freight train rabbit killer

Originally published on KCUR > Arts & Life by Frank Morris on October 20, 2023 ... quoted and encapsulated for republication here. Read/Listen to the whole story and interview through the link at the bottom of this post.

Ten years ago on a cold dark night of the soul, Freight Train Rabbit Killer began its life as a scary band/opera/near-death experience for Kansas City music fans. This Halloween season, there's a flurry of live shows to celebrate their new record.

Just before Halloween 10 years ago, Kris Bruders and Mark Smeltzer forged Freight Train Rabbit Killer around a love of hardscrabble American music. The stuff they play is crashing, heavy blues, swirled with dark opera and the devil.

Freight Train Rabbit Killer songs tend towards an Old Testament sweep, and there aren’t a lot of happy endings. Like in “Saw Brother Judas,” about that time Judas was trying to hide from God.

Freight Train Rabbit Killer is more than a band, though. It’s a project that has taken over half of Smeltzer’s old house in Westport. The place is packed with costumes and banners, most of them splashed or speckled with the dead rabbit heads that Smeltzer paints on just about any piece of clothing he touches. Ancient amplifiers lurk in the corners and Frankenstein instruments sit there daring somebody to pick them up.

Smeltzer and Bruders started playing together at Rural Grit Happy Hour, a regular Monday night music show at the Brick that Smeltzer has been putting on for close to 25 years.

“The Rural Grit is basically a music cult,” said Smeltzer. “You put your name into a hat, you get drawn out duet partners, then you get five minutes to learn or write a song, then you get on stage and do it. Well, we were not taking five minutes. We were not taking any time at all,” he said of early jams with Bruders.

Now, after a decade of honing their doom blues, Freight Train Rabbit Killer is releasing its fourth record, “The 10 Year,” and doing a flurry of live shows culminating in a blacklight “cave show” at The Ship on Halloween.

Smeltzer promises it will be good for what ails you.

“If it makes you drool,” he said, “then that’s the right medicine.”

. . .

Upcoming Freight Train Rabbit Killer Performances

Thursday, Oct. 24 - Boulevard Brewing Co. @ 8 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 28 - Stockyards Brewing Co. @ 7 p.m

Tuesday, Oct. 31 at The Ship.

. . .

further reading

Freight Train Rabbit Killer marks 10 years of haunting Kansas City with 'doom blues'


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