The Rockford Mules release new EP and subsequently announce breakup

The Rockford Mules release new EP and subsequently announce breakup
Photo by Serah Sauser

Al Green's "Let's Stay Together" is not a song that Minneapolis Southern-rock band The Rockford Mules will be covering anytime soon. The band will be releasing their fourth album, an EP titled O Tulip I Told You So, that has evolved in sound as much as the band has in itself. O Tulip includes tracks that while cleverly constructed, ebb-and-flow without a lack of pretention, all the while tell a heartbreaking story.

Gimme Noise spoke with bassist Craig Peck before show at Cause on Saturday night -- which the band has announced will also be their last -- to see what keeps the band busy and the story behind the extended album release.

Soon after this interview was done, The Rockford Mules made an announcement concerning the band:

Hello Friends

Fans, and anyone who has cared about us the past seven years,It is with an oddly satisfying sadness and an enormous amount of gratitude that we, The Rockford Mules, are calling it quits after 7 wonderful years.

We aren't stopping because we don't get along or even because we feel there aren't any more songs in us. No, we are stepping down for the simple reason that we feel this band, and its music, has run its course. I wish it were more complex than that and I could point to viscous, knockdown, drag out fights. Or that we were all sleeping with each other's wives or significant others, but I can't. The past 7 years have been great. This band has seen the birth of 5 children, helped get us through deaths, divorce, personal hardships, and at the end of it all we were, and still are, brothers that love and respect the hell out of each other. My guess is we'll remain that way long after people have forgotten about the music we've made.

The Rockford Mules have prided ourselves in making the most honest and heartfelt music we could. If the song wasn't perfect in our minds we kept writing until it was perfect or we scrapped the song all together. A lot of bands will claim the same thing but we meant it with every ounce of our rag tag soul. We put the music first and witnessed a lot of bands come and go who thought fashion and a gimmick would last. We always wanted to give our best, whether that meant playing in front of ten people or ten thousand. (which never happened except for that one time at Bratfest....both the ten and the ten thousand part). 

When all is said and done we feel we did things the right way. We never "made it" (whatever that means...) but we did respect the music, the business, and were true to who we are as people and musicians. There was, and still is, no other way to do it in our minds. 

Anyway, we always said when it wasn't fun anymore or if it started to feel like work then we would hang it up. That's where we stand today. We could probably keep going just for the sake of keeping going but it goes against the very foundation this band was built on. 

We love this band too much to keep it going without our full hearts in it. 

It's been a hell of a ride that has taken us to some very cool and interesting places and we have been blessed to meet some wonderful people along the way that share our love of this thing we call music. 

Some of you reading this are new to our music and some have been with us the entire way. It's all the same.....So to everyone that has bought a record, come to a show, shared a kind word, bought us a drink, or been moved by the sound we created, we thank-you with every fiber of our being. It's been a pleasure. We've had times that none of us will ever forget.....if only we could remember. (I think I stole that BTW) 

For those of you wondering what lies ahead for us individually....well, Erik will continue to focus on his solo stuff and dropping the hammer on those poor nails. Craig will be sitting behind either a camera or a telescope...perhaps both. Joel will be, of course, fishing. Rocky will be running an endless amount of marathons. I (Ryan) will be jamming somewhere with someone and writing a book about all of it. Gary The Buck? He'll just keep spitting the truth.  

To celebrate the last 7 years and to truly go out in style, we are playing a record release show on November 3rd at Cause Spirits and Sound Bar in Uptown. We will also debut a new video. Sounds odd right? Yes, we have a new E.P. Yes, we have a new video. Yes, we are breaking up. I guess that is a bit odd but screw it...we recorded it, are still proud of it, so why not share it with the rest of you. Besides, to be honest, there isn't another band that's come down the pike the past 7 years that knows how to sonically remodel the inside of a bar like we know how to do. So please join us to celebrate with us one last time and to help put The Rockford Mules out to pasture. I guarantee we'll go down kicking. 

Once again, thank you so much for the past 7 years and for supporting us. Hopefully we made a difference to someone somewhere.  

Peace to ya'll...See ya on November 3rd. 

The Rockford Mules

Band Members: Erik Tasa (guitar/vocals), Ryan Rud (guitar/lap steel). Craig Peck (bass), Joel Habedank (original drummer and drummer for our last show), Rocky DeVries (Joel's replacement drummer)

Why did you decide to keep these separate from the last album since they were written immediately after the full-length? Why not just add them as bonus tracks?

