In Tune with Brad Defour and BandMaster Ruckus
By Melissa Mendonca
What's All the Ruckus About
By Melissa Mendonca
Photos by Alexis LeClair
Brad Dufour of of BandMaster Ruckus, an alternative blues-rock trio comprised of Red Bluff natives, has enjoyed touring with his band from Auburn to Oregon, but notes that there’s something special about the hometown shows.
“There’s a wide range of people,” he says, “from college students to adults.” In other words, it’s not only their peers showing up, but their parents. That’s because the musical talent developed in these young musicians from an early age, and they’ve been jamming together since childhood.
Founding members DuFour, 23, drummer Tyler Hansen, 23, and guitar player Seth Burns, 24, have known each other since kindergarten, when their parents, all friends, would get the kids together. Nolan Brownfield, on guitar and bass, also 23, has recently stepped into the band and has also been a longtime friend.
“The three of us have always played music together,” says DuFour. “We started the band when we all went off to college. I went to Chico State and we all just started jamming.”
That was back in 2013, and the band has steadily gained a following, playing frequently at The Maltese, Argus Bar and 1078 Gallery in Chico and Tips, Downtown Alehouse and Round Up Saloon in Red Bluff.
The high energy shows pack the venues with crowds eager to hear songs like “Mars Mission Awesomeness,” a break out from the first album, and the defiant, rebellious and cathartic “I Don’t Give a Care.” Videos to these songs and many more are available on YouTube, and digital downloads of songs and albums can be purchased on their website. CDs and band swag such as T-shirts and hats are available at Enjoy the Store Red Bluff, where the band has also played on occasion.
They’ve released two albums, one eponymous and the other called “99,” as well as an extended play album with band Shotgun Sawyer titled “8 Bangers,” which came out in late April.
“All of our music is our own,” says DuFour. “We do a handful of covers but the majority of our music is our own.” DuFour is the lyricist and all members collaborate with music. “I pull a lot of influence and material from real life,” he says.
In 2015, the band joined Snafu Family, a collective of musicians from San Jose to Reno who record, tour and promote together. “Finding and joining this label has kept us gung-ho,” says DuFour, noting that it’s not only a place to record, but a support system of other musicians. “These connections with other friends/bands has helped us book tours and spread our music and ourselves further.”
While BandMaster Ruckus keeps gaining in popularity, it’s by no means the only gig the musicians have going. DuFour is an art major at Chico State focusing on sculpture who comes home on weekends to work construction with his dad, Earl DuFour, a contractor and musical influence. Hansen, Burns and Brownfield all also work in Red Bluff.
“We call him Earl Jam,” says Brad, of his father and boss at the construction sites. “He’s got his own song track on the first album, so that’s his influence.”
Earl Jam also had a role in naming the band, if inadvertently. It was his vintage Fender BandMaster amplifier that the young musicians found in his garage and started playing with. “We pulled our name from there and added Ruckus to it,” says DuFour, the Ruckus being a nod to the heavy rock-and-roll sound influenced by the White Stripes, Black Keys, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Leon Burgess.
“It’s kind of crazy right now,” says DuFour, “being a student and also being in a band and trying to work.” The band is planning a tour in August and he adds, “It’s mainly about fun, and not trying to be famous. But it’s nice to get our work out there.”
While he says he keeps his focus on sculpture while at school, declining the opportunity to study music, the sound remains his greatest passion. “I’ve always had this vision of finishing school and pursuing music further,” he says. Judging from crowd sizes, North State audiences are ready for more.
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