OPFM: You've been playing music in bands for quite a while now. Could you please give us a list of all the bands you've been a part of over the years?

DAVE: Wretch - bass - 1994-1995
The Fratelli's - bass - 1995-1998
Luke Skawalker - bass/vocals - 1996-1998
Seven Days of Samsara - bass/vocals - 1998-present
Kungfu Rick - bass - 1998-2003
High on Crime - guitar/vocals - 2003-2008
Coffin Dodger - bass/vocals - 2005-2006
Get Rad - bass/vocals - 2005-present
HERDS - bass - 2008-2009
Party By The Slice - guitar -2008-2010
LIFES - bass/vocals - 2013-present

OPFM: How important has maintaining a DIY approach to music been to you?  Have their been pros and cons?

DAVE: At this point, I don't even really think of DIY anymore, it's just the way it is and the way I do things. I'm not strictly DIY, as in I rarely put out my own records and I usually record with a friend at his studio, but in terms of booking shows and whatnot, it's super important. Get Rad has done some shows with bigger bands that have booking agents and while the shows have been fun, the experience is very different and not really what I want to get out of playing music. I like working with friends and have been fortunate to make a ton of them over the years through music.

OPFM: You've played guitar or bass for all of your bands. In some bands you've been the main vocalist (Seven Days of Samsara, High on Crime, Lifes) as well. Is there one role you prefer to another?

DAVE: I really like singing in a band. I feel like screaming just ups the intensity that I feel for a song. Whether I'm playing guitar or bass in a band, I am happiest when I am singing backups. If I had to choose between guitar & bass, I would probably choose bass because I am better at it. Playing guitar in HOC & PBTS was fun because it was something different, but if it was an either or, I would stick with 4 strings (or 8 in the case of LIFES.)

OPFM: Your musical endeavors have spanned almost 20 years and I imagine a lot has changed in your personal life during that time.  You're married; you have a child; you own a house.  How have all the aspects of "adult" life impacted your view on what part music has in your life?

DAVE: It has had a pretty huge impact. When we first met (almost 15 years ago!) I had little to no
responsibility. Seven Days of Samsara played shows every weekend and toured every day we could when we weren't in school. That slowed down a lot with High on Crime and Get Rad when I had a mortgage to pay and a wife who I wanted to be near. The idea of spending two months away from home wasn't my dream anymore. When I found out that my wife was pregnant, I knew my touring days were pretty much over and since Milo (my son) has been born, I haven't been gone for more than one night and even when weve played a show 5 hours away, I have managed to make it home before he woke up. That's pretty much why LIFES exists. There's just two of us, were both married, own homes and have young kids. The insert of the LIFES demo sums it up pretty good. It says, "LIFES EXISTS IN THE FEW RARE MOMENTS WHEN WE HAVE A SECOND TO SPARE." And to be honest, I wouldn't want it any other way. A few years ago Get Rad went out west for two weeks and a week into the tour I was ready to go home. When Seven Days was touring, we would go out for two months and the day I got home I was ready to hit the road again. I still love playing shows and even crappy ones bring me unmeasurable amounts of joy, but I don't need to do it for weeks on end. Other things that bring me joy have taken priority.

OPFM: Has this made it tough for you to keep on what new bands are doing and exposing your ears to new music out there?

DAVE: The internet has made that way easier. I am a huge fan of bandcamp & soundcloud. If this had been 20 years ago, I would be even more out of the loop. Shit, I didn't even know you were in a new band until I saw the tour dates, but you are unusually hard to keep track of.

OPFM: Tell us about your most recent project,  LIFES.  You mentioned earlier that it's a 2 piece and that you and the drummer are sort of in the same life situation (kids, marriage, house).  How would you describe the band musically? How do you address the challenge of playing in a 2 piece band?

DAVE: Last fall the drummer of Get Rad got a new job. It's a really good job for him, but it's 2nd shift. With him working till 11 and our guitar player starting work at 5am and me working on Saturdays, we realized that there just wasn't going to be time for Get Rad on a regular basis. So for November and December I found myself for the first time in 20 years without an active band and I was going nuts. I knew I had to start another band, but I don't want to tour and I have a limited amount of time to dedicate to the band, so I knew Zak would be a perfect person to start a band with. He and his wife had their first kid in the fall and I had a blast playing with him in Party by the Slice, so I was psyched when he said he wanted to do it.

I'm not sure if you've been in a two piece before, but they are the best. It makes everything so easy. High on Crime started out as a two piece and we would jam whenever we had time. That's pretty much how LIFES is working out. We tend to get together late on Friday nights after the kids are asleep and our wives are getting ready for bed.

Musically I'd say were a hardcore band that leans towards power violence. I won't say that we are a power violence band, because I don't think the songs I write are weird enough.. yet! I'm working on it. Weird parts that somehow work and sound totally normal after the second listen.

As far as how we deal with it sonically, I play out of a few amps and we've got some pedals that make some noise. I also play an 8 string bass, so the sound is more full than it might be with a 4 string. We're a really new band who is still figuring stuff out. I think including recording and our 1 show, we have only played together 7 times so far. Give us a year and I'll be able to give you a better answer!

OPFM: To close up the interview, I'll ask how you see yourself playing from this point forward. I know Milwaukee has a good amount of older punks who are still doing bands and such. Do you ever feel there will be a point where you "age out"?

DAVE: No way. I may become less involved, but I can't imagine not playing in a band. It's just part of who I am. Milwaukee does have a bunch of old kids who are still involved, but in the past few years there has been a ton of new blood and its the young kids that keep shit from becoming stangnant.

Thanks for asking me to do this Tom. In all honesty, the worst thing about touring less is not seeing friends as often. Good thing that a lot of them are still touring! Hope you make it back this way soon!