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Rusty Redenbacher has been a fixture of the Indy music scene for two decades. From his hip-hop past with the Mudkids to his rock ‘n’ roll present with the Last IV, his range (not to mention personality) makes him one of the city’s most popular vocalists. The Last IV will play at the Fountain Square Music Festival on July 4. We caught up with Redenbacher before the show.
You’ve been playing here for a long time now. Can you trace your musical history back to your teens?
It officially started for me with Coalition. That was my first little rap group with Ted Miller, who now owns Outliers Brewing Company, where I work. After that, I joined Birdmen of Alcatraz, which did a lot of touring, put out two well-received albums, and got off the ground in a big way. Out of that, Mudkids started with Tyler Knapp, Brian Phillips, and a revolving cast of characters. So Coalition, Birdmen, Mudkids, a couple solo albums, and now we’re at the Last IV.
I did radio, too—let’s not leave that stuff out! I worked on the radio as a mixer and as a personality jock. I was with Radio One for about 12 years and then that ended. And now I’m in the beer game and doing the rock thing—back to beer and rock ‘n’ roll [laughs].
I know things ended badly at WTLC. How do you feel about that in retrospect? What do you miss about being an on-air personality?
I miss playing music on the radio. I was on the station that I grew up with, so I really, really dug it. My mother and my family were friends with the old jocks, so it was always kind of a dream of mine to be on the radio.
I’m always going to have a little hurt in me about getting fired for playing a local song. And of course, it wasn’t just a local song. I was featured on the local song, so they called it self-promotion. But it wasn’t my song. Anyway, I’m done talking about it because I’ve moved on. If I got back into radio, I would have to do it on my terms.
What excites you about playing with the Last IV?
It’s been a total rejuvenation. I’ve rapped for so long. I love rapping—don’t get me wrong. I’m always gonna rap, but I have lots of other interests. When the opportunity came up to play with Vess Ruhtenberg and Tufty Clough from the Zero Boys and Devon Ashley [formerly of The Pieces], it was a no-brainer.
This thing’s all about camaraderie and really enjoying rock ‘n’ roll. For me, it’s time for that—time to jump around and thrash and play aggressive, fun music. I mean, I’ve always been about it. I’ve just gotta remind these kids [laughs]. I know a lot of people ain’t seen me with some dude wailing on a guitar, but I’m getting ready to show you this is where it started for me, and I’m proud to be on stage with these three dudes.
You seem like you’ve had a long, fruitful career. What do you still hope to accomplish?
As an artist, my soul is completely fulfilled. As a businessman, maybe not. I wouldn’t mind having a song that the whole world knew the words to. And I wouldn’t mind doing a rap album for kids. I would be totally into that. There’s always more to do, but I’ve lived a great life. I’ve been around great people, and I’ve never really said to myself, “Man, I wish I could’ve done that again.” I did the best I could at the time, every time. What more could you ask for? I just wanna keep going.
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