Cars & Trucks: Still Rolling…

Andrew Olson

Reader Weekly

This Saturday at Thirsty Pagan Brewery, Cars & Trucks will continue to pass the other local bands with solid musicianship and innovative experience.

When you talk to any drummer around town there is always one name that seems to come up: Mat Milinkovich. Usually the name is followed by stories of lore, some flattering adjectives, and something to the effect of being blown away.

Cars & Trucks, made up of Milinkovich, Tony Bennett, and Matt Osterlund, is one band that can’t be beat. Named after a line from Eddie Murphy’s PLUTO NASH, Cars & Trucks recently released their self-titled debut CD. Of the long and distinguished list of bands they play in or have played in, Cars & Trucks flies above the rest at the moment.

“I'm proud of all my bands and I'm committed to all of them,” Milinkovich said. “I don't consider any of them ‘side projects’ or anything like that. To me, a side project is something someone does in their spare time... it's somehow less important than their ‘real band.’ I don't think about my bands like that. Right now, Cars & Trucks is getting the majority of my attention because we're getting ready to record.”

One thing that changes as a band gets older are the priorities of its members. Milinkovich recently became a father, and in doing so found one project that will take the most practice.

“Being a dad is a lot of work, but it's great,” Milinkovich said. “It's really hard to put into words how it makes you feel. My wife is really supportive of me playing music and I try to schedule all of my bands' practices on the same night now so I'm not out practicing five nights a week. I did that before the kid though... I'm a homebody... and I have a pretty stressful day job, so I like my alone time where I can just sit at home and play video games or watch Deadliest Catch.”

Being a similar age as Milinkovich, I can identify with his sentiments. Entering your thirties is tough for anyone, but those youthful dreams of the record label snatching you up begin to awake to the reality of being content with expressing your artistic gifts.

“When I was 18 I wanted to get signed,” Milinkovich said. “That was the main goal. I mean, yeah, we wanted to write great music, but at the end of the day, I (we) were trying to get a deal that would allow us to play, drink and otherwise not have a day job. I'm older now. I've lost more hair. I've gained more weight. Now the goal is solely to have fun and write and play the best music I can. At this point, if a band were to become work, I wouldn't be involved with it anymore.”

Some people may try to play in one or two bands for a festival the size of Homegrown 10. Milinkovich played in 5 bands.

“Homegrown 10 was a blast,” he said. “And each show I played was packed. Unfortunately, I played so much this year that I actually didn't get to check out any bands. Even though I played five times, I really feel like I wasn't a part of Homegrown this year. Next year I'll probably cut back to once a night.”

This year Milinkovich said that Homegrown was busier than previous years, but praised the management of Paul Connelly. “Paul and company do a great job managing that headache. The logistics of setting Homegrown up are panic attack inducing. If it wasn't for Paul, it wouldn't be nearly as great as it is.”

Life meanwhile is hectic for Cars & Trucks, but the music keeps on flowing. Milinkovich feels like he is getting back into the swing of things. “I pretty much took from mid-April until the week before Homegrown off because of the whole 'having a kid' thing. All my bands' Homegrown practices were crammed into two days. Right now C&T are getting ready to head into the studio to start work on our 2nd, 3rd and quite possibly 4th album.”

After talking to many young bands at the Battle of the Bands competition a few weeks ago, it was interesting how many bands saw getting signed as something right around the corner. I asked Milinkovich what advice he had for younger musicians out there.

“Practice and practice and practice before you start booking shows. I can't tell you how many bands I've seen that were out playing months before they should. My first band was practicing for nearly a year before we had our first show. Sure, playing in a basement might be kinda boring, but by the time we were ready to play, we were tight... and we already had about two hours worth of material. You can apologize for it being your first show all you want, but it leaves a bad taste in peoples' mouths. Crowds are really picky; you usually only have one shot to impress them.”

To listen to the band visit their web page at: Their CD is also available for purchase at the Electric Fetus and other local CD vendors.