The archetype of the rock star biker is cool, but are they real? This one is. Meet singer songwriter Mark Kasprzyk, front man for alt rock band Redlight King. Kaz talks about how motorcycles fit into the life of a touring musician, why so many rockers ride, and the challenges and rewards of piloting a 1950 Harley Davidson Panhead with a suicide clutch in LA traffic. Not only is this wide-ranging interview one of the most fun yet, it also turns out that rock and roll might just have one more thing to teach us.
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To learn more about Redlight King, their web page is a great place to start. Follow Kaz on Instagram to get news on their upcoming album. He’s @redlightking. You might find his label, artist-led Parts + Labor Records interesting, too.
Here’s the video for Born to Rise, the one that sparked the idea for this episode.
This interview with Kaz provides some more background on how it came together. For information on the Unknown Industries crew, check out their web site. Indeed, they are now a more commercial venture than was the case when this video was shot, but, hey, everybody’s gotta make a living. And these guys can still make those Harleys dance.
In our conversation, we also talked about a track called ‘Old Man’, and Neil Young’s song by the same name. This was a huge hit for Redlight King, and I’m happy to report the story is true that Young himself approved sampling the original song when he heard what Kaz had in mind. I think it’s brilliant, and all the better for being so personal.
Here’s some background on motorcycle racer and bike builder Paul Bigsby, inventor of the electric guitar. And here’s a video of that very first instrument being played.
Googling around for inspiration while I prepared for this interview, I found this essay on how bikes and rock and roll came together. I don’t know that it’s the most thorough or nuanced telling of history, but it’s a fun read.
Musicians who ride are literally too numerous for there to be a definitive list, but my pals at EatSleepRIDE keep a Pinterest page on the subject that should get you started. If you want to fall very, very far down this rabbit hole, the short lists here and here ought to point you in the right direction.
Here’s the video for Redlight King’s cover of Rush’s ‘Working Man.’ You can tell that Kaz is proud of his roots, and he clearly brings that work ethic to his music, too. I think recording this track was a natural.
Thanks to Mark Kasprzyk and Redlight King for helping make this happen. It was a blast. Best of luck with the new album… I can’t wait to hear it.
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Hi Bruce. I have listened to all your podcasts from the beginning….some of them twice (so far). Its always a good day when a new one drops. I am 60 this year, been riding since I was 10 and have played in a rock band since I was 16. The constant has always been motorcycles so I really loved this episode alot. Thanks! Oh, and don’t dis the Nikken unless you have ridden it. Just saying. Cheers!
Thanks for the comment, and thank you so much for listening! I really enjoyed the interview with Kaz, and I hope it showed. As for the Niken, I will admit that I don’t find it pretty… but when I say it’s the only bike in the world I don’t like, it’s meant ironically. Far too many content creators feel that they need to have an opinion about one or another motorcycle brand, and scratch that itch by being snarky. The truth is that I think any motorcycle that makes someone happy is a great motorcycle, and that includes anything with handlebars, fewer than four wheels, and a rider with his or her face in the wind. You’re not the first Niken defender I’ve heard from (although everyone has been quite kind about it), and you are correct: to have a REAL opinion, I need to ride one.
OK, so yes I am behind; too many irons in the fire. But lord-o-mighty what a great episode. Your questions, and his answers, get to the nub of why we ride, and why we rock-and-roll! I had many a “hmmm” moment and, also, many a chuckle, such as when Mark Kasprzyk described spiriting his Panhead across the border to go the festival in Cali with no intentions of returning from L.A. Ha! And Redlight King – how did I NOT know about them. I was enthralled by “Born to Rise, and the cover of “Old Man” – genius. Finally, icing on the cake, there’s that killer Rush cover. Somehow I finished loving my scoot and rock-and-roll even more, as if you’d tapped the root. Now, despite the pain points, I want to move to L.A. Bravo – well done!
Hey, thanks, Cliff. Yeah, he’s a real talent, and his new album expands his range even more. He’s also a pretty chill dude and works incredibly hard at his craft. I think if this episode was any good, it’s because he made it especially fun for me. And don’t worry about getting behind… this stuff keeps 😉 Thanks for the comment, brother!