He’s toured all over the country and the world, and his music has been featured in shows such as “Big Love” and “One Tree Hill” as well as movie
trailers for “Clerks 2” and “Knocked Up.” Keith Fertwagner, former Music
Director at Omaha’s School of Rock, as well as front man with bands The Beat Seekers, and The Fonzarellies, had one motto when teaching kids. “Less talk, more rock”.
That was my experience with Keith as well. I met the tattooed, friendly singer/guitarist during my KRQC days, when Fertwagner won an odd morning radio contest. At the time, I was working both mornings and afternoons, a feat I did for years, thanks to crack producers such as Brandon Pappas, mornings, and Stacee Schmidt, afternoons. Brandon was especially adventurous,
and came up with a contest called “Weigh Your Manhood” – which was, exactly what the name describes.
The prospects came forward and placed their junk on a Weight Watchers scale, and the winner won an opportunity to run a vibrator remotely on a local working girl, live on the air. Edgy, yes, embarrassing, definitely, for all involved, including me. The line of dudes was surprisingly long, and most of the men were oh-so-average or less. Keith showed up, smirked, and hauled out all that his momma gave him, won handily, and then in a super-cool move, gave his winnings to the poor little dude behind him in line.
Keith was on my show many other times subsequently, not in quite as colorful a role as that first meeting, but to promote his music.
I saw Keith this past September, when we were both playing for the Ranch Bowl Reunion Show at The Waiting Room, he, with The Fonzarellies, me with Buck Bowen, but I didn’t get to speak with him then.
I caught up with Keith here, through FIVE QUESTIONS.
1) What was the first band you were in? What have been your favorite
bands that you’ve played in? You just played the Ranch Bowl reunion with
The Fonzie’s, you guys together again? What band(s) are you playing with
KF – The first band I was in was called The Duckling Poach and I was maybe 12
or 13 at the time…I played drums and we were probably pretty terrible,
but we had a good time…never made it out of the garage with that
band…soon after that I joined a punk rock band called Magpie Faction
and got into the local scene where I met the dudes that would later
become the Fonzarellies…The fonzies aren’t officially together, but we
do pay the occasional show, but I think is mainly because we like
hanging out with each other and it gives us an excuse….currently I’m
about to wrap up a 33 song recording session that I recorded everything
on except a few little things that I brought people in for…I’d always
wanted to do a record like that and after The Beat Seekers drummer left
the band I decided it was an opportune time to do so…No one holding me
back, no rehearsing, just get in there and do it…I’m pleased with the
results…not sure if it’ll be Beat Seekers or something else, but it’ll
definitely see the light of day in 2015…
2) As a front man you get alot of attention. Have a favorite show story?
KF – My favorite Fonzies show was probably opening for Joan Jett at Westfair
back in the day…I was/am a big fan, so that was cool…another one was
after we had a huge 30 on 30 parking lot brawl at the ranch bowl because
some dude sucker punched me out of nowhere when I wasn’t looking and
chaos ensued…we played after that and what was left of the crowd were
mainly dudes that were out there fighting and the energy in the room was
incredible that night…everyone was bruised and bloody, our bassist had
a concussion, but we kicked ass that night…very memorable…
3) What inspires you creatively? Can you speak about your songwriting
process? Have you written anything lately?
KF – Creativity just kind of happens, I’m not always sure what inspires it,
but I definitely don’t fight it…I almost always write music before
lyrics..I’ll have a melody and make the lyrics fit…depending on the
mood of the song I generally put the porn to the paper and let it go
naturally…it’s important to me to say something in songs and I
gravitate towards darker topics and political/social commentary, but
I’ll write the occasional love song as well if I’m feeling it…
4) Your tats are an inspiration to many. How do you decide what goes
where? Do you ever design them? Any new ones coming?
KF – I never really put a ton of thought into it…I always wanted them
because I thought they looked cool, same reason I started smoking
cigarettes haha…I just get things that I like, and I put them where I
have room…I’ve been back at it lately finishing my torso, it hurts
like a motherfucker in some of the spots, but I guess you gotta earn
5) Personal life – single or married? Kids?
KF – Well I’m not married, never thought of myself as the marrying type..not
single either….I do have two lovely children though…girls…They’re
still little so I haven’t hit the rough years yet, but I love them more
than life itself…but having any more though…never thought of myself
as the fatherly type either, but I ain’t half bad at it…