INTERVIEW: Singer-songwriter Rich Krueger is ready for busy 2018

Next year will bring not only a new album from Chicago-based musician Rich Krueger, but two new albums. That means 2018 will be a busy one for the singer-songwriter, who was born in Brooklyn, New York, and now calls the Windy City home.

Krueger performs as a solo act and also leads The Dysfunctionells, who have played with Peter Stampfel and The Holy Modal Rounders. He has a folksy sound that’s harder around the edges than most acts, combining real-world lyrics with catchy guitar riffs. There’s an countrified ebullience in “A Short One on Life” and a contemplative musicality on “Yesterday’s Wrong…”

Recently, Hollywood Soapbox exchanged emails with Krueger about his recording efforts. Questions and answers have been slightly edited for style.

What can fans expect from your upcoming recording efforts?

I am currently recording two albums. The first is virtually completed and is called Life Ain’t That Long. So far preliminary responses have been fantastic. Check out the reviews of the record preview release and EP called Overpass, which features alternate mixes of two tracks on Life Ain’t That Long.

[Here’s] a great U.K. review on the Antifolk blog. Also check out this amazing — and I mean amazing — glowing review of my EP “Overpass” from Glasgow music critic Paul Kerr!

LATL is my first attempt at making a ‘real’ album, rather than just recording demos, featuring lots of great musician friends who have played and recorded with some of the greats. … The feel [of] the album moves from Americana sounds, through rock ‘n’ roll and singer-songwriter sounds, all the way to R&B-tinged blue eyed soul.

Life Ain’t That Long has 10 tracks plus a bonus track. It will be released on Friday, Jan. 26, 2018. It will be sent out for radio and publicity on Nov. 1, 2017.

Recording has already begun on the so far untitled second record, which I hope to release at the end of next summer.

What inspired you to make these albums?

I had been wanting to make a record like these for years, but available time, money and opportunity never all arose at the same time. What got the ball rolling is that a friend needed a good recording of a song of mine, ‘The Gospel According To Carl’ for a play he was involved in. We began the project in 2016, and it just kept on going.

When did you realize that you loved music and wanted to be in a band? Does it go back to when you were a child?

I used to sing in choir when I was very young, just 6 or 7, and was encouraged to do this by my mother. …

Who are some of your musical influences?

What made me want to be a songwriter was growing up listening to the original cast recording of Jacques Brel Is Alive And Well And Living In Paris. I wanted to write and sing songs like Brel. Songs that were fierce, honest, unflinching and unnerving. But I have many, many other influences from Tom Leherer to Paul Simon to Elvis Costello to Graham Parker to Van Morrison to Billy Bragg to Peter Stampfel and The Holy Modal Rounders to Captain Beefheart to Lou Reed to Tom Waits to Loudon Wainwright III to Richard Thompson. To name just a few.

What’s the difference in the music scenes between Chicago and New York City?

I am way more familiar with Chicago scene obviously than New York, but I love playing New York. In the past, I’ve played the now-defunct Bottom Line, The Mercury Lounge, and even Town Hall once! And we just did a really successful show last month at The Sidewalk Café (home of anti-folkers such as Jeffery Lewis and Kimya Dawson). … We’ll be back in the spring if the fates allow, and I hope to be doing a couple of shows in and around Los Angeles. There [is] a great critical mass of musicians, writer[s] and artists in both cities. It may be easier to play in clubs in Chicago. It is certainly easier to park the band’s van in Chicago, or nearly anywhere, compared to NYC.

By John Soltes / Publisher /

Click here for more information on Rich Krueger.

John Soltes

John Soltes is an award-winning journalist. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Earth Island Journal, The Hollywood Reporter, New Jersey Monthly and at, among other publications. E-mail him at

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