By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Dec 15, 2009 at 5:17 AM

For much of the 1990s Mad Trucker Gone Mad tore up the country with its red-hot psychobilly, a high-octane blend of rock and roll, punk, alt-country and rockabilly.

The band issued two well-received records on Wisconsin's Crustacean Records and made legions of fans thanks to constant touring and high-profile appearances at Toronto's NXNE festival, the Philadelphia Music Conference and the EAT'M Showcase in Vegas.

But there also was tension and a hard-hitting loss of all their gear when the band van was stolen in New York City in 2000.

The following year, co-frontman Isaac Schulze quit the band.

Four years ago Schulze put together a new version of Mad Trucker Gone Mad -- with two members of American Death, bassist Chris Langkamp and drummer Dave Meuhlbauer -- and began recording new material.

The new formation has already debuted onstage in Milwaukee, Madison, the Twin Cities and beyond.

MTGM has just issued a new full-length disc on Crustacean, too, called "Born to Be a Trucker."

We took the opportunity to talk to Schulze about the past, present and future of Mad Trucker Gone Mad. Can you tell us when and why the band came part?

Isaac Schulze: I quit. I needed to get my life back on track and the band was going down a dark road. I had to escape all the chaos. Some of the other members of the band at the time were dabbling in things that I didn't agree with. I saw the writing on the wall and got out before I went somewhere I didn't want to end up.

Since I was the frontman, main songwriter and creator of the band and concept, it naturally dissolved. The bassist went on to play in the band Brainerd. The drummer went on to play in the Skintones, a band he was involved in at the same time as MTGM and I believe he started.

OMC: Did you stay in contact with the others at all or did the friendships dissolve when the band did?

IS: I am still friends with Travis Casperbauer and Tony Leskinen. I've seen Dan Dieterich, aka Martini Van Lane, a few times, but ... he won't talk to me.

OMC: Have they said anything about the band being back together without them?

IS: I've heard a few rumors, but that's it. I think everyone is over it except for Dan. Hopefully he will get over it. Life is too short to carry a grudge around. Dan is a crazy talented bass player, it was just very difficult. He held the same sentiment. We were two frontmen constantly pushing for position.

I don't blame anyone. I just needed to take care of some personal things before I could feel good about being in a band. With the current lineup, the off stage drama is minimal and usually my doing. The guys are really good about putting up with my antics, and I've learned to take it easy on the rhythm section as far as not freaking them out. I've matured -- well, sort of. I know how to pretend to be grown up. Yeah, that's more accurate.

OMC: What did you do during that time, musically and otherwise?

IS: I worked to get custody of my son, which I did successfully. That was another reason I had to get out, to get with my son. He is 10 now and really likes MTGM, especially the song "Box of Wine."

OMC: Why did you decide to get back together and do another record now?

IS: After John (Zysk-Buerger) from American Death had his (2005 fatal motorcycle) accident -- rest in peace -- Dave, Chris and I got together and started working out the old MTGM songs. It worked! We wrote some new material and dug up some old forgotten songs that never made it to the studio. We started recording this new record in 2006. It took up until this past year and a lot of demos to get the sound we wanted. We are really happy with the final product.

OMC: Tell us a bit about making it; were the songs written during the break or all together once you got back together?

IS: A few of the songs were written since the reformation, some dug out of the old live cassette archive and there are a couple of cover songs, as well.

OMC: Has the new lineup captured the original sound?

IS: The new line up is more true to my original vision and sound. Dave, "5 Card Jack" has the chops needed to kick out the psychobilly sound that we had before the band got darker. Chris, aka Legendary Billy Gas, is a solid bass man with solid chops. With the new lineup, we got back to the more upbeat, major chord sound that brought us our original success.

OMC: Are you guys staying back on the scene for now?

IS: We are writing and touring and we plan on hitting the studio this spring. We regained our momentum with the release of our new record. We are happy to report that it is being well received. We like it a lot, too!

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.