It seems like bonus tracks are basically throw away tracks, and we don't write throw away tracks. We have always been very deliberate in the songwriting process, and we don't finish anything unless it has been fully vetted. After we finished recording "Ma They Broke Me," we got a hot hand and cranked out these four songs in short order -- way, way faster than we normally operate. It felt like a thing that stood on its own, and so we decided to release it that way.

What was the reasons for the delays in the new album? 

We have always had very involved lives outside of the band. Erik is a carpenter/contractor with three kids, Ryan works three jobs and has two boys, and I am a high school teacher. Joel fishes like a madman and has a family. Rocky is a Rollergirls referee and from what I gather does something important with computers. He also plays drums in All The Way Rider. We would all love to play music full time, but the day to day grind of keeping the bills at bay and being moderately responsible adults has dictated a lot of what we can and can't do. 

Do you feel O Tulip was a deviation or an extension of the last album? 

I don't know. It makes sense to us. We have always just done what sounds right to us, and I think we have been right more often than not. We don't see this EP as meaningfully different from anything else we have done, it just happened to turn out a bit more pissed off, but a sense of urgency and frustration has always been a part of what we do. 

You told me the story behind the title track in the last interview. 

Opening up about the evolution of the upcoming EP, O Tulip I Told You So, lead singer Erik Tasa admits to being a huge Amy Winehouse fan, and trying to grasp the reasoning behind people need to destroy themselves. Tasa says of the title track, "How many Behind the Musics do you need to see before you figure out that this all ends the same way? No one is the exception to the rule of indulgence -- except Keith Richards. The song is an outside observer's cautionary tale. I am also the father to a beautiful daughter; I cannot imagine having to see her go through something like that. It's a song I hope to never sing to her."

Can you tell me the story behind the music video? Who came up with the concept? Did the video follow the story you wanted to tell? 

We filmed that video over three days at Cause Spirits and Soundbar last spring.That bar has always been our friend, and Mike [Reihle, Cause owner] was gracious enough to let us use the space. Our longtime friend and photographer Serah Sauser wanted to make a video for that song. She has a long track record of making us look cooler than we actually are, so when she told us she wanted to make a video for that song, we shut up and did as we were told for three days. We still haven't seen it, but I know there will be lots of skulls. The Rockford Mules have been around the music scene a while now. 

"O Tulip I told you so" from Serah Sauser on Vimeo.

Are there any big plans for the next step? Do you ever want to graduate to stadiums, or are you all a band that just wants to play music? 

Any musician that says he or she doesn't want to play in front of as many people as possible and get paid is either lying or seriously disconnected from the real world. We all want to make music and pay our bills at the same time, but that is far more difficult than most people understand. Obviously the music is why we show up in the first place. You do it out of love. In fact, some of the most amazing moments of this band have happened at practice in my basement with nobody watching. I know it's a cliche thing to say, but the famous Bob Marley quote about feeling no pain when the music hits? That really is true. We have played with some stunningly great bands that nobody will ever know about. It would appear that we are about to make a similar descent into obscurity, but we are happy we got an invite to the party in the first place and we will be in good company. 

What can we expect at the CD release show? 

It will be our last show, but we have played every show knowing full well that it could all be over in a moment. Bands are very fragile.  When we started playing together, we were in our early 30s and had all been in other relatively successful bands (Sadie Foster, Motion City Soundtrack, Druel). Other than Erik, we were all essentially done with music. When you are a young musician, it is very easy to take it all for granted. We got another run, and we have genuinely appreciated every moment of this band. This band has been a vehicle for us to to do and see a lot of amazing things. Our awareness of that is probably why we have been together as long as we have.

On the other hand, nobody likes the last guy at the party; the guy who doesn't know that the party is over. We figure it is best to politely step out while people still think we are reasonably cool. We are self aware enough to not try and drag this tractor out of the swamp a year from now for another run at glory. It ran its course, we had a better time than we deserved, and we will miss it severely. For all of us, this band being over will be a little hard to wrap our minds around. Having said that, Cause will likely be reduced to a smoking crater by Sunday morning.We absolutely love playing live, and we plan on going down swinging.

The Rockford Mules will release O Tulip I Told You So and play their farewell show with The Goondas and DJ Assassin9 at Cause Spirits and Soundbar on Saturday, November 3, 2012.
21+, $5, 9 pm

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