No Surf Music


The No Surf Review


The Lowdown:

Bottle Rockets

Based In:
St. Louis, Missouri



Interview Subjects:
Brian Henneman (vocals/guitar), John Horton (guitar), and Mark Ortmann (drums)

Interview Date:
May 31st, 2014

Interview Location:
Franklin Mills Riveredge Park in Kent, Ohio

Bottle Rockets (1992), The Brooklyn Side (1994), 24 Hours A Day (1997), Leftovers (1998), Brand New Year (1999), Songs of Sahm (2002), Blue Sky (2003), Live in Heilbronn Germany (2006), Zoysia (2006), Lean Forward (2009), Not So Loud (2011)

Americana, country, rock, alt country


Related Articles:

The Bottle Rockets



January 7, 2015



#33 The Bottle Rockets: Brian Henneman (vocals/guitar), John Horton (guitar), and Mark Ortmann

by Jason D. 'Diesel' Hamad


Guitarist and lead singer Brian Henneman is one of the band's two remaining original members, along with drummer Mark Ortmann. Photo by Jason D. 'Diesel' Hamad, No Surf Music.

On their most recent album, Rhett Miller of the Old 97’s penned a song called “Longer Than You’ve Been Alive” about the travails of more than two decades on the road in an alt country band. My guess is that Brian Henneman and Mark Ortmann probably just looked at each other and snickered “Kids!” the first time they heard it. That’s because their band, the Bottle Rockets, have been at it longer than anyone else. Back at the dawn of alt country in the early 1990s, it was them and Uncle Tupelo leading the way and inventing the genre as they went. Rhett & the boys were just chasing after ‘em.

With the Bottle Rockets busy in studio in their home state of Missouri crafting their first new studio album in half a decade, now is a perfect time to look back on this interview we did with them in may of 2014. At the time, Bloodshot Records had just re-released their first two albums, Bottle Rockets and The Brooklyn Side, making them available for the first time to a whole new generation of fans. These records are not just important as integral parts of the Bottle Rockets’ discography—showing them at in ass-kickin’ heyday—but also as key to understanding the early formation of a genre that has come to dominate musical craftsmanship like no other. If you name a great songwriter today, it’s a pretty sure bet he or she is an Americana artist, and alt country has been an integral part of that world for over two decades now.

Each of these reissued albums contained at least one song that can be listed among the true greats and that deserves to be heard by every music fan: the folk masterpiece “Kerosene” on Bottle Rockets and “Welfare Music,” one of the greatest political songs since Woody Guthrie, on The Brooklyn Side. Add to that a whole heap of new bonus tracks and the forthcoming album that they were just beginning to put together at the time, and we had a whole lot to talk about.

To make things even more interesting, this interview was conducted (in the dark, as Brian repeatedly pointed out) in Franklin Mills Riveredge Park in Kent, Ohio, the spot where local legends the James Gang were photographed for the cover of Yer Album, where we were perched directly over the Cuyahoga, the Burning River for which these interviews are named. Can’t get much more local flavor than that. So now that the cold has returned to our land, get nice and toasty by the fire and get ready to hear all about the good ol’ days and what’s to come from one of the original alt country groups, the Bottle Rockets.



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For a taste of the Bottle Rockets, buy Not So Loud on Amazon!
mp3 cd


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