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The Rainmakers Return With 'Monster Movie'

Courtesy photo

After the last Rainmakers album, 2011’s 25 On, the band began thinking about a new record and according to founding member the group decided to focus on its greatest strengths and deliver a record that was loud and aggressive and rooted in its early style. The result is Monster Movie, a collection of songs that examines the horrors and realities of everyday life in 2014.

Monster Movie combines our bass player Rich Ruth’s taste for b-grade terrible monster movies," founding member Bob Walkenhorst explains. "But then bringing that into the idea of, ‘Well, what’s a song called ‘Monster Movie’ about? Well, there’s plenty of monsters and horrific ideas in our modern culture. I’ll address a few of them.’”

With a body of work that stretches more than 30 years Walkenhorst is known for his satirical portraits of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But always with a sense of ambiguity.

“The listener is the last author. I, as the songwriter, can draw kind of a sketchy framework of ideas and imagery," he says. "But then you as the listener have to process it. I’m not spelling out every single detail. And, that way, it can fit your life.”

All Rainmakers albums have touched on religion and Monster Movie is no exception, with the song “13th Spirit.”

13th Spirit is just asking the big question again, he says. "‘Can you, please—YOU UP THERE!—please just give us a hint as to what this all means? Is there supposed to be some kind of a secret code we’re supposed to be figuring out? Why does this all seem to make no sense at times?’”

Walkenhorst’s approach to religion has never been to attack but instead to examine.

“I don’t think it’s good to be disrespectful to anyone’s faith," he says. "Faith can take a lot of different forms and it certainly gets all of us through this moment or that moment. What label you put on that faith, what name that works for you, I don’t ever want to be ridiculing that.

“On the other hand, I grew up on conservative, Christian middle of America. I know the language. I know what that book was about. I have to have a little fun with my own past. ‘OK, all this stuff that you guys impressed upon me that was so serious? I just can’t take it that seriously.’”

From the beginning Walkenhorst has been a thinking person’s songwriter, something that stems from having come of age in the 1960s. Forget about the loud guitars, at the end of the day The Rainmakers is a folk band.

“If you’re trying to make some music that has some relevance to peoples’ everyday life, you’re not just creating escapism then your music is folk music," he says. "It’s music that’s supposed to enhance and enlarge the meaning of life. And not just make you not think for a while. That you can find pleasure in thinking and finding all those different layers of meaning. To me, it’s endlessly fascinating.”

The Rainmakers perform Friday August 15 at 7 p.m. at Lucky’s Everyday.

Jedd Beaudoin is host/producer of the nationally syndicated program Strange Currency. He has also served as an arts reporter, a producer of A Musical Life and a founding member of the KMUW Movie Club. As a music journalist, his work has appeared in Pop Matters, Vox, No Depression and Keyboard Magazine